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Module Version: 0.12   Source   Latest Release: UI-KeyboardLayout-0.73


UI::KeyboardLayout - Module for designing keyboard layouts


  #!/usr/bin/perl -wC31
  use UI::KeyboardLayout; 
  use strict;

  # Download from
  my $i = do {local $/; open $in, '<', 'MultiUni.kbdd' or die; <$in>}; 
  # Init from in-memory copy of the configfile
  my $k = UI::KeyboardLayout:: -> new_from_configfile($i)
             -> fill_win_template( 1, [qw(faces CyrillicPhonetic)] ); 
  print $k;
  open my $f, '<', "$ENV{HOME}/Downloads/NamesList.txt" or die;
  my $k = UI::KeyboardLayout::->new();
  my ($d,$c,$names,$blocks,$extraComb,$uniVersion) = $k->parse_NameList($f);
  close $f or die;
  $k->print_compositions  ($c);
  my $l = UI::KeyboardLayout::->new(); 

  my $l = UI::KeyboardLayout::->new_from_configfile('examples/EurKey++.kbdd');
  for my $F (qw(US CyrillicPhonetic)) {         
        # Open file, select() 
    print $l->fill_win_template(1,[qw(faces US)]);



Ilya Zakharevich,


In this section, a "keyboard" has a certain "character repertoir" (which characters may be entered using this keyboard), and a mapping associating a character in the repertoir to a keypress or to several (sequential or simultaneous) keypresses. A small enough keyboard may have a pretty arbitrary mapping and remain useful (witness QUERTY vs Dvorak vs Colemac). However, if a keyboard has a sufficiently large repertoir, there must be a strong logic ("orthogonality") in this association - otherwise the most part of the repertoir will not be useful (except for people who have an extraordinary memory - and are ready to invest part of it into the keyboard).

"Character repertoir" needs of different people vary enormously; observing the people around me, I get a very narrow point of view. But it is the best I can do; what I observe is that many of them would use 1000-2000 characters if they had a simple way to enter them; and the needs of different people do not match a lot. So to be helpful to different people, a keyboard should have at least 2000-3000 different characters in the repertoir. (Some ballpark comparisons: MES-3B has about 2800 characters; Adobe Glyph list corresponds to about 3600 Unicode characters.)

To access these characters, how much structure one needs to carry in memory? One can make a (trivial) estimate from below: on Windows, the standard US keyboard allows entering 100 - or 104 - characters (94 ASCII keys, SPACE, ENTER, TAB - moreover, C-ENTER, BACKSPACE and C-BACKSPACE also produce characters; so do C-[, C-] and C-\ C-Break in most layouts!). If one needs about 30 times more, one could do with 5 different ways to "mogrify" a character; if these mogrifications are "orthogonal", then there are 2^5 = 32 ways of combining them, and one could access 32*104 = 3328 characters.

Of course, the characters in a "reasonable repertoir" form a very amorphous mass; there is no way to introduce a structure like that which is "natural" (so there is a hope for "ordinary people" to keep it in memory). So the complexity of these mogrification is not in their number, but in their "nature". One may try to decrease this complexity by having very easy to understand mogrifications - but then there is no hope in having 5 of them - or 10, or 15, or 20.

However, we know that many people are able to memorise the layout of 70 symbols on a keyboard. So would they be able to handle, for example, 30 different "natural" mogrifications? And how large a repertoir of characters one would be able to access using these mogrifications?

This module does not answer these questions directly, but it provides tools for investigating them, and tools to construct the actually working keyboard layouts based on these ideas. It consists of the following principal components:

Unicode table examiner

distills relations between different Unicode characters from the Unicode tables, and combines the results with user-specified "manual mogrification" rules. From these automatic/manual mogrifications, it constructs orthogonal scaffolding supporting Unicode characters (we call it composition/decomposition, but it is a major generalization of the corresponding Unicode consortium's terms).

Layout constructor

allows building keyboard layouts based on the above mogrification rules, and on other visual and/or logical directives. It combines the bulk-handling ability of automatic rule-based approach with a flexibility provided by a system of manual overrides. (The rules are read from a .kbdd Keyboard Description file.

System-specific software layouts

may be created basing on the "theoretical layout" made by the layout constructor (currently only on Windows, and only via KBDUTOOL route).

Report/Debugging framework

creates human-readable descriptions of the layout, and/or debugging reports on how the layout creation logic proceeded.

The last (and, probably, the most important) component of the distribution is an example keyboard layout created using this toolset.

Keyboard description files ^


I could not find an appropriate existing configuration file format, so was farced to invent yet-another-config-file-format. Sorry...

Config file is for initialization of a tree implementing a hash of hashes of hashes etc whole leaves are either strings or arrays of strings, and keys are words. The file consists of "sections"; each section fills a certain hash in the tree.

Sections are separated by "section names" which are sequences of word character and / (possibly empty) enclosed in square brackets. [] is a root hash, then [word] is a hash reference by key word in the root hash, then [word/another] is a hash referenced by element of the hash referenced by [word] etc. Additionally, a section separator may look like [visual -> wordsAndSlashes].

Sections are of two type: normal and visual. A normal section consists of comments (starting with #) and assignments. An assignment is in one of 4 forms:


The first assigns a string value to the key word in the hash of the current section. The second adds a value to an array referenced by the key word; the other two add several values. Trailing whitespace is stripped.

Any string value without end-of-line characters and trailing whitespace can be added this way (and values without commas or without slash can be added in bulk to arrays). In particular, there may be no whitespace before = sign, and the whitespace after = is a part of the value.

Visual sections consist of comments, assignments, and content, which is the rest of the section. Comments after the last assignment become parts of the content. The content is preserved as a whole, and assigned to the key unparsed_data; trailing whitespace is stripped. (This is the way to insert a value containing end-of-line-characters.)

In the context of this distribution, the intent of visual sections is to be parsed by a postprocessor. So the only purpose of explicit assignments in a visual section is to configure how the rest is parsed; after the parsing is done (and the result is copied elsewhere in the tree) these values should better be not used.

Semantic of visual sections

Two types of visual sections are supported: DEADKEYS and KBD. A content of DEADKEYS section is just an embedded (part of) .klc file. We can read deadkey mappings and deadkey names from such sections. The name of the section becomes the name of the mapping functions which may be used inside the Diacritic_* rule (or in a recipe for a computed layer).

A content of KBD section consists of #-comment lines and "the mapping lines"; every "mapping line" encodes one row in a keyboard (in one or several layouts). (But the make up of rows of this keyboard may be purely imaginary; it is normal to have a "keyboard" with one row of numbers 0...9.) Configuration settings specify how many lines are per row, and how many layers are encoded by every line, and what are the names of these layers:

 visual_rowcount        # how many config lines per row of keyboard
 visual_per_row_counts  # Array of length visual_rowcount
 visual_prefixes        # Array of chars; <= visual_rowcount (miss=SPACE)
 prefix_repeat          # How many times prefix char is repeated (n/a to SPACE)
 in_key_separator       # If several layers per row, splits a key-descr
 layer_names            # Where to put the resulting keys array

Each line consists of prefix (which is ignored except for sanity checking), and whitespace-separated list of key descriptions. (Whitespace followed by a combining character is not separating.) Each key description is split using in_key_separator into slots, one slot per layout. (The leading in_key_separator is not separating.) Each key/layout description consists of one or two entries. An entry is either two dashes -- (standing for empty), or a character, or a hex number of length >=4. (A hex numbers must be separated by . from neighbor word characters.) A loner character which has a different uppercase is auto-replicated in uppercase form. Missing or empty key/layout description gives two empty entries (note that the leading key/layout description cannot be empty; same for "the whole key description" - use the leading --.

For compatibility with other components, layer names should not contain characters +()[].

Inclusion of .klc files

Instead of including a .klc file (or its part) verbatim in a visual section, one can make a section DEADKEYS/NAME/name1/nm2 with a key klc_filename. Filename will be included and parsed as a DEADKEYS visual section (with name DEADKEYS/name1/nm2???). (Currently only UTF-16 files are supported.)


A metadata entry is either a string, or an array. A string behaves as if were an array with the string repeated sufficiently many times. Each personality defines MetaData_Index which chooses the element of the array. The entries


should be defined in the personality section, or above this section in the configuration tree. (Used for output Windows .klc files.)

Optional metadata currently consists only of VERSION key.

Layer/Face/Prefix-key Recipes

The sections layer_recipes and face_recipes contain instructions how to build Layers and Faces out of simpler elements. Similar recipes appear as values of DeadKey_* entries in a face. Such a "recipe" is executed with parameters: a base face name, a layer number, and a prefix character (the latter is undefined when the recipe is a layer recipe or face recipe). (The recipe is free to ignore the parameters; for example, most recipes ignore the prefix character even when they are "prefix key" recipes.)

The recipes and the visual sections are the most important components of the description of a keyboard group.

To construct layers of a face, a face recipe is executed several times with different "layer number" parameter. In contrast, in simplest cases a layer recipe is executed once. However, when the layer is a part of a compound ("parent") recipe, it inherits the "parameters" from the parent. In particular, it may be executed several times with different face name (if used in different faces), or with different layer number (if used - explicitly or explicitly - in different layer slots; for example, Mutator(LayerName) in a face/prefix-key recipe will execute the LayerName recipe separately for all the layer numbers; or one can use Layers(Empty+LayerName) together with Layers(LayerName+Other)). Depending on the recipe, these calls may result in the same layout of the resulting layers, or in different layouts.

A recipe may be of three kinds: it is either a "first comer wins" which is a space-separated collection of simpler recipes, or SELECTOR(COMPONENTS), or a "mutator": MUTATOR(BASE) or just MUTATOR. All recipes must be ()-balanced and []-balanced; so must be MUTATOR; in turn, the BASE is either a layer name, or another recipe. A layer name must be defined either in a visual KBD section, or be a key in the layer_recipes section (so it should not have +()[] characters), or be the literal Empty. When MUTATOR(BASE) is processed, first, the resulting layer(s) of the BASE recipe are calculated; then the layer(s) are processed by the MUTATOR (one key at a time).

The most important SELECTOR keywords are Face (with argument a face name, defined either via a faces/FACENAME section, or via face_recipes) and Layers (with argument of the form LAYER_NAME+LAYER_NAME+..., with layer names defined as above). Both select the layer (out of a face, or out of a list) with number equal to the "layer number parameter" in the context of the recipe. The FlipLayers builder is similar to Face, but chooses the "other" layer ("cyclically the next" layer if more than 2 are present).

The other selectors are Self, LinkFace and FlipLayersLinkFace; they operate on the base face or face associated to the base face.

The simplest forms of MUTATORS are Id, lc, uc, Empty. Recall that a layer is nothing more than a structure associating a pair "unshifted/shifted character" to the key number, and that these characters may be undefined. These simplest mutators modify these characters independently of their key numbers and shift state (with Empty making all of them undefined). Similar user-defined simple mutators are ByPairs[PAIRS]; here PAIRS consists of pairs "FROM TO" of characters (with optional spaces between pairs); "unknown" characters are undefined. (As usual, characters may be replaced by hex numbers with 4 or more hex digits; separate the number from a neighboring word character by . [dot].)

