All Maltron Keyboards to date have
been specifically designed to appear to the host computer as a generic keyboard
and can be used directly without having to load any special device drivers or
change any system configurations.
For the majority of users this is an
ideal situation, particularly those who "travel" with their keyboards and may be
using disparate computers in business settings where the loading of special
drivers or configuration changes would involve access to the IT support personnel
or in many cased not be allowed at all.
However there are some situations
where the user may wish to change their keyboard layouts for the standard
configuration for convenience or productivity gains.
Modern operating systems allow some
degree of flexibility in their "Human Interface Devices" but accomplish them in
This page is a introductory
guide to how this may be done.
Windows (2000 & XP)
There are two approaches to modifying
the letters layouts under Windows.
Modify/add the Registry.
Install an additional Custom
This affects any keyboard that is
connected to the computer, for any user.
It requires the use of the Registry
editor and should only be undertaken by someone who is "skilled in the art" and
can restore a previous copy if there are any problems.
Unless you know what you are doing
Always make a registry backup before
Scan Code Mapper for Windows Information
Note: This allows remapping of
existing key positions only, it is not able to reassign or add specific
letters/symbols to an existing or additional key allocation. I.e. it is only
possible to reshuffle what already exists on the keyboard.
2. Custom Language (the safe option).
Microsoft supplies a free program
that allows the user to build a custom language definition file that can be used
The simple point and click utility
can be used to make small modifications to an existing layout (e.g. adding some
AltGr characters or symbols) or a completely new layout from scratch.
Some care has to be used to ensure
that the letters and symbols used are accessible with the intended user programs
(may require extended Unicode support). If you need these custom options then
the chances are that you will already be using software that can support them
i.e. Multilingual text.
The best part is that the custom
language tables are specific to a given user login and can either be used as a
default or be specifically selected for a given application.
And best of all if it turns out not
to work it is easily removed!
Layout Creator web page.
The only limitation is that only the
standard text and symbol keys can be repositioned. The other System, Number Pad,
Function F1 to F12, etc. keys cannot be changed and extra keys cannot be added.
Example 1: UK English
Qwerty / Maltron on Flat 102 Keyboard.
This is an example keyboard layout which enables the user to
switch between UK English Qwerty and Maltron letter layouts by using the
Caps Lock key
to select the layout.
Maltron on 102 Keyboard - Caps Lock
Maltron on 102 Keyboard - Caps Lock + Shift
This DLL keyboard driver is written this to enable people interested in the
advantages of the Maltron letter layout to have a hands-on test using a standard
UK 102 key (or condensed Laptop) keyboard.
There is a compromise in mapping the
layout as the standard 102 keyboard has a single wide space bar. The left thumb
E key has therefore been
implemented at the centre of the
bottom row (Qwerty key B) which
may seem awkward. However this arrangement is the best for users who then take
up using a Fully Ergonomic 3D or
Executive Flat Maltron keyboard as the thumb use is
The X key is also moved along one space compared to the normal
The number/symbol top row has not been changed but with
Layout Creator and the source files provided changes can be made here too.
Example 2: US English / Russian Cyrillic Dual Language
This is an example keyboard layout which enables the user to
switch between US English and Russian Cyrillic text by using the
Caps Lock key
to select the layout (which would preferably be dual engraved on the key-tops).
This on-the-fly switching would be particularly advantageous for business users or
computer programmers who need to be able to write in both languages.
US-RU Keyboard Layout Creator Pictures
The above files are the source for
Layout and the generated output ready for installing. Requires Cyrillic
input method i.e.
Code Page 1251 to work with non Unicode applications.
Note: Although produced for our L90 keyboard this Keyboard
DLL will work with any US Qwerty or MS Russian Cyrillic Letter Layout
Unlike the normal US keyboards the right
Alt key functions as
Alt Gr and enables additional
letters and symbols to be typed. E.g. Additional Cyrillic letters are available.
