Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ideal Yiddish Keyboard

In my Hebrew Keyboard Bookmarklets post, I talked about how to setup Internet browser bookmarklets for a number of different keyboard layouts for typing in Hebrew or Yiddish. However, since then, I've come across a different keyboard layout that is the best one I've seen for typing Yiddish (for Hebrew, I prefer my own Hebrew-ZC layout). The reasons I consider it ideal are:

  1. I am a fast English touch-typist and therefore I prefer a QWERTY-Phonetic layout that attempts to match Yiddish letters to English phonetic equivalents. This lets me reuse my "finger muscle memory" when typing Yiddish. I also want the Yiddish layout to be fairly similar/consistent with my own Hebrew-ZC layout as I will still be using that for Hebrew. I don't want to learn a completely new keyboard layout that I will only use for the occasions that I type in Yiddish.
  2. I want to keep punctuation, special characters, and numbers on the same keys (as much as possible). Most other Hebrew/Yiddish keyboard layouts move special characters and punctuation characters around and this drives me crazy!
  3. I want to be able to use the same keyboard layout everywhere: Mac, Windows, Linux, Internet browsers, iPhone/iPad, Android. (Mac, Internet, & iPhone are the main requirements for me but I do need occasional Yiddish keyboard access on the others as well)
  4. Ideally, there should be a "visual" representation of the keyboard so that people who only use it occasionally can see the "mappings".
Previously, my own Hebrew-ZC layout fit most of these requirements for both Hebrew and Yiddish. However, I recently came across an even better layout for Yiddish - the Yiddish Pasekh keyboard layout. And, the layout is now available for all of the platforms I listed above (I've personally tried the Mac, Windows, browser, and iPhone/iPad versions):
  • Windows: Download the Keyman utility and Yiddish keyboard layout here.
  • Internet Browsers: If you're a developer creating a web page, you can easily add the Yiddish keyboard to your web page using KeymanWeb. If you want to use the Yiddish keyboard to type text in a text field on any web page, you can create a Keyman Bookmarklet that will let you do this. The Yiddish Pasekh bookmarklet is here: YiddishKeyboard (just drag it to your browsers Favourites bar and click it whenever you're on a web page with a text box that you want to type Yiddish into).
  • Linux: There's a KMFL utility that aims to be source compatible with keyboards developed for Keyman. I rarely use Linux now so I haven't tried using the utility on Linux; however, it looks like it should work.
  • iPhone/iPad: The Keyman iOS app includes the Yiddish Pasekh keyboard layout. The Pro version lets you use the keyboard as a "system" keyboard (e.g. - a keyboard in any other app).
  • Android: The Keyman Android app includes the Yiddish Pasekh keyboard layout. The Pro version lets you use the keyboard as a "system" keyboard (e.g. - a keyboard in any other app).
  • Mac: There wasn't a Keyman solution available for the Mac so I used the Ukulele keyboard layout editor to re-create the Yiddish Pasekh keyboard as a Mac keyboard layout. To use it on your Mac, do the following steps:
    1. Download the YiddishPasekh.keylayout and YiddishPasekh.icns keyboard layout files to some temporary location (like the desktop).
    2. Move the 2 keyboard layout files to /Library/Keyboard Layouts/ or ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts/ (Note: keyboard layouts in ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts/ can't be selected in password dialogs or on the login window).
    3. Restart the computer. Logging out and back in is not enough.
    4. Enable the new keyboard layout from System Preferences. (if you don't know how to do this, follow these instructions)
    The keyboard layout is illustrated below:


    There are a number of minor differences from the original Keyman Yiddish Pasekh layouts that were added so that all YIVO-specified Yiddish characters were covered by the keyboard layout. The reason this needed to be done was because the Keyman utility allows for "rules" to be created to automatically put in certain characters based on context. The Mac Ukulele utility doesn't provide this capability so the characters have to be manually entered.:
    • יִ (khirik yud): This has been added on the i key.
    • וּ (melupm vov): This has been added on Shift+u.
    • ךןףץ Final Forms: The lange khof, lange nun, lange fey, & lange tsadek final form characters used at the end of a word need to be manually entered. They are on the shifted keys of the "normal" characters. (Note: the final-form characters are also present on the Keyman keyboard layout but there were rules setup to automatically convert regular characters to final-form characters in the Keyman layout so the final form characters didn't usually need to be explicitly typed. On the Mac keyboard layout however they do need to be explicitly typed.)