Describing keyboard scenarios from soup to nuts

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2015/01/15 16:30 +00:00, original URI:

Over the last few years, one of the most difficult aspects of describing keyboard layout scenarios -- which by their very nature are often cross-language, cross-version, cross-hardware type, and cross-OEM -- is trying to understand how these differences affect the overall user experience. In this blog post, I will try to span these many dimensions and give the simplest reasonable process to ensure properly describing how target keyboard layouts are defined:

0) If it hasn't already been installed ON THE TARGET HARDWARE, get the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (MSKLC) from

1) While not required, going to View | Options... In MSKLC and choosing which of three given Backspace and Return/Enter Keyboard Layout Types best describes the target hardware will tend to make future steps more likely to succeed.

2) While in this dialog, can consider selecting the Show All Shift States by Default checkbox. Selecting it will make reviewing each key more complicated, but it will allow you to see all shift states at once.

3) Click OK to the dialog.

4) Select File | &Load Keyboard Layout... and choose the keyboard layout you want to review on the target hardware.

5) Choose a "key of interest" and type it once with the target keyboard hardware. If a dialog pops up, skip to step 7.

6) Type the same "key of interest" again to make the dialog pop up.

7) Note the VK (virtual key) of the key that was typed and the relevant character that it would [eventually] be translated to.

8) Either click Cancel or hit the Esc (Escape) button.

9) Repeat step 5 for another "key of interest" until there are no more keys of interest. Please be broad in your choices here so you don't unintentionally miss a key in which you might be interested!

10) If in step 2 you selected Show All Shift States by Default then you can skip to step 12.

11) Repeat step 4 with different shift states on the left side of the main MSKLC dialog until there are no longer any shift states of interest.

12) You have now reviewed the target keyboard layout in question and all the relevant keys in it. If you need to review any other keyboard layout you can go back to step 4. Otherwise, you are done!

I have lost count of the number of times that this process has helped me both assist people who didn't know how to solve problems and diagnose the occasional actual problem with real hardware. Specifically, cases where micro keyboards in laptops have changed the landscape for newer versions of Windows, I have been able to help solve those problems -- for OEMs and for customers.

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