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A new Chuvash keyboard layout

The Chuvash keyboard layout has been the Russian keyboard layout with 4 Chuvash letters that are typed by pressing the right Alt button plus the base letter. Some of the arguments have been

  1. Users don’t need to switch or learn a new keyboard layout. They can keep on typing Russian texts and sometimes Chuvash texts
  2. It is easy to communicate about how the right Alt button works. The Right-Alt-technique is also used in Esperanto, Polish and other languages.
  3. The letters are placed according the labels

Recently two major events happened that made the question about the Chuvash keyboard layout important:

  1. We are working on a Chuvash keyboard for iOS. There we have less place and we have to remove rare Russian letters from the first keyboard screen. There are no physical labels. So we can rethink the whole keyboard.
  2. chuvash.org finally moved from latin equivalents with diacritic marks to Cyrillic letters (Cyrillic extended script). Therefore we need to update users’ keyboard layouts

I’ll write a separate post about the Chuvash Keyboard for iOS. One of the important things we made during that work was to find the frequency of the Chuvash letters. This was used to design the keyboard layout.

Here is the most recent version of the keyboard layout (first screen):

cv-kbd-ios

These are the principles for placing the letters:

  • The most used letters are in the middle.
  • Consonants and vocals come after each other. We tried to avoid many consonants after each other.
  • The letters are often in the same area as in the Russian keyboard layout (but it is not so important)

Now to the physical keyboard

When it is possible on a virtual keyboard, wouldn’t it be worth trying on a physical keyboard? Knowing the “best” layout, we can implement it for a physical keyboard. Let’s do it for xkb. xkb is a keyboard system for Linux. I wrote a few articles on that topic.

Many minority languages in Russian use the Russian keyboard layout plus their Cyrillic letters instead of numbers (Bashkir, Udmurt, Kalmyk) or Right-Alt-combinations (Chuvash, Sakha, Komi…). Two other languages have their own keyboard layouts for primary keys: Tatar and Ossetian. Ossetian language has only one extra letter. The Tatar alphabet contains a few more. Let’s look at the Tatar keyboard layout for xkb:

tatar-xkb-kbd

The Tatar keyboard layout uses their letters on the primary keys and puts the Russian letters in the Right-Alt-combinations. It allows:

  • A quicker typing in Tatar
  • And access to Russian letters, because they are part of the official Tatar alphabet, but they are only used in Russian loanwords. The placement of those rare Russian letters are the same as in the Russian layout (except that they are accessible by pressing the Right-Alt button).

Now the Chuvash keyboard layout for Linux and Windows is as follows:

chuvash-xkb-kbd

When I use it, I always press the Right-Alt, because the ӑӗҫӳ in Chuvash are very common. So the Right-Alt is not an exception, rather that a regular typing behaviour. Some Chuvash frequently used Chuvash letters (х, й, э) are placed too from the middle. Some rare letters (ф, ц, ж, о, г, щ) are too “near”.

So let’s change it. If we just take the keyboard layout designed for iOS and put the rare Russian letters “behind the Right-Alt button”, then we’ll get this:

chuvash-xkb-kbd-2015

This keyboard layout will demand some time to learn, but once learned, it will provide

  • a better and quicker typing in Chuvash,
  • less pain in the right thumb,
  • and, perhaps, less Russian loanwords caused by laziness.

Regarding the learning, it could be facilitated using keyboard stickers, printed for Chuvash keyboards. Here is how Russian stickers look like:

The xkb code for the new Chuvash keyboard layout

// Chuvash Keyboard Layout that is organized according the letter frequency of Chuvash
// Author Anatoly Mironov @mirontoli
// Last changes: 2015-01-03
partial alphanumeric_keys
xkb_symbols "cv" {
    include "ru(winkeys)"

    name[Group1]= "Chuvash";

    key.type[group1]="FOUR_LEVEL";


    key <AD01> {[ U04F3,  U04F2 ]}; // ӳ
    key <AD02> {[ Cyrillic_shorti,  Cyrillic_SHORTI, Cyrillic_tse,     Cyrillic_TSE ]}; // й, ц
    key <AD03> {[ Cyrillic_u,       Cyrillic_U ]}; 
    key <AD04> {[ Cyrillic_ka,      Cyrillic_KA ]}; 
    key <AD05> {[ Cyrillic_ie,      Cyrillic_IE ]}; // е, ё
    key <AD06> {[ Cyrillic_en,      Cyrillic_EN ]}; // 
    key <AD07> {[ U04D7,            U04D6 ]}; // ӗ
    key <AD08> {[ Cyrillic_ha,      Cyrillic_HA ]};
    key <AD09> {[ Cyrillic_sha,     Cyrillic_SHA, Cyrillic_shcha,   Cyrillic_SHCHA ]};
    key <AD10> {[ Cyrillic_ze,      Cyrillic_ZE ]}; 
    key <AD11> {[ Cyrillic_ghe,     Cyrillic_GHE ]};

