Browse Prior Art Database

A Method of Providing "Country Keyboard" Support, used by IBM TouchBoardTM, a Softkeyboard Application Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015511D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Jun-11
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Document File: 9 page(s) / 144K

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  A Method of Providing "Country Keyboard" Support, used by IBM TouchBoardTM, a Softkeyboard Application


Disclosed is how the IBM TouchBoard* application, a softkeyboard, provides "Country Keyboard" support. This application was included with IBM ThinkPad* TransNote* systems. Since TransNote would be sold in many different Countries, a good method was needed to develop and support many different native softkeyboards. Using scan codes within configuration layout files provided a way to support 25+ native keyboards with no impact to the code. This greatly reduced both development and support time.

Background information and the Problem:

The TransNote product was a new concept in mobile computing. It consisted of a PC and InkPad Digitizer in a leathery fanfold case. It is equipped with a LCD TouchScreen Display. This display can be folded to cover the system (hardware) keyboard. The user can just touch the touchscreen display to navigate around, instead of a Mouse. To enter text however, users still need a keyboard of some sort; This is why TouchBoard, an onscreen softkeyboard application, was developed.

The plan was to ship this product to countries other than just US. The problem is, other countries have different system keyboards. These different system keyboards vary in the number of keys, actions, and characters. This introduced an interesting challenge, that is, how to provide and support so many different native keyboards.

TouchBoard was designed to be easily configurable to allow different layouts without impact to the code. For instance, the following layouts are supplied as part of the installation:

Full ThinkPad keyboard:

Small keyboard:


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Hex keyboard for screen space saving:



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The layout files are quite straight-forward in design. The user or configurer simply creates a file with an .kb extension, listing the characters they want displayed on the key, and generated by the key. For example, here is the hex keyboard layout file:
Hex_title[k=h u=k]












q w e r
t y u i o p \

[ a s d f g h j k l




z x

c v

b n


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m ,



aSOUTH[w=2] `

Ctrl[k=CTRL] Alt[k=ALT] Space[k=SPACE w=14] ^[k=UP c=225 f=Wingdings] Blank[a=n c=32] Full[a=k s=thinkpad w=4 u=k] ABC[a=k s=quiktype w=4 u=k] Num[a=k s=numpad w=4 u=k] Setup[a=k w=4 u=k] ,*[a=m f=Wingdings 3] <[k=LEFT c=223 f=Wingdings] v[k=DOWN c=226 f=Wingdings]

>[k=RIGHT c=224 f=Wingdings] aEAST[w=3]

Del[k=DELETE] <-Back[k=BACK] <--'Enter[k=ENTER] PgUp[k=PAGEUP] PgDn[k=PAGEDOWN] aWEST[w=3] Esc[k=ESC] Ins[k=INSERT] Tab=>[k=TAB]|<=Tab[k=TAB] Caps[k=CAPSLOCK] Shift[k=SHIFT]

Since the TransNote was being shipped to a number of other countries, the number of layout files was potentially very large to support all the required native keyboards which would involve a large testing and support effort.