Lingnu Open Source Consulting Ltd.

Article History:

  • December 29th, 2010 - Original article
  • December 30th, 2010 - Fix broken Windows install
  • January 23rd, 2011 - Draft 2 of the standard, fix errors in Linux and Mac installation instructions.
  • March 9th, 2011 – Draft 3.

The Standards Institute of Israel is in the midst of working of a new version for SI1452, of which the current version is labeled "INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY- HEBREW-LATIN KEYBOARD LAYOUT FOR COMPUTERS" (in Hebrew). The new standard, at least at it current draft, maintains the first two shift levels (i.e. - unshifted Hebrew keyboard and with the Shift key held as a US style keyboard) as they are, but moves and redefines the 3rd and 4th levels (ALT-GR and ALT-GR + Shift) to contain diacritics, currency, cantillation and miscellaneous other marks. Lingnu is providing implementations of this draft for all major operating systems to solicit comments under the "release early, release often" paradigm.

The layouts are available for Windows, Mac OSX and XKB capable X11 servers (which include most Linux and Unix machines).

Installation under Microsoft Windows

  • Download the ZIP file from the download directory.
  • Unpack it into a temporary directory.
  • Run the Setup program.
  • Open the keyboard languages setting from the control panel. Under Windows XP, this is located in Control Panel / Regional and Language Options. Go to the Languages tab and click the "Details" button.
  • An additional layout should now be available - Hebrew - Proposed SI1452
  • si1452.klc is the source file for Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator.

Installation under an XKB X11 server (such as X.Org)

  • Download the XKB symbols file.
  • Place the file in the directory containing your server's symbol files. Under some Linux installations this is /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols.
  • The rest of these steps need only be followed once:
    • Append the following text to the file called "il":
      partial alphanumeric_keys  xkb_symbols "si1452" {
      include "il_proposed"
      };
    • /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules will have a couple of XML files (usually called xorg.xml and evdev.xml, but they might be symlinks to other files). In all of them, search for the lyx variant, and add, immediately after it, the following:
              <variant>
      <configItem>
      <name>si1452</name>
      <description>Draft of new version of SI1452</description>
      </configItem>
      </variant>
    • The same directory will also have a couple of .lst files with the same base name (i.e. - xorg.lst and evdev.lst). Again, search for "lyx", and immediately after it, add the following line:
        si1452          il: Draft of new version of SI1452

Your XKB setup will now recognize a layout under the "il" heading with a variant of "si1452". Set it as usual, using the GUI or using the command:

setxkbmap us,il ,si1452

Installation under Mac OS X (any version higher than 10.2)

  • Download the key layout file from the OSX download directory. You may also download the icon file from the same directory.
  • Place it under "/Library/Keyboard Layouts"
    • A previous version of this page suggested to place the files under "/Library/Input Methods". If you followed those instructions in the past, please delete the old files from that location.
  • Log out, and log in again
  • The new layout will be available in the usual way.

How to use the new layout

The standard defines four shift states, called levels. Level 1 is the unshifted keys. Level 2 is when the shift key is pressed. Level 3 is when the Alt-Gr key is pressed (on Windows and Linux, the right Alt. On Mac, any Alt). Level 4 is Alt-Gr + Shift.

Here is the layout as defined by the current draft of the standard. Letters marked in red are letters that are in greater likelihood to have their position change in the future. All marks are shown with their abbreviated Unicode code point name. If two position bear the same name, for level 3 the term should be prefixed with either HEBREW POINT or HEBREW PUNCTUATION, while the level 4 name should be prefixed with HEBREW ACCENT.