All mutators must have a form WORD or WORD[PARAMETERS], with PARAMETERS (),[]-balanced. Other simple mutators are FlipShift .................. ......................... Note that Id(LAYERNAME) is similar to a selector; it is the only way to insert a layer without a selector, since a bareword is interpreted as a MUTATOR; Id(LAYERNAME) is a synonym of Layers(LAYERNAME+LAYERNAME+...) (repeated as many times as there are layers in the parameter "base face").

Mutate (and its flavors) is the most important mutator.

The recipes in a space-separated list of recipes ("first comer wins") are interpreted independently to give a collection of layers to combine; then, for every key numbers and both shift states, one takes the leftmost recipe which produces a defined character for this position, and the result is put into the resulting layer.

Keep in mind that sometimes to understand what a recipe does, one should trace its description in opposite order: for example, ByPairs[.:](FlipLayers) creates a layout where : is at position of ., but on the second [=other] layer (essentially, if the base layout is the standard one, it binds character : to keypress AltGr-.).

To simplify formatting of .kbdd files, a recipe may be an array reference. The string may be split on spaces, or split after comma or |.


A personality NAME is defined in the section faces/NAME. (NAME may include slashes - untested???)

An array layers gives the list of layers forming the face. (As of version 0.03, only 2 layers are supported.) The string LinkFace is a face.........


In section Substitutions one defines composition rules which may be used on par with composition rules extracted from Unicode Character Database. An array FOO is converted to a hash accessible as <subst-FOO> from a Diacritic filter of satellite face processor. An element of the the array must consist of two characters (the first is mapped to the second one). If both characters have upper-case variants, the translation between these variants is also included.

Classification of diacritics

The section Diacritics contains arrays each describing a class of diacritic marks. Each array may contain up to 7 elements, each consising of diacritic marks in the order of similarity to the "principal" mark o fthe array. Combining characters may be preceded by horizontal space. Elements should contain:

 Surrogate chars; 8bit chars; Modifiers
 Modifiers below (or above if base char is below)
 Vertical (or Comma-like or Doubled or Dotlike or Rotated or letter-like) Modifiers
 Prime-like or Centered modifiers
 Combining below (or above if base char is below)
 Vertical combining and dotlike Combining

These lists determine what a Diacritic2Self filter of satellite face processor will produce when followed by whitespace characters (possibly with modifiers) SPACE ENTER TAB BACKSPACE. (So, if .kbdd file requires this) this determines what diacritic prefix keys produce.

Naming prefix keys ^

Section DEADKEYS defines naming of prefix keys. If not named there (or in processed .klc files), the Unicode name of the character will be used.

Keyboards: on ease of access ^

Let's start with trivialities: different people have different needs with respect to keyboard layouts. For a moment, ignore the question of the repertoir of characters available via keyboard; then the most crucial distinction corresponds to a certain scale. In absense of a better word, we use a provisional name "the required typing speed".

One example of people on the "quick" (or "rabid"?) pole of this scale are people who type a lot of text which is either "already prepared", or for which the "quality of prose" is not crucial. Quite often, these people may type in access of 100 words per minute. For them, the most important questions are of physical exhaustion from typing. The position of most frequent letters relative to the "rest" finger position, whether frequently typed together letters are on different hands (or at least not on the same/adjacent fingers), the distance fingers must travel when typing common words, how many keypresses are needed to reach a letter/symbol which is not "on the face fo the keyboard" - their primary concerns are of this kind.

On the other, "deliberate", pole these concerns cease to be crucial. On this pole are people who type while they "create" the text, and what takes most of their focus is this "creation" process. They may "polish their prose", or the text they write may be overburdened by special symbols - anyway, what they concentrate on is not typing itself.

For them, the details of the keyboard layout are important mostly in the relation to how much they distract the writer from the other things the writer is focused on. The primary question is now not "how easy it is to type this", but "how easy it is to recall how to type this". The focus transfers from the mechanics of finger movements to the psycho/neuro/science of memory.

These questions are again multifaceted: there are symbols one encounters every minute; after you recall once how to access them, most probably you won't need to recall them again - until you have a long interval when you do not type. The situation is quite different with symbols you need once per week - most probably, each time you will need to call them again and again. If such rarely used symbols/letters are frequenct (since many of them appear), it is important to have an easy way to find how to type them; on the other hand, probably there is very little need for this way to be easily memorizable. And for symbols which you need once per day, one needs both an easy way to find how to type them, and the way to type them should better be easily memorizable.

Now add to this the fact that for different people (so: different usage scenarios) this division into "all the time/every minute/every day/every week" categories is going to be different. And one should not forget important scenario of going to vacation: when you return, you need to "reboot" your typing skills from the dormant state.

On the other hand, note that the questions discussed above are more or less orthogonal: if the logic of recollection requires ω to be related in some way to the W-key, then it does not matter where the W-key is on the keyboard - the same logic is applicable to the QWERTY base layoubt, or BÉPO one, or Colemak, or Dvorak. This module concerns itself only with the questions of "consistency" and the related question of "the ease of recall"; we care only about which symbols relate to which "base keys", and do not care about where the base key sit on the physical keyboard.

NOTE: the version 0.01 of this module supports only the standard US layout of the base keys.

Now consider the question of the character repertoir: a person may need ways to type "continuously" in several languages; in addition to this, there may be a need to occasionally type "standalone" characters or symbols outside the repertoir of these languages. Moreover, these languages may use different scripts (such as Polish/Bulgarian/Greek/Arabic/Japanese), or may share a "bulk" of their characters, and differ only in some "exceptional letters". To add insult to injury, these "exceptional letters" may be rare in the language (such as ÿ in French or à in Swedish) or may have a significant letter frequency (such as é in French) or be somewhere in between (such as ñ in Spanish).

And the non-language symbols do not need to be the math symbols (although often they are). An Engish-language discussion of etimology at coffee table may lead to a need to write down a word in polytonic greek, or old norse; next moment one would need to write a phonetic transcription in IPA/APA symbols. A discussion of keyboard layout may involve writing down symbols for non-character keys of the keyboard. A typography freak would optimize a document by fine-tuned whitespaces. Almost everybody needs arrows symbols, and many people would use box drawing characters if they had a simple access to them.

Essentially, this means that as far as it does not impacts other accessibility goals, it makes sense to have unified memorizable access to as many symbols/characters as possible. (An example of impacting other aspects: MicroSoft's (and IBM's) "US International" keyboards steal characters `~'^": typing them produces "unexpected results" - they are deadkeys. This significantly simplifies entering characters with accents, but makes it harder to enter non-accented characters.)

One of the most known principles of design of human-machine interaction is that "simple common tasks should be simple to perform, and complicated tasks should be possible to perform". I strongly disagree with this principle - IMO, it lacks a very important component: "a gradual increase in complexity". When a certain way of doing things is easy to perform, and another similar way is still "possible to perform", but on a very elevated level of complexity, this leads to a significant psychological barrier erected between these ways. Even when switching from the first way to the other one has significant benefits, this barrier leads to self-censorship. Essentially, people will ignore the benefits even if they exceed the penalty of "the elevated level of complexity" mentioned above. And IMO self-censorship is the worst type of censorship. (There is a certain similarity between this situation and that of "self-fulfilled prophesies". "People won't want to do this, so I would not make it simpler to do" - and now people do not want to do this...)

So I would add another clause to the law above: "and moderately complicated tasks should remain moderately hard to perform". What does it tell us in the situation of keyboard layout? One can separate several levels of complexity.


There should be some "base keyboards": keyboard layouts used for continuous typing in a certain language or script. Access from one base keyboard to letters of another should be as simple as possible.

By parts:

If a symbol can be thought of as a combination of certain symbols accessible on the base keyboard, one should be able to "compose" the symbol: enter it by typing a certain "composition prefix" key then the combination (as far as the combination is unambiguously associated to one symbol).

The "thoughts" above should be either obvious (as in "combining a and e should give æ") or governed by simple mneumonic rules; the rules should cover as wide a range as possible (as in "Greek/Coptic/Hebrew/Russian letters are combined as G/C/H/R and the corresponding Latin letter; the correspondence is phonetic, or, in presence of conflicts, visual").

Quick access:

As many non-basic letters as possible (of those expected to appear often) should be available via shortcuts. Same should be applicable to starting sequences of composition rules (such as "instead of typing StartCompose and ' one can type AltGr-').

Smart access

Certain non-basic characters may be accessible by shortcuts which are not based on composition rules. However, these shortcuts should be deducible by using simple mneumonic rules (such as "to get a vowel with `-accent, type AltGr-key with the physical keyboard's key sitting below the vowel key").


If everything else fails, the user should be able to enter a character by its Unicode number (preferably in the most frequently referenced format: hexadecimal).

NOTE: This does not seem to be easily achievable, but it looks like a very nifty UI: a certain HotKey is reserved (e.g., AltGr-AppMenu); when it is tapped, and a character-key is pressed (for example, B) a menu-driven interface pops up where user may navigate to different variants of B, Beta, etc - each of variants with a hotkey to reach NOW, and with instructions how to reach it later from the keyboard without this UI.

Also: if a certain timeout passes after pressing the initial HotKey, an instruction what to do next should appear.

Here are the finer points elaborating on these levels of complexity:

  1. It looks reasonable to allow "fuzzy mneumonic rules": the rules which specify several possible variants where to look for the shortcut (up to 3-4 variants). If/when one forgets the keying of the shortcut, but remembers such a rule, a short experiment with these positions allows one to reconstruct the lost memory.
  2. The "base keyboards" (those used for continuous typing in a certain language or script) should be identical to some "standard" widely used keyboards. These keyboards should differ from each other in position of keys used by the scripts only; the "punctuation keys" should be in the same position. If a script B has more letters than a script A, then a lot of "punctuation" on the layout A will be replaced by letters in the layout B. This missing punctuation should be made available by pressing a modifier (AltGr? compare with MicroSoft's Vietnamese keyboard's top row).

  3. If more than one base keyboard is used, there must be a quick access: if one needs to enter one letter from layout B when the active layout is A, one should not be forced to switch to B, type the letter, then switch back to A. It must be available on "Quick_Access_Key letter".

  4. One should consider what the Quick_Access_Key does when the layouts A and B are identical on a particular key. One can go with the "Occam's razor" approach and make Quick_Access_Key the do-nothing identity map. Alternatively, one can make it access some symbols useful both for script A and script B. It is a judgement call.

    Note that there is a gray area when layouts A and B are not identical, but a key K produces punctuation in layout A, and a letter in layout B. Then when in layout B, this punctuation is available on AltGr-key, so, in principle, Quick_Access_Key would duplicate the functionality of AltGr. Compare with "there is more than one way to do it" below; remember that OS (or misbehaving applications) may make some keypresses "unavailable". I feel that in these situations, having duplication is a significant advantage over "having some extra symbols available".

