There are existing keyboard layouts for Windows, Android, iOS, and Linux.
The phonetic Dhivehi keyboard layout is available in:
- Linux: IBUS with m17n module
- A Neat Visual of the Phonetic Keyboard (see picture below)
Besides the widely available phonetic keyboard, Windows also has a Dhivehi typewriter keyboard layout. The difference between the phonetic and the typewriter keyboard layout is that the phonetic keyboard maps the Dhivehi alphabet phonetically to the English alphabet. For example, b would get mapped to ބ , which is the [b] sound. Since there are 24 consonants and 10 vowels, the standard American keyboard fits relatively well with the Dhivehi alphabet. The vowels are just [i], [e], [a], [o], [u] with their corresponding long vowel, so it's very intuitive to inexperienced Dhivehi speakers to map to the corresponding letter keys on the keyboard. The typewriter keyboard is organized very differently, with most of the vowels on the left side of the keyboard and the consonants on the right side of the keyboard. The punctuation symbols are on the shift level of the vowels. Based on the Dhivehi language and its writing system, we think the typewriter keyboard layout is more intuitive to native Dhivehi speakers. We will explain more in the Justification below.
Dhivehi Typewriter Layout
We based our implementation of the Typewriter keyboard layout on the Window's Dhivehi Typewriter Layout and Branah.com's implementation. The two are the same in-terms of character placement (excluding Alt-keys), but the resolution of the visual of the Windows' layout made it hard to make-out characters.
We decided to implement the Dhivehi Typewriter keyboard layout because there is no existing typewriter layout available in Linux and that the community likely uses this keyboard. We noticed that the Typewriter keyboard differs from the Phonetic keyboard in vowel and consonant placement. It seems as though the Typewriter keyboard places the vowels and punctuation marks on the left side of the keyboard with the consonants on the right. In the Dhivehi language system, words are typically constructed with "CV" chunks, which are formed with vowels as diacritics modifying consonants. Even when using vowels independently, there is a special character called "alifu" that acts as a placeholder for the consonant of the "CV" chunk. In addition, the language is read from right to left, which explains why the consonants are on the right and the vowels on the left. Thus, the placement of the consonants and the vowels fits well with the Dhivehi language structure. Therefore, we believe that the typewriter keyboard layout is a more ergonomic and more popular keyboard layout among the Dhivehi-speaking community.
We have only two Alt characters, and they are the semi-colon and the comma. We mapped these to the same keys on our standard US-keyboard layout because these keys are not used in Dhivehi. However, they might be useful to speakers of other languages, so we decided to keep them on the keyboard.
- Install IBus and the m17n module. Open terminal and type the following:
sudo apt-get install ibus-m17n
- Enable IBus as your default input method. Type the following in the terminal:
im-config -n ibus
xfwm4 --replace && xfce4-panel -r &
- - If you don't see a language icon on the panel of your home screen, right click the edge of the panel. Click "Add new items" and add "notification area."
- Go back to the terminal and create this directory:
- Go to the Git Repository for Dhivehi Keyboard and download
dv-typewriter.mim. Put this file in the
- Add Dhivehi Keyboard in IBus:
- - Right click the faint blue "en" and click "Restart."
- - Right click the faint blue "en" again and go to "Preferences."
- - Navigate to "Input Method." Press "Add" and then "..."
- - Find Dhivehi and add "dv-typewriter"
- To switch between different input methods, right click the "en" on the panel of your home screen and select the keyboard you desire.
This keyboard is licensed with a GNU General Public License v3.0.