The key KEY perspective is that 'Perspective is Key'

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/09/05 03:01 -04:00, original URI:

So the report that came in (about the Windows Keyboard Layouts discussed previously) was an interesting one:

For the Korean keyboard, I think the KOR and ENG buttons are reversed.

Now this is one of those interesting philosophical issues, where one has to decide if toggle keys on a keyboard that changes its display should display the current state of the keyboard or the state that one is moving to by hitting the toggle. Thus the current design:


Now one could argue that this is confusing, this use of the button text as showing the "current status" rather than showing the status when you press it.

It is how both the Japanese and Korean IME keyboard layouts work, with ToolTips that provide additional information when you hover:


where Kor is a reasonable abbreviation for Korean and Eng is a reasonable abbreviation for English


where ひら is a reasonable abbreviation for Hiragana (ひらがな) in Hiragana and カタ is a reasonable abbreviation for Katakana (カタカナ) in Katakana.



where really does mean "half" and really does mean "all" or "full".

There is a pattern here.....

Clearly this is not just a tiny mistake in a single layout --  this is an explicit, conscious design choice.

I can't compare against a soft keyboard like the Optimus since I couldn't get it to shown the Japanese layout.

Other keys like the CAPS LOCK key do not change to indicate their status other than to look pressed and not pressed -- in their own way they follow the same design since their display indicates the state they qre in, not the state that pressing them makes.

And this design choice has its uses -- like when they are put on websites (like this one) or in appendices in books (like mine, or DIS v.2) and the are in no way dynamic -- they become self-documenting.

But in the end I think this one really could be argued either way, really.

There is no right answer.

It's all a matter of perspective.... :-)


This blog brought to you by(U+534a, a CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH)

Mihai on 5 Sep 2008 12:11 PM:

An advantage of showing the current state: if you have more than two possible states.

Imagine a button that changes style between Roman-Hiragana-Katakana-Kanji. If I am in Roman mode, a "next state button" will show Hiragana, but I still don't know how to get to the other two states.

With "current state button" at least I know where I am.

John Cowan on 5 Sep 2008 1:06 PM:

This is related to the user-interface question: given a viewport into a canvas, does scrolling up move the canvas up, or the viewport up?  Scroll bars and Page Up/Down universally use the first convention, but I have seen novices fumble with them because they expected the viewport to move -- when you tilt your head up, after all, you see a higher area of the world, corresponding to a viewport movement.

(Annoyingly, CTRL+mousewheel, which changes font sizes in Firefox, makes the font bigger when you move the wheel upward in FF3, but smaller in FF2.  Those of us who have to use both, and don't have little teeny eyes for reading little teeny print on the Web, suffer from this.)

referenced by

2011/06/05 To get Korean wrong you have to SHIFT things a bit...

go to newer or older post, or back to index or month or day