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Unicode Palette

Windows keyboard layouts generate UTF16 encoded Unicode characters. In combination with surrogate pairs, this standard can produce over one million of distinct characters ("code points"). If keyboard layouts are to be edited with any degree of comfort, it is absolutely necessary to have a way to quickly locate a desired code point without knowing its numeric Unicode value in advance. A possibility to narrow down the selection in a meaningful way - e.g. by  displaying only code points belonging to one specific script, or by searching for a character by its name - is also crucial.

In KbdEdit, these needs are fulfilled by the Unicode palette. It appears at the bottom of all views where a choice of Unicode character is needed. In the current version there are three such views: High Level editor, Dead char editor and Ligature editor dialog.

KbdEdit Unicode palette table

The palette consists of several zones / functional units:

Most of the area is taken by the table of Unicode code points, displaying 32 or 16 characters per row. The table contains all code points that are part of the currently active subrange (if no subrange is defined, all code points supported by the current Unicode version are displayed). A vertical scroll bar appears on the right edge of the table if the characters are numerous enough that scrolling is necessary.

The table has one current code point, which is drawn as inverted (white text on black background). The current code point can be chosen using mouse - clicking anywhere on the table activates the clicked-on character - or by keyboard navigation. The table window, while it has the keyboard input focus, reacts to standard navigation keys: cursors, Home, End, PgUp/PgDn etc.

Detailed information on the current code point is shown in the information area below the table. Each Unicode code point has a full name, which is displayed here, together with the name of the Unicode subset it belongs to. For instance, for Cyrillic letter Ж (U0416) the information would look something like:

Cyrillic Capital Letter Zhe
subset (0400-04ff) Cyrillic

KbdEdit Unicode glyph properties

Next to the information area is the current code point Unicode value edit box. It can be used to jump directly to a code point by entering its 4, 5 or 6-digit numeric value.
When the current character is changed by any other means, the edit box is updated automatically to ensure that its content represents the current character's code at any moment.
The edit box can be activated by directly clicking on it, or through the Ctrl+Space keyboard shortcut.

KbdEdit Unicode code point hex edit box

The small "..." button next to the edit box opens up the Unicode Search dialog, which can be used to locate a character by searching on its name.
The same functionality is also available through the "Search" option of the right-click popup menu, and through the Ctrl+F keyboard shortcut.

The two "left"/"right arrow" buttons enable a quick navigation to the previous/next mapped character.
The same functionality is available via keyboard through shortcuts Ctrl + <Arrow Left> / <Arrow Right>.
KbdEdit buttons next previous mapped Unicode character

The two "up"/"down arrow" buttons are used to jump to the previous/next Unicode subset, which makes the navigation easier if the current subrange contains more than one subset.
Alternatively, you can use keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + <Arrow Up> / <Arrow Down>.

KbdEdit buttons next previous Unicode Subset
The "Go to Unicode subset" button opens a popup menu of all active Unicode subsets, allowing a quick navigation to the desired subset.
The same menu is accessible through the Ctrl+Enter keyboard shortcut.
When scrolling through the palette using the scroll bar, a tracking tooltip shows the details of the currently visible Unicode subset. KbdEdit button Unicode palette scroll tooltip current subset

Finally, the "Manage Palette" button opens up the Unicode subrange dialog, where the active subrange can be fine tuned.

KbdEdit button Unicode subrange filter dialog

Code point mapping details

Code points that appear in the current layout are drawn with a white background, which makes them stand out visually from the gray background of unmapped code points.

The "nature" of the mapping is further indicated by one or more visual markers. For example, if the code point appears in a "normal" mapping, a small gray rectangle is drawn in the upper-left corner. Mapping markers are explained in detail in Unicode palette color coding.

Right-clicking on a mapped code point brings up a context-sensitive pop-up menu, which provides detailed descriptions of all mappings it appears in. The menu also provides handy navigation shortcuts: clicking on any item will instantly select the corresponding mapping in KbdEdit GUI, whether it is a Normal mapping, part of a Ligature, dead char definition, or part of a dead-char transformation (note that this may involve switching between High Level and Dead Char editor).

For example, the screen shot below shows that code point É (00c9, Capital E with Acute) can be produced either directly, by pressing the zero (0) key while Caps Lock is on, or by applying dead char ' (00B4, ČáRKA) to letter E :

KbdEdit Unicode palette right click popup menu normal

If the code point is a dead char, popup menu will contain shortcuts to dead key definition, as well as all key combinations it is mapped to:

KbdEdit Unicode palette right click popup menu dead char

Lastly, if the code point is transformed by a dead char, the menu will contain a list of all dead char transformations it is affected by:

KbdEdit Unicode palette right click popup menu dead char

Code point details on the Web

A common part of the Unicode mapping workflow is searching online for more details on a particular code point. The right-click popup menu provides a handy shortcut through the "<character> on the Web" sub-menu:

KbdEdit Unicode palette character details on the Web

The menu provides direct links to detailed info pages on these four common sources of online Unicode information:

The "all" option is a shortcut for opening all supported pages at once in multiple browser tabs.

Unicode palette and keyboard text entry

When the palette has input focus, any key presses on the physical keyboard are causing the palette to navigate to the Unicode character produced by the key press.

Unicode palette and the clipboard

The palette supports copying of the current Unicode codepoint to the clipboard, from where it can pasted anywhere inside KbdEdit, or any other application.

As indicated in the screenshots above, the "Copy" operation is accessible via the right-click popup. When the palette has keyboard focus, the "Copy" function is also available through the main "Edit" menu, the main toolbar, and the Ctrl+C keyboard shortcut.

The palette also supports the clipboard "Paste" functionality, which results in the palette navigating to the first character currently in the clipboard. Eg if the clipboard contains string "Unicode", the "Paste" command will result in the palette navigating to letter "U", ie codepoint 0055.

Unicode palette and drag-drop

A very useful feature of the Unicode palette is that it is drag-drop sensitive: the code points it displays can serve as a drag-drop source. A character can be dragged off the palette and dropped onto any KbdEdit's field which accepts Unicode characters (e.g. mappable keys in High Level view, or individual ligature characters in the Ligature editor).

The characters can be even dropped into another application, for example a text editor.

The palette can also act as a drag-drop target, with the same effect as the clipboard "Paste" described above: the palette navigates to the first character of the dragged string.

The clipboard provides a "live" visual feedback while text is being dragged over it: the character that would be made active if dropped is temporarily activated and shown as flashing. If the character is subsequently dragged outside of the palette's bounds, the original selection is restored. This feature comes in handy if only a "quick peek" is needed into the dragged character and its Unicode "neighborhood".

KbdEdit Unicode palette character drag visual feedback

Quickliy locating a code point

In addition to generic Paste and drag/drop operations, all KbdEdit views containing the Unicode palette provide yet another method to quickly locate a Unicode character displayed in the UI.

The right-click context menu of most controls displaying Unicode mappings contains the item Locate (middle click). Choosing this item, or simply clicking the control with middle mouse button, will cause the Unicode palette to locate (set as current) the character displayed in the control.

KbdEdit locate Unicode code point popup middle mouse click

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