Being a Portuguese-speaking person living in the US, one of the things you have to get used to
is the keyboard physical layout and key mappings. You know, Latin-originated languages tend
to have thôse wéìrd chãraçtërs, which are really just diacritical marks applied to regular characters to differentiate words (sometimes it changes the pronunciation, sometimes i doesn't.)
To accommodate the extra characters, many countries define their own standard for physical
keyboard layout. In Brazil the standards body is called ABNT and they came up with the
layout that you can see below. It's a mild variation from the one used in the US and works well
if you type in Portuguese most of the time.
Even when I was living in Brazil, when I started using computers at home and at work,
it was easier to find a keyboard with a US layout than one with the ABNT layout (this
situation has changed now.) I chose to stick to a keyboard with the US physical layout and,
when in Windows — which was most of the time anyway — apply the US-International
What happens when you use the US-International it that some keys become dead keys
and when you strike them no characters are echoed. The OS waits for the next key(s) to
decide what to print. For example, if I type [ " ][ a ][ b ][ c ] without the
US-International mapping, I get (unsurprisingly) "abc. With
US-International on I get äbc. I'd have to type [ " ][space][ a ][ b ][ c ]
to get the intended text. Other dead keys are [ ' ],[ ` ],[ ^ ],[ ~ ].
Of all these dead keys, the ones that hit me the hardest are [ " ] and [ ' ]
because I use them all the time when writing source code.
Where am I going with all this?
As of January 1st 2009 all Portuguese-speaking countries will start
complying with an agreement that will cause some orthographic changes in the language.
One of the new rules is that the umlaut
(those two dots above some letters) is being dropped from the language.
I'm so happy with this decision that I simply could not wait until the US-International
key mapping gets updated in some Windows update super Tuesday. I decided to take matters
on my own hands and yank that nasty thing off my system.
How to create/edit keyboard layouts (mappings)
Microsoft published a cool little tool called
Keyboard Layout Creator that allows you to create or edit the keyboard layouts.
It doesn't get much simpler than that. I installed and run this program. Then I loaded
the existing US-International layout and saved it as US-International-No-Umlaut. Mousing
over the ["] key would reveal that it indeed is marked as dead and
show all the available combinations.
From there I just needed to right-click that key and un-check the option that was setting
it as a dead key.
The next step is to compile the new layout into a DLL and create the setup package for
it. That is done by the menu option Project > Build DLL and Setup Project.
After running the produced setup program, I could just go into the regional settings
of my system and select the new layout (mapping) as my default setting.
If you are another Portuguese-speaking programmer and don't feel like going through
the same steps, you can just download
the setup files I created.
Now I just need to get rid of that muscle memory that I acquired after all
12-26-2008 12:57 PM