Creating Virtual Keyboards

You can quickly create your own virtual keyboard by using the Keyboard Builder (accessed via the Tools menu). To create a new keyboard, click the add keyboard button located in the upper-right corner of the Keyboard Builder window. This opens the New Keyboard dialog and presents you with two options:

  1. Create a predefined keyboard
  2. Create a custom keyboard

Creating a predefined keyboard is a simple matter of selecting the keyboard you want from the dropdown list. There are numerous predefined keyboards to choose from, each one used for a specific language. Just select the one you want, click Ok, and then close the Keyboard Builder window. The new virtual keyboard window will remain open so you can use it when needed.

If you need a keyboard that isn't in the list of predefined keyboards then you'll want to create a custom one. To do this, type the name of the keyboard into New Keyboard dialog. This can be any text you wish to use in order to identify the keyboard. Clicking Ok, an empty virtual keyboard window will appear that says "Drag a key here." Now, going back to the Keyboard Builder, click on the palette dropdown and scan for a character palette that contains those characters you want for your keyboard. Then, using the mouse, drag and drop the desired character buttons from the Keyboard Builder to your custom virtual keyboard. As you drag, you'll see a pink vertical line indicating where the button will be placed on the keyboard once your drop it. You can order the buttons any way you choose.

You will have noticed two controls at the top of the virtual keyboard. One of these is a numeric field labeled Columns and the other is a checkbox labeled Scroll. The value of the columns field controls how many buttons appear in each row before a new row is added. If your keyboard contains 5 buttons and the columns are also set to be 5 then adding an additional button will create a new row causing the button on the far right to move to the 2nd row.

Adding more and more buttons to your keyboard will result in more and more rows unless you decide to use scrolling. Checking the scroll checkbox will cause another numeric field to appear. This number controls how many rows are shown by the virtual keyboard before scrolling kicks in. For example, if your keyboard has 5 rows of 3 buttons for a total of 15 and it's set to use scrolling at row 5 then dragging and dropping 1 more button on the keyboard will cause a scrollbar to appear and you won't be able to see the last button unless you scroll down. Generally, the use of scrolling is discouraged because it takes time to scroll up and down as you hunt for characters. However, if your virtual keyboard is large then scrolling might be preferred over a big virtual keyboard window that blocks the view of the windows behind it.

Once you've added all the buttons you want then close the Keyboard Builder window. This action actives the new virtual keyboard so that you can type with it. You'll also notice that the column and scroll controls disappear from the top of virtual keyboard. Only the needed character buttons remain.

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