Typing Coptic – 2

Some months ago, I posted some information about typing Coptic on a PC (using Unicode fonts) but recently Andy Finke has done some further investigation and has been posting his results in the comments section of that post. This post pulls out the relevant information about  getting a functional Coptic keyboard in whatever version of Windows you are using. You can even build your own Coptic keyboard if you don’t like the mapping on the ones that are generally available. In order to do any of these things, you will need to download and install Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator, which may mean you also need to download and install Microsoft .NET Framework v2.0 or above (I have 4.0 installed because that’s the version that works with Win7)

Making a Coptic keyboard from one you already have

This is the easier way, but you need access to a keyboard layout that is installed and working properly on a computer. The Logos Coptic keyboard is the one I have been using for years, but you may have another one. If so, I’d love to hear about it.

  1. Open Keyboard Layout Creator and click on File, the Load Existing Keyboard
  2. Click on Project and then properties and choose an 8 letter name for the keyboard, plus a description. Also decide what language you want it to be associated with. Andy (see below) has managed to get his to associate with US English and be offered a # on his language bar. Doesn’t seem to work with Win7, so I randomly chose Gallician which is a left-to-right language that I don’t know and don’t plan to learn. Click on OK.
  3. Click on Project again and Build DLL and Setup Package. You will get a message that tells you that the project has been completed but with some errors and asks if you would like to see them. The errors tell you that some of the mappings are going to cause problems with non-Unicode systems, but this is just fine because you are using Unicode fonts.
  4. It will then tell you that it has built the setup package in a particular folder and asks if you would like to open the folder. Say yes and pay attention to where it is on your computer and what it has been called. You will see that it has created three .msi files, two of which have a 64 in them and are for 64 bit systems and one of which is for 32 bit systems.
  5. Copy the whole folder onto a flash drive or similar, plug it into your new computer, run setup.exe and your new keyboard should install happily, associated with the language you chose. If you have a 32 bit system, double clicking on the .msi file with 32 in its name will also work. I tried using the .msi with amd64 in its name and that worked for my Win7, but I don’t understand the differences.

Making a Coptic keyboard from scratch

These are Andy’s instructions:

  1. What you need is a printout of the Greek-Coptic page from the Unicode charts – that’s 0370-03ff and a printout of the Coptic – 2c80-2cff.
  2. You then open Keyboard Creator and select File and New. You select each key and enter the Unicode code in the format “u+03e3″ for small shei and Enter. Then go to the next key.
  3. When you’re all done with all the keys you select Project and Validate Layout. It will say, “You’re Ok but you’ve got some warnings. Do you want to see them?’ You say yes, read the warnings and close.
  4. Then you go to Project and Test Keyboard Layout. Type in all your keys to make sure the assignments are correct. Hit OK.
  5. Then go to Project and Build DLL and Setup Package. That it does, giving you 3 installer packages – two in 64 bit format, which don’t work on the 32-bit machine. Select the i386 format and run it (double click).
  6. When it’s done, go to Project and Properties. You’ll see the name of your keyboard and where it’s located. Mine piggybacks English-United States. i.e. to get the keyboard, from English select it via the small square in the language bar at the top of your screen “EN #” where # stands for the rectangular icon that selects subkeyboards. Don’t have to mess with Regional and Language. (Note that my computer doesn’t seem to offer this option in the language bar)

He adds:

You, Judy, can create the Coptic keyboard of your dreams without curling the fingers. What Logos has at ALT-GR I put at Shift, since several keys acted oddly in ALT-GR, bringing up the Google keyboard and an email I had sent through Outlook Express. Since I don’t need capital Coptic, I’m happy to have the specifically Coptic letters at the Shift state.

Adjusting a Coptic keyboard

Having opened the Creator, load your existing keyboard (or a source file). If you hover over a key, you see what the unicode code for the current assignment is. If you click on it, you can type in a new Unicode assignment. Like Andy, I have changed the four Coptic characters that are currently assigned as Alt-Gr to Shift-state keys.  Shift-T is the TI (dei) character, shift-F (fei) is the Coptic F, shift-H is the Coptic H (horeh) and shift-J is the Coptic CH (shima). I then put the upper case versions of the Coptic letters onto the Alt-Gr keys, just in case I might happen to need them.

Note that you can create images of the keyboard maps by chosing the “save as image” option, but you will need to save a different image for each state (ie unshifted and shifted states, with and without Alt-Gr).

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