    key <AC01> {[ Cyrillic_be,      Cyrillic_BE, Cyrillic_ef,      Cyrillic_EF ]}; 
    key <AC02> {[ Cyrillic_yeru,    Cyrillic_YERU ]}; 
    key <AC03> {[ Cyrillic_ve,      Cyrillic_VE ]}; 
    key <AC04> {[ U04D1,            U04D0 ]}; // ӑ
    key <AC05> {[ Cyrillic_el,      Cyrillic_EL ]};
    key <AC06> {[ Cyrillic_a,       Cyrillic_A ]}; 
    key <AC07> {[ Cyrillic_er,      Cyrillic_ER ]}; 
    key <AC08> {[ Cyrillic_o,       Cyrillic_O  ]   };
    key <AC09> {[ Cyrillic_pe,      Cyrillic_PE ]   };
    key <AC10> {[ Cyrillic_e,       Cyrillic_E, Cyrillic_zhe,     Cyrillic_ZHE ]}; 
    key <AC11> {[ Cyrillic_de,      Cyrillic_DE ]};     

    key <AB05> {[ U04AB,            U04AA ]}; // ҫ
    key <AB06> {[ Cyrillic_i,       Cyrillic_I ]};
    key <AB07> {[ Cyrillic_te,      Cyrillic_TE ]}; 
    key <AB08> {[ Cyrillic_softsign,Cyrillic_SOFTSIGN, Cyrillic_hardsign,Cyrillic_HARDSIGN ]};
    key <AB09> {[ Cyrillic_yu,      Cyrillic_YU ]}; 

    include &quot;level3(ralt_switch)&quot;
};

Windows

To create a custom keyboard layout for Windows is easy, but it is hard to contribute to Windows official releases. We only need to install the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator.

This is how the new Chuvash Keyboard layout looks like in Windows (Chuvash 2015.1)

chuvash-win-kbd-normal

chuvash-win-kbd-shiftl

chuvash-win-kbd-altgr

Dead keys

Load git into PowerShell

Just a little productivity tip. If you use git on Windows, you probably already have the Github for Windows application. This application adds the Git Shell:

006-gitshell

The Git Shell will open a PowerShell window and execute shell.ps1 from the Github directory:

007-gitshell

What it won’t do is to load your personal PowerShell profile. I want to use my PowerShell profile that creates some links and adjust the look-and-feel and the promt of the shell. By the way I have published my profile.ps1 as a gist:

I also want to have git in PowerShell available directly. The answer is in the shell.ps1 in the Github folder:

008-gitshell

So add this line to your profile.ps1 as I did:

. (Resolve-Path "$env:LOCALAPPDATA\GitHub\shell.ps1")

That’s it. If you haven’t seen the “DOT” in PowerShell scripts, it is called dot sourcing, it will execute the script and keep all the variables and references within the script.

An alternative

If you do not have Github for Windows, there is another way to load git functionality into PowerShell:

It is time to standardize the Chuvash Keyboard Layout

Proto-Bulgarian Runes. Wonder if they are supported in Unicode :)

Proto-Bulgarian Runes (Chuvash language is the closest language to the Proto-Bulgar language). Wonder if they are supported in Unicode 🙂

The Chuvash Computer Keyboard layouts have existed since 2001, but due to the lack for Unicode support we were forced to use the look-alike letters  from other latin-based keyboard layouts. On Linux The Chuvash keyboard layout was added in 2007 and Linux is still the only operating system that has a native keyboard layout for Chuvash language. On Windows we have used the Keyboard Layout Creator and distributed it as an executable file.

Today, when Windows XP is not supported anymore, the majority of users now have full support for the correct Chuvash letters from the Extended Cyrillic table. These four Chuvash letters are “additional” to the Russian alphabet: ӐӖҪ and Ӳ.

