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Finding a better Vietnamese Input Method Editor (IME) in OS X

I’ve been a Mac user for awhile now. However, one thing I’ve not really spent much time with is playing with other Input Method Editors (IME) besides Japanese. I’ve recently expanded my focus to include Vietnamese. One of the difficult things in inputting Vietnamese is adding the diacritic marks which represent the tones in Vietnamese. An example of the the diacritic marks is given in the following sentence:

Tôi là người Việt

As you can see, there are quite a few diacritic marks. Most people who aren’t literate in Vietnamese regard these as nuisances which is understandable. There IS a Vietnamese IME that comes with OS X and I have been using it for awhile now. However, I find it a little unnatural to use. After doing some searching on Vietnamese IMEs I’ve found I would like to use one that more closely mirrors the VIQR convention of inputting Vietnamese.

I was thinking it would be necessary to build an input method editor myself however it seems someone saved me the trouble. There is no VIQR input method but the methods available seem more natural than the default including with OS X. There is also one other thing of note for you OS X users. OS X by default outputs Unicode text in a form known as Normalization Form D. This is a bit aggravating when dealing with accented characters. I’d much rather have Normalization Form C. Here’s a borrowed explanation:

All keyboard layouts emit Unicode text in Normalization Form C (NFC), where the entire vowel including the intonation mark is represented by a single code point.

In comparison, the original Mac OS X Vietnamese keyboard layout emits Unicode text where vowels with an intonation mark are represented by a code point for the vowel itself (a, ă, â, e, ê, i, o, ô, ơ, u, ư) followed by a second code point representing the intonation mark as combining diacritic.

This Normalization Form is really aggravating when trying to use the OS X Input Method editor to input Vietnamese over a Terminal. Rather than displaying as one character, I see the character then the intonation mark. Not what I want to see. Hopefully, these new Keyboard Layouts fix that problem.

For more information check Gero Herrmann’s webpage.

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