Warning: Any custom key layouts will not
be functional until the OS has booted.
These changes only take effect once
Windows is loaded, if you need to access the computer beforehand (e.g. to change
the computer EEROM hardware settings on bootup) the keyboard will be confusing
to use if the core letter layout has been changed.
Windows Keyboard Layout Manager
Shareware programs similar to Microsoft Keyboard Layout
Creator but with additional functionality (depending on version).
Screen shot example of Layout Editor
The 2000 version has greatest flexibility and includes
modifications to the number pad. Try the demo version which can still be used to
good effect for basic modifications even though some features are limited or
Full use requires a fee to activate, which for the 2000
version is at time of writing 50 € (Euros).
Note: Do not change the KBD*.DLL file name which the program
saves into the Windows\System32 folder. This will prevent the DLL from working.
The correct Keyboard Name you have assigned in the Layout Manager edit screen
will show in the various Windows dialogue boxes.
Apple Mac OS X
The Apple Macintosh OS X operating
system uses a different approach to their keyboard input with specific defined
Technical Note TN2056: Installable Keyboard Layouts
Although more powerful than the
Windows Layout Creator described above the Apple XML approach is more complex
and requires some basic programming knowledge to make sense of what one needs to
do (particularly when things don't work straight off).
The most important thing to check is
that one does not inadvertently use one of the few XML reserved tags as a
straight character in one's keyboard definition file. For these one MUST use the
hexadecimal codes or equivalent character entity.
This is a shareware program which is similar to the Windows Layout Creator but provides much greater
flexibility in defining layouts including the number pad (useful as one
can define superscripts etc. with shift or Option).
Ukelele is a Unicode keyboard layout
editor for the XML-format keyboard layout files in OS X.2
(Jaguar or later)
".keylayout" files. It provides a graphical interface to the layout files with
support for drag-and-drop character assignments, creation of dead keys, and
assignment of multi-character strings.
Be warned, I found it a little
"fussy" and regular backups with incremental file names, so that one can return
to a previous known good version if things stop working, is recommend.
Note: The version I used did NOT
prevent the inclusion of reserved XML tags!
Ukelele - Mac OS X Keyboard Layout Editor
When you look at the raw XML text
file it is important to note that the keyboard entries on the left refer to the
hardware key codes returned from the keyboard interface, not any specific letter
or symbol codes (which is what is defined on the right i.e. the output to the
There are several ways of mapping
keyboards to the OS under Linux.
One option is KMFL
Keyboard Mapping for Linux
Using as an example the Maltron US
USB Qwerty layout keyboard:
Example US PC Qwerty-Maltron L-type USB letter
Key-tops in the above diagram have
the dominant keyboard layout shown in black, the secondary keyboard layout
shown in green, and the Fn function key usage shown in blue.
In the keyboard controller separate
lookup tables define the codes which are returned to the computer, depending on
the controller option switch setting (see
handbook for further details).
Unlike the software key layout
programs that run on the computer these keyboard tables define physical switch
positions and the key number codes which are returned when a key is pressed. As
far as the computer is concerned it is always seeing a standard Qwerty keyboard.
Chord keys, i.e. Shift, Alt (and AltGr), Ctrl and OS positions, are specially
defined on the keyboard hardware XY scanning matrix and repositioning them may
result in blocked key sequences (ghosting) which can cause incorrect key codes
to be returned to the computer.
Keys in blue are Extended Function
Keys used in conjunction with the Fn key for Multi-Media and additional F13 to
F24 (F16 to F24 for Apple Macs). These are separately defined codes from the
keyboard controller for the specific key position and will stay in the same
position regardless of any changes made to the letters/symbols defined for that
key in the letter layout (Windows or Mac).
Be careful when using any of these programs to make sure you
understand what needs to be done. Neither PCD Maltron Ltd nor it's agents can be
responsible for any problems or issues arising from or caused by the use or
application of any of the programs or methods outlined on this page.