Support, create and im/export custom keyboard languages

Hi guys, Dorico team.

I want to point at a serious and seemingly persistent issue with Dorico, one that I’ve also brought up before, at least to Steinberg customer service.

I’m working using a scandinavian keyboard, which doesn’t have a buildt-in keyboard mapping in Dorico. This doesn’t seem like a large issue at first sight, but given that Dorico has a very keyboard-centered UI, it is in fact a huge problem!

I know you have to make prudent commercial decisions, and that we scandies number just roughly 20 million people - not the largest of markets. However, our populations have among the highest density of musical literacy in the world, and I really hope this would warrant at least a little attention when it comes to support of this basic functionality. Besides, I’m sure people from other users of “minor” languages would also find more functionality useful.

A scandinavian keyboard has most, if not all of the characters of an english keyboard. However, they are rearranged, many of which requires a SHIFT or ALTgr key to be pressed at the same time, and if Dorico has mapped an existing command using SHIFT or ALT, this comand is sendt instead. Effectively, this renders half the keyboard shortcuts unusable, reducing the Dorico UI to a confusing and arbitrary mix of hotkeys and point-and-click.

Currently, teh only way to work around this issue, is to greate custom hotkeys in one of the already supported keyboard languages. This is (and forgive my words) an awful solution, as it is hard to have a consistent and transparent mapping. It is also very vulnerable to deletion by reset, so you have to do the whole process over again (of course with a different mapping). Of course, you can make “logs” of this as well, but this is awfully cumbersome, and even more ad-hoc.

So, to my questions:

  • Is there any chance this issue will be addressed in the near future? (Not being a UI developer, i honestly don’t know how much work this is to implement, and whether every language has to be done manually. Forgive me for being optimistic.)
  • If the above is not feasible, is there at least a chance that you perhaps could introduce a way for us to create, import and export custom keyboard languages? This is far from ideal (and gives connotations to the user hacks Finale has ended up building their functionality around), but would at least make it possible for us to make our own, and e.g. make easily available on GitHub as a plug-in.

Thank you for your time, and thanks for making a (all hands down) great product!

Regards,
Fredrik

Each of the different default sets of key commands that ships with Dorico has been created by one of our test team members, who is our localisation specialist. This takes a non-trivial amount of time, and we have to retest the key commands in all nine languages for each release, using actual Windows and Mac hardware keyboards. So unfortunately it’s not something we can automatically or even semi-automatically generate, and at present we have no plans to add any further localisations.

We will think about what it might take to make it possible to add custom keyboard languages in future. I certainly understand where you’re coming from.

Dear FredrikH-R,
I am quite surprised to read your post, I never heard of such a massive problem with Scandinavian keyboards…
I hope some fellow Scandinavian Dorician will chime in with a whole keycommands.json that can help you (I made one with the french keyboard layout which is freely shared). This could save you the hassle to build it :wink:

Thanks for the response Daniel.

I guess I understand why this might be a challenge. In any case, a bit more freedom to customize the settings would be a welcome next-best thing. If in addition, we could have support for an intuitive plug-in system that can update to newer versions automatically, it would be even better! But i’ll take what i can get :slight_smile:


MarcLarcher:

Don’t get me wrong, most languages probably have more issues than us. Besides, we scandis are usually very happy with english interfaces to begin with (as well as having a rather stoic attitude), so i guess we often have a general tendency to make do with what we have, and get the job done. :wink:

As to my knowledge, there isn’t much of a scandinavian milieu to speak of (not that I’ve checked), but hopefully ever more people will eventually make the switch. So we’ll see what happens. I myself might be inclined to contribute to (or possibly even initiate) something myself, if there was an easy way to manage it, but unsure if i have the capacity to follow up… (Also, i generally dislike hacks involving manual file overwrites, but that might just be me being snobby. B-) )

That aside, do you have some tips regarding how to work it out in practice? Would love to see your .json file as well! :slight_smile:

Dear FredrikH-R,
There’s been a very interesting thread with a full video of our fellow German Dorician Tim, who created the german version for Notation Express. Let me find it and paste the link here.
https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=246&t=190037&p=1011077&hilit=Notation+Express#p1011077

My.json file from May : https://www.dropbox.com/s/n8z121mpcjl4mbh/keycommands_fr%20mai%2020.json?dl=0

Thanks for the references Marc. Just browsed through it, and there were some pretty nice stuff in there (although i probably won’t go for any extra software at this time). It was inspiring to see guys hacking together some solutions, so i’ll see if i might eventually get around to make a consistent keyboard mapping for myself at some point.

Tim’s workflow is spectacular, but the additional software is expensive and the Notation Express translations are made for free… My method is slower, but does work too! One shortcut at a time, and make sure the most used shortcuts are easy to remember (I don’t bring the Streamdeck wherever I go). My 2 c.