Governments can be one of the last places to get the best keyboard layouts

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/10/22 10:31 -04:00, original URI:

David asked me via the Contact link:

Is there a way that users can submit keyboard layouts for inclusion in future versions of Windows? I have developed keyboard layouts for the Tajik language, one similar to the one included in Vista, and one for those familiar with QWERTY, but unfamiliar with the Russian keyboard. Both are very popular, and it would be nice to see the latter one included in Windows.

I assume that you work primarily through governments on this issue. But a couple of years ago, when I was aware that a Tajik government committee was discussing what to have included in Vista, I was told that it was so political that I would be wasting my time trying to make suggestions to them.

Here I'm arguing for some de-centralisation - that it should not all be left in the hands of the government. I could also argue for more centralisation: cooperation between OS writers so that we don't end up with widely differing keyboard layouts in Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc.

Some of my older work is at , though I have done a lot of work since then, mostly using MSKLC, and the site needs to be updated accordingly ... just one of those things I haven't got around to doing ...

Regards, David

My first thought was for the post from way back in January 2005 entitled Does MS pull new keyboard layouts out of their @!#$%? which really talks a lot about how Microsoft adds keyboards, which largely still covers the issues here.

There are some really significant challenges involved with any sort of decentralization of selection of the keyboard layouts that would be included in the Windows box in some future version, including but not limited to relevance, popularity, overall usefulness in different customer segments, and scalability.

It is not by any means only limited to governments, though. In fact, the subsidiary contacts providing locale data often through their own research find layouts that are more popular or commonly used than the ones described in government standards and they end up providing two layouts -- one to follow the rules and one to actually be useful!

Given that the NLS team has to support the layout forever once it is added, there is an additional review to make sure that the layout will be of general use for native language speakers in market (and to fix bugs!) above and beyond what the subsidiary provides....

The idea of cooperation between platforms is interesting, though there are many additional factors that would complicate that kind of effort which readers may be able to imagine if they spend any time between two or more of these different platforms.

But I will pass the idea along to see if anyone has additional thoughts on the issue, in theory it is a very sensible one.



This post brought to you by U+20e3, a.k.a.COMBINING ENCLOSING KEYCAP

Gé van Gasteren on 3 Nov 2007 1:07 PM:

How about leaving keyboard layouts to a central commission like ISO? I mean the main stuff, not necessarily the Alt-Gr assignments.

Of course, they should do their job properly...

It would also take some of the research load off platform designers and automatically create a more compatible situation.

By the way, I have sent in some suggestions/comments about the Dutch keyboard layout, twice already, but I don't see or hear any reaction. Should I receive an email? Or look in a certain place on your site? Actually, I'm at a loss regarding the site's structure: where do I post a suggestion; how/where to check if my comment or email came through, etc.

Michael S. Kaplan on 3 Nov 2007 1:13 PM:

There is a suggestion box, and your comment is right there. And I have the other one you sent via the contact link. But you are competing with hundreds of other posts and all of the random forces in the universe that also create new post topics. You have to wait your turn....

As for ISO, the history of what ISO working groups have cone with keyboards in the past does not give me confidence; also, the fact that the same national standards bodies that often screw up the task now are the ones who sit in these ISO committees mean our only defense from junk is putting them all together to argue against each other's junk. That is not going to work out well....

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