suggestion for /usr/src/UPDATING

Brad Knowles brad at
Tue Aug 31 06:44:08 PDT 2004

At 1:52 AM -0700 2004-08-31, David Syphers wrote:

>>  	Think French.  Gauche and Droite.  [0]
>>  	Does hard-coding "g" and "d" into the program make any more sense
>  No, unfortunately, because on QWERTY "d" is to the left of "g". Same problem
>  as with "r" and "l".

	Uhh, you haven't seen French keyboards, have you?  They don't use 
QWERTY.  They use AZERTY -- Although I can't recall off the top of my 
head where "d" and "g" fall on the layout.

	For that matter, Swiss French keyboards are slightly different 
from Belgian/French French keyboards.  I've gone through four or five 
different keyboards on this damn laptop I'm using at the moment, 
including Swiss French, Belgian/French French, German QWERTZU, and I 
don't remember what all else.  Trust me, they're all slightly 

	For some of them, if you want to type numbers, you have to hold 
down a function key and then hit one of the keys on the top row which 
are otherwise reserved for other characters/character modifiers which 
are not typically found within the English/Roman alphabet.

	Now imagine what happens when you start talking about Slavic 
languages which have some characters that I imagine almost no 
American or native English-speaker in Europe has ever seen.  Or the 
middle eastern languages like Farsi.  Or Hebrew.  Or Hindi.  Or the 
three different written versions of Japanese.  Or Chinese.

	Things get really interesting when you start talking about 
ideograph-based languages for which an adult might be expected to 
remember 5000-8000 different unique characters, and for which 
keyboards might have 200 or more keys.

	So, when talking about these issues, you not only need to think 
about language, but also keyboard layouts.

	If you're going to be serious about proposing alternatives, you 
need to address those issues as well as others.  And you need to be 
willing to come up with the necessary internationalization 
infrastructure to deal with all the possible permutations and 

	Or, you can decide to just live with what is hard-coded into the 
current version of the program.

>  Mmm... I think we're about ready for chat@ here...

	That was kind of my point.  I was being sarcastic, but I guess 
that didn't come through.

Brad Knowles, <brad at>

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

     -- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania
     Assembly to the Governor, November 11, 1755

   SAGE member since 1995.  See <> for more info.

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