Skip to content

Hebrew QWERTY phonetic keyboard, part 1

I recently got a new laptop. To start with, it’s the first laptop that I’ve bought in approximately eight years. And, it’s a Windows computer. (All of my previous computers, with the exception of one tower computer that ran Windows 2000, have been Apple.)

One of my intentions now that I had the computer was to get back to doing Duolingo, specifically Hebrew. Although I took Hebrew in high school, it’s been years since I used anything other than prayerbook Hebrew and I keep feeling like I should remedy that.

The first thing that I needed to do was get a keyboard for Hebrew installed. However, once I did that I realised that although the layout may in fact be the modern standard layout, it wasn’t at all intuitive for me. After all, who puts the letter aleph (which although it doesn’t have a sound of its own in Hebrew, is the beginning of the alphabet and is often mapped to a for simplicity’s sake) on the t key? The next thing that I noticed is that the layout simply had no way to type the niqqud, nor any way to type characters used in Yiddish.

After a quick Google search, I found this, which was a good starting point but not quite what I wanted, as it also lacks the Yiddish characters, and I wanted an easier way to type letters that have a dagesh, which is sometimes used for clarity between the dagesh and non-dagesh version of the letters. Additionally, as I don’t mind switching keyboard layouts entirely (the Windows+spacebar shortcut is useful here!) so I didn’t include any of the English letters.

So I downloaded Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator and got to work. (Note: it took me several times to actually manage to install this on my nice new computer. You get a helpful little dialogue that tells you that the program requires Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0.50727 and has a link to go get it… and then that link brings you to a page to download the most recent versions of it. Dear reader, those will not work. If you get that error, the version that you need can be found here.)

Honestly? Playing with the keyboard layout thing has been pretty fun, and now that I’ve finished the Hebrew keyboard I’m going to be getting to work on an English one that more closely mimics the layout and special characters available on Apple, because that’s one of the biggest user experience level things that I find I have been missing. However, it was pointed out to me that perhaps I, too, should share what I’ve made.

And then I realised that if I was going to share it, I also needed to make some documentation, or else how was anyone going to know what I did or why it was laid out the way that it was? So right now I’m working on that.

As soon as I am finished with creating the proper amount of documentation, the documentation and download links for both the .klc source file and the installer will be forthcoming in part 2.


Next article

Hebrew QWERTY phonetic keyboard, part 2