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Example - Using NLS functions to make Caps Lock and Alt Gr share the same key

Installer package: KbdEditInstallerGermanKanaCapsLockSameKey.exe

Layout file: German Kana and Capslock sharing same key.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 the Alternative VK code NLS function to assign two modifier functions - non-togglable Kana and Caps Lock - to a single key. It continues where another example - Replacing AltGR with Kana - has left off, by moving Kana to the location of the Caps Lock key, and producing Caps Lock via the Ctrl + Kana combination.

The right Alt key is liberated from the AltGr function, and is available for use either as a "plain" Alt key, or another special or letter-producing key. This is especially useful for laptops purchased outside of Germany, which often lack the right Alt key.

A nice side benefit of this arrangement is that Caps Lock is far less likely to be toggled accidentally, as it requires pressing two keys simultaneously.

The example also supports the letter ("capital Sharp S", 1E9E), which has since become part of the standard German keyboard.

Step by step instructions

Following are the steps required to produce the example.

We'll start by enabling the dual VK_OEM_8 (ie non-togglable Kana) and Caps Lock function on the former Caps Lock key:
  • Open the standard German keyboard layout (00000407, KBDGR.DLL)
  • Switch to the low-level view
  • Click on the Caps Lock key to activate it (just above the left Shift, scan code 0x3A).
  • Assign the VK_OEM_8 VK code to the key, either from the right-click popup menu, or by choosing VK_OEM_8 from the Assigned virtual code drop-down.
  • In the Special NLS functions drop-down, choose Alternative VK code.
  • This changes the UI to reveal a new dropdown labeled Alternative virtual code and a check-list box For modifier combinations.
  • In the Alternative virtual code dropdown, choose VK_CAPITAL (VK code for the Caps Lock function).
  • In the For modifier combinations check-list box, tick Ctrl.

The Caps Lock key is now set up to produce the VK_OEM_8 code (non-togglable Kana) by default, while still retaining the Caps Lock function when Ctrl is down.

Remaining are the generic tasks needed to replace AltGr with KANA. As there is a large overlap with the above mentioned Replacing AltGR with Kana example, consult the latter for details that are glossed over here
  • Make sure you're in the low-level view.
  • Click the KANA checkbox to activate the Kana modifier
  • Choose VK_OEM_8 (normal) from the combo-box next to the KANA checkbox.
    This activates the non-togglable KANA function for the VK_OEM_8 VK we have already mapped to the Caps Lock key.
  • Activate the KANA and SHIFT+KANA modifier combinations, by moving them from "unused" to "active" modifier combinations.
  • Switch to the high-level editor.
  • Move all AltGr character mappings to the Kana positions of the same keys, as described in the high-level drag-drop instructions.
    Reminder: you don't have to move the AltGr mappings one-by-one, they can be all moved in one go by choosing all keys in the "drop" pop-up menu.
  • Repeat the same step for the Shift+AltGr mappings - they should all be moved to Shift+Kana.
    In the standard German keyboard, there is actually only one such mapping - (capital sharp S, 1E9E) mapped to Shift+AltGr+VK_OEM_4.
  • Switch back to the low-level editor.
  • Disable the ALTGR and SHIFT+ALTGR combinations, ie move them from the "active" to "unsued modifier combinations" list.
  • Untick the Uses AltGR checkbox, as the special AltGR function is no longer needed.
    This makes the right Alt key behave again as a "plain" Alt, ie it no longer generates a Ctrl+Alt combination.

Limitations

It is only fair to mention that this layout has a couple of minor drawbacks over the standard German layout:

  • The capital letter (1E9E) can only be produced by pressing Shift+Kana+VK_OEM_4.
    In other words, it cannot be produced by Kana+VK_OEM_4 when Caps Lock is on.
    This is because there is no CAPLOKALTGR equivalent for Kana.
     
  • If you press the Ctrl and Kana keys in the wrong order (Kana followed by Ctrl, instead of the other way around), Kana key can get stuck in the down position. Fortunately, it can be easily "unstuck" by pressing/releasing it alone, ie without Ctrl.

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