"My KBDIR" — Extended UK Keyboard Layout for Windows 95/98/ME

The (free) solution for typing Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Manx Gaelic, Welsh, Esperanto.

Ciarán Ó Duibhín

This is a software keyboard layout intended for use under Windows 95/98/ME, with keyboards engraved in the UK manner (e.g. £ is engraved on shift/3), as used both in Ireland and in the UK. It is simple to install, and extends the default UK and Irish layouts supplied with Windows, to facilitate convenient keying of typographical characters, and of the accented characters required for Irish Gaelic (including dotted consonants), Scottish Gaelic, Manx Gaelic, Welsh and Esperanto, as well as for occasional foreign words.

Using a newer version of Windows? Go here.
For a comparison of software keyboard layouts for Gaelic, go to the table here.

What you can key with this layout

In compliance with the ISO/IEC 9995 standard, no keying requires simultaneous depression of more than two keys.

Deadkey assignments

The layout, when installed, will give:

If any of the characters # ` ^ ¬ \ ~ is required to be input, just press the key twice in succession, or press it once followed by the space bar. (Note that ¬ is visible in ANSI fonts but not in Latin-3 or Latin-8.)

Pressing a deadkey followed by a character to which it does not apply (e.g. # followed by q) will result in the two-character sequence, e.g. #q.

Some of the above characters (dotted consonants, accented w, accented y except for ýÿÝ, circumflexed consonants, saucered u) are not present in the usual Windows ANSI fonts, and the above keyings for them will produce apparent rubbish with such fonts. However the desired characters will be displayed if the font in use contains them, encoded in the following standard ways:

AltGr assignments

The layout will give the following results with AltGr.  In case you have to use an application which reserves AltGr keyings, deadkey alternatives are provided.

broken vertical bar
(ANSI fonts only)
AltGr and ` (as with kbduk) or  \ then `
euro sign AltGr and 4 (as with kbduk)  ` then 4
double left quote AltGr and 2  ` then 2
double right quote AltGr and 3  ` then 3
en-dash AltGr and -  ` then -
em-dash AltGr and =  ` then =
single left quote AltGr and ;  ` then ;
single right quote AltGr and '  ` then '
bullet AltGr and ,  ` then ,
ellipsis AltGr and .  ` then .

Broken vertical bar is visible in ANSI fonts, but not in Latin-3 or Latin-8.  The other characters are present in ANSI fonts and may be present in Latin-3 and Latin-8 fonts also — they are not found in ISO 8859 itself, but Microsoft extends ISO 8859 to include them in the region hex 80-9F, which is left blank by ISO.

Note that some Irish Gaelic fonts further extend ISO 8859-14 unofficially in the blank region by separately encoding long-r (hex 89), long-s (hex 8A), long-s-dot (hex 9A), 7-agus (hex 84). This layout provides the following keyings for this encoding:

long-r AltGr and r or  ` then r
long-s AltGr and s  ` then s
long-s-dot \ then AltGr and s  ` then S
7-agus AltGr and 7  ` then 7

However, separate encoding for these four symbols is discouraged, and it is suggested that you find a standard (non-extended) ISO 8859-14 font which will display them in response to keying lowercase-r, lowercase-s, lowercase-s-dot and ampersand respectively.

As a by-product, these four keyings will produce the following characters respectively with a Windows ANSI font: per mille, S with hacek, s with hacek, low double right quote.  The last of these may occasionally be useful.

To install the keyboard layout

To install the layout, two things are necessary. You must tell Windows to change from using its current keyboard layout (eg. British) to using the Irish layout. And you must replace the file kbdir.kbd, containing the Irish layout supplied with Windows, by the file of the same name supplied here.

Installation under Windows 95

These instructions have been developed for Windows 95. Other Windows versions may differ slightly.

1. Find which directory contains your Windows keyboard layouts (e.g. kbduk.kbd). In Win95, it is usually c:\windows\system

2. If this directory already contains a file called kbdir.kbd, rename it, eg. to kbdir_orig.kbd

3. Download KBDIR.KBD from here, and copy to this directory.

Now, to activate kbdir.kbd as your current keyboard layout:

4. Go to the keyboard control panel (Start/Settings/Control Panel), and double click on the "Keyboard" icon.

5. Choose the "Language" tab; the language setting will normally be English (British) or English (United States) or similar; this should not need to be changed.

6. Click the "Properties" button. Make a note of the current setting of keyboard layout, in case you want to restore it later.  Select the "Irish" keyboard layout from the listbox. Note that it is necessary to actually select the Irish layout at this point — if you already had the Irish keyboard layout selected, temporarily select another layout (eg. British) and then reselect the Irish layout. If Windows asks for the CD-ROM to get kbdir.kbd, point it to the directory where you just placed the new kbdir.kbd file (eg. c:\windows\system).

To uninstall, use the keyboard control panel (Start/Settings/Control Panel).  Double-click the "Keyboard" icon, click the "Language" tab, click the "Properties" button, and restore the keyboard layout to its previous value (eg. British) using the listbox.  If the previous layout you wish to restore is the Windows Irish layout, temporarily select another Windows layout (eg. British), delete kbdir.kbd, either rename kbdir_orig.kbd to kbdir.kbd, or have your Windows CD-ROM available, and reselect "Irish" layout.

Installation under Windows 98SE

Thanks to Colin Knaggs for these Win98SE instructions.

1. Find which directory contains your Windows keyboard layouts (eg. kbduk.kbd). It is usually c:\windows\system.

2. Download KBDIR.KBD from here, and copy to a download directory on your hard drive.

3. Go to the keyboard control panel (Start/Settings/Control Panel), and double click on the "Keyboard" icon.

4. Choose the "Language" tab; the language setting will normally be English (British) or English (United States) or similar; this should not need to be changed.

5. Click the "Properties" button. Make a note of the current setting of keyboard layout, in case you want to restore it later.  Select the "Irish" keyboard layout from the listbox and apply the change. At this stage the Irish layout supplied with Windows is selected.

6. Copy the KBDIR.KBD file from the download directory to c:\windows\system. You will see a message asking you if you really want to replace the existing file with the new one. The existing file size should be 512 bytes and the new one 1.12KB, select Yes.

7. Close all open windows and restart your computer. You should now be able to use the new layout.

To uninstall, use the keyboard control panel (Start/Settings/Control Panel).  Double-click the "Keyboard" icon, click the "Language" tab, click the "Properties" button, and restore the keyboard layout to its previous value (eg. British) using the listbox.  If the previous layout you wish to restore is the Windows Irish layout, select and apply another temporarily and then reselect and apply Irish. Windows will then recopy its original KBDIR.KBD (512 Bytes) over the one in c:\windows\system. Any reinstallation may start at item 3 above.

Acknowledgement

This keyboard layout was made using Janko Stamenovic's Keyboard Generator for Windows 95/98 (Professional Version). If you require further information about Janko's Keyboard Generator, see here.

Feel free to forward this keyboard layout to others. However, please note that:

  1. you are not allowed to make any charge for it
  2. this file must accompany the layout

Ciarán Ó Duibhín
2007/03/04
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