ˈgʊd ˈnjuːz ˈevriwʌn! I just typed this directly into this blog post, using my new TypeIt App for Windows.
Ever since I started learning foreign languages, typing foreign characters and phonetic symbols has been a problem. When learning German, I had a problem with ä, ö, ü and ß; with English, an even bigger problem with IPA phonetic symbols. In order to use phonetic transcriptions in my SuperMemo collection in DOS, I had to design my own IPA screen font.
Today, of course, we have Unicode and the problem is largely solved on the fonts side: if you use a popular font, you can be sure it will include characters for practically all languages. Even more amazingly, all modern operating systems have at least one good font with a full set of IPA symbols.
But there is also the keyboard side. The characters are available, all right, but typing them comfortably is another matter.
Here’s what I think a good foreign-character- and phonetic-symbol-typing solution should be like:
- Seamless.It shouldn’t make your keyboard behave in an unexpected way. It should give you new characters but not at the cost of existing characters. Users should not be expected to unlearn old habits. (For example, the US-International layout turns the apostrophe and quote into accent keys, so the apostrophe and quote are hard to type.)
- Intuitive.Users shouldn’t be required to memorize a lot of shortcuts. It should be easy to guess how to type a given character. (For example, Alt+E for é is easy to guess; } for é is not easy to guess.)
- Efficient. It should be possible to type characters at a good rate.
Several years ago, I made TypeIt, a Web solution which scores pretty high on all three goals. However, it requires you to switch to a browser window, type up your text, select it, copy it, switch back to your target window, and paste the text where you want it. That’s 5 extra steps every time you want to type foreign characters or IPA symbols. If you are regularly using/learning a foreign language, this routine will quickly get on your nerves.
Enter my new baby – the TypeIt App for Windows, which is a neat little app that gives you all the TypeIt goodness without the badness:
- Type foreign characters and IPA symbols directly into your SRS (Anki, SuperMemo etc.), email, word processor, discussion forums, Facebook, etc.
ˈdʒʌst laɪk ˈðæt! (I just typed that using my app.) It’s a whole different experience.
- Intuitive keyboard shortcuts you know and love. Examples for IPA: Hold Alt and press O to type
ɔ; press O again to get
ɒ. Hold Alt and press E to get
ə. And so on. (It uses the same shortcuts as TypeIt.org, only with Alt instead of Ctrl.)
- Seamless operation without surprises. Doesn’t interfere with punctuation keys.
- Fast, lightweight app. Installs in seconds. Just works.
In short, the TypeIt app is the easiest and fastest way to type foreign characters and IPA symbols on a PC.
The TypeIt App is distributed by FastSpring. The cost is $17.50 for the Extended Edition (for phonetics professionals and enthusiasts) and $12.50 for the Standard Edition (for everyone). That’s for a lifetime license, good for up to 3 computers in a household.
So if you’re learning a language with à’s, ê’s or ü’s, or you are learning/teaching English and use IPA-based transcriptions, check out the TypeIt app. It will make your life a lot easier.
P.S. There’s a 30-day money-back warranty, so you can always change your mind.