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RusKey: mapping the Russian keyboard layout into the Latin alphabets

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3.47/5 (9 votes)
15 Feb 2007CPOL3 min read 308.6K   549   19   34
An easy way to replace characters while typing in the keyboard.


Using a very simple hook, you can change the meaning of what the user is typing and put anything else. The process is even easier if what you want is to replace the characters typed one by one.

This is a very simple program that uses this technique to make the Russian keyboard layout easy to learn. I made it for myself, but maybe it can be useful for anyone else. At least the hook technique, flexible enough, is worthy to learn.

Why map characters

An alphabet is one of the many ways to represent the words of a language in writing. A written word is a set of letters meaning the sounds we use to pronounce this word. Every different sound is a different phoneme.

Even though the Russian alphabet is so different from the Latin alphabet, they share many phonemes. This means that we can get some Cyrillic letters and replace them directly to some Latin letters. However, after the translation, the position of this letter normally is different from the Latin keyboard layout. So we have a Latin letter in a different place in the keyboard. If made a near translation between the both, the Latin letters will be disposed like this:

Latin phonemes inside the russian keyboard layout

Ii is a bit different from the well-known qwert asdfg, isn't?

When typing using this pseudo-keyboard layout, the Latin layout is replaced for the Russian layout in a Latin letters set. So a person can practice a Russian keyboard even using the Latin alphabet. Cool, isn't? I can code using the misplaced letters, because the final result is the same. I just need to train my fingers to beat the same letters in different places. This way, if I would need to use Cyrillic, I already know where every Russian letter is supposed to be in the Russian keyboard.

Obs: Almost all the Russian letters can be replaced using a Latin one, but there're some exceptions. So I chose to ignore the translation in this case and put another letter instead. It is not necessarily a good choice for the phoneme, but it is required in order to write using all the available Latin letters.


It would be nice to know something about the Win32 API function SetWindowsHookEx() and how to use it for message hooks.

Using the code

The code itself is already a useful program (at least for me +). You can use it for typing training in another keyboard layout system. The only thing to change inside the code is the correspondence of the letters, located inside the arrays below:

const TCHAR g_tzRussAlphabet[] = 
const TCHAR g_tzPortAlphabet[] = 

The handling code is quite simple. It is about an original charset array search and consequent replace for its Latin brother (the same index inside another array):

switch( pMsg->message )
   case WM_CHAR:
      LPTSTR ptzChar =
         _tcschr(g_tzRussAlphabet, (TCHAR) pMsg->wParam);

      if( ptzChar )
         size_t offset = ptzChar - g_tzRussAlphabet;
         pMsg->wParam = (WPARAM) g_tzPortAlphabet[offset];

Points of Interest

While debugging a project that makes message hooks globally, the attention must be multiplied for three times or more. Any mistake you do inside the callback function can put the system down (like a MessageBox() called for any message, for example). However, once you're debugging a specific message for a specific process, generally the only process that will freeze will be the debuggee itself and the ones that depends directly on some frozen action.


15 Feb 2007 - updated the code to work with VS6 and using a makefile, allowing people to use several versions of Visual C++


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Written By
Technical Lead Intelitrader
Brazil Brazil
Wanderley Caloni
Backend Specialist
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
C, C++, Assembly, Windows, x86, Reverse Engineering, Cryptography, Tech/Art Writing, Debugging, Git, SQL

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 3 Pin
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov2-Oct-12 12:27
mvaSergey Alexandrovich Kryukov2-Oct-12 12:27 
GeneralRe: My vote of 3 Pin
Wanderley Caloni20-Apr-15 13:25
professionalWanderley Caloni20-Apr-15 13:25 
GeneralRe: My vote of 3 Pin
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov20-Apr-15 13:29
mvaSergey Alexandrovich Kryukov20-Apr-15 13:29 
GeneralRusKey Pin
geoyar15-Apr-07 7:24
professionalgeoyar15-Apr-07 7:24 
GeneralRe: RusKey Pin
Wanderley Caloni15-Apr-07 8:50
professionalWanderley Caloni15-Apr-07 8:50 
GeneralThere are much better ways (Re: RusKey) Pin
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov2-Oct-12 12:16
mvaSergey Alexandrovich Kryukov2-Oct-12 12:16 
GeneralCheck the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator Pin
Mihai Nita16-Feb-07 12:47
Mihai Nita16-Feb-07 12:47 
GeneralRe: Check the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator Pin
Wanderley Caloni22-Feb-07 0:50
professionalWanderley Caloni22-Feb-07 0:50 
GeneralGreat! (Re: Check the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator) Pin
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov2-Oct-12 12:20
mvaSergey Alexandrovich Kryukov2-Oct-12 12:20 
GeneralRe: Great! (Re: Check the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator) Pin
Wanderley Caloni20-Apr-15 13:28
professionalWanderley Caloni20-Apr-15 13:28 
GeneralRe: Great! (Re: Check the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator) Pin
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov20-Apr-15 13:31
mvaSergey Alexandrovich Kryukov20-Apr-15 13:31 
GeneralRe: Great! (Re: Check the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator) Pin
Wanderley Caloni20-Apr-15 14:13
professionalWanderley Caloni20-Apr-15 14:13 
GeneralRe: Great! (Re: Check the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator) Pin
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov20-Apr-15 16:47
mvaSergey Alexandrovich Kryukov20-Apr-15 16:47 
Questioncannot run in another computer Pin
MartinLeung24-Oct-06 22:44
MartinLeung24-Oct-06 22:44 
AnswerRe: cannot run in another computer Pin
Wanderley Caloni26-Oct-06 4:17
professionalWanderley Caloni26-Oct-06 4:17 
GeneralRe: cannot run in another computer Pin
MartinLeung26-Oct-06 16:23
MartinLeung26-Oct-06 16:23 
GeneralRe: cannot run in another computer Pin
Wanderley Caloni27-Oct-06 3:21
professionalWanderley Caloni27-Oct-06 3:21 
GeneralAdvise Pin
SMDtheone8-Feb-06 18:39
SMDtheone8-Feb-06 18:39 
GeneralRe: Advise Pin
Wanderley Caloni9-Feb-06 1:48
professionalWanderley Caloni9-Feb-06 1:48 
GeneralGreat to disable cheating codes for kids Pin
Nick Gearls20-Oct-05 6:26
Nick Gearls20-Oct-05 6:26 
GeneralRe: Great to disable cheating codes for kids Pin
Wanderley Caloni20-Oct-05 6:31
professionalWanderley Caloni20-Oct-05 6:31 
GeneralCompatibility Pin
Nick Gearls20-Oct-05 2:56
Nick Gearls20-Oct-05 2:56 
GeneralRe: Compatibility Pin
Wanderley Caloni20-Oct-05 3:12
professionalWanderley Caloni20-Oct-05 3:12 
NewsRussian keyboard. Pin
XoXoXo19-Oct-05 6:08
XoXoXo19-Oct-05 6:08 
GeneralRe: Russian keyboard. Pin
Wanderley Caloni19-Oct-05 6:51
professionalWanderley Caloni19-Oct-05 6:51 

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