  5. Paired symbols (such as such as ≤≥, «», ‹›, “”, ‘’ should be put on paired keyboard's keys: <> or [] or ().

  6. "Directional symbols" (such as arrows) should be put either on numeric keypad or on a 3×3 subgrid on the letter-part of the keyboard (such as QWE/ASD/ZXC). (Compare with [broken?] implementation in Neo2.)

  7. for symbols that are naturally thought of as sitting in a table, one can create intuitive mapping of quite large tables to the keyboard. Split each key in halves by a horizontal line, think of Shift-key as sitting in the top half. Then ignoring `~ key and most of punctuation on the right hand side, keyboard becomes an 8×10 grid. Taking into account AltGr, one can map up to 8×10×2 (or, in some cases, 8×20!) table to a keyboard.

    Example: Think of IPA consonants.

  8. Cheatsheets are useful. And there are people who are ready to dedicate a piece of their memory to where on a layout is a particularly useful to them symbol. So even if there is no logical position for a certain symbol, but there is an empty slot on layout, one should not hesitate in using this slot.

    However, this will be distractive to people who do not want to dedicate their memory to "special cases". So it makes sense to have three kinds of cheatsheets for layouts: one with special cases ignored (useful for most people), one with all general cases ignored (useful for checks "is this symbol available in some place I do not know about" and for memorization), and one with all the bells and whistles.

  9. "There is more than one way to do it" is not a defect, it is an asset. If it is a reasonable expectation to find a symbol X on keypress K', and the same holds for keypress K'' and they both do not conflict with other "being intuitive" goals, go with both variants. Same for 3 variants, 4 - now you get my point.

    Example: The standard Russian phonetic layout has Ё on the ^-key; on the other hand, Ё is a variant of Е; so it makes sense to have Ё available on AltGr-Е as well. Same for Ъ and Ь.

  10. Dead keys which are "abstract" (as opposed to being related to letters engraved on physical keyboard) should better be put on modified state of "zombie" keys of the keyboard (SPACE, TAB, CAPSLOCK, MENU_ACCESS).

    NOTE: Making Shift-Space a prefix key may lead to usability issues for people used to type CAPITALIZED PHRASES by keeping Shift pressed all the time. As a minimum, the symbols accessed via Shift-SPACE key should be strikingly different from those produced by key so that such problems are noted ASAP. Example: on the first sight, producing NO-BREAK SPACE on Shift-Space Shift-Space or Shift-Space Space looks like a good idea. Do not do this: the visually undistinguishable NO-BREAK SPACE would lead to significantly hard-to-debug problems if it was unintentional.

Explanation of keyboard layout terms used in the docs ^

The aim of this module is to make keyboard layout design as simple as possible. It turns out that even very elaborate designs can be made quickly and the process is not very error-prone. It looks like certain venues not tried before are now made possible; at least I'm not aware of other attempts in this direction. One can make layouts which can be "explained" very concisely, while they contain thousand(s) of accessible letters.

Unfortunately, being on unchartered territories, in my explanations I'm forced to use home-grown terms. So be patient with me... The terms are keyboard group, keyboard, face and layer. (I must compare them with what ISO 9995 does:

In what follows, the words letter and character are used interchangeably. A key means a physical key on a keyboard clicked (possibly together with one of modifiers Shift, AltGr - or, rarely Control. The key AltGr is either marked as such, or is just the "right" Alt key; at least on Windows it can be replaced by Control-Alt. A prefix key is a key tapping which does not produce any letter, but modifies what the next keypress would do (sometimes it is called a dead key; in ISO 9995 terms, it is probably a latching key).

A plain layer is a part of keyboard layout accessible by using only non-prefix keys (possibly in combination with Shift); likewise, additional layers are parts of layout accessible by combining the non-prefix keys with Shift (if needed) and with a particular combination of other modifiers (AltGr or Control). So there may be up to 2 additional layers: the AltGr-layer and Control-layer.

On the simplest layouts, such as "US" or "Russian", there is no prefix keys - but this is only feasible for languages which use very few characters with diacritic marks. However, note that most layouts do not use Control-layer - it is stated that this might be subject to problems with system interaction.

The primary face consists of the plain and additional layers of a keyboard; it is the part of layout accessible without switching "sticky state" and without using prefix keys. There may be up to 3 layouts (Primary, AltGr, Control) per face (on Windows). A secondary face is a face exposed after pressing a prefix key.

A personality is a collection of faces: the primary face, plus one face per a defined prefix-key. Finally, a keyboard group is a collection of personalities (switchable by CapsLock and/or personality change hotkeys like Shift-Alt) designed to work smoothly together.

EXAMPLE: Start with a very elaborate (and not yet implemented, but feasible with this module) example. A keyboard group may consist of phonetically matched Latin and Cyrillic personalities, and visually matched Greek and Math personalities. Several prefix-keys may be shared by all 4 of these personalities; in particular, there would be 4 prefix-keys allowing access to primary faces of these 4 personalities from other personalities of the group. Also, there may be specialised prefix-key tuned for particular need of entering Latin script, Cyrillic script, Greek script, and Math.

Suppose that there are 8 specialized Latin prefix-keys (for example, name them


although in practice each one of them may do more than the name suggests). Then Latin personality will have the following 13 faces:


NOTE: Here Latin-Primary is the face one gets when one presses the Access-Latin prefix-key when in Latin mode; it may be convenient to define it to be the same as Primary - or maybe not. For example, if one defines it to be Greek-Primary, then this prefix-key has a convenient semantic of flipping between Latin and Greek modes for the next typed character: when in Latin, Latin-PREFIX-KEY a would enter α, when in Greek, the same keypresses [now meaning "Latin-PREFIX-KEY α"] would enter "a".

Assume that the layout does not use the Control modifier. Then each of these faces would consists of two layers: the plain one, and the AltGr- one. For example, pressing AltGr with a key on Greek face could add diaeresis to a vowel, or use a modified ("final" or "symbol") "glyph" for a consonant (as in σ/ς θ/ϑ). Or, on Latin face, AltGr-a may produce æ. Or, on a Cyrillic personality, AltGr-я (ya) may produce ѣ (yat').

Likewise, the Greek personality may define special prefix-keys to access polytonic greek vowels. (On the other hand, maybe this is not a very good idea - it may be more useful to make polytonic Greek accessible from all personalities in a keyboard group. Then one is able to type a polytonic Greek letter without switching to the Greek personality.)

With such a keyboard group, to type one Greek word in a Cyrillic text one would switch to the Greek personality, then back to Cyrillic; but when all one need to type now is only one Greek letter, it may be easier to use the "Greek-PREFIX-KEY letter" combination, and save switching back to the Cyrillic personality. (Of course, for this to work the letter should be on the primary face of the Greek personality.)


Looks too complicated? Try to think about it in a different way: there are many faces in a keyboard group; break them into 3 "onion rings":

CORE faces

one can "switch to a such a face" and type continuously using this face without pressing prefix keys. In other words, these faces can be made "active".

When another face is active, the letters in these faces are still accessible by pressing one particular prefix key before each of these letters. This prefix key does not depend on which core face is currently "active". (This is the same as for univerally accessible faces.)

Universally accessible faces

one cannot "switch to them", however, letters in these faces are accessible by pressing one particular prefix key before this letter. This prefix key does not depend on which core face is currently "active".

satellite faces

one cannot "switch to them", and letters in these faces are accessible from one particular core face only. One must press a prefix key before every letter in such faces.

For example, when entering a mix of Latin/Cyrillic scripts and math, it makes sense to make the base-Latin and base-Cyrillic faces into the core; it is convenient when (several) Math faces and a Greek face can be made universally accessible. On the other hand, faces containing diacritized Latin letters and diacritized Cyrillic letters should better be made satellite; this avoids a proliferation of prefix keys which would make typing slower.

Access to diacritic marks ^

The logic: prefix keys are either 8-bit characters with high bit set, or if none with the needed glyph, they are "spacing modifier letters" or "spacing clones of diacritics". And if you type something after them, you can get other modifier letters and combining characters: here is the logic of this:

The second press

The principal combining mark.

Surrogate for the diacritic

(either " or '): corresponding "prime shape"-modifier character


The modifier character itself.


Modifier letter (the first one if diacritic is 8-bit, the second one otherwise.

Some stats on prefix keys: ISO 9995-3 uses 26 prefix keys for diacritics; bépo uses 20, while EurKey uses 8. On the other end of spectrum, there are 10 US keyboard keys with "calculatable" relation to Latin diacritics:

  `~^-'",./? --- grave/tilde/hat/macron/acute/diaeresis/cedilla/dot/stroke/hook-above

To this list one may add a "calculatable" key $ as the currency prefix; on the other hand, one should probably remove ? since AltGr-? should better be "set in stone" to denote ¿. If one adds Greek, then the calculatable positions for aspiration are on [ ] (or on ( )). Of widely used Latin diacritics, this leaves ring/hacek/breve/horn/ogonek/comma (and doubled grave/acute).

CAVEATS for BÉPO keyboard:

Non-US keycaps: the key "a" still uses (VK_)A, but its scancode is now different. E.g., French's A is on 0x10, which is US's Q. Our table of scancodes is currently hardwired. Some pictures and tables are available on


Useful tidbits from Unicode mailing list (unsorted) ^

.... skew-orthogonal complement



MS keyboard (wrong?)

w-ring is a stowaway

History of squared pH

Why and how to introduce innovative characters

Upside-down text in CSS (remove position?)

Classification of Dings (bats etc)

        Escape: 2be9 2b9b
        ARROW SHAFT - various

Math Almost-Text encoding
    For me 1/2/3/4 means unambiguously ((1/2)/3)/4, i.e. 1/(2*3*4)

    Unicode mostly encodes characters that are in use or have been
    encoded in other standards. While not semantically agnostic, it is
    much less oriented towards semantic clarifications and
    distinctions than many people might hope for (and this includes
    me, some of the time at least).

Unicode knows the concept of a provisional property
    If you want to make analogies, however, the ISO ballots constitute
    the *provisional* publication for character code points and names.
        that needs to be available from day one for a character to be
        implementable at all (such as decomp mappings, bidi class,
        code point, name, etc.).

                        - to define decomposition, prepend it

Yiddish digraphs


Silly quotation marks: 201b, 201f 
                under "4.6 Apostrophe Semantics Errata"

COMBINING GREEK YPOGEGRAMMENI equilibristic (depends on a vowel?)


Keyboard keys:

Horizontal/vertical line/arrow extensions

Cyrillic Script, Unicode status (+combining)

OHM: In modern usage, for new documents, this character should not be used.

Substitute blank

Representing invisible characters

Diacritics in fonts

Unicode in 1889

On the other hand, having access to text only math symbols makes it possible to implement it in computer languages, making source code easier to read.

Right now, I feel there is a lack of keyboard maps. You can develop them on your own, but that is very time consuming.

