Following a comment from Sivan, I have produced an upgraded version of the IAST or ISO 15919 keyboard. Sometimes it is useful to write Sanskrit and other Indic languages in a form that is unambiguous but can be easily read by people who know the Latin alphabet. The standard ways of doing this are with IAST or ISO 15919. The two schemes are almost identical. An example is ताण्डव which can b written as Tāṇḍava. I have produced a windows keyboard that contains the necessary diacritics (accent marks). The normal keys are assigned the same as the standard UK keyboard, only the characters accessed with the AltGr and Shift-AltGr change, as do some characters using the caps lock.
The changes to the keyboard are as follows. Firstly in the previous version I had placed the ṅ character as AltGr-n. Most other keys used the AltGr to indicate the dot underneath, and this difference was confusing. I have therefore swapped the ṅ and ṇ so that AltGr-n gives the ṇ character. Apart from anything else it makes typing Tāṇḍava a lot easier!
Also Sivan pointed out that I had missed the visarga from the keyboard. This is the h with a dot ḥ. I have placed this as AltGr-h Here is the layout of keys with AltGr (or Ctrl-Alt does the same if your keyboard doesn’t have an AltGr key)
Indic transliteration layout with AltGr
The Shift-AltGr keys are as expected, showing the capitalised versionsof the same letters.
I have recently got a new laptop, my trusty old ThinkPad R40e has cracks in the case and doesn’t always load. I’m not sure how old it is, but it is an IBM thinkpad and the brand switched to Lenovo in 2005. I have run Linux on my old laptop for a while, but have not yet successfully installed it on my new one yet. One of the best things about the Linux release was the Bolnagri keyboard layout. This puts most of the devanagari characters in on keys which have the same or a similar sound on the Latin QWERTY keyboard. For example, the “d” key gives द and the shift D key ध. Vowels are slightly more complicated, as you have to hold down the ALT-GTR key for the independent forms. For example typing “ki” gives कि and kI gives की , whereas AltGtr+i gives इ , and AltGtr+I ई. This makes it very easy to use for someone who is used to the QWERTY layout; to type “namaste” I type the keys “nmsxte”, giving नमस्ते. (the x key is the virama character, which suppresses vowel sound).
I have made a couple of tentative attempts to learn Hindi. Thinking that I would try some more, I started by producing a Bolnagri keyboard for Windows. Maybe this was just so that I could stay in my comfort zone. Anyway I am sharing it as free to use for any purpose, of course with no warranty. For many people this will be the quickest and easiest way to start typing devanagari.
The Advantages of Bolnagri
The oficial Hindi keyboard layout is InScript. This has a logical layout with vowel sounds towards the left of the keyboard. The Bolnagri layout follows the phonetics of the QUERTY keyboard. This means that someone with a QWERTY keyboard can use devanagari immediately, only occasionally refering to the layout images to find the more unusual characters.
Bolnagri keyboard layout - basic keys