Re: Alt-Insert (was Re: keyboard input of arbitrary characters)

Subject: Re: Alt-Insert (was Re: keyboard input of arbitrary characters)
From: Paul Rohr (
Date: Fri Apr 27 2001 - 16:54:26 CDT

At 10:57 PM 4/27/01 +0200, Mike Nordell wrote:
>Paul Rohr wrote:
>> 3. Is it physically comfortable enough?
>Hell no, but would you think of physical comfort while trying to input hex
>using a qwerty keyboard?! ;-)

Simple. My spouse writes for a living, uses em dashes regularly, and has
small hands. She doesn't care whether it's hex or not -- she just wants a
quick sequence she can train her fingers to use and then forget the details.

'Nuff said? ;-)

>> On both of the keyboards in front of me, I can
>> easily do the Alt-Ins chord one-handed, but I have big hands.
>That was one of the reasons I pitched in for the std keyboard shortcuts back
>when I had a discussion with Be developers on Be std behaviour; you should
>be able to do these common tasks with one hand only.

I'm not familiar with the Be discussion you mention, but I agree with the
general principle.

>But you are using a US keyboard. As explained in a recent post, the key to
>the right of the space bar isn't Alt on my (and others) keyboard, it's AltGr
>(the combined Alt+Ctrl)... Ain't it a bitch.

Thanks for the reminder. I thought I remembered something like that, but
lost track of that post in the deluge of posts recently.

>> 4. This way we still have a single chord to start the mode, and can then
>> just type single characters for the rest. I'd guess that this would make
>> it easier to type one-handed, but I'm no accessibility expert.
>Me neither, but I think it makes a good point. I sure would have liked the
>current PC behaviour to be selectable between "Alt-1 2 3" and
>"<mode-introducer> 1 2 3 <return>" (obviously allowing Esc to cancel the

Whoops! I completely forgot about the potential disambiguation problem
here. Is there any good way to avoid that bracketing <return> to know when
the mode is finished? I'd been assuming that we'd want a fixed-length
four-hex-digit input, but if we make it variable-length, that could get

>> Anything I overlooked?
>Perhaps one possibility. What if we instead of displaying a dialog,
>displayed a pop-up "tooltip" at the insertion point when entering the "enter
>hex" mode? I actually like this idea, even that it's my own! :-)

Hmm. Interesting idea. As long as we:

  - keep the XP tooltip APIs lean enough,
  - get the delay right, and
  - have a way of turning it off,

then it might be worth experimenting with to see whether people like it.

I know that this kind of "completion" feature can be nice when programming,
but I'm not sure I've ever seen a UI like this get triggered while typing in
"Church Secretary" products.

Off the cuff, the only comparable UI I've seen in non-programming contexts
are MSIE's popups over images, and those are usually triggered by mouse
movement or keyboard navigation, not by typing.

In this case, it might just turn out to be annoying or confusing. It's hard
to tell without giving a try.


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