Licences (GPL etc) in TV sets

Exciting new letter forms for English,2869/

Similar glyphs:


GOST 10859

Unicode to PostScript

Linguists mailing lists

GeoLocation by IP

Per language character repertoir:

Compromizes vs reality

Dates/numbers in Unicode

Normalization FAQ

Hebrew char input

Obsolete IPA

Teutonista (vowel guide p11, kbd p13)

Greek letters for non-Greek

Pretty-printing text math

Sub/Super on a terminal


Uppercase eszett ß ẞ

Questionner at start of Unicode proposal


Cyrillic soup



CGI and OpenType

Numbers in scripts ;-)

Indicating coverage of the font

Proposing new stuff


Accessing ligatures

Should not use (roman numerals)

Folding characters

Ignorable glyphs

Spacing: English and French

HOWTO: (non)dummy VS in fonts



On which base to draw a "standalone" diacretic

Universality vs affordability

The IBM 1401 Hebrew Letter Key

Structure of development of Unicode
      I don't have a problem with Unicode. It is what it is; it cannot
      possibly be all things to all people:

CR symbols

Chicago Manual of Style

Stability of normalization

Writing systems vs written languages

MS Visual OpenType tables

Coloring parts of ligatures Implemenations:

Combining power of generative features - implementor's view

"Same" character Oacute used for different "functions" in the same text


Variation sequences

Federal vs regional aspects of Latinization (a lot of flak; cp1251)

Sign writing

Writing digits in non-decimal
        Which separator is less ambiguous?  Breve ˘ ? ␣ ?  Inverted ␣ ?

Colors in Unicode names

Use to identify a letter:

A useful set of criteria for encoding symbols is found in Annex H of this document: 

What is a "Latin" char

Perl has problems with unpaired surrogates (whole thread)

Complex fonts (e.g., Indic)

Complex glyphs in Symbola (pre-6.01) font may crash older versions of Windows

Window 7 SP1 improvements

Middle dot is ambiguous

Apostroph as soft sign

Chinese typesetting

Keyboards - agreement (5 scripts at end)



Superscript == modifiers

Need for a keyboard, keyman examples; why "standard" keyboards are doomed

@fonts and non-URL URIs

How to encode Latin-in-fraktur

Math layout

Book Spine reading direction

Xerox and interrobang

Translation of Unicode names


The keyboard(s) generated with this module: UI::KeyboardLayout::izKeys,

On diacritics:                 (Chars of languages)

     Accents in different Languages:,12,inne_diakrytyki.htm#07
     Typesetting Old and Modern Church Slavonic

On typography marks

On keyboard layouts:           (used almost nowhere - only half of keys in Canadian multilanguage match)
      Discussion of layout changes and position of €:                     (Old Irish mechanical typewriters)                    (One-handed layout)   (and references there)
      Images in (download of)
      Neo2 sources:
      Shift keys at center, nice graphic:
      Physical keyboard:
      Portable keyboard layout
      Typing on numeric keypad
      On screen keyboard indicator
      Phonetic Hebrew layout(s) (1st has many duplicates, 2nd overweighted)
      Greek (Galaxy) with a convenient mapping (except for Ψ) and BibleScript
      With 2-letter input of Unicode names:

By author of MSKLC Michael S. Kaplan (do not forget to follow links)
      Chaining dead keys:
      Mapping VK to VSC etc:
      [Link] Remapping CapsLock to mean Backspace in a keyboard layout
            (if repeat, every second Press counts ;-)
      Scancodes from kbd.h get in the way
      What happens if you start with .klc with other VK_ mappings:
      Keyboards with Ctrl-Shift states:
      On assigning Ctrl-values
      On hotkeys for switching layouts:
      Text services
      Low-level access in MSKLC
      On font linking
      Unicode in console
      Adding formerly "invisible" keys to the keyboard
      Redefining NumKeypad keys
      And backspace/return/etc
       kbdutool.exe, run with the /S  ==> .c files
      Doing one's own WM_DEADKEY processing'
      Dead keys do not work on SG-Caps
      Dynamic keycaps keyboard
      Backslash/yen/won confusion
      Unicode output to console
      Install/Load/Activate an input method/layout
      Reset to a TT font from an application:
      How to (not) treat C-A-Q
      Treating Brazilian ABNT c1 c2 keys
      And JIS ¥|-key
         (compare with
      Suggest a topic:

VK_OEM_8 Kana modifier - Using instead of AltGr Limitations of using KANA toggle

FE (Far Eastern) keyboard source code example:

        Investigation on relation between VK_ asignments, KBDEXT, KBDNUMPAD etc:

    PowerShell vs ISE

HTML consolidated entity names and discussion, MES charsets:


Low level scancode mapping
  the free remapkey.exe utility that's in Microsoft NT / 2000 resource kit.

  perl -wlne "BEGIN{$t = {T => q(), qw( X e0 Y e1 )}} print qq(  $t->{$1}$2\t$3) if /^#define\s+([TXY])([0-9a-f]{2})\s+(?:_EQ|_NE)\((?:(?:\s*\w+\s*,){3})?\s*([^\W_]\w*)\s*(?:(?:,\s*\w+\s*){2})?\)\s*(?:\/\/.*)?$/i" kbd.h >ll2
    then select stuff up to the first e1 key (but DECIMAL is not there T53 is DELETE??? take from MSKLC help/using/advanced/scancodes)

CapsLock as on typewriter:

Problems on X11:                   (definition of XKB???)                     (current???)                       (current???)        (current???)                  (documents almost 1/2 of the needed stuff)                                        (2005++ ???)    (2009++ HAS: How to make CapsLock change layouts)                                (of 2008???)                                     (of 2005???)                           (of 1999???)


  ./xkb in /etc/X11 /usr/local/X11 /usr/share/local/X11 /usr/share/X11
    (maybe it is more productive to try
      ls -d /*/*/xkb  /*/*/*/xkb
  but what dead_diaresis means is defined here:
     Apparently, may be in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose

Note: have XIM input method in GTK disables Control-Shift-u way of entering HEX unicode.

    How to contribute:

Note: the problems with handling deadkeys via .Compose are that: .Compose is handled by applications, while keymaps by server (since they may be on different machines, things can easily get out of sync); .Compose knows nothing about the current "Keyboard group" or of the state of CapsLock etc (therefore emulating "group switch" via composing is impossible).

JS code to add "insert these chars": google for editpage_specialchars_cyrilic, or

Latin paleography       (Uncomplete???)        (No prioritization...)

Summary tables for Cyrillic                 - per language tables

     Extra chars (see also the ordering table on page 8)

    Table with Unicode points marked:
                        (except for "Lateral flap" and "Epiglottal" column/row.
    (Extended) IPA explained by consortium:
    IPA keyboard

Is this discussing KBDNLS_TYPE_TOGGLE on VK_KANA???

Windows: fonts substitution/fallback/replacement

Problems on Windows:

    Console font: Lucida Console 14 is viewable, but has practically no Unicode support.
                  Consolas (good at 16) has much better Unicode support (sometimes better sometimes worse than DejaVue)
                  Dejavue is good at 14 (equal to a GUI font size 9 on 15in 1300px screen; 16px unifont is native at 12 here)
    Apparently, Windows picks up the flavor (Bold/Italic/Etc) of DejaVue at random; see
        - he got it in bold.  I''m getting it in italic...  Workaround: uninstall 
          all flavors but one (the BOOK flavor), THEN enable it for the console...  Then reinstall
          (preferably newer versions).

Display (how WikiPedia does it):
    In CSS:  .IPA, .Unicode { font-family: "Arial Unicode MS", "Lucida Sans Unicode"; }

Inspect which font is used by Firefox:

Windows shortcuts:

On meaning of Unicode math codepoints

Monospaced fonts with combining marks (!)

Indic ISCII - any hope with it? (This is not representable...:)

(Persieved) problems of Unicode (2001)

On a need to have input methods for unicode

On info on Unicode chars 

Zapf dingbats encoding, and other fine points of AdobeGL:

Yet another (IMO, silly) way to handle '; fight: ' vs ` ´

Quoting tchrist: You can snag unichars, uniprops, and uninames from if you like.

Tom's unicode scripts

.XCompose: on docs and examples

Syntax of .XCompose is (partially) documented in

 #   Modifiers are not documented
 #       (Shift, Alt, Lock, Ctrl with aliases Meta, Caps; apparently,
 #               ! is applied to a sequence without ~ ???) 

Semantic (e.g., which of keybindings has a preference) is not documented. Experiments (see below) show that a longer binding wins; if same length, one which is loaded later wins. Relation with presence of modifiers is not clear.

 #      (the source of imLcPrs.c shows that the explansion of the
 #      shorter sequence is stored too - but the presence of
 #      ->succession means that the code to process the resulting
 #      tree ignores the expansion).

Before the syntax was documented: For the best approximation, read the parser's code, e.g., google for

    inurl:compose.c XCompose "XCompose" "XCompose" filetype:c

The actual use of the compiled compose table:

Apparently, the first node (= defined last) in the tree which matches keysym and modifiers is chosen. So to override <Foo> <Bar>, looks like (checked to work!) ~Ctrl <Foo> may be used... On the other hand, defining both <Foo> <Bar> <Baz> and (later) <Foo> ~Ctrl <Bar>, one would expect that <Foo> <Ctrl-Bar> <Baz> should still trigger the expansion of <Foo> <Bar> <Baz> — but it does not... See also:

The file .XCompose is processed by X11 clients on startup. The changes to this file should be seen immediately by all newly started clients (but GTK or QT applications may need extra config - see below) unless the directory ~/.compose-cache is present and has a cache file compatible with binary architecture (then until cache expires - one day after creation - changes are not seen). The name .XCompose may be overriden by environment variable XCOMPOSEFILE.

To get (better?) examples, google for "multi_key" partial alpha "DOUBLE-STRUCK".

  # include these first, so they may be overriden later
  include "%H/my-Compose/.XCompose-kragen"
  include "%H/my-Compose/.XCompose-ootync"
  include "%H/my-Compose/.XCompose-pSub"

Check success: kragen: \ space --> ␣; ootync: o F --> ℉; pSub: 0 0 --> ∞ ...

Older versions of X11 do not understand %L %S. - but understand %H

E.g. Debian Squeeze 6.0.6; according to

it has v 1:7.5+8+squeeze1).

   include "/etc/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose"
   include "/usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose"

Import default rules from the system Compose file: usually as above (but supported only on newer systems):

   include "%L"

detect the success of the lines above: get # by doing Compose + + ...