Now when new “keyboards” appear on Android, in web browser (they use the standardized letters) and hopefully in Windows and iOS, we have to consider put the correct letters into the keyboard layouts. For Linux the /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/ru file has to be updated:

// Chuvash language layout
// Anatoly Mironov @mirontoli
partial alphanumeric_keys
xkb_symbols "cv" {
    include "ru(winkeys)"

    name[Group1]= "Chuvash";

    key.type[group1]="FOUR_LEVEL";

    key        <AD03> {        [      Cyrillic_u,	Cyrillic_U,
                            0x010004f3,    0x010004f2      ]       };
    key        <AD05> {        [      Cyrillic_ie,     Cyrillic_IE,
                       0x010004d7,	0x010004d6     ]       };
    key        <AC04> {        [      Cyrillic_a,	Cyrillic_A,
                          0x010004d1,  0x010004d0      ]       };
    key        <AB03> {        [      Cyrillic_es,     Cyrillic_ES,
                            0x010004ab,    0x010004aa      ]       };

    include "level3(ralt_switch)"
};

Impact

This switch will have a huge impact on the Chuvash language. Much of content on forums, websites and Chuvash Wikipedia will be hardly searchable. But we have to do it, to standardize and prepare for the future. The Chuvash language Committee is not against it, despite it has not been updated the guidelines for using letters from 2009.

Edit 2014-04-30

The bug in the freedesktop bugzilla was solved very quickly. In fact, in the new Ubuntu 14.04 you’ll find a correct keyboard layout:

chuvash-keyboard-map

Here is the source code:
chuvash-keyboard-xkb

partial alphanumeric_keys
xkb_symbols "cv" {
    include "ru(winkeys)"

    name[Group1]= "Chuvash";

    key.type[group1]="FOUR_LEVEL";

    key        <AD03> {        [      Cyrillic_u,	Cyrillic_U,
                          U04F3,    U04F2      ]       };
    key        <AD05> {        [      Cyrillic_ie,     Cyrillic_IE,
                          U04D7,    U04D6     ]       };
    key        <AC04> {        [      Cyrillic_a,	Cyrillic_A,
                          U04D1,    U04D0      ]       };
    key        <AB03> {        [      Cyrillic_es,     Cyrillic_ES,
                          U04AB,    U04AA      ]       };

    include "level3(ralt_switch)"
};

Update 2015-01-01

Today chuvash.org has switched to Cyrillic letters. I also submitted a pull request in momentjs to update the labels.

On Windows keyboard layouts for minority languages in Russia

keyboard-bak-tat-sak

I can’t write in Chuvash in Windows 8 (and all the previous Windows releases). Chuvash is a minority language in Russian Federation. In this blog post I want to summarize the status of the keyboard layout support of the minority languages of Russia and find a way to improve this situation.

Languages and Microsoft

There are thousands of languages. Of course it is hard to support them all. As per 2012-02-21 Windows 8 supports 109 (!) languages. In december 2012 the support for Cheerokee language was added.

Display language, locale and keyboard layout

In Windows 8, when you go to Language preferences – Add a language, you’ll get “a language”. Behind this general word there are three parts which have to be distinguished in this post:

  • Display language (labels, messages and other user interface in the particular language)
  • Locale (a set of preferences for a particular language and region/country like currency, point or comma as a decimal delimiter, ltr vs rtl, encoding and much more)
  • Keyboard layout (just an arrangement of keys, their placement, can be specific for a language or country, can have different systems like Dvorak)

This blog post is about the keyboard layouts, the easiest part of the “language” support in an operating system.

Russian Federation minorities

There are 160 ethnic groups in Russia speaking over 100 minority languages. The most of ethnic groups ar so called stateless nations meaning there is no main country for this nation (e.g. Sami people in Sweden, but not Germans in the USA).

In Russia there are 21 republics which have their own official languages alongside Russian and their purpose is to be home for ethnic groups. I’ll focus mostly on the official languages in these republics in this blog post, but it would be interesting to investigate smaller languages as well.

Allmost all of the minority languages of stateless nations use the Cyrillic alphabet (often with additional letters). So it makes it pretty simple to see how many languages are supported in Windows 8. Just Go to the Language preferences -> Add a language and group them by writing system. See the screenshot above. There are only three minority keyboard layouts which are supported:

  • Bashkir (1,45 millions speakers)
  • Sakha (Yakut, 360 native speakers)
  • Tatar (4,3 millions speakers)

The funny thing is that all the three are Turkic languages.
There are two additional language keyboard layouts which are implicitly supported:

These two languages (which are co-official languages in the republic of Mordovia) don’t use any additional letters. That’s it. So they can write using only the standard Russian keyboard layout.

