KANALOK check box
KANALOK is a somewhat obscure High Level checkbox which shows up only if the layout uses KANA modifier key in its “togglable” version (i.e. when VK_KANA is chosen as the KANA modifier key in the Modifiers section of Low level editor). You can see the togglable KANA in action in sample multi-alphabet keyboards English/French, Serbian Cyrillic/Latin, Russian phonetic and Bulgarian phonetic.
Toggling KANA state ON and OFF switches the keyboard between KANA and regular state. In this regard KANA is very similar to Caps Lock, except that there is no physical indicator (LED) for the KANA state on a standard keyboard (as a side note, NEC keyboard models used in Japan do have a KANA led indicator, but these keyboards are not supported by KbdEdit).
To extend the analogy, similarly to the setting “Effect of Caps Lock”, KANALOK flag defines for each editable key if its behavior is changed when KANA is ON.
KbdEdit treats togglable KANA like any other modifier: low level editor enables to activate this key and define which of the modifier combinations involving KANA are used (and thus available in High level view). The important difference is that, with “togglable” KANA, the high level mappings involving this modifier won’t be effective unless KANALOK flag is turned on.
This looks like an unnecessary complication, but is not necessarily so. KANA is typically used for altering the operation of only a subset of all mapable keys. If KANA indiscriminately affected all keys, it would be necessary to manually recreate KANA versions of mappings for all non-KANA modifier combinations of all keys that need not have separate KANA mappings. This is a difficult, error-prone and redundant task, especially if only few keys need to be KANA-sensitive. Thanks to the KANALOK flag, only those mappings that are truly needed have to be defined, and the rest can simply be left with KANALOK off.
The maintenance of KANALOK flag is automated by KbdEdit to a certain degree: if togglable KANA is used, KANALOK is automatically turned on for keys that have non-empty mappings for KANA combinations, and turned off for others.
Creative use of KANA – multi-alphabet keyboards
Originally, “togglable” KANA modifier has been introduced to provide support for far-eastern languages like Japanese. KbdEdit enables this concept to be extended to any other language. One particularly useful purpose is the creation of multi-alphabet keyboards: it is not so uncommon to need to regularly switch between two different alphabets, either because you write in two different languages, or use a language which can be written in two alphabets (e.g. using both Latin and Cyrillic/Hebrew/Armenian letters). Standard solution is to register input methods for both languages, and switch the active keyboard whenever you need to use the other alphabet.
The problem with this approach is that Windows sets the active keyboard separately for each application, which most people find counter-intuitive: if you switch from Latin to Cyrillic keyboard in application A, then switch to application B, the active keyboard will revert back to Latin. What’s more, if several layouts are active in the system, Alt+Shift acts as the default keyboard-switching shortcut. This combination is very easy to press accidentally, and it is very frustrating when the current keyboard changes unexpectedly in the middle of typing.
KbdEdit can help solve these problems: with togglable KANA it is possible to create a dual-alphabet keyboard and thus avoid having to install two different layouts. KANA can be used to switch between alphabets: letters from one alphabet can be assigned to non-KANA, and from the other to KANA positions. Thanks to the KANA state being unique system-wide, keyboard behavior remains consistent even when switching between applications.
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