The next file to include have been generated by

  perl -wlne 'next if /#\s+CIRCLED/; print if />\s+<.*>\s+<.*>\s+<.*/' /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose
  ### Std tables contain quadruple prefix for GREEK VOWELS and CIRCLED stuff
  ### only.  But there is a lot of triple prefix...  
  perl -wne 'next if /#\s+CIRCLED/; $s{$1}++ or print qq( $1) if />\s+<.*>\s+<.*>\s+<.*"(.*)"/' /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose
  ##  – — ☭ ª º Ǖ ǖ Ǘ ǘ Ǚ ǚ Ǜ ǜ Ǟ ǟ Ǡ ǡ Ǭ ǭ Ǻ ǻ Ǿ ǿ Ȫ ȫ Ȭ ȭ Ȱ ȱ ʰ ʱ ʲ ʳ ʴ ʵ ʶ ʷ ʸ ˠ ˡ ˢ ˣ ˤ ΐ ΰ Ḉ ḉ Ḕ ḕ Ḗ ḗ Ḝ ḝ Ḯ ḯ Ḹ ḹ Ṍ ṍ Ṏ ṏ Ṑ ṑ Ṓ ṓ Ṝ ṝ Ṥ ṥ Ṧ ṧ Ṩ ṩ Ṹ ṹ Ṻ ṻ Ấ ấ Ầ ầ Ẩ ẩ Ẫ ẫ Ậ ậ Ắ ắ Ằ ằ Ẳ ẳ Ẵ ẵ Ặ ặ Ế ế Ề ề Ể ể Ễ ễ Ệ ệ Ố ố Ồ ồ Ổ ổ Ỗ ỗ Ộ ộ Ớ ớ Ờ ờ Ở ở Ỡ ỡ Ợ ợ Ứ ứ Ừ ừ Ử ử Ữ ữ Ự ự ἂ ἃ ἄ ἅ ἆ ἇ Ἂ Ἃ Ἄ Ἅ Ἆ Ἇ ἒ ἓ ἔ ἕ Ἒ Ἓ Ἔ Ἕ ἢ ἣ ἤ ἥ ἦ ἧ Ἢ Ἣ Ἤ Ἥ Ἦ Ἧ ἲ ἳ ἴ ἵ ἶ ἷ Ἲ Ἳ Ἴ Ἵ Ἶ Ἷ ὂ ὃ ὄ ὅ Ὂ Ὃ Ὄ Ὅ ὒ ὓ ὔ ὕ ὖ ὗ Ὓ Ὕ Ὗ ὢ ὣ ὤ ὥ ὦ ὧ Ὢ Ὣ Ὤ Ὥ Ὦ Ὧ ᾀ ᾁ ᾂ ᾃ ᾄ ᾅ ᾆ ᾇ ᾈ ᾉ ᾊ ᾋ ᾌ ᾍ ᾎ ᾏ ᾐ ᾑ ᾒ ᾓ ᾔ ᾕ ᾖ ᾗ ᾘ ᾙ ᾚ ᾛ ᾜ ᾝ ᾞ ᾟ ᾠ ᾡ ᾢ ᾣ ᾤ ᾥ ᾦ ᾧ ᾨ ᾩ ᾪ ᾫ ᾬ ᾭ ᾮ ᾯ ᾲ ᾴ ᾷ ῂ ῄ ῇ ῒ ῗ ῢ ῧ ῲ ῴ ῷ ⁱ ⁿ ℠ ™ שּׁ שּׂ а̏ А̏ е̏ Е̏ и̏ И̏ о̏ О̏ у̏ У̏ р̏ Р̏ 🙌

The folloing exerpt from NEO compose tables may be good if you use keyboards which do not generate dead keys, but may generate Cyrillic keys; in other situations, edit filtering/naming on the following download command and on the include line below. (For my taste, most bindings are useless since they contain keysymbols which may be generated with NEO, but not with less intimidating keylayouts.)

(Filtering may be important, since having a large file may significantly slow down client's startup (without ~/.compose-cache???).)

  # perl -wle 'foreach (qw(base cyrillic greek lang math)) {my @i=@ARGV; $i[-1] .= qq($_.module?format=txt); system @i}' wget -O - | perl -wlne 'print unless /<(U[\dA-F]{4,6}>|dead_|Greek_)/' >  .XCompose-neo-no-Udigits-no-dead-no-Greek
  include "%H/.XCompose-neo-no-Udigits-no-dead-no-Greek"
  # detect the success of the line above: get ♫ by doing Compose Compose (but this binding is overwritten later!)

  ###################################### Neo's Math contains junk at line 312

Print with something like (loading in a web browser after this):

  perl -l examples/filter-XCompose ~/.XCompose-neo-no-Udigits-no-dead-no-Greek > ! o-neo
  env LC_ALL=C sort -f o-neo | column -x -c 130 > ! /tmp/oo-neo-x

“Systematic” parts of rules in a few .XCompose

        ================== .XCompose    b=bepo          o=ootync        k=kragen        p=pSub  s=std
        b       Double-Struck           b
        o       circled ops             b
        O       big circled ops         b
        r       rotated                 b       8ACETUv  ∞

        -       sub                     p
        =       double arrows           po
        g       greek                   po
        m       math                    p       |=Double-Struck         rest haphasard...
        O       circles                 p       Oo
        S       stars                   p       Ss
        ^       sup                     p       added: i -
        |       daggers                 p

        Double  mathop                  ok      +*&|%8CNPQRZ AE

        #       thick-black arrows      o
        -,Num-  arrows                  o
        N/N     fractions               o
        hH      pointing hands          o
        O       circled ops             o
        o       degree                  o
        rR      roman nums              o
        \ UP    upper modifiers         o
        \ DN    lower modifiers         o
        {       set theoretic           o
        |       arrows |-->flavors      o
        UP /    roots                   o
        LFT DN  6-quotes, bold delim    o
        RT DN   9-quotes, bold delim    o
        UP,DN   super,sub               o

        DOUBLE-separated-by-&   op      k        ( ) 
        in-()   circled                 k       xx for tensor
        in-[]   boxed, dice, play-cards k
        BKSP after      revert          k
        < after         revert          k
        ` after         small-caps      k
        ' after         hook            k
        , after         hook below      k
        h after         phonetic        k

        #       musical                 k
        %0      ROMAN                   k       %_0 for two-digit
        %       roman                   k       %_  for two-digit
        *       stars                   k
        *.      var-greek               k
        *       greek                   k
        ++, 3   triple                  k
        +       double                  k
        ,       quotes                  k
        !, /    negate                  k
        6,9     6,9-quotes              k
        N N     fractions               k
        =       double-arrows, RET      k
        CMP x2  long names              k
        f       hand, pencils           k
        \       combining???            k
        ^       super, up modifier      k
        _       low modifiers           k
        |B, |W  chess, checkers, B&W    k
        |       double-struck           k
        ARROWS  ARROWS                  k

        !       dot below               s
        "       diaeresis               s
        '       acute                   s
        trail < left delimiter          s
        trail > right delimiter         s
        trail \ slopped variant         s
        ( ... ) circled                 s
        (       greek aspirations       s
        )       greek aspirations       s
        +       horn                    s
        ,       cedilla                 s
        .       dot above               s
        -       hor. bar                s
        /       diag, vert hor. bar     s
        ;       ogonek                  s
        =       double          s
        trail = double          s
        ?       hook above              s
        b       breve                   s
        c       check above             s
        iota    iota below              s
        trail 0338      negated         s
        o       ring above              s
        U       breve                   s
                        SOME HEBREW
        ^       circumblex              s
        ^ _     superscript             s
        ^ undbr superscript             s
        _       bar                     s
        _       subscript               s
        underbr subscript               s
        `       grave                   s
        ~       greek dieresis          s
        ~       tilde                   s
        overbar bar                     s
        ´       acute                   s       ´ is not '
        ¸       cedilla                 s       ¸ is cedilla


Currently only output for Windows keyboard layout drivers (via MSKLC) is available.

Currently only the keyboards with US-mapping of hardware keys to "the etched symbols" are supported (think of German physical keyboards where Y/Z keycaps are swapped: Z is etched between T and U, and Y is to the left of X, or French which swaps A and Q, or French or Russian physical keyboards which have more alphabetical keys than 26).

Currently no LIGATURES are supported.

While the architecture of assembling a keyboard of small easy-to-describe pieces is (IMO) elegant and very powerful, and is proven to be useful, it still looks like a collection of independent hacks. Many of these hacks look quite similar; it would be great to find a way to unify them, so reduce the repertoir of operations for assembly.

The current documentation is a hodge-podge of semi-coherent rambling.

The implementation of the module is crumbling under its weight. Its evolution was by bloating (even when some design features were simplified). Since initially I had very little clue to which level of abstraction and flexibility the keyboard description would evolve, bloating accumulated to incredible amounts.


APL symbols with UP TACK and DOWN TACK look reverted w.r.t. other UP TACK and DOWN TACK symbols. (We base our mutation on the names, not glyphs.)

LESS-THAN, FULL MOON, GREATER-THAN, EQUALS GREEK RHO, MALE are defined with SYMBOL or SIGN at end, but (may) drop it when combined with modifiers via WITH. Likewise for SUBSET OF, SUPERSET OF, CONTAINS AS MEMBER, PARALLEL TO, EQUIVALENT TO, IDENTICAL TO.

Sometimes opposite happens, and SIGN appears out of blue sky; compare:


ENG is a combination of n with HOOK, but it is not marked as such in its name.

Sometimes a name of diacritic (after WITH) acquires an ACCENT at end (see U+0476).

Oftentimes the part to the left of WITH is not resolvable: sometimes it is underspecified (e.g, just TRIANGLE), sometimes it is overspecified (e.g., in LEFT VERTICAL BAR WITH QUILL), sometime it should be understood as a word (e.g, in END WITH LEFTWARDS ARROW ABOVE). Sometimes it just does not exist (e.g., LATIN LETTER REVERSED GLOTTAL STOP WITH STROKE - there is LATIN LETTER INVERTED GLOTTAL STOP, but not the reversed variant). Sometimes it is a defined synonym (VERTICAL BAR).

Sometimes it has something appended (N-ARY UNION OPERATOR WITH DOT).

Sometimes WITH is just a clarification (RIGHTWARDS HARPOON WITH BARB DOWNWARDS).

  1     AND
  1     ANTENNA
  1     BACK
  1     BLACK SUN
  1     BRIDE
  1     COUPLE
  1     END
  1     FISH CAKE
  1     GLOBE
  1     HEAVY OVAL
  1     HELMET
  1     MONEY
  1     NIGHT
  1     ON
  1     OR
  1     PAGE
  1     SMALL VEE
  1     SOON
  1     SQUARED UP
  1     TOP
  1     WHITE SUN
  2     HEART
  2     LEFT ARROW
  2     PARALLEL
  2     TIMES
  3     CHART
  3     CONTAINS
  3     TRIANGLE
  4     BANKNOTE
  4     DIAMOND
  4     PERSON
  11    CIRCLE
  11    FACE
  15    SQUARE

  perl -wlane "next unless /^Unresolved: <(.*?)>/; $s{$1}++; END{print qq($s{$_}\t$_) for keys %s}" oxx-us2 | sort -n > oxx-us2-sorted-kw

SQUARE WITH specify fill - not combining. FACE is not combining, same for HARPOONs.

Only CIRCLE WITH HORIZONTAL BAR is combining. Triangle is combining only with underbar and dot above.


Another way of compositing is OVER (but not UNDER!) and FROM BAR. See also ABOVE, BELOW - but only BELOW LONG DASH. Avoid WITH/AND after these.


HEART means WHITE HEART SUIT. TRIPLE HORIZONTAL BAR looks genuinely missing...

SEMIDIRECT PRODUCT means one of two, left or right???

