Windows (and many other operating systems) include by default an interesting keyboard layout called United States-International. It is essentially a version of the prolific American QWERTY keyboard layout, with many popular symbols and characters not found in English accessible through the AltGr key (or its Windows substitute, the right Alt key or Ctrl + Left Alt) and through dead keys.
I saw fit to create a Dvorak version of US-International, with the same deadkeys and combinations, but with the three touch-type rows rearranged to fit ANSI Dvorak. It should be an easy switch for existing Dvorak users and great if you’re starting out learning Dvorak.
The installer will add the layout to the Windows regional settings list of keyboard layouts, and is not some sort of driver, background service, or registry hack. It was made in Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator.
Anyways, with the US-International keyboard layout, nobody should have any excuse to type “u” or “ue” instead of “ü,” “2 x 4” instead of “2 × 4,” or “General Xo's Chicken” instead of “General Xo’s Chicken.” Heck, maybe we could have prevented the creation of the English neologism “uber.”
Of course, I do take issue with its lack of distinction between the hyphen (-), the en dash (–), and the em dash (—), and its lack of the prime marks (′, ″, and ‴) and the ditto symbol (〃). However, its existing variety of punctuation, accents, and other typographical symbols, including separate key combinations for the single closing quote (’), the typewriter apostrophe ('), and the acute accent (´), are easily enough to overwhelm anyone new to smugly elitist typographical pedantry (the sort I enjoy).
Also, the dead keys themselves do get annoying. For example, Ubuntu Linux includes a layout called “USA International (AltGr dead keys).” That moves the dead keys to their AltGr combinations, so hitting the ' key would produce a ' straightaway, but to get the á (acute a) symbol, which is encountered far less frequently than the apostrophe, one would need to hit AltGr+’ and then A. Also of note is Ubuntu’s “USA Dvorak International,” which is not to be confused with my US-Internation Dvorak layout. It is simply the ANSI Dvorak layout with a few symbols available by AltGr; it is not, like my layout, a Dvorak remapping of the full US-International layout.
With that said, I’m not even a Dvorak typist. Heh.
I did some extremely cursory Googling, and came up with these two more Dvorak layouts based on US-International (created by others):
- USID at Jargon File – Pretty much the same as my keyboard layout, except it came before mine. 🙁 Update: it appears that the layout’s apostrophe deadkey produces an acute accent (´) instead of an apostrophe (‘); haven’t noticed anything else wrong though.
- Dvorak international extended keyboard at Arjen van Kol – Instead of using an exactly key-to-key mapping from US-International to ANSI Dvorak, this layout moves many of the AltGr-accessed special characters to be adjacent to other similar characters.
Edit (12/26/2012, which I guess is 10/2279/2006. Ha!):
So here’s the layout I use, which is the regular US International—QWERTY and all—but you need to hold AltGr to hit deadkeys.
Keyboard layout installer for Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/7 (x86, x64, and Itanium): usintalt.zip
I kept a list of symbols I meant to add to it but never did, and probably never will now that I dislike customization:
- Prime marks, en & em dash, ditto sign (′, ″, ‴, –, —, 〃)
- Solidus, bullet (⁄, •)
- <=, >=, !=, and =~ (≤, ≥, ≠, ≈)
- Dot, sqrt, XOR (·, √, ⊕)
- +/-, -/+ (±, ∓)
- Sum of, integral of (∑, ∫)
- Ellipsis, therefore (…, ∴)
I still wish I had these. 🙁