Vietnamese VIQR Keyboard Layout 1.0 for Mac OS X
If you type primarily in English, you have it easy: all 26 letters are right in front of you, one keystroke away. But if, like me, you do any typing in a language like Vietnamese, you’ll sometimes find it tempting to just use a typewriter, where you don’t have to worry about font support for accent marks or application support for various flavors of Unicode, and you can usually flip the page down a notch to turn a caret into a bone fide circumflex. It’s just easier.
When I absolutely have to use a post-1980s device like the computer (what horror!), my keyboard takes a beating, especially when I edit the Vietnamese Wikipedia. Since computers these days treat accented characters like ễ as distinct from their base letters (in this case, e), Vietnamese contains over 90 such characters, and there’s no way you’d cram that into a keyboard. So various folks have devised input methods for Vietnamese: you strike multiple keys, one letter comes out. Not the best way to avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but you just try talking to someone without any vowels. Isn’t happening, unless you’re a Klingon.
VIQR is the most inconvenient of these input methods. In order to type the word tiếng Việt (Vietnamese for “Vietnamese”), you’d enter:
Only a habitual Perl programmer would actually enjoy using the diaspora of keys needed for VIQR, but I find it less cryptic than schemes like VNI, which uses numbers instead of arcane punctuation:
Looks like the subject line of an e-mail advertisement for V-one-agra, I know. And if for nothing else, VIQR is cool because it’s got a catchy acronym (rhymes with “quicker”, ironically enough).
All that’s an inexcusably long way to introduce a little tool I’ve been cooking up: the Vietnamese VIQR Keyboard Layout 1.0 for Mac OS X. (Yep, it’s got a long name too.) After enabling this keyboard layout, you can type perfectly-accented Vietnamese into any Mac application that supports Unicode. That includes the works: TextEdit, Firefox, Word, Adium, iTunes, the Dashboard, and even Terminal.
So if you’re a Mac user, you can add VIQR support to your computer by downloading this keyboard layout:
(tarball, 12 kB)
First of all, this keyboard layout requires Mac OS X. Any localization will do. Although I haven’t tested the keyboard layout on anything by Tiger (version 10.4), it should theoretically work as far back as Jaguar (10.2).
Windows users should try UniKey, which supports multiple input methods and is much more flexible. (For instance, it allows you to enter the diacritics after the letters.)
Apparently Leopard includes its own VIQR layout, but I haven’t gotten my hands on Leopard yet, and I desperately needed to type in VIQR. (Leopard includes several Vietnamese input methods now, all under the UniKey brand, so perhaps it has the same advanced features as the real UniKey.)
If you’re not on Leopard yet but don’t particularly care for VIQR, you might prefer one of Gero Herrmann’s Vietnamese keyboard layouts.
It turns out the “Vietnamese Unikey” input method included in Leopard is completely broken. However, as Kỳ Anh reports, that input method has finally been fixed in Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). So if you’ve upgraded to Snow Leopard, I highly recommend using the built-in input method rather than my keyboard layout. Otherwise, if you haven’t upgraded but still find keyboard layouts too awkward, consider installing AVIM for Firefox.
Installation and setup
- Download the tarball and unzip it.
The resulting folder contains five files, but of those, you only need VietnameseVIQR.keylayout and VietnameseVIQR.icns. The latter is the keyboard layout’s icon. Copy both to one of these locations on your computer (both locations are accessible from the Finder):
- Name of User ▸ Library ▸ Keyboard Layouts ▸
- Placing the files here makes the keyboard layout accessible to you and you alone.
- Name of Hard Drive ▸ Library ▸ Keyboard Layouts ▸
- Network ▸ Library ▸ Keyboard Layouts ▸
- On Mac OS X Server, placing them here makes the keyboard layout accessible to every user on your network.
- Log out and back in again. (No way around this step, unfortunately for anyone who has to write and debug a keyboard layout.)
In System Preferences, open the International panel (under the Personal section) and switch to the Input Menu tab. “Vietnamese-VIQR” should now appear in the list; turn it on. Also, make sure that the “Show input menu in menu bar” option is checked, so that you can switch between the different keyboard layouts you’ve enabled.
There should be a new icon for the Input Menu on the right side of your menu bar. (If you don’t like its placement, hold down ⌘ and drag it around.)
A geopolitical note
For consistency with the built-in Vietnamese keyboard layout, the VIQR layout’s icon bears the current flag of Vietnam. However, I know that many overseas Vietnamese would be uncomfortable displaying this flag on their menu bar all day, so I included two alternatives: VietnameseVIQR-South.icns, which bears the historical flag of South Vietnam, and VietnameseVIQR-Map.icns, which features Vietnam’s silhouette. If you prefer, you can replace VietnameseVIQR.icns with either of these icons.
UsageThe Wikipedia article on VIQR does a good job of explaining how to use this input method. Here’s a quick demonstration:
You’ll need the Flash Player to watch the clip.
(QuickTime movie, 1.5 MB)
Yes, that was too fast for an instructional video. No, that wasn’t intended to be an instructional video.
In some programs, buttons in dialogs don’t respond to keyboard shortcuts. For instance, in TextEdit, ⌘D doesn’t trigger the “Don’t Save” button when closing an unsaved document.
The keyboard layout is licensed under the standard MIT License. In essence, go all out. Just don’t blame me if no one can understand you any longer, because circumflexes and tildes suddenly litter your handwritten English notes, because you love VIQR so much.
TrackBack URL: <http://panel.1ec5.org/mt/mt-ping.fcgi/807>