This better be convertible by rounding/sharpening, but see BUT NOT/WITH NOT/OR NOT/AND SINGLE LINE NOT/ABOVE SINGLE LINE NOT/ABOVE NOT

  2268    LESS-THAN BUT NOT EQUAL TO;             1.1
  2269    GREATER-THAN BUT NOT EQUAL TO;          1.1
  228A    SUBSET OF WITH NOT EQUAL TO;            1.1
  228B    SUPERSET OF WITH NOT EQUAL TO;          1.1
  @               Relations
  22E4    SQUARE IMAGE OF OR NOT EQUAL TO;                1.1
  22E5    SQUARE ORIGINAL OF OR NOT EQUAL TO;             1.1
  @@      2A00    Supplemental Mathematical Operators     2AFF
  @               Relational operators
          x (less-than but not equal to - 2268)
          x (greater-than but not equal to - 2269)
  2AB5    PRECEDES ABOVE NOT EQUAL TO;            3.2
  2AB6    SUCCEEDS ABOVE NOT EQUAL TO;            3.2
  @               Subset and superset relations
  2ACB    SUBSET OF ABOVE NOT EQUAL TO;           3.2

Looking into v6.1 reference PDFs, 2268,2269,2ab5,2ab6,2acb,2acc have two horizontal bars, 228A,228B,22e4,22e5,2a87,2a88,2ab1,2ab2 have one horizontal bar, Hence BUT NOT EQUAL TO and ABOVE NOT EQUAL TO are equivalent; so are WITH NOT EQUAL TO, OR NOT EQUAL TO, AND SINGLE-LINE NOT EQUAL TO and ABOVE SINGLE-LINE NOT EQUAL TO. (Square variants come only with one horizontal line?)

Set $ENV{UI_KEYBOARDLAYOUT_UNRESOLVED} to enable warnings. Then do

  perl -wlane "next unless /^Unresolved: <(.*?)>/; $s{$1}++; END{print qq($s{$_}\t$_) for keys %s}" oxx | sort -n > oxx-sorted-kw


Copyright (c) 2011-2012 Ilya Zakharevich <>

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself, either Perl version 5.8.0 or, at your option, any later version of Perl 5 you may have available.

The distributed examples may have their own copyrights.



Multiple linked faces (accessible as described in ChangeLog); designated Primary- and Secondary- switch keys (as Shift-Space and AltGr-Space now).

Soft hyphen as a deadkey may be not a good idea: following it by a special key (such as Shift-Tab, or Control-Enter) may insert the deadkey character??? Hence the character should be highly visible... (Now the key is invisible, so this is irrelevant...)

Currently linked layers must have exactly the same number of keys in VK-tables.

VK tables for TAB, BACK were BS. Same (remains) for the rest of unusual keys... (See TAB-was.) But UTOOL cannot handle them anyway...

Define an extra element in VK keys: linkable. Should be sorted first in the kbd map, and there should be the same number in linked lists. Non-linkable keys should not be linked together by deadkey access...

Interaction of FromToFlipShift with SelectRX not intuitive. This works: Diacritic[<sub>](SelectRX[[0-9]](FlipShift(Latin)))

DefinedTo cannot be put on Cyrillic 3a9 (yo to superscript disappears - due to duplication???).

... so we do it differently now, but: LinkLayer was not aggressively resolving all the occurences of a character on a layer before we started to combine it with Diacritic_if_undef... - and Cyrillic 3a9 is not helped...

via_parent() is broken - cannot replace for Diacritic_if_undef.

Currently, we map ephigraphic letters to capital letters - is it intuitive???

dotted circle ◌ 25CC

DeadKey_Map200A= FlipLayers #DeadKey_Map200A_0= Id(Russian-AltGr) #DeadKey_Map200A_1= Id(Russian) performs differently from the commented variant: it adds links to auto-filled keys...

Why ¨ on THIN SPACE inserts OGONEK after making ¨ multifaceted???

When splitting a name on OVER/BELOW/ABOVE, we need both sides as modifiers???

Ỳ currently unreachable (appears only in Latin-8 Celtic, is not on Wikipedia)

Somebody is putting an extra element at the end of arrays for layers??? - Probably SPACE...

Need to treat upside-down as a pseudo-decomposition.

We decompose reversed-smallcaps in one step - probably better add yet another two-steps variant...

When creating a <pseudo-stuff> treat SYMBOL/SIGN/FINAL FORM/ISOLATED FORM/INITIAL FORM/MEDIAL FORM; note that SIGN may be stripped: LESS-THAN SIGN becomes LESS-THAN WITH DOT

We do not do canonical-merging of diacritics; so one needs to specify VARIA in addition to GRAVE ACCENT.

We use a smartish algorithm to assign multiple diacritics to the same deadkey. A REALLY smart algorithm would use information about when a particular precombined form was introduced in Unicode...

Inspector tool for NamesList.txt:


AltGrMap should be made CapsLock aware (impossible: smart capslock works only on the first layer, so the dead char must be on the first layer). [May work for Shift-Space - but it has a bag of problems...]

Alas, CapsLock'ing a composition cannot be made stepwise. Hence one must calculate it directly. (Oups, Windows CapsLock is not configurable on AltGr-layer. One may need to convert it to VK_KANA???)

WarnConflicts[exceptions] and NoConflicts translation map parsing rules.

Need a way to map to a different face, not a different layer.

Vietnamese: to put second accent over ă, ơ (o/horn), put them over ae/oe; - including another ˘ which would "cancel the implied one", so will get o-horn itself. - Except for acute accent which should replaced by ¨, and hook must be replaced by ˆ. (Over ae/oe there is only macron and diaeresis over ae.)

Or: for the purpose of taking a second accent, AltGr-A behaves as Ă (or Â?), AltGr-O behaves as Ô (or O-horn Ơ?). Then Å and O/ behave as the other one... And ˚ puts the dot *below*, macron puts a hook. Exception: ¨ acts as ´ on the unaltered AE.

  While Å takes acute accent, one can always input it via putting ˚ on Á.

If Ê is on the keyboard (and macron puts a hook), then the only problem is how to enter a hook alone (double circumflex is not precombined), dot below (???), and accents on u-horn ư.

Mogrification rules for double accents: AE Å OE O/ Ù mogrify into hatted/horned versions; macron mogrifies into a hook; second hat modifies a hat into a horn. The only problem: one won't be able to enter double grave on U - use the OTHER combination of ¨ and `... And how to enter dot below on non-accented aue? Put ¨ on umlaut? What about Ë?

To allow . or , on VK_DECIMAL: maybe make CapsLock-dependent?

How to write this diacritic recipe: insert hacheck on AltGr-variant, but only if the breve on the base layer variant does not insert hacheck (so inserts breve)???

Sorting diacritics by usefulness: we want to apply one of accents from the given list to a given key (with l layers of 2 shift states). For each accent, we have 2l possible variants for composition; assign to 2 variants differing by Shift the minimum penalty of the two. For each layer we get several possible combinations of different priority; and for each layer, we have a certain number of slots open. We can redistribute combinations from the primary layer to secondary one, but not between secondary layers.

Work with slots one-by-one (so that the assignent is "monotinic" when the number of slots increases). Let m be the number of layers where slots are present. Take highest priority combinations; if the number of "extra" combinations in the primary layer is at least m, distribute the first m of them to secondary layers. If n<m of them are present, fill k layers which have no their own combinations first, then other n-k layers. More precisely, if n<=k, use the first n of "free" layers; if n>k, fill all free layers, then the last n-k of non-free layers.

Repeat as needed (on each step, at most one slot in each layer appears).

But we do not need to separate case-differing keys! How to fix?

All done, but this works only on the current face! To fix, need to pass to the translator all the face-characters present on the given key simultaneously.

===== Accent-key TAB accesses extra bindinges (including NUM->numbered one) (may be problematic with some applications??? -- so duplicate it on + and @ if they is not occupied -- there is nothing related to AT in Unicode)

Diacritics_0218_0b56_0c34= May create such a thing... (0b56_0c34 invisible to the user).

  Hmm - how to combine penaltized keys with reversion?  It looks like
  the higher priority bindings would occupy the hottest slots in both
  direct and reverse bindings...

  Maybe additional forms Diacrtitics2S_* and Diacrtitics2E_* which fight
  for symbols of the same penalty from start and from end (with S winning
  on stuff exactly in the middle...).  (The E-form would also strip the last |-group.)

' Shift-Space (from US face) should access the second level of Russian face. To avoid infinite cycles, face-switch keys to non-private faces should be marked in each face...

"Acute makes sharper" is applicable to () too to get <>-parens...


When recognizing symbols for GREEK, treat LUNATE (as NOP). Try adding HEBREW LETTER at start as well...

Compare with: 8 basic accents: (English 78)

When a diacritic on a base letter expands to several variants, use them all (with penalty according to the flags).

Problem: acute on acute makes double acute modifier...

Penalized letter are temporarily completely ignored; need to attach them in the end... - but not 02dd which should be completely ignore...

Report characters available on diacritic chains, but not accessible via such chains. Likewise for characters not accessible at all. Mark certain chains as "Hacks" so that they are not counted in these lists.

Long s and "preceded by" are not handled since the table has its own (useless) compatibility decompositions.

╒╤╕ ╞╪╡ ╘╧╛ ╓╥╖ ╟╫╢ ╙╨╜ ╔╦╗ ╠╬╣ ╚╩╝ ┌┬┐ ├┼┤ └┴┘ ┎┰┒ ┠╂┨ ┖┸┚ ┍┯┑ ┝┿┥ ┕┷┙ ┏┳┓ ┣╋┫ ┗┻┛ On top of a light-lines grid (3×2, 2×3, 2×2; H, V, V+H): ┲┱ ╊╉ ┺┹ ┢╈┪ ┡╇┩ ╆╅ ╄╇ ╼━╾╺╸╶─╴╌┄┈ ╍┅┉ ╻ ┃ ╹ ╷ │ ╵

╽ ╿ ╎┆┊╏┇┋

╲ ╱ ╳ ╭╮ ╰╯ ◤▲◥ ◀■▶ ◣▼◢ ◜△◝ ◁□▷ ◟▽◞ ◕◓◔ ◐○◑ ◒ ▗▄▖ ▐█▌ ▝▀▘ ▛▀▜ ▌ ▐ ▙▄▟



First of all, keyboard layouts on Windows are controlled by DLLs; the only function of these DLLs is to export a table of "actions" to perform. This table is passed to the kernel, and that's it - whatever is not supported by the format of this table cannot be implemented by native layouts. (The DLL performs no "actions" when actual keyboard events arrive.)

Essentially, the logic is like that: there are primary "keypresses", and chained "keypresses" ("prefix keys" [= deadkeys] and keys pressed after them). Primary keypresses are distinguished by which physical key on keyboard is pressed, and which of "modifier keys" are also pressed at this moment (as well as the state of "latched keys" - usually CapsLock only). This combination determines which Unicode character is generated by the keypress, and whether this character starts a "chained sequence".

On the other hand, the behaviour of chained keys is governed ONLY by Unicode characters they generate: if there are several physical keypresses generating the same Unicode characters, these keypresses are completely interchangeable inside a chained sequence. (The only restriction is that the first keypress should be marked as "prefix key"; for example, there may be two keys producing - so that one is producing a "real dash sign", and another is producing a "prefix" -.)

