--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "suzmccarth" <suzmccarth@...> wrote:
> --- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, Andrew Cunningham <andj_c@...> wrote:
> >
> > Personally, I feel that providing virtual (onscreen)
> > keyboards is also important.
> >
> > One problem with character pickers is that many are
> > written for, or optimised for, Internet Explorer.
> Is it possible to make a picker, or similar utility, that lives on
> the computer rather than on the internet?

Well, my Thai picker and the Tamil 'syllabic input' picker I generated
work both from the internet and off-line. The reason for using HTML +
javascript is people's (especially companies') fear of viruses (and
trojans) and a widespread lack of compilers and interpreters. Plain
javascript from the internet is supposed to be safe for use, and is
allowed through firewalls.

Another issue is that they work after key presses have been converted
to characters - my Thai picker needs different settings for UK and US
keyboards if one wishes to emulate the Thai keyboard settings, and
would need yet another setting for a French keyboard! (The phonetic
input is portable, but the encoding may revolt some - it was developed
to drive a Postscript stick font I threw together when I realised I
needed a spell-checker for my Thai and would have to 'word-process' my
love letters. I had to write the spell-checker as well! After all
that work, I knew that encoding by heart.)

One problem with the portability of character pickers is that there is
not an entirely standard mechanism for intercepting characters from
the keyboard.

Internet Explorer also offers some useful non-standard capabilities
that Firefox doesn't. For example, the page the Tamil 'syllabic
input' picker was adapted from uses an IE feature that allows the
javascript to track cursor movement over arbitrary dynamic HTML text
and thereby allows the insertion of formatting mark-up. (Input boxes
are limited to regions of plain text.) This would be useful if one
had to use two hack fonts to cover the script, as for me would be the
case with Burmese (Windows doesn't render it yet) or Vai (I've only
got the SIL font system, which needs two hack fonts to cover the
characters for native words). However, it would make the page unusable
with Firefox (unless Gecko has recently extended its capabilities).

The problem with these pickers is that they don't work with other
applications, e.g. e-mail. Proper keyboard mappings do, but they
usually require the use of pre-compiled code, which may be difficult
or forbidden if one doesn't own the computer one is using.