“GOK is the GNOME On-Screen Keyboard. As the title implies, it is a keyboard that appears on the display as an alternative for those who are not able to use a regular keyboard. This report highlights some general usability issues with GOK as it appears in Ubuntu (5.10). Some of the issues highlighted here may be bugs (In which case I will file them), while others will be design features that I have not grasped the purpose of (most likely in support of hardware that I do not have). Some of the issues highlighted here will relate to the general GNOME a11y infrastructure and some may be related to the way things are set up on Ubuntu.”
Review: the GNOME On-Screen Keyboard
About The Author
Follow me on Twitter @thomholwerda
2005-12-12 6:35 pmAnonymous
“I have always believed a utility like this should be aware of the keyboard layouts supported by Xorg and hence be able to display an interface based on those layouts. Maybe by using the information from the Gnome built in Keyboards info?”
GOK already does this by default. Of course, if your system keyboard layout (according to the x server) doesn’t match the physical keyboard, it can be confusing. On the other hand, this can be used to advantage if you want to try out other keyboard layouts.
Henrik’s “config wizard” idea is one we’ve wanted to have for a long time. Any volunteers out there?
Gnome Accessibility Project
Decent review, but the reviewer obviously has not worked with disabled people very much or at all. The whole concept of a non-qwerty keyboard being confusing is mostly bogus. The only reason a qwerty keyboard is not confusing to us is because we’re used to typing on one and know where all the letters are. For someone who has never used a keyboard before, Qwerty represents a random distribution of letters. Alphabetical makes more logical sense, and a frequency distribution makes more sense in terms of efficiency.
Also, regarding his mockup. The colours would do absolutely nothing to make keys easier to hit. They just confuse users. Why are some keys differently coloured even though they’re all letters (I know why, but users wont)? Even if they do know what the letters mean, it won’t help them finding a letter in the least bit. Colours should be used to differentiate keys of different groups (like numbers, letters, or control keys).
Also, the Dvorak layout, although at first it seeming like a good idea, is terrible for on-screen keyboards. A lot of the efficiency of the dvorak layout is based on maximizing key alternation between hands when typing words in the english language. If you’re hitting the keys with a mouse, you’re forced to continually alternate between sides of the keyboard and your average distance between keys goes up.
I think Dasher would be a much better solution for someone who needs to ‘type’ using a simple pointer and a on screen system for text entry.
2005-12-13 1:28 amh-milch-mann
Why? Can you give any reasons why gok is obsolete adn why dasher is much better?
I know dasher looks really fancy, even if you don’t need assistive technology, but I really like to hear some reasons from you.
Dasher DEFINITELY is a better form of input than any on-screen keyboard could be. I agree with Best… people should abandon GOK and just developer Dasher further.
Has anyone ever used Dasher? You could achieve pretty decent speed using just a pointer, quite amazing.
2005-12-12 8:29 pmleos
Dasher is interesting, but it’s not a better form of input than an on-screen keyboard. It’s just a different one that will be suited to some people, and not suited for others. Dasher requires quick decision making, quick reading skills, and accurate pointer control. If you can do that, then it’s quite fast, but a lot of people cannot do that or think the interface is confusing (which it is).
2005-12-13 9:30 amOokaze
I agree that Dasher is not suited for everyone, but I disagree with some things you say.
It doesn’t need quick decision making and quick reading skills, as the process will just stop or go back depending on the position of the pointer. But it’s true it needs accurate pointer control.
2005-12-13 1:44 ammjg59
Having spent a year working on turning Dasher from a research project into a useful piece of software, and doing the Gnome integration work, plus spending a significant period of time working with people who need accessibility software: Dasher is fantastically useful for a certain set of users, but many disabled users are also unable to deal with situations which require continuous input or input that’s related to timing. GOK provides that. Dasher’s a wonderful piece of software, and I hope it becomes more widespread. But it really doesn’t solve all the problems that GOK tackles.
I think the author provides an excellent insight into GOK and its limitations. More usefully, an innovative solution is offered to fix those problems.
I have always believed a utility like this should be aware of the keyboard layouts supported by Xorg and hence be able to display an interface based on those layouts. Maybe by using the information from the Gnome built in Keyboards info? http://www.gnome.org/~davyd/gnome-2-10/images/keyboard-layout-full….
I think these accessibility applications are essential – the author hits the nail on the head: “Does GOK have any users? Seriously. Or does it only ever get tested by it’s developers? It certainly has many potential users”.
Edited 2005-12-12 16:25