RE: Open Workshop on Multilingual Extensions to Current Latin Keyboards

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Fri Jan 11 2008 - 07:53:08 CST

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    Erkki I. Kolehmainen
    > The workshop that has been fostered by CEN/ISSS CDFG (the Cultural
    > Diversity Focus Group of the CEN Information Society Standardization
    > System, a Unicode Liaison member) has a highly pragmatic approach: The
    > users of the existing keyboards should be able to continue their current
    > way of operation with the extended layouts, and the new functionality
    > should be intuitively recognizable to the extent possible. Thus, the
    > workshop has no intention to define any specific, let alone a Pan-European
    > keyboard layout. Liaison is sought with e.g., ISO/IEC JTC1/SC35 to
    > minimize the risk of further divergence between actual implementations and
    > formal standards (ISO/IEC 9995 series).

    So let's hope that this workshop will produce standardized extensions to the
    existing european keyboards to meet what users in each country are
    expecting, with respect to the view of the now much larger set of
    interoperable character set.

    Such extension should then focus on determining the characters that are used
    and needed for each country (and all its needed languages, starting by the
    official European languages of course, but also all important minority

    It should be followed by recommendations for solution providers to adopt the
    standard extensions, and follow very strictly the implementation model for
    maximum interoperability, including in fonts designed for use in the
    European market, or in the physical design of keyboards (standardized
    placement of extensions, instead of proprietary placement of these
    extensions depending on the targeted OS platform). OS providers should
    follow immediately by updating their keyboard drivers so that they can
    immediately support the recommended extensions for each existing keyboard,
    as well as providing tools to adapt the keyboard to specific needs (such as
    extensions that are needed for minority languages, that should also be
    standardized but not necessarily all available at the same time).

    The most urgent need for OS design is a much simpler access to dual language
    input. Some past caveats should also be corrected (such as the absence on
    French keyboards of standard mappings for capitals with diacritics). In
    fact, European keyboards should also have at least the same basic
    functionality as the multilingual Canadian keyboard and US International
    keyboards (I really like the design of the multilingual Canadian keyboard),
    but it is not enough as it does not allow mixing other combinations than
    just English+French (and languages that can be written with their basic
    character sets);

    Notably a standard way to switch to other minority language in combination
    with another "main" language should be available without causing much
    complication to the input of the two currently selected languages; may be
    there will be a proposal for adding another AltGr key, or the "Fn" key found
    on notebooks could be used as well (instead of just for proprietary
    multimedia command extensions or emulation of numeric keypads)

    But even in this case, some proposal should be developed to give European
    users an alternative to their national keyboard: computer providers should
    offer more choices for the keyboard models, and some practical/hardware
    solutions should allow easy adaptation of keyboards to possibly changing
    user needs: why not developing a standard pan-european extension keyboard
    with additional keys (probably dead keys) that could be plugged on
    notebooks, and featured directly on desktop keyboards? OR a set of
    user-configurable keys in a row (with a simple LCD display above of this
    row) just to minimize the cost of the keyboard (without the costly
    complication of keycaps with individual displays)

    There's however now the need to support multiple scripts (it was already
    true for Greece since long, but the Greek standard already implements
    support for Basic Latin, but now we also have to handle Serbian, Macedonian,

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