Keyboard layouts in Linux

Just a little comparison. In Linux distributions there are more minority languages from Russian Federation represented. The supported ones can be found in the /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/ru file:

  • Tatar / tt
  • Ossetian / os
  • Chuvash / cv
  • Udmurt / udm
  • Komi / kom
  • Sakha (Yakut) / sah
  • Kalmyk / xal
  • Bashkir / bak
  • Mari / chm

All these keyboard layouts were added by the community. I personally sent the Chuvash and Kalmyk fragments of that file to Sergey Udaltsov who created patch files and pushed it to freedesktop.

keyboard-xal

Windows 8 keyboard layouts and Touch mode

When I tried these three supported minority language keyboard layouts of Russia in touch mode, only one worked! It was the Tatar keyboard layout.
tatar-keyboard-layout-in-touch

The tatars can type all their additional letters in touch mode as well.

Bashkir and Sakha keyboard layouts use the row above qwerty: 12345… Here is the preview for the classic Sakha keyboard layout:

sakha-preview

And what about the virtual touch keyboard layout for Sakha language?

sakha-touch

As you can see there are no keys for the additional letters for Sakha language (ҕ ҥ ө һ).

Summary

Many minority languages of Russian Federation (the most of them already endangered) miss the native keyboard layout support in Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows 7. Windows is a prevalent operating system in Russia. The support for minority language keyboard layout would help people to use their languages and give more chances for languages to survive. For now there are only 3 languages (besides Russian and implicitly some others like Moksha and Erzya) which are supported in Windows 8 with a physical keyboard: Tatar, Bashkir and Sakha. And only one of them (!) works even in touch mode: Tatar.

The purpose of this post is only to identify the status for Russian Federation minority language keyboard layout support in Windows 8. Microsoft Local Language Program (LLP) seems very promising. I hope we will see more languages of Russia and other countries available in “Add language” menu in Microsoft Windows 8.

Long tap and additional letters in Windows 8 (update 2013-03-16)

After I wrote this post I discovered some additional letters available when you long-tap the buttons on the virtual keyboard. Here is an excerpt from the Microsoft Blog about the “press-and-hold”-letters:

There is an interesting counter example in press-and-hold behavior. On a physical keyboard, when you press and hold a character, it repeats. On our touch keyboard when you press and hold, we show alternate characters or symbols. This is something a touch keyboard can do well and a physical keyboard can’t. If you don’t know the specific key combination to show ñ or é or š, for example, it’s painful to type on a physical keyboard. It’s easy to find on the touch keyboard. Practically no one has complained about this departure from convention. We built on it, in fact. You might discover that you can simply swipe from a key in the direction of the secondary key, and that character will be entered, without an explicit selection from the menu. So if you use accented characters a lot, you can get pretty fast with this.

I appreciate this. Here come all the letters I found in the Russian keyboard layout:

Flyout letters Main letter Additional letters
long-tap-u у ү   ұ
long-tap-k к ҡ   қ
long-tap-n н ң   ҥ
long-tap-g г ғ   ҕ
long-tap-z з ҙ
long-tap-h х һ
long-tap-o о ө
long-tap-e э ә
long-tap-s с ҫ
long-tap-i и і

Here is the full list of the Cyrillic additional letters:

ү Cyrillic Ue Bashkir, Tatar, Kazakh, Buryat, Kalmyk, Kyrgyz, Mongolian
ұ Straight U with stroke Kazakh
ҡ Bashkir Qa Bashkir
қ Ka with descender Kazakh, Uyghur, Uzbek, Tajik, Abkhaz
ң En with descender Bashkir, Tatar, Kazakh, Dungan, Kalmyk, Khakas, Kyrgyz , Turkmen, Tuvan, Uyghur
ҥ En-ghe (Cyrillic) Sakha, Meadow Mari, Altai, Aleut
ғ Ge with stroke Bashkir, Kazakh, Uzbek, Tofa, Tajik
ҕ Ge with middle hook Sakha, Abkhaz
ҙ Ze with descender Bashkir
һ Shha Bashkir, Sakha, Tatar, Kazakh Buryat Kalmyk Kildin Sami
ө Barred O (Oe) Bashkir, Sakha, Kazakh, Buryat, Kalmyk, Kyrgyz, Mongolian
ә Cyrillic Schwa Bashkir, Tatar, Kazakh, Abkhaz, Dungan, Itelmen, Kalmyk, Kurdish
ҫ Cyrillic The Bashkir, Chuvash
і Dotted i Kazakh, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Khakas, Komi, Rusyn

