Almost a year ago, I wrote about how I used the iOS app Keybuild to make my own keyboard layout (or implement Dvorak left-hand, really) on my iPhone. Today, I decided to revise my existing panes a bit. Keybuild introduced long-press functionality(external link) six months ago, so I have an extra modifier beyond shift to make use of, and honestly some of the decisions I made last year were starting to grate on me. In particular, my “Internationalisation” pane was driving me crazy. Aside from the Esperanto letters, I found it hard to find almost anything I needed on it.

Obviously I do most of my typing on my primary, “Dvorak Left-Hand” pane, so that’s where I started with my improvements. If I took a screenshot it’d look the exact same as last year, so I’ll skip that, but these are the changes I made:

  • ellipsis (…) now brought up from long-pressing on full stop, instead of shift + full stop
  • n-dash (–) now available by long-pressing on hyphen
  • the six most common accented letters in Spanish (á é í ó ú ñ) now accessible by long-pressing on their unaccented counterpart (also, capitalised versions accessible the same way, just with shift active)
  • ¡ and ¿ accessible by long-pressing ! and ?

As I mentioned, I also revamped my “internationalisation” pane, and this one I will give you screenshots of, without shift active (left) and with (right).

an iOS keyboard showing a range of accented letters, mostly lower-case, and some misc extra characters an iOS keyboard showing the accented letters now upper-case, and some different extra characters
My iOS keyboard’s international pane, put together in Keybuild.

Basically, with the acute accented characters and Ñ now accessible via long-pressing in my main pane, I didn’t need to keep them here as well. So that freed up some space. Following that, my main changes were to put all characters with a single accent together, and to make shift almost entirely give the capital forms of letters, rather than entirely different characters. The exception is eth/theta (ð/θ) because I mainly use those for typing in the IPA, so I didn’t need their capital letter forms. If you’re wondering why I would bother having Ė or all those letters with macrons, it’s because I use them in my homebrew system for spelling English phonetically – not that I’ve really tinkered with that since I started learning Shavian 😛

Oh yeah, Shavian! So, the more exciting thing I did in Keybuild today (in my opinion) is that I made a new Shavian keyboard pane so I can type directly in that alphabet:

an iOS keyboard showing all 48 Shavian letters, amidst the other standard keys like space, backspace, punctuation, etc.
My iOS keyboard’s Shavian pane.

Now, “actual” Shavian keyboard layouts(external link), like the Shaw Imperial layout, already exist. There are two main reasons I didn’t just implement that (or something like that). Firstly, I still don’t remember what all the letters correspond to 100%, so I thought I could do a better job arranging them to make their placements themselves a memory aid. Secondly, those layouts are constrained by the requirement that they fit on an actual keyboard, with a standard (limited) amount of keys, and so they put a lot of useful stuff behind shift. But with a totally virtual iOS keyboard, there’s no such constraint, right? So I added an extra row, and gave all 48 Shavian letters their own spots on this pane. I also brought across all the punctuation I have on my Dvorak Left-Hand pane, plus middot (used sometimes in Shavian before proper nouns, because Shavian doesn’t have capital letter forms to capitalise them with).

Honestly I’m not sure how much use I’ll get out of this new keyboard pane, but having it available means it’s way easier for me to type in Shavian (albeit only on my phone) than it was before, so it’ll probably get at least some use. Now I just need to get a lot faster at reading it! ATM when I try it gives me flashbacks to kindergarten, having to sound out each and every single letter to puzzle out the words 😛