Re: Latin-script keyboard layout (was RE: Quick Question About Korean Input Methods)

From: verdy_p (
Date: Thu Jan 07 2010 - 17:42:00 CST

  • Next message: Ed Trager: "Re: Quick Question About Korean Input Methods"

    "Robert Abel" wrote:
    > 2010/01/07 19:40, verdy_p:
    > > in practice, this is not even needed on a AZERTY keyboard: there's
    > > already a standard dead key for the circumflex
    > > (which can be typed without pressing any other key), and the ">" is located on the shifted state of the 102th
    > > (whose unshifted state is used for "<").
    > >
    > > For me it would seem more logical to locate a caron on the "<" key, and no neeed to add another mapping for the
    > > circumflex
    > But that doesn't take into consideration that this program doesn't
    > directly work with keyboard output but with what's being typed through
    > the layout. If you can reach ^ really fast while typing regular text on
    > AZERTY, that's just dandy. I know that the German QWERTZ keyboard layout
    > has the ^ key located on the top left - right under Esc, so it can't be
    > reached as easily as > while typing. The >, which is next to shift on
    > German QWERTZ, can be reached more quickly in my opinion, so it's good
    > to have a n-to-1 mapping since different keyboard layouts have the keys
    > on a different position and are therefore harder or easier to type (on
    > top of the user not being used to type these sequences most of the time
    > in the first place).

    This is a non-issue, or a bad solution for a problem that does not exist with existing layouts. If you want to
    ignore the existing layouts and try to extend it without taking them into account, you'll just get a layout that
    will be convenient for nobody.

    so either define a new national standard that completely replaces the existing one and adds the necessary characters
    you want to add (but beware to the location of basic letters, there's a strong resistance against changing between
    QWERTY, AZERTY and QWERTZ, and the same resistance to change the shifted or unshifted location of digits, and the
    location of most basic punctuations.)

    This does not give you a lot of freedom. The best you can do is to adapt the existing layout and maintaining the
    compatibility, and taking into account also the different needs for more frequent characters: for example, an
    extension for the French AZERTY keyboard should absolutely provide convenient mappings for French accents on
    capitals, for the cedilla on capital C, on the curly apostrophe, and on the French « guillemets ». Other languages
    have other needs (for example different letters, or different quotation marks).

    Building a keyboard that maps all languages with a single layout will necessarily lead to unconvenient locations for
    some characters. I see absolutely no point in developping a pan-languistic extension that takes all the most
    convenient locations, and does not leave enough space for the most wanted characters, just because the pan-
    linguistic extension will be very difficult to learn for most users (also because there's a near zero chance to see
    all the associated labels printed on key tops, notably on notebooks where the available space for additoonal labels
    is very scarce).

    My opinion is that such attempt will fail, and that it will be the national standards that will be updated
    invidually, specifying the additional labels that will have to be present, but not requiring all the labels that the
    layout may support in some advanced input methods (which may also remain unavailable on smaller keyboards with less
    keys). For now, there's absolutely no demonstration that any national keyboard needs a Group3 or Level3 selector:
    four standardized characters per key is MUCH enough for most extensions.

    And ABSOLUTELY NO pan-linguisitic extension should ever try to use any of these 4 possible assignments (2 "groups"
    with or without AltGr, and 2 "levels" with or without Shift possibly locked in by CapsLock or NumLock for distinct
    subsets of keys), strictly reserved for national standards.

    If you really want it, develop a completely new standard and try to convince PC makers (notably notebooks) to
    provide models with this completely new layout (but I doubt that they will accept to build such notebooks in masses,
    it will possibly be easier for separate desktop keyboards sold separately from PCs, or if the PC makers allow users
    to choose their keyboard, or to replace it very simply at a low cost for notebooks.

    But note that detaching/changing the keyboard on notebooks is not an easy operation due to the way they are mounted:
    in most cases you can't change it without invalidating the manufacturer warranty, or risking to loose some tiny
    screws, or damage the connector, or even break the PC case or the very thin motherboard supporting the keyboard;
    it's also nearly impossible to change the keycaps without damaging their thin mechanism using fragile molded pires
    in plastic.

    Of course you can buy on the Internet a PC built for another country, but generally this requires additional
    shipping charges, and complicates the use of the warranty (which is already very complicate!). In most malls and
    shops, you will just find PCs built with the national keyboard only. Desktop users can more simply connect another
    external keyboard (including on notebooks using a USB connector or wireless USB adaptor).

    So, the developers of a "universal" Latin layouts are just dreaming: they completely forget usability for most of
    customers that type nearly 100% of their texts in a single language (and in alphabet that they know and practice)
    and want to type it fast (they can still access very rerely used characters from a program or software addon like a
    clickable charmap).


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