The table allows: to map ScanCodes to VK_keys; to associate a VK_key to several (numbered) choices of characters to output, and mark some of these choices as prefixes (deadkeys). (These "base" choices may contain up to 4 16-bit characters (with 32-bit characters mapped to 2 16-bit surrogates); but only those with 1 16-bit character may be marked as deadkeys.) For each prefix character (not a prefix key!) one can associate a table mapping input 16-bit "base characters" to output 16-bit characters, and mark some of the output choices as prefix characters.

The numbered choices above are determined by the state of "modifier keys" (such as Shift, Alt, Control), but not directly. First of all, VK_keys may be associated to a certain combination of 6 "modifier bits" (called "logical" Shift, Alt, Control, Kana, User1 and User2, but the logical bits are not required to coincide with names of modifier keys). (Example: bind Right Control to activate Shift and Kana bits.) The 64 possible combinations of modifier bits are mapped to the numbered choices above.

Additionally, one can define two "separate numbered choices" in presence of CapsLock (but the only allowed modifier bit is Shift). The another way to determine what CapsLock is doing: one can mark that it flips the "logical Shift" bit (separately on no-modifiers state, Control-Alt-only state, and Kana-only state [?!] - here "only" allow for the Shift bit to be ON).

AltGr key is considered equivalent to Control-Alt combination (of those are present, or always???), and one cannot bind Alt and Alt-Shift combinations. Additionally, binding bare Control modifier on alphabetical keys (and SPACE, [, ], \) may confuse some applications.

NOTE: there is some additional stuff allowed to be done (but only in presence of Far_East_Support installed???). FE-keyboards can define some sticky state (so may define some other "latching" keys in addition to CapsLock). However, I did not find a clear documentation yet (keyboard106 in the DDK toolkit???).

There is a tool to create/compile the required DLL: kbdutool.exe of MicroSoft Keyboard Layout Creator (with a graphic frontend MSKLC.exe). The tool does not support customization of modifier bits, and has numerous bugs concerning binding keys which usually do not generate characters. The graphic frontend does not support chained prefix keys, adds another batch of bugs, and has arbitrarily limitations: refuses to work if the compiled version of keyboard is already installed; refuses to work if SPACE is redefined in useful ways.

WORKFLOW: uninstall the keyboard, comment the definition of SPACE, load in MSKLC and create an install package. Then uncomment the definition of SPACE, and compile 4 architecture versions using kbdutool, moving the DLLs into suitable directories of the install package. Install the keyboard.

For development cycle, one does not need to rebuild the install package while recompiling.

Several similar MSKLC created keyboards may confuse the system

Apparently, the system may get majorly confused when the description of the project gets changed without changing the DLL (=project) name.

(Tested only with Win7 and the name in the DESCRIPTIONS section coinciding with the name on the KBD line - both in *.klc file.)

The symptoms: I know how one can get 4 different lists of keyboards:

  1. Click on the keyboard icon in the Language Bar - usually shown on the toolbar; positioned to the right of the language code EN/RU etc (keyboard icon is not shown if only one keyboard is associated to the current language).
  2. Go to the Input Language settings (e.g., right-click on the Language bar, Settings, General.

  3. on this General page, press Add button, go to the language in question.

  4. Check the .klc files for recently installed Input Languages.

  5. In MS Keyboard Layout Creator, go to File/Load Existing Keyboard list.

It looks like the first 4 get in sync if one deletes all related keyboards, then installs the necessary subset. I do not know how to fix 5 - MSKLC continues to show the old name for this project.

Another symptom: Current language indicator (like EN) on the language bar disappears. (Reboot time?)

Is it related to ***\Local Settings\MuiCache\*** hive???

Possible workaround: manually remove the entry in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Keyboard Layouts (the last 4 digits match the codepage in the .klc file).

Too long description (or funny characters in description?)

If the name in the DESCRIPTIONS section is too long, the name shown in the list 2 above may be empty.

(Checked only on Win7 and when the name in the DESCRIPTIONS section coincides with the name on the KBD line - both in *.klc file.)

(Fixed by shortening the name [but see "Several similar MSKLC created keyboards may confuse the system" above!], so maybe it was not the length but some particular character (+?) which was confusing the system. (I saw a report on MSKLC bug when description had apostroph character '.)

MSKLC ruins names of dead key when reading a .klc

When reading a .klc file, MS Keyboard Layout Creator may ruin the names of dead keys. Symptom: open the dialogue for a dead key mapping (click the key, check that Dead key view has checkmark, click on the ... button near the Dead key? checkbox); then the name (the first entry field) contains some junk. (Looks like a long ASCII string

   U+0030 U+0030 U+0061 U+0039


Workaround: if all one needs is to compile a .klc, one can run KBDUTOOL directly.

Workaround: correct ALL these names manually in MSKLC. If the names are the Unicode name for the dead character, just click the Default button near the entry field. Do this for ALL the dead keys in all the registers (including SPACE!). If CapsLock is not made "semantically meaningful", there are 6 views of the keyboard (PLAIN, Ctrl, Ctrl+Shift, Shift, AltGr, AltGr+Shift) - check them all for grayed out keys (=deadkeys).

Check for success: File/"Save Source File As, use a temporary name. Inspect near the end of the generated .klc file. If OK, you can go to the Project/Build menu. (Likewise, this way lets you find which deadkey's names need to be fixed.)

!!! This is time-consuming !!! Make sure that other things are OK before you do this (by Project/Validate, Project/Test).

BTW: It might be that this is cosmetic only. I do not know any bad effect - but I did not try to use any tool with visual feedback on the currently active sub-layout of keyboard.

Double bug in KBDUTOOL with dead characters above 0x0fff

This line in .klc file is treated correctly by MSKLC's builtin keyboard tester:

  39 SPACE 0 0020 00a0@ 0020 2009@ 200a@ //  ,  ,  ,  ,   // SPACE, NO-BREAK SPACE, SPACE, THIN SPACE, HAIR SPACE

However, via kbdutool it produces the following two bugs:

  static ALLOC_SECTION_LDATA MODIFIERS CharModifiers = {
    //  Modification# //  Keys Pressed
    //  ============= // =============
        0,            // 
        1,            // Shift 
        2,            // Control 
        SHFT_INVALID, // Shift + Control 
        SHFT_INVALID, // Menu 
        SHFT_INVALID, // Shift + Menu 
        3,            // Control + Menu 
        4             // Shift + Control + Menu 
    {VK_SPACE     ,0      ,' '      ,WCH_DEAD ,' '      ,WCH_LGTR ,WCH_LGTR },
    {0xff         ,0      ,WCH_NONE ,0x00a0   ,WCH_NONE ,WCH_NONE ,WCH_NONE },
  static ALLOC_SECTION_LDATA LIGATURE2 aLigature[] = {
    {VK_SPACE     ,6      ,0x2009   ,0x2009   },
    {VK_SPACE     ,7      ,0x200a   ,0x200a   },

Essentially, 2009@ 200a@ produce LIGATURES (= multiple 16-bit chars) instead of deadkeys. Moreover, these ligatures are put on non-existing "modifications" 6, 7 (the maximal modification defined is 4; so the code uses the Shift + Control + Menu flags instead of "modification number" in the ligatures table.

MSKLC keyboards handle Ctrl-Shift-letter differently than US keyboard

At least in console applications, the US keyboard produces (as the “string value”) the corresponding Control-letter when Ctrl-Shift-letter is pressed. MSKLC does not reproduces this behaviour. This may break an application if it was not specifically tested with “complicated” keyboards.

The only way to fix this from the “naive” keyboard layout DLL (i.e., the kind that MSKLC generates) which I found is to explicitly include Ctrl-Shift as a handled combination, and return Ctrl-letter on such keypresses. (This is enabled in the generated keyboards generated by this module - not customizable in v0.12.)

Default keyboard of an application

Apparently, there is no way to choose a default keyboard for a certain language. The configuration UI allows moving keyboards up and down in the list, but, apparently, this order is not related to which keyboard is selected when an application starts.

Hex input of unicode is not enabled

One needs to explicitly tinker with the registry (see examples/enable-hex-unicode-entry.reg) and then reboot to enable this.

Standard fonts have some chars exchanged

At least in Consolas and Lucida Sans Unicode φ and ϕ are exchanged. Compare with Courier and Times.

The console font configuration

It is controlled by Registry hive


The key 0 usually gives Lucida Console, and the key 00 gives Consolas. Adding random numbers does not work; however, if one adds one more zero (at least when adding to a sequence of zeros), one can add more fonts. You need to export this hive (e.g., use

  reg export "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Console\TrueTypeFont" console-ttf.reg

), save a copy (so you can always restore if the love goes sour) then edit the resulting file.

So if the maximal key with 0s is 00, add one extra row with an extra 0 at end, and the name of your font. To find the name, look into the hive


For example, after installing DejaVuSansMono.ttf, I see DejaVu Sans Mono (TrueType) as a key in this hive. So I add a line

  "000"="DejaVu Sans Mono"

so that the result is now (omitting Far Eastern fonts)

  Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

  [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Console\TrueTypeFont]
  "0"="Lucida Console"
  "000"="DejaVu Sans Mono"

The full file is in examples/console-fonts00-added.reg. After importing this file via reg (or give it as parameter to regedit; requires administrative priviledges) the font is immediately available in menu. (However, it does not work in "existing" console windows, only in newly created windows.)

(Do not use the example file directly. First inspect the hive exported on your system, and find the number of 0s to use. Then add a new line with correct number of zeros - as a value, one can use the string above. This will preserve the defaults of your setup. Keep in mind that selection-by-fontfamily is buggy: if you have more than one version of the font in different weight, it is a Russian Rullette which one of them will be taken (at least for DejaVu, which uses Book as the default weight). First install the "normal" flavor of the font, then do as above (so the system has no way of picking the wrong flavor!), and only after this install the remaining flavors.

One more remark: for desktop icons coming from the “Public” user (“shared” icons) which start a console application, the default font is not directly editable. To reset it, one must:

  • copy the .lnk icon file to “your” desktop directory;
  • start the application using the “new” icon;
  • change the font via “Properties” of the window's menu;
  • as administrator, copy the .lnk file back to the Public/Desktop directory (usually in something like C:/Users). Manually refresh the desktop. Verify that the “old” icon works as expected. (Now you can remove the “new” icon created on the first step.)
AltGr-keypresses going nowhere

Some AltGr-keypresses do not result in the corresponding letter on keyboard being inserted. It looks like they are stolen by some system-wide hotkeys. See:

If these keypresses would perform some action, one might be able to deduce how to disable the hotkeys. So the real problem comes when the keypress is silently dropped.

I found out one scenario how this might happen, and how to fix this particular situation. (Unfortunately, it is not fixed what I see, when AltGr-s [but not AltGr-S] is stolen. Installing a shortcut, one can associate a hotkey to the shortcut. Unfortunately, the UI allows (and encourages!) hotkeys of the form <Control-Alt-letter> (which are equivalent to AltGr-letter) - instead of safe combinations like Control-Alt-F4 or Alt-Shift-letter (which do not go to keyboard drivers, so cannot generate characters). If/when an application linked to by this shortcut is gone, the hotkey remains, but now it does nothing (no warning or dialogue comes).