Key CaptionLevel 3Level 4
~ GERESH SOF PASUQ
1 METEG ETNAHTA
2   SEGOL
3 EURO SHALSHELET
4 NEW SHEQEL ZAQEF QATAN
5 Degree ZAQEF GADOL
6 OLE TIPEHA
7   REVIA
8 Multiplication ZARQA
9 LRM PASHTA
0 RLM YETIV
- MAQAF TEVIR
= EN Dash GERESH

 

Key CaptionLevel 3Level 4
Q SIN DOT GERESH MUQDAM
W SHIN DOT GERSHAYIM
ק QAMATS QAMATS QATAN
ר HATAF QAMATS QARNEY PARA
א   TELISHA GEDOLA
ט DOUBLE VAV PAZER
ו HOLAM HOLAM HASER FOR VAV
ן   ATNAH HAFUKH
ם   MUNAH
פ PATAH Reserved for Patah Gnuva
‎[‎ HATAF PATAH MAHAPAKH
[ RAFE MERKHA
\ QUBUTS MERKHA KEFULA

 

Key CaptionLevel 3Level 4
ש SHEVA Reserved for Sheva Na
ד DAGESH Reserved for Shuruq
ג   DARGA
כ   QADMA
ע VAVA YOD TELISHA QETANA
י DOUBLE YOD YERAH BEN YOMO
ח HIRIQ ZWJ
ל   ILUY
ך LEFT DOUBLE QUOTATION MARK LEFT DOUBLE QUOTATION MARK
ף RIGHT DOUBLE QUOTATION MARK DOUBLE LOW QUOTATION MARK
" GERSHAYIM DEHI

 

Key CaptionLevel 3Level 4
ז   ZINOR
ס SEGOL MASORA CIRCLE
ב HATAF SEGOL CGJ
ה   PASEQ
נ   NUN HAFUKHA
מ   ZWNJ
צ TSERE  
‎<‎    
‎>‎    
/ DIVISION ÷ UPPER DOT

 

Understanding the reasoning for the placement will allow easy recollection of the location.

  • PATAH, QAMATS, HIRIQ, SHEVA, DAGESH, SEGOL and TSERE were placed on the key designating their first letter.
  • HOLAM would require ח according to this logic, which is already taken by HIRIQ. Instead, it was placed on ו, which is the vowel to which it belongs.
  • For QUBUTS, ק was already taken for QAMATS, so backslash was used because of the visual resemblance between the two.
  • All HATAF diacritics appear one key to the right of their non-HATAF forms.
  • The Shin dots appear over the two keys in the row above where Shin itself appears. The left dot is on the left, the right dot is on the right.
  • The SHEQEL sign appears over the 4, so that shift+4 produces a dollar sign, and Alt-Gr + 4 produces the new sheqel sign. The Euro was placed next to it, on the "3".
  • The LRM and RLM are on the “(“ and “)”, signifying left and right.
  • GERESH is on the backquote key and GERSHAIM is on the double quotes key and MAQAF on the minus key as the keys are visually similar.
  • The separator line was placed next to the MAQAF, on the equal sign, and the Rafe right below, on the “]” sign, to create proximity of similar looking characters.
  • Likewise, the left and right double quotes were placed next to the GERSHAIM key.
  • Multiplication and division are on 8 and / respectively, due to similar functionality on the Latin keyboard.
  • The Yiddish characters were placed on the Vav, Yod and Het letters, which was their “natural” position. They were moved due to conflicts with the above consideration, as they are not widely used (most people just type “Vav” twice), and it was decided that the keyboard should be predominantly Hebrew. Accordingly, they were moved one key to the left.
  • The cantillation marks were placed, more or less, randomly. The exceptions are the OLE sign, which is used to indicate where the stress is when pronouncing a word, was placed in level 3 on the “6” due to its visual resemblance to “^”. Likewise, the METEG was placed on the 1 key in level 3.

"ש" and "ד" and “פ” were reserved on the fourth level, as Unicode might, one day, reverse its decision to not allocate a different code point to SHEVA NA, to separate DAGESH from MAPIQ from SHURUQ (like it did for QAMATS and QAMATS QATAN), or to restore PATAH GNUVA as a distinct glyph.

Users of the lyx keyboard for Linux will notice that the reasoning behind the diacritics placement is very similar, though not identical, to that keyboard.

Please use the "contact us" form in order to leave feedback over the keys as defined so far.