Keyman Developer for free? (was: Re: Input methods at the age of Unicode)

Marcel Schneider charupdate at
Sat Jul 18 09:47:09 CDT 2015

On 18 Jul 2015, at 00:55:27, Marc Durdin  wrote:

> has the free download of Developer 9. The beta has the license key requirement but you can obtain a free perpetual license key on that page as well. 

> While Keyman Developer 9 is version still in beta, it is stable and we are finalising the documentation and a few loose ends. The release version will continue to be free.

> Version 9 includes support for building keyboards for Windows, web, mobile web, iOS and Android, with Mac OS X coming shortly. The web and mobile web versions run with KeymanWeb 2.0 which is open source at Keyman apps for mobile platforms can be found at as well.

In front of this very outworked keyboard mapping solution I knew nothing about, Iʼm very astonished. If it helps make available the missing layouts and improve BTW a number of Windows keyboard layouts where I found some oddities, I welcome it and am considering to try.
In the meantime however, I would ask a couple of questions:

1. Does Keyman allow to place a Kana toggle? This feature available at least on Windows is useful for locales like Czech and French that use so many precomposed characters that the upper row is filled up with them to some extent. When Kana toggle is on, digits will be in Base (Kana) there. The preferred place for this toggle is E00 (ISO 9995-1).

2. Does Keyman support extended Compose trees? An extended Compose tree allows to use ‘Compose’ as a part of Compose sequences. In fact, ‘Compose’ can convert to a dead key *any* key on the keyboard, including the Compose key itself (regardless of the fact that it is already a dead key). This allows to make sequences more user-friendly. For example, the háček dead key may be ‘Compose, v’, while ʒ may be ‘Compose, z, h’. With an extended Compose tree, users may input ǯ typing ‘Compose, v, Compose, z, h’. Otherwise it must be typed ‘Compose, z, v, h’, because ‘Compose, v, z’ is already ž. With ‘Compose’ acted by the right thumb, the first option may be appealing. One keystroke more, but one memorization less. However, I know that the second order matches the principle of double combining marks as stated in TUS §7.9. It would be interesting to know the user preferences about these Compose sequences, as implementing them both is needless if one is disliked.

3. Does Keyman propose a spreadsheet-like UI? The use of spreadsheets for keyboard layout programming helps streamlining the development process.

4. Are Keyman layouts programmable in C? Windows drivers (at least, as I know little about other OSes) are. The syntax of C and C++ allows developers to use spreadsheets, from where allocation tables, deadtrans lists, and ligatures tables (that is, in keyboard driver language, Unicode character [WCHAR] sequences tables) are copied and pasted into the source.

5. Does Keyman allow to get such ligatures (sequences) accessed by dead keys? On Windows I don't see this possibility, and I never knew how to program it. But Unicode recommends that implémentations provide this facility.


Marcel Schneider
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