Those are missing: ӑ ӳ

ӗ E breve Chuvash
ӑ A breve Chuvash
ӳ U with double acute Chuvash
ӝ Zhe with diaeresis Udmurt
ӟ Ze with diaeresis Udmurt
ӥ I with diaeresis Udmurt
ӧ O with diaeresis Udmurt, Meadow Mari, Hill Mari
ӵ Che with diaeresis Udmurt
ӓ A with diaeresis Hill Mari
ӱ U with diaeresis Meadow Mari, Hill Mari
ӹ Yery with diaeresis Hill Mari

Here we have four fully functional language keyboard layouts if you are okay with long-tapping:

Bashkir ғ ҡ ҙ ҫ ң һ ә ө ү
Sakha ҕ ҥ ө һ ү
Tuvan ң ү ө
Buryat ө ү һ

Bashkir and Sakha, I suppose, were considered whilst designing the keyboard layout, and Tuvan and Buryat language letters only happen to be within the Bashkir and Sakha letters range.

Tatar letters aren’t complete in the standard Russian keyboard layout, the reason for that must be, as I mentioned above, the full functional virtual keyboard for Tatar (where is no need for long-tapping).

There is another language which contains all the letters through long-tapping. Kazakh is absolutely a minority language of Russia, but it doesn’t represent a stateless nation.

Kazakh ғ ә қ ң ө ү ұ і һ

Long-tapping technique could be a solution for many minority languages of Russia:

Language Existing letters To be added
Chuvash ҫ ӗ ӑ ӳ
Udmurt ӝ ӟ ӥ ӧ ӵ
Meadow Mari ҥ ö ӱ
Hill Mari ä ö ӱ ӹ
Komi і ö
Altay ҥ ј ӧ ӱ

Windows 8: shutdown button on your start and desktop


If you think that “Go to corner” -> Settings -> Power -> Shut down are three steps to much if you just want to shutdown your Windows 8 machine, than do as I did: create a shortcut on you desktop and a tile on your start screen.

Create a shortcut as usual:

Write in the location field:

shutdown /s /t 0

Name it something, why not “shutdown”?

Change the default icon:

There it is. Now we can pin it to Start:

Done. Now, if you want to shutdown, you have to click only once:

 

Enjoy!

Windows 8 preview

windows 8I have tested the Windows 8 developer preview. VMWare player 3 didn’t manage it, so I installed VirtualBox and it ran very well. One thing I did was to enable full screen on VirtualBox.

Here is the list of features you get if you install the developer preview:

  • Windows SDK for Metro style apps
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows Developer Preview
  • Microsoft Expression Blend 5 Developer Preview
  • 28 Metro style apps including the BUILD Conference app

powershell_ise

Powershell ISE (Integrated Scripting Environment) är ett bra verktyg för att skriva powershell-skript med färgmarkering och möjligheten att testköra det. Synd bara att det inte är aktiverat ifrån början i Server 2008. För att aktivera kör följande kommandon i powershell:

Import-Module ServerManager
Add-Windowsfeature PowerShell-ISE

För att sedan starta powershell kör:

powershell_ise

local dns

Hur gör man om man vill ha två olika internet-adresser för olika inloggningar. Om man har DNS inställt rätt – inga problem. Men hur gör man för att testa det på sin lokala maskin.

Man kan ändra dns-information på sin maskin. För detta ska filen hosts uppdateras. I Windows tryck på Start och i sökrutan skriv:

%SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

Den här filen är raka motsvarigheten till /etc/hosts i Linux.

I filen som öppnas lägg till följande rader som sist:

127.0.0.1       myfirstaddress
127.0.0.1       mysecondaddress

Efter det kan du nå din lokala server via http://myfirstaddress/ och http://mysecondaddress/.

Däremot kommer det inte gå att funka med din Sharepoint-applikation på de här adresserna. För att det ska funka måste man göra inställningar i Sharepoint Central Administration, vilket jag ska ta upp i nästa inlägg.

Вула Чăвашла

VulaCV - Чăвашла вулаттаракан сайт

Discovering SharePoint

And going crazy doing it

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My programming life

and everything in between

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It is a good place to share some SharePoint stories and development practices.

SharePoint Dragons

Nikander & Margriet on SharePoint

RealActivity - Real-time and trustworthy

Blog site of founder, RealActivty - Paul J. Swider

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