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What is a FirstVoices Keyman keyboard?




A FirstVoices Keyman keyboard is a keyboard developed in collaboration between a community language team, the FirstVoices team, and the team at Keyman. Keyman is a keyboard development software that allows anyone to develop custom keyboards which can be download and installed onto computers, phone and tablets. These allow the user to type in their language on any website or app, and on any device.



What is the process for developing a new keyboard?




The basic process is as follows:

  1. The language team meets with members of the FirstVoices team to walk-through needs as well as the questions listed below in the 'Getting Started' section
  2. The language team sends materials listed in the 'Materials Needed' section to the FirstVoices team
  3. The FirstVoices team will begin development. The timeline on this is dependant, and will be discussed both during the initial meeting as well as during updates
  4. The first beta version of the keyboard for computer, phone and tablet will be created and made available for testing
  5. The language team will test the keyboard across all platforms and devices, and provide feedback to the FirstVoices team
  6. Any changes needed are made, and re-tested
  7. The final version of the keyboard for computer, phone and tablet will be published and added to the Keyman keyboard repository as well as to the FirstVoices keyboard app



Getting Started




These are the questions to be answered during the initial meeting between the language team and FirstVoices team.

  • Questions about your alphabet

    • Do you have a finalized and approved orthography?
    • Have you checked and confirmed standardization of your characters and diacritics?
      • Example: You don't unintentionally use one type of apostrophe on one character [ c' ] and another type of apostrophe elsewhere [ q’ ]
  • Questions about your users

    • Is there an existing keyboard(s) that your community currently uses?
    • Do you/your users have complaints about that existing keyboard(s) (outside of missing/incorrect characters?)
  • Questions about functionality

    • Are there any particularly important characters in your orthography that you want more easily accessible than others?
      • Example: [ ʔ ] is used more frequently than [ ɬ ], so you want it in a more prominent location on the keyboard
    • Do you want all English characters represented as well as your language characters, so that you can type in both English and your language without having to switch back and forth?
    • Is there anything else you specifically want your keyboard to do?



Materials Needed




  • A finalized version of your orthography in .csv spreadsheet format
    • Note: If you have your alphabet available on FirstVoices, this step is already complete!
  • A list of users who will be testing your keyboard when the beta version is complete
  • Links to any existing keyboards that your community uses, if applicable