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automatic keyboard layout selection

select the keyboard layout automatically by a hardware attribute
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When installing any kind of operating system, one has to manually select the current keyboard layout. This may be a list, a recommendation according to the chosen language (german OS install -> recommend german keyboard layout), other operating systems ask the user to press a few layout-specific keys and so do take a guess of the actual keyboard layout. In the end, keyboard layout configuration is still a kind of "necessary" configuration step.

However, this configuration may also be done automatically, if the operating system would have an idea of the actual keyboard layout.

So I'm proposing that keyboards do offer a new attribute, advertising the actual keyboard layout of the device e.g. via a special USB or bluetooth attribute. The operating system (or keyboard driver) uses this attribute to automatically select the keyboard layout being used in the operating system. Of couse, an operating system might still offer an "advanced" configuration setting where the user may manually override the automatic selection.

In reality, this attribute would also benefit a couple of other usecases.

Since the introduction of Apple Desktop Bus and Universal Serial Bus, users may even install multiple keyboards in parallel.

Every keyboard layout does have its benefits, e.g. the US keyboard layout is good for many software developers (square and curly brackets are seperate keys), while accents and umlauts in most european languages also have their respective own keys, and yet some country-specific layouts are quite far away from "qwerty", but users are very much accustomed to those layouts.

I've seen many software developers and translators who are using different keyboard layouts to assist in their job, so they started typing "blind" using a different keyboard layout. Even after years of training, they still do have to take a look at the "actual" keyboard layout (or even worse: the non-actual keyboard layout).

The layout for some regions (e.g. France, Turkey or Russia) is that different from qwerty and the switching is that annoying that quite a few users are actually installing two keyboards at the same time (ADB, USB and Bluetooth don't have a problem with this), switch the systemwide operating system's idea of default keyboard layout via a hotkey or menu option, then start typing on "the other" keyboard. Operating systems like recent Windows releases even do "enhance" those ideas by switching the keyboard layout with each application. However, this doesn't do the job that well: a translator both translates his client's texts e.g. in Microsoft Word and he also writes his bills and does part of his bookkeeping in Microsoft Word. One job uses keyboard layout A, the other job does use keyboard layout B.

The introduction of a "keyboard layout" attribute would assist those users pretty much: if you're typing the "ä" key on the "german" keyboard, you actually do receive an "ä". If you're hitting the "]" key on your US keyboard, you do receive an "]".

The only backdraw with this idea is: you need support both in Hardware (keyboard) and software (operating system). So it does take companies like Apple or Microsoft to get this idea working :-)

A fairly low-level implementation of this idea might use e.g. the USB device's serial number or position in the USB hub device tree to specify the keyboard layout and make the operating system automatically switch the layout according to the actual device being used. However, many keyboards do specify exactly the same serial number via USB, and the exact position in the USB device tree does also depend on pretty many factors.

knoepfchendruecker, Nov 19 2011

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       This is a sound idea, but the root of the problem lies in our decision to let computer technology out of England in the first place.   

       If we'd known how much trouble it would have caused, we'd just have kept it to ourselves, or licenced it to Johnny Foreigner only on condition that he sort out his language and use the Queen's English.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 19 2011
  

       [+]   

       <soapbox> and it fits in with my idea that peripherals should be "smarter" in areas governing their own operation: keyboards, as well as the aforementioned type identification should have built-in character buffers, and be where global key-mapping and macros take place </soapbox>
FlyingToaster, Nov 19 2011
  
      
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