SHR - Keyboard

Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) raster at
Fri Dec 19 00:24:12 CET 2008

On Thu, 18 Dec 2008 14:49:50 +0000 Al Johnson <openmoko at>

> On Thursday 18 December 2008, clare johnstone wrote:
> > On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 8:28 PM, Paul <paultsai at> wrote:
> > > Is there a way to make the keyboard pop up on demand, say for the
> > > terminal?
> >
> > Or did you just mean: press the tiny little mark at centre top of the
> > screen. A curtain 1/3 the size of the screen will wander down. At its top
> > right corner is the word "qwerty". if you press that a keyboard will
> > appear.
> > Later you can repeat to make the keyboard disappear.
> Yes, it is now frustratingly longwinded. The keyboard icon on the matchbox 

it's that way because slowly i'm expecting toolkits to be able to auto-popup or
apps - it's still there, but i moved it away to make more room on the top bar
for other things. it's laid out by theme so it can be changed - but the default
is aimed more at the "state of things how they should be right now"

> panel is much better in my opinion. Even better would be a keyboard icon that 
> brought up the default keyboard if tapped, but if held would pop up a list of 
> available keyboards or layouts.

that can be done - though it duplicates the layout selector on the kbd itself

> > The keyboard has a sign in some oriental language at its top right
> > which causes changes in it. Basically 3 possibles, of which the third
> > can be quite useful if you can get it to respond.
> It is "ABC" with the characters overlapping slightly. It needn't be 3 choices 
> either - you can add or remove keyboard layouts as you wish. You could remove 
> all but the terminal layout if that's the only one you want. People have 
> produced alternative layouts better suited to other languages too.
> The top left lets you pick the dictionary to be used for the corrective
> input, so you could have multiple languages available.
> >  It has the habit of enlarging its characters
> > when they are pressed which may be helpful when trying to use fingers
> > to type on it but slows it.
> It can be a little distracting, but it doesn't seem to compromise
> performance. It seems to keep up with ~4 characters per second - as fast as I
> can hit characters in short bursts anyway. Sometimes I get characters from a
> long way from where I tapped, but I suspect that's the touchscreen driver
> causing problems since I have the same problem with the matchbox keyboard.

if you happen to have both fingers pressed at once (as you haven't released 1
before pressing the other) this will happen. this is just unfortunately part of
life with a single-touch resistive touchsrceen. (i can come up with hackish
workarounds like extrapolating sudden moves to be a new press somewhere else in
the tslib driver... but now you're in magic voodoo land and really.. you just
should have multitouch).

> > It also at times develops a habit known as predictive.
> Corrective would be more accurate, and whether it is enabled depends on the 
> keyboard layout. The icon in the top left will give you the full list of 
> potentially matching words, with the exact string you entered always at the 
> top.
> The quality of correction is heavily dependant on the dictionary, at least
> out of the box. The default english dictionary works well, but some have
> reported problems with german for example. To some extent this should be
> offset if you persevere as it adds spellings and word frequencies to your
> personal dictionary, 

yeah. dictionary quality is the issue. remember i only test with the english
one and its decent - once you use it for writing messages/notes for a while (in
english) it learns your patterns pretty well and accuracy improves
significantly. (some words for some reason are not in there - like 'hello' as i
always start my tests with bashing away 'hello world' :))

indeed it is corrective - NOT predictive. it is only intended to be corrective.
i don't think predictive WITH fuzzy matching is a good idea as it blows out the
potential list of "matches". also it is NOT intended for a terminal - the
terminal layout is for that. so you cant compare to tab completion - it is
nothing like it. tab completion has knowledge of the context (current directory
and file system) whereas the keyboard has no clue about the context. it's
trying its best using a dictionary for your language - assuming you are typing
regular "english text" (or another language) like writing notes or emails or
sms's. that is precisely why a terminal layout exists to add all the extra keys
you'll want for using a terminal etc.

> > I have actually been shown how this can be made to work on a mobile
> > phone where it may have some value.
> Agreed. With the corrective layout I can enter text reasonably reliably one 
> handed while walking. I wouldn't have a hope of doing this with the terminal 
> layout, or with the matchbox keyboard.
> > Compared with ordinary "tab completion" in linux commands it is not
> > even a starter, and again is a distraction..
> But for linux commands surely you would use the terminal layout, which
> doesn't have the corrective feature enabled, and use tab completion.

bingo. :) absolutely correct.

> > clare (who really likes the matchbox keyboard - remember that?. It is
> > used in the new "hackable";
> > and with apologies to Rasterman; but I do feel strongly on these points.)

matchbox keyboard and illume temrinal layout are incredibly similar in their
functionality. i don't see how there is a difference worth jumping around about
beyond just the "i dont like e therefore do not want its keyboard".

> Input method preferences are highly personal. Happily we have a choice of 
> input methods, and Rasterman included the facility to use them. If you 
> install the matchbox keyboard, or any other for that matter, it should appear 
> in the list of selectable keyboards in the illume config (spanner icon).

yup. i even uses matchbox-keyboard as my initial tests for "other keyboards". i
made it and multitap work. just add .desktop files so illume knows they exist
and how to run them for you. matchboxkbd - i don't see the point of. multitap
though - i do. :)

> I suspect part of the reason people tend to dislike the qtopia and default 
> illume keyboards is that by default they don't do what we expect, and it 
> isn't obvious what they are doing. The matchbox keyboard is just an onscreen 
> representation of a familiar keyboard, and behaves as we expect. It doesn't 
> require any extra knowledge to get it to do what we want. The same could be 
> said of the illume terminal layout, but that isn't the default.

also one could argue that the invers could be the case. i am trying to answer
and sms and do nothing but yell at this tiny pokey keyboard i can barely hit
with a finger - and the device has no place for a stylus (and the one that
comes with it is so huge i wouldn't be seen dead carrying it). :) you can't
win. you make lot A happy, then lot B unhappy. thats why there are multiple
layouts to at least give the options to both. the default lean is towards using
it as a PHONE - not as a terminal. i would assume the nerds have enough
braincells to rub together to switch layout :)

> The qtopia and illume keyboards try to be better, as does the iPhone
> keyboard, but all require a bit of hidden knowledge to get them to work. Once
> you know their secrets they are as good as or better than the matchbox
> keyboard, but if you don't know the secrets then they are incredibly
> frustrating.
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The Rasterman (Carsten Haitzler)    raster at

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