Windows 2000 makes it really easy to enter Unicode characters from other languages using IMEs (input method
editors) and the on-screen keyboard. You can use these features to test your programs and make sure they will work
on other languages of Windows and with the full range of available Unicode characters. You can test with multiple
languages by following a few steps:
- Enable the system to read and write files in the languages you want to test with.
- Enable keyboard layouts for the languages you want to test with.
- Change your dialogs to use a new system font, MS Shell Dlg 2.
- Enter characters into your app using the new keyboard layouts or the Charmap program.
Note that you must have a Unicode build of your app. If you try this with an ANSI build, you can only enter
characters that are in the code page of the language of your OS. If you try entering other characters, they will
either show up as question marks, or different letters that are missing diacritics.
Enabling foreign languages
The first thing to do is configure the system to read and write files in other languages. Log in as an administrator
and open the Regional Options control panel. At the bottom of the first page, there is a checklist box with a list
of languages, as shown here.
Check all the languages that you want to test with. For this example, check Japanese and Vietnamese, and click
OK. Windows will install fonts, IMEs, and other necessary files and then reboot.
Adding foreign-language keyboard layouts
After the reboot, open the Keyboard control panel and click the Input Locales tab. Click the Add button and
then pick a language in the Input Locale combo box. For this example, choose Japanese. The IME combo box should
show "Japanese Input System (MS-IME 2000)" as shown here:
Click OK. Click Add again and select Vietnamese, then click OK. Your Keyboard property sheet should look like
Click OK to save your changes. There should now be a language indicator icon in the tray, which will show the
native language of the OS (for example, "EN" if you're using English Windows). Pressing Left Alt+Shift
rotates your keyboard language among the languages you set in the Keyboard control panel. You can also left-click
the language indicator to get a menu of all the installed languages.
Changing dialog fonts
Now that the system is set up to let you enter foreign-language characters, you need to tweak your dialogs so
they can display the characters. Windows 2000 has a new system font name,
MS Shell Dlg 2. This is
not a real font, but rather a special name the system recognizes. When a dialog is created with this font, the
system substitutes a font that is capable of displaying characters in all of the installed languages. (You can
read about Windows NT font substitution in MSDN under Platform SDK\Windows Base Services\International Features\National
Language Support\About National Language Support\Localization and the Shell Font.) By default this font is Tahoma.
Once you set your dialogs to use this font, they will automatically be able to display any Unicode character from
any installed language. Note that you'll need to edit your .RC files by hand, since you can't set the font to MS
Shell Dlg 2 through the MSVC dialog editor.
Entering foreign-language characters
If you change the keyboard language to Japanese, you'll see the IME in the lower-right corner. Using the IME
requires knowledge of Japanese to enter correct syllables (and teaching Japanese is a little beyond the scope of
this article), so for the purposes of testing you can use Charmap to enter Japanese characters.
To run Charmap, click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and click Character
Map. Select either the MS Mincho or MS Gothic font, and scroll the character list down until you see the Japanese
characters. Double-clicking any character adds it to the edit box at the bottom of the window, and clicking Copy
puts all the characters in the edit box onto the Clipboard. Here is what Charmap looks like after double-clicking
After copying the characters to the Clipboard, you can them paste them into any input field in your program.
Another way to enter characters is by using the on-screen keyboard, a new Accessibility feature in Windows 2000.
The on-screen keyboard lets you click buttons with your mouse, instead of hunting for keys on the keyboard. To
open the on-screen keyboard, click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to Accessibility, and
click On-Screen Keyboard. The Vietnamese keyboard is shown here:
Other languages will differ, naturally, in the placement of some letters. For Vietnamese, the top row of keys
enters diacritics and accented letters, as well as the two keys between P and backslash. To add a diacritic to
a vowel, type the vowel and then the diacritic. For example, to enter the name Nguyen, type "Nguy" as
normal letters. To enter the e (which has both a circumflex and a tilde), press the 3 key (for ê) and then
press the 7 key to add the tilde.
When you want to use the on-screen keyboard, click in the window that you want to receive the keystrokes, and
then click in the on-screen keyboard window. When you click buttons on the keyboard, the keystrokes will be sent
to the window with the focus.
You can get the latest updates to this and my other articles at http://home.inreach.com/mdunn/code/