If it's incorrect and out of sync, someone should step up and try to fix it...

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/02/22 07:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2012/02/22/10271073.aspx

So let's say you call GetKeyNameText to get the names of the keyboard keys.

As it says in the remarks:


The format of the key-name string depends on the current keyboard layout. The keyboard driver maintains a list of names in the form of character strings for keys with names longer than a single character. The key name is translated according to the layout of the currently installed keyboard, thus the function may give different results for different input locales. The name of a character key is the character itself. The names of dead keys are spelled out in full.

Ok, so let's load the German keyboard layout (kbdgr.dll, KLD value of 0000407).

Let's skip the function calls and load it up in MSKLC to get the key names all at once: 


 01 ESC
 0e R\x00DCCK
 1d STRG
 38 ALT
 39 LEER
 3b F1
 3c F2
 3d F3
 3e F4
 3f F5
 40 F6
 41 F7
 42 F8
 43 F9
 44 F10
 57 F11
 58 F12


 38 "ALT GR"
 47 POS1
 4f ENDE
 53 ENTF
 54 <00>

Now let's look at the Windows 8 soft keyboard based on kbdgr.dll:

The German Soft Keyboard in Windows 8

There are some keys that match, and some that do not.

As it turns out, they are not using GetKeyNameText at all; they have a new, standard, conventional mechanism to put resources in a DLL -- the same "multi-language" style used by the common dialogd, which means that the kbdbr.dll "Portuguese (Brazilian ABNT)" keyboard with KLID 00000416:

The Portuguese (Brazilian ABNT) soft keyboard in Windows 8


 01 Esc
 0e Backspace
 0f Tab
 1c Enter
 1d Ctrl
 2a Shift
 36 "Right Shift"
 37 "Num *"
 38 Alt
 39 Space
 3a "Caps Lock"
 3b F1
 3c F2
 3d F3
 3e F4
 3f F5
 40 F6
 41 F7
 42 F8
 43 F9
 44 F10
 45 Pause
 46 "Scroll Lock"
 47 "Num 7"
 48 "Num 8"
 49 "Num 9"
 4a "Num -"
 4b "Num 4"
 4c "Num 5"
 4d "Num 6"
 4e "Num +"
 4f "Num 1"
 50 "Num 2"
 51 "Num 3"
 52 "Num 0"
 53 "Num Del"
 54 "Sys Req"
 57 F11
 58 F12
 7c F13
 7d F14
 7e F15
 7f F16
 80 F17
 81 F18
 82 F19
 83 F20
 84 F21
 85 F22
 86 F23
 87 F24


 1c "Num Enter"
 1d "Right Control"
 35 "Num /"
 37 "Prnt Scrn"
 38 "Right Alt"
 45 "Num Lock"
 46 Break
 47 Home
 48 Up
 49 "Page Up"
 4b Left
 4d Right
 4f End
 50 Down
 51 "Page Down"
 52 Insert
 53 Delete
 54 <00>
 56 Help
 5b "Left Windows"
 5c "Right Windows"
 5d Application

is covered as well as the kbdpo.dll "Portuguese" keyboard with KLID 00000816:

The Portuguese soft keyboard layout in Windows 8


 01 ESC
 0f TAB
 1d CTRL
 38 ALT
 3b F1
 3c F2
 3d F3
 3e F4
 3f F5
 40 F6
 41 F7
 42 F8
 43 F9
 44 F10
 47 "7 (TN)"
 48 "8 (TN)"
 49 "9 (TN)"
 4a "MENOS (TN)"
 4b "4 (TN)"
 4c "5 (TN)"
 4d "6 (TN)"
 4e "MAIS (TN)"
 4f "1 (TN)"
 50 "2 (TN)"
 51 "3 (TN)"
 52 "0 (TN)"
 57 F11
 58 F12


 1c "ENTER (TN)"
 35 "BARRA (TN)"
 45 "NUM LOCK"
 47 HOME
 49 PGUP
 4b "SETA \x00C0 ESQUERDA"
 4d "SETA \x00C0 DIREITA"
 4f END
 54 <00>
 56 HELP

You can we see a lot of them are even more off than German!

Now I have several competing thoughts here:

On the the hand, the mapping of localization of SKU languages and keyboards is rather lopsized since there just 36 of one and 116 of the other, with many of the latter covering languages outside those 36.

On the other hand, the "localization" of key names with the names stored in the DLL (as described in Flirting with a strange keyboard, will you remember its language in the morning?) is a bloody mess that localization engineers have no good means to reach.

On yet another hand, the new model is one that is easy and comfortable for localizers of those 36 languages, which means Windows finally can fix some of that broken model.

And on yet another hand, the mapping of soft keyboards to the layout DLLs is a problematic match in another way -- not every single layout has a unique soft keyboard layout.

And on a fifth hand, those crazy DLL based names are the only ones with a semi-documented way for people to retrieve the names -- the GetKeyNameText function -- which although it as problems, like the Catalan bug reported by a customer to the MSDN Product Feedback Center here, is all we give developers.

On the last hand, the names are in many cases of of sync between the two, as the above examples show (this was how I originally found out about the problem!).

Me and my conflicted six hands, what to do?

With the help of localization engineers I now have those soft keyboard key names, and I am going to try to sync up many of the DLLs for those 36 languages, so the two will be more in sync for Windows 8 some time after the upcoming Windows 8 Consumer Preview, so they will return the same names.

Some of the remaining key names may stay broken, as we have no good source for what the names should be in other languages -- there may well be common hardware for some languages that I have no way to even attempt to sync up with.

I am struck by the fact that if I had never dug into this issue, no one else would have noticed until months or years later - or meybe ever. One of those bugs that now that I know about it, I can't ignore, though.

I almost wish for some triage effort to won't fix the issue and relieve me of the responsibility!

Probably worth the effort though, as imperfect as it may be in the end, right? :-)

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