SHR - Keyboard

Al Johnson openmoko at
Fri Dec 19 03:09:52 CET 2008

On Thursday 18 December 2008, Carsten Haitzler wrote:
> On Thu, 18 Dec 2008 14:49:50 +0000 Al Johnson
> <openmoko at>
> babbled:
> > 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"

I'm finding that I have to manually pull up the keyboard more often now than I 
used to, not less. Rather like the original keyboard discussion I agree with 
the theory, but in practise things aren't there yet.

> > 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

If the 'correct' layout would appear automatically every time it wouldn't be 
an issue. Until that happens the duplication allows manual selection of 
the 'correct' keyboard for the situation with a tap-hold-drag rather than tap 
(bring up keyboard) tap (bring up layout selection) scroll (as it seems to 
add scroll bars whether needed or not) tap (to select layout). There is of 
course the argument that if you make the keyboard too easy nobody will ever 
fix the apps ;-)

> > It can be a little distracting, but it doesn't seem to 
> > 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).

This is with a single finger or stylus, and a definite release before the next 
tap. This sort of operation works without problem on a Psion 5, another 
device with a resistive touchscreen and still my reference device in many 

> > 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 :)

I never said it was easy ;-) The corrective keyboard and the alternate 
keyboard layouts are hugely better than the matchbox keyboard, but there is a 
barrier to entry that the matchbox keyboard doesn't have. The matchbox 
keyboard is intuitive but ultimately limited as an input method as you say. 
The challenge is to lower the initial barrier for the illume keyboard so that 
more people get to see the advantages on the other side rather than giving up 
and ditching it for the matchbox one, only to run into its limitations at a 
later date. 

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