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Thread: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

  1. #1
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    The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    I'm just starting a thread for discussion about the simple on-screen keyboard currently under development. I wrote a review of the Gnome On-screen Keyboard (GOK) some time ago, pointing out some of it's usability flaws.

    In an attempt to address these we have started a a python-based version that has a primary goal of being simple and functional first, and then add features as plug-ins later as needed.

    I'd be interested to hear from those who have used on-screen keyboards, which features are important and your experience of existing systems. The main contributor to the project at the moment is Chris Jones, under the Google Summer of Code scheme. Please help him with encouragement, feedback and patches

    Our current working plan can be seen here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Accessibility/Specs/SOK
    Henrik Nilsen OmmaUbuntu QA Team Lead

  2. #2
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    Re: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    Frafu wrote:
    > The systemwide scope of the modifier-keys of KeyStrokes is generally
    > true: for example if I click the shift-modifier on KeyStrokes and
    > someone presses a letter on the physical keyboard, the letter written
    > will be a caps-letter.

    Thanks frafu, it's quite useful to hear the sort of things people find useful from current onscreen keyboards. So if anyone else has comments like this they will be well received.

    In response: I think this is a good idea, it would make sense from an implementation standpoint as well. All X keyboard emulation libraries I've looked at don't seem to work like this. Instead they send a shift flag, with the character keycode. It should be possible to just emulate the pressing of the shift key. So it would have the same behaviour as KeyStrokes.

    I shall look into it.

    Chris Jones
    Last edited by t0rtois3; July 15th, 2006 at 01:39 PM.

  3. #3
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    Re: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    Well, I looked into it, and it works.

  4. #4
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    Re: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    Quote Originally Posted by t0rtois3
    Francesco Fumanti wrote:
    > The systemwide scope of the modifier-keys of KeyStrokes is generally
    > true: for example if I click the shift-modifier on KeyStrokes and
    > someone presses a letter on the physical keyboard, the letter written
    > will be a caps-letter.

    Thanks frafu, it's quite useful to hear the sort of things people find useful from current onscreen keyboards. So if anyone else has comments like this they will be well received.

    In response: I think this is a good idea, it would make sense from an implementation standpoint as well. All X keyboard emulation libraries I've looked at don't seem to work like this. Instead they send a shift flag, with the character keycode. It should be possible to just emulate the pressing of the shift key. So it would have the same behaviour as KeyStrokes.

    I shall look into it.
    Hello t0rtois3,

    Sorry for being at the origin of a misunderstanding: the example of the keypress on the onscreen keyboard interacting with a keypress on the physical keyboard was only to illustrate what I meant with the expression "systemwide scope". It is not an example of something I do; it is an invented example.

    Moreover, while talking about "systemwide scope", I assumed that the onscreen keyboard needed to act systemwidely to be able to do anything that a user can do with a physical keyboard.

    The real idea behind it was, that the onscreen keyboard should emulate the physical keyboard as much as possible in order to work in every situation and not only with applications of a certain kind. Maybe that the best way to achieve it, is by making the operating system not see any difference between a keypress-event coming from the onscreen keyboard and a keypress-event coming from a physical keyboard.

    But as I don't know how Ubuntu works internaly, I cannot tell whether that idea is correct, nor whether it is possible to implement it.

    frafu

  5. #5
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    Re: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    frafu,

    Slightly off-topic, but have you ever tried dasher? You might find it quite an efficient mode of text entry.

    See: http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/
    Henrik Nilsen OmmaUbuntu QA Team Lead

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    Re: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    Quote Originally Posted by Henrik
    frafu,

    Slightly off-topic, but have you ever tried dasher? You might find it quite an efficient mode of text entry.

    See: http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/
    I have read about it, but did not have the opportunity to test it yet (unfortunately there is no MacOSX version). I hope that I will be able to try it in a few weeks...

    I am wondering how it compares to an onscreen keyboard.

    frafu

  7. #7
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    Re: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    You should be able to try it on an Ubuntu Live CD if you have a decent internet connection and enough RAM (265 MB at least, ideally 512). Then you can just install dasher into the live running system using Add Applications or Synaptic.
    Henrik Nilsen OmmaUbuntu QA Team Lead

  8. #8
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    Re: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    @Henrik,

    Thanks for telling me about the possibility of installing software in a LiveCD session. That's good to know as I have adsl and 512MB of RAM on my G4.

    cu

    frafu

  9. #9
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    Re: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    Unfortunately, the LiveCD does not boot on my older mac. It is probably the bug already filed that makes Dapper hang on boot on different g4 machines. Otherwise its my ide-pci card. If it is the bug, a daily build will probably solve the issue as a fix seems to be around. Otherwise I will probably have the opportunity to test it on a pc in some weeks.

    Anyhow, after reading your explanation in this thread that the written text goes in a field in Dasher, I wonder whether it is not somewhat limiting!?

    I hope that sok will enable a user, that uses exclusively the pointer to interact with his computer, to control it completely; this way (at least in my opinion), it will really be useful...

  10. #10
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    Re: The Simple On-screen Keyboard (SOK)

    I've updated the spec after talking with chris today. After he's made his changes we will submit it for formal approval. I would prefer that others please don't make major changes to the spec at this point.

    I've also seen Chris' working pre-alpha version today, and it looks very promising I'm sure we'll have something available for wider testing in a few weeks.
    Henrik Nilsen OmmaUbuntu QA Team Lead

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