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Up ] Dead Character List ] [ Dead character properties ] Import dead char table from layout ] Import dead char table from KLD file ] Export dead char table to KLD file ] Chained dead keys ]

Dead character properties

Dead character editing available only in Premium and Personal editions.

Each character from the Dead character list has certain properties that need to be defined. The central pane of the Dead character editor shows detailed information for the currently selected dead character, and makes it possible to edit its attributes:

  • Dead character's name is displayed in the Name field. This name's function is purely descriptive, and has no impact on the dead character's behavior. It can be changed in the Enter dead key name popup dialog, which is accessed through the ... button on the right of the "Name" field.
  • The list Transformation pairs for current dead character displays all transformations defined for the current dead character. A transformation is defined by a pair of Unicode values: the first is a "plain" character, and the second is a composite diacritic character which is generated by the "plain" character when it is pressed just after the dead character.
KbdEdit dead character key name KbdEdit dead character diacritic transformation table

The current transformation pair's attributes are shown in the fields Transforms and Into. The former represents the original, "plain" character, and the latter is the result of applying the dead character to the original one.

Creating/deleting dead transformation pairs

A new transformation pair is created by dragging a character from the Unicode palette and dropping it onto the Transformation pairs for current dead char list.

KbdEdit tries to be interpret the dropped character as either the original, Transforms, or the transformed Into character, or both, based on whether there is a standard dead transformation involving it.

The current transformation pair can be deleted using the Delete pair button. Since the transformation list cannot be empty, the button is enabled only if the list contains more than one transformation.

Editing dead transformation pairs

Both Transforms and Into fields are editable: their Unicode character can be entered by a choice of methods:

  • A 4-digit numeric codepoint can be entered into the edit box next to the character.
  • Clipboard operations (Cut/Copy/Paste) are accessible through a number of standard methods - the 'Edit' menubar menu, the main toolbar, context-menu popup, as well as keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+X/C/V.
  • Desired character can be dragged from the Unicode palette (or other source) and dropped onto the field.
  • The character can also be entered via keyboard - for this to work, the desired field has to be given the keyboard focus first, eg by left-clicking it with the mouse.

Dead key limitations

Due to an internal Windows limitation, dead characters are restricted to operating only against single BMP (<=FFFF) Unicode characters.

This restriction applies to all components of a dead character transformation: the "from" and "to" characters, as well as the dead character itself.

This has two important practical consequences:

  • Dead keys cannot produce a ligature.
  • Dead keys cannot produce nor transform non-BMP characters (>FFFF, i.e. 5 or 6 hex-digits).
    This somewhat counter-intuitive restriction is a consequence of non-BMP characters' internal representation as ligatures of surrogate pairs.

"Final" vs "Chained dead" mappings

"Into" field can exist in two flavors controlled through two radio buttons:

  • "Final character" is the most commonly used type - the "Into" character is produced as the final result of the dead key transformation.

  • "Chained dead char" enables dead key chaining - when the "Transforms" key is hit, current dead key "mutates" into another dead key instead of producing a final character. Chaining is a powerful technique that is explained in detail on the chained dead keys page.
KbdEdit diacritic transformation triplet KbdEdit diacritic transformation chained dead key

When switching from "Final character" to "Chained dead char", if the current "Into" char doesn't exist as a dead char, a popup menu appears asking if a new dead char should be created. This is a handy shortcut to quickly create a new "placeholder" dead character, without having to navigate away from the current focus of attention. The new character can be easily edited later.

KbdEdit auto create chained dead key

Changing Current dead char character

The primary purpose of the Current dead char field is informational, but it was intentionally made editable to make it possible to quickly change the dead character itself, while keeping all the existing mappings. Without this function, it would be very difficult to assign an existing set of dead transformation to a different Unicode character: all Transforms / Into pairs would have to be recreated by hand.

If the old dead character is mapped to a high-level key combinations, the integrity of these mappings is preserved by automatically updating them to the new dead character.

If the new character already exists as a dead character with its own set of transformation pairs, the Resolve dead conflict dialog box will appear, in which you can fine-tune how the two dead characters are combined into a single one.

KbdEdit dialog resolve dead key character import conflict

  • Option Replace with contents of <current dead char> will completely erase old contents of the newly entered dead character, and assign it the transformation pairs of the current dead char.
  • Choosing Merge contents of <current dead char> and <new dead char> will merge the transformation pair lists belonging to the current and newly entered character.

If "Merge contents" is chosen, two additional radio buttons are available under label In case of merge conflict choose contents of:. They serve to resolve a conflict which arises if both dead characters transform the same base (Transforms) character into different combined (Into) characters. In this case, only one Into value can make it to the merged list and the radio buttons define which one.

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