If the shortcut is installed in one of "standard places", one can find it. Save this to K:\findhotkey.vbs (replace K: by the suitable drive letter here and below)

  on error resume next
  set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
  Dim A
  Dim Ag
  Set Ag=Wscript.Arguments
  If Ag.Count > 0 then
  For x = 0 to Ag.Count -1
  A = A & Ag(x)
  End If
  Set FSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
  set lnk = WshShell.CreateShortcut(A)
  If lnk.hotkey <> "" then
  msgbox A & vbcrlf & lnk.hotkey
  End If

Save this to K:\findhotkey.cmd

  set findhotkey=k:\findhotkey
  for /r %%A in (*.lnk) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.pif) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.url) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  cd /d %UserProfile%\desktop
  for /r %%A in (*.lnk) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.pif) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.url) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  cd /d %AllUsersProfile%\desktop
  for /r %%A in (*.lnk) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.pif) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.url) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  cd /d %UserProfile%\Start Menu
  for /r %%A in (*.lnk) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.pif) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.url) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  cd /d %AllUsersProfile%\Start Menu
  for /r %%A in (*.lnk) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.pif) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.url) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  cd /d %APPDATA%
  for /r %%A in (*.lnk) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.pif) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.url) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.lnk) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.pif) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"
  for /r %%A in (*.url) do %findhotkey%.vbs "%%A"

(In most situations, only the section after the last cd /d is important; in my configuration all the "interesting" stuff is in %APPDATA%. Running this should find all shortcuts which define hot keys.

Run the cmd file. Repeat in the "All users"/"Public" directory. It should show a dialogue for every shortcut with a hotkey it finds. (But, as I said, it did not fix my problem: AltGr-s works in MSKLC test window, and nowhere else I tried...)

"There was a problem loading the file" from MSKLC

Make line endings in .klc DOSish.

AltGr-keys do not work

Make line endings in .klc DOSish (when given as input to kbdutool - it gives no error messages, and deadkeys work [?!]).

On principles of intuitive design of Latin keyboard ^

Some common (meaning: from Latin-1-10 of ISO 8859) Latin alphabet letters are not composed (at least not by using 3 simplest modifiers out of 8 modifiers). We mean ÆÐÞÇIJØŒß (and ¡¿ for non-alphatetical symbols). It is crucial that they may be entered by an intuitively clear key of the keyboard. There is an obvious ASCII letter associated to each of these (e.g., T associated to the thorn Þ), and in the best world just pressing this letter with AltGr-modifier would produce the desired symbol.

  But what to do with ª,º?

There is only one conflict: both Ø,Œ "want" to be entered as AltGr-O; this is the ONLY piece of arbitrariness in the design so far. After resolving this conflict, AltGr-keys !ASDCTIO? are assigned their meanings, and cannot carry other letters (call them "stuck in stone keys").

(Other keys "stuck in stone" are dead keys: it is important to have the glyph etched on these keyboard's keys similar to the task they perform.)

Then there are several non-alphabetical symbols accessible through ISO 8859 encodings. Assigning them AltGr- access is another task to perform. Some of these symbols come in pairs, such as ≤≥, «», ‹›, “”, ‘’; it makes sense to assign them to paired keyboard's keys: <> or [] or ().

However, this task is in conflict of interests with the following task, so let us explain the needs answered by that task first.

One can always enter accented letters using dead keys; but many people desire a quickier way to access them, by just pressing AltGr-key (possibly with shift). The most primitive keyboard designs (such as IBM International,

) omit this step and assign only the NECESSARY letters for AltGr- access. (Others, like MicroSoft International, assign only a very small set.)

This problem breaks into two tasks, choosing a repertoir of letters which will be typable this way, and map them to the keys of the keyboard. For example, EurKey choses to use ´¨`-accented characters AEUIO (except for ), plus ÅÑ; MicroSoft International does ÄÅÉÚÍÓÖÁÑß only (and IBM International does none); Bepo does only ÉÈÀÙŸ (but also has the Azeri Ə available - which is not in ISO 8819 - and has Ê on the 105th key "2nd \|"), Mac Extended has only ÝŸ (?!)                                       # old version of .klc
                or look for "a graphic of the special characters" on

Keyboards on Mac: Tool to produce:

Our solution

First, the answer:

Rule 0:

letters which are not accented by `´¨˜ˆˇ°¯ are entered by AltGr-keys "obviously associated" to them. Supported: ÆÐÞÇIJØß.

Rule 0a:

Same is applicable to Ê and Ñ.

Rule 1:

Vowels AEYUIO accented by `´¨ are assigned the so called "natural position": 3 Bottom row of keyboard are allocated to accents (¨ is the top, ´ is the middle, ` is the bottom row of 3 letter-rows on keyboard - so À is on ZXCV-row), and are on the same diagonal as the base letter. For left-hand vowels (A,E) the diagonal is in the direction of \, for right hand voweles (Y,U,I,O) - in the direction of /.

Rule 1a:

If the "natural position" is occupied, the neighbor key in the direction of "the other diagonal" is chosen. (So for A,E it is the /-diagonal, and for right-hand vowels YUIO it is the \-diag.)

Rule 1b:

The neighbor key is down unless the key is on bottom row - then it is up.

Supported by rules "1": all but ÏËỲ.

Rule 2:

Additionally, Å,Œ,Ì are available on keys R,P,V.


If you remember only Rule 0, you still can enter all Latin-1 letter using Rule 0; all you need to memorize are dead keys: `';~6^7& for `´¨˜ˆˇ°¯ on EurKey keyboard (but better locations ARE possible).

   (What the rule 0 actually says is: "You do not need to memorize me". ;-)

If all you remember are rules 1,1a, you can calculate the position of the AltGr-key for AEYUIO accented by `´¨ up to a choice of 3 keys (the "natural key" and its 2 neighbors) - which are quick to try all if you forgot the precise position. If you remember rules 1,1ab, then this choice is down to 2 possible candidates.

Essentially, all you must remember in details is that the "natural positions" form a V-shape # - \ on left, / on right, and in case of bad luck you should move in the direction of other diagonal one step. Then a letter is either in its "obvious position", or in one of 3 modifications of the natural position". Only Å and Œ need a special memorization.


It is important to have a logical way to quickly understand whether a letter is quickly accessible from a keyboard, and on which key (or, maybe, to find a small set of keys on which a letter may be present - then, if one forgets, it is possible to quickly un-forget by trying a small number of keys).

The idea: we assign alphabetical Latin symbols only to alphabetical keys on the keyboard; this way we can use (pared) symbol keys to enter pared Unicode symbols. Now consider diagonals on the alphabetic part of the keyboard: \-diagonals (like EDC) and /-diagonals (like UHB). Each diagonal contains 3 (or less) alphabetic keys; we WANT to assign ¨-accent to the top one, ´-accent to the middle one, and `-accent to the bottom one.

On the left-hand part of the keyboard, use \-diagonals, on the right-hand part use /-diagonals; now each diagonal contains EXACTLY 3 alphabetic keys. Moreover, the diagonals which contain vowels AEYUIO do not intersect.

If we have not decided to have keys set in stone, this would be all - we would get "completely predictable" access to ´¨`-accented characters AEUIO. For example, Ÿ would be accessible on AltGr-Y, Ý on AltGr-G, Ỳ on AltGr-V. Unfortunately, the diagonals contain keys ASDCIO set in stone. So we need a way to "move away" from these keys. The rule is very simple: we move one step away in the direction of "other" diagonal (/-diagonal on the left half, and \-diagonal on the right half) one step down (unless we start on keys A, C where "down" is impossible and we move up to W or F).

Examples: Ä is on Q, Á "wants to be" on A (used for Æ), so it is moved to W; Ö wants to be on O (already used for Ø or Œ), and is moved away to L; È wants to be on C (occupied by Ç), but is moved away to F.

There is no way to enter Ï using this layout (unless we agree to move it to the "8*" key, which may conflict with convenience of entering typographic quotation marks). Fortunately, this letter is rare (comparing even to Ë which is quite frequent in Dutch). So there is no big deal that it is not available for "handy" input - remember that one can always use deadkeys.

Note that the keys "P" and "R" are not engaged by this layout; since "P" is a neighbor of "O", it is natural to use it to resolve the conflict between Ø or Œ (which both want to be set in stone on "O"). This leaves only the key "R" unengaged; but what we do not cover are two keys Å and Ñ which are relatively frequent in Latin-derived European languages.

Note that Ì is moderately frequent in Italian, but Ñ is much more frequent in Spanish. Since Ì occupies the key which on many keyboards is taken by Ñ, maybe it makes sense to switch them... Likewise, Ê is much more frequent than Ë; switch them.


U-caron: ǔ, Ǔ which is used to indicate u in the third tone of Chinese language pinyin. But U-breve is used in Latin encodings. Ǧ/ǧ (G with caron) is used, but only in "exotic" or old languages (has no combined form - while G-breve is in Latin encodings. A-breve Ă: A-caron Ǎ is not in Latin-N; apparently, is used only in pinyin, zarma, Hokkien, vietnamese, IPA, transliteration of Old Latin, Bible and Cyrillic's big yus.

In EurKey: only a takes breve, the rest take caron (including G but not U)

out of accents ° and dot-accent ˙ in Latin-N: only A and U take °, and they do not take dot-accent. In EurKey: also small w,y take ring accent; same in Bepo - but they do not take dot accent in Latin-N.

Double-´ and cornu (both on a,u only) can be taken by ¨ or ˙ on letters with ¨ already present (in Unicode ¨ is not precombined with diaeresis or dots). But one must special-case Ë and Ï and Ø (have Ê and IJ instead; IJ takes no accents, but Ê takes acute, grave, tilde and dot below...).! Æ takes acute and macron; Ø takes acute.

Actually, cornu=horn is only on o,u, so using dot/ring on ö and ü is very viable...

So for using AltGr-letter after deadkeys: diaresis can take dot above, hat and wedge, diaresis. Likewise, ` and ´ are not precombined together (but there is a combined combining mark). So one can do something else on vowels (ogonek?).

Applying ´ to `-accented forms: we do not have `y, so must use "the natural position" which is mixed with Ñ (takes no accents) and Ç (takes acute!!!).

s, t do not precombine with `; so can use for the "alternative cedilla".

Only auwy take ring, and they do not take cedilla. Can merge.

Bepo's hook above; ảɓƈɗẻểƒɠɦỉƙɱỏƥʠʂɚƭủʋⱳƴỷȥ ẢƁƇƊẺỂƑƓỈƘⱮỎƤƬỦƲⱲƳỶȤ perl -wlnae "next unless /HOOK/; push @F, shift @F; print qq(@F)" NamesList.txt | sort | less Of capital letters only T and Y take different kinds of hooks... (And for T both are in Latin-Extended-B...)

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