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Example - Multi-lingual English / French keyboard using togglable KANA

Installer package: KbdEditInstallerFrenchAndUSEnglish.exe

Layout file: French And US English.zip

You can use the installer package to deploy this keyboard layout without any restrictions. Free Demo version can be used to make changes and test them. To deploy a modified version, a Premium, Personal or Lite edition is needed.

This example demonstrates the use of "togglable" KANA modifier to produce a multi alphabet/language keyboard (for information on the "togglable" KANA, please see Modifiers and KANALOK check box).

The multi-lingual keyboard presented here is aimed at users who use French as their "main" language, but occasionally need to enter text using the US English layout - if you're an English-speaking ex-pat living in France, you'll certainly appreciate this possibility. Of course, the same technique can be used to mix any two languages / alphabets on the same keyboard.

Normally, if you need to input text in different languages, or using different layouts, you place the necessary layouts in the Language bar, and switch between them using mouse or Alt+Shift / Ctrl+Shift keyboard shortcuts. Depending on your habits and preferences, this method might be less than ideal:

  1. The current layout is maintained on per-application level. If you switch to another application, the current layout will be re-set to whichever layout was active when that application had the input focus last time.
  2. The keyboard shortcut Alt+Shift is easy to press accidentally, which leads to very confusing results.

With a multi alphabet/layout keyboard, there is only one keyboard layout visible to Windows, so there's no need for Language bar. You switch between the layouts using the designated KANA key, which internally switches the keyboard between "KANA off" (normal) and "KANA on" (alternative) states. The KANA state is maintained system-wide, regardless of the current application - it is similar to Caps Lock in this regard.

You have full freedom to define mappings for each key in both KANA states, simply by activating the KANA modifier and choosing which modifier combinations involving KANA you want to use.

It is only fair to note that KANA-based multilingual keyboards also have their disadvantages:

  1. The Caps Lock key does not have its usual function in the "KANA on" mode - you always have to explicitly press the SHIFT key to produce an uppercase letter.
  2. The language-aware text input applications (like MS Word) will always assume that the text is entered in the language represented by the "KANA off" state, which might confuse auto-correct and spell-checking features of these applications.

Scroll below the screenshots for a step-by-step guide.

KbdEdit multilingual keyboard enabling togglable KANA modifier
Enabling KANA modifier key
KbdEdit multilingual keyboard mapping VK_KANA to a scancode
Assigning "VK_KANA" to the "Scroll lock" key
KbdEdit multilingual keyboard enabling KANA modifier combinations
Enabling "KANA" and "SHIFT + KANA" modifier combinations
KbdEdit multilingual keyboard using second instance as drag drop source
Using second instance of KbdEdit as a "US English" drag-drop source
KbdEdit multilingual keyboard normal state French
Keyboard layout in normal (KANA-off) state - French
KbdEdit multilingual keyboard alternate KANA state US English
Keyboard layout in KANA-on state - US English
  1. Start by opening the layout which represents your "main" language (in this case, French - 0000040C).
  2. Switch to the Low-level editor.
  3. Turn the KANA modifier on - click the KANA checkbox (placed near the main window's bottom edge). This checkbox is initially turned off as the standard French keyboard doesn't support KANA.
  4. Make sure the mapped to combo next to KANA checkbox displays VK_KANA (Kana) [togglable].
  5. Assign VK_KANA virtual code to the Scroll Lock key (the one which by default has VK_SCROLL mapped to it). Double-click (or right-click) the Scroll Lock key to open the pop-up menu of virtual codes, then choose VK_KANA from the Non-mappable VK codes section.
  6. It is not necessary to use Scroll Lock as the KANA key. You can assign VK_KANA to any key you don't use - e.g. you can use the Windows key as KANA, instead of disabling it.
  7. Add KANA modifier position to Active modifier combinations list: select KANA in the Unused modifier combinations list, then click the button '←' (arrow left) placed left of the list.
  8. Repeat step 7. for the SHIFT + KANA position.
  9. The low-level part of customization is now finished, switch to the High-level editor, where you will map all "US English" letters to KANA and SHIFT + KANA positions.
  10. Activate the KANA modifier position: click the ka button in the row of buttons representing modifier combinations (base, sh, ct, ag etc). The active KANA state is indicated by the KANA button drawn in the down (pressed) state.
  11. All letter, digit and special character keys are initially empty in KANA position - it is your job to assign them the characters they produce in the US English layout. The easiest way to accomplish this is to start another instance of KbdEdit and open US English (00000409) layout in it. You can then drag characters from High-level display of the other instance and drop them onto their respective place in the first KbdEdit instance.
  12. Repeat step 11 for SHIFT + KANA position: drag all US English shifted mappings to their respective SHIFT + KANA positions in your custom French/English keyboard. If Auto-map upper-lower case is enabled, this task will be much easier: upper-case letters will already be auto-mapped to SHIFT + KANA during step 11, leaving only shifted non-letter characters for manual mapping.
  13. Each key that has custom mappings for KANA positions must have the KANALOK setting checked. Fortunately, you don't have to set it manually: KbdEdit checks the key's KANALOK checkbox automatically as soon as you assign a non-empty mapping to any of its KANA positions.

Steps 11. and 12. sound like a lot of work, but in reality if you use another KbdEdit instance as the drag-drop source they can be accomplished in only few minutes.

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