Been a long time coming but finally here! There is now an Extra Keys for Linux.

Just one edition equivalent to Extra Keys Pro on Windows. There is no ultra-simple basic edition as I didn’t feel it had much appeal on Linux. Also I first made this Linux version primarily for my own personal use and I mostly use the Pro edition. The only significant difference from the Windows edition is that it does not have the option to type into a named application window, it just enters characters into the active window exactly the same as the physical keyboard. ( read more . . . )

New update of Plant Base was released today and is available on the Download page. For all desktop/laptop editions – Windows, MacOS and Linux.

This is only a minor maintenance update with a few small bug fixes and other minor changes. For the Windows edition this includes support for the recently released update of Extra Keys.

However, there is one significant addition which is a new UI language option for Swedish.  This excellent contribution was made Plant Base user Kenneth Williams and I’m very happy to include it in this release.

The Linux edition is now at Beta 10 and a free life-time licence is still available on request.

There is no change to the plant data at this time, it’s the same as the last two versions – but work on the next database release is in progress!

New version updates for both Extra Keys (2.2.4) and Extra Keys Pro (2.2.6) are now available for download.

The most noticeable change is that the key panel window no longer gets the desktop focus when a button or other control is clicked.  This means that the active window does not change, which is most likely the target application for entering a character with Extra Keys.  It prevents the annoying focus switching between Extra Keys and the target window, especially apparent when entering multiple characters.

Another small change involves the “refresh” button for the target drop-down box.  Instead of setting the default “nowhere – Copy only” the refresh will attempt to set the currently active window, on the assumption this is probably the desired target. Of course any other choice from the drop-down list can be selected manually if preferred, as before.  If the program cannot determine a valid target window then “Copy only” is set as previously.

There are no other changes for Extra Keys, but Extra Keys Pro also gets six new key-sets. These are not aimed at mainstream users and are not planned for the standard Extra Keys. Perhaps the most significant set is the additional of Polytonic Greek with the large number of diacritic letters used in classical and medieval Greek.   So it is now easy to correctly type Ἀλέξανδρος  (Aléxandros/Alexander), Ἄρης (Aries) or ᾠόν (egg). Of necessity this key panel in unusually large – apologies for this inconvenience but it is the only way to show all the accented characters in a single view.

The other additional key-sets for Extra Keys Pro are Ogham, Runic, single character Roman numerals and unicode Emoticons. The Runic set has all unicode Runes which cover several historical variation, so a filter tab is provided in the settings to enable/disable those required. The Old English runes used by J.R.R. Tolkien in the Hobbit are included, but not the later invented Cirth runes. As normal, it is essential to ensure the target application is using a suitable font to properly display all these less common characters.

There are new version updates for both Extra Keys (2.2.3) and Extra Keys Pro (2.2.5).

These are maintenance releases only and are otherwise the same as the previous recent versions.  However, they have some modifications that may help resolve a problem where the keys window fails to open on a few Windows 10 systems.  Not all systems were affected and the exact cause for this happening only on particular machines is somewhat uncertain.  The new versions include multiple checks and run-time compensations to provide improved resilience.

If the previous versions run without problem on your system, then there is no need to update.

Our popular Windows desktop Extra Keys and the similar Pro edition both have new versions – 2.2.2 and 2.2.4 respectively.

Two new key sets have been added, both in the Latin character range – Austronesian and Esperanto.  Austronesian covers a very wide range of indigenous languages spread across the the Pacific and the islands of Australasia. So it is now easy to correctly write words from Māori, other Polynesian languages and useful when transcribing words for example from the Australian Aṉangu such as Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa.  Esperanto is a bit unusual because it uses accented characters not common in other languages and also does not naturally fit in with any other grouping. So it has therefore been given its own very small key-set which might be handy for the many Esperantistoj around the world.

There are a few other minor program amendments plus of course one very significant change for Extra Key Pro in that it is now completely free to use.

Page links:

From version 2.2.4 Extra Keys Pro is freeware! – exactly like the standard Extra Keys tool for entering accents and other characters.  It was previously only available on payment of a small fee but with this new version the licence code authentication has been completely removed.

So now the choice between standard Extra Keys and Extra Keys Pro is entirely down to the user’s preference.  The Pro edition has more capability, with the options of sending characters in various encoded formats but therefore has more settings that may be unnecessary for many people.  It also requires an additional configuration file for these settings, though this is created automatically when needed. Both programs remain very lightweight, fully portable and have no special system requirements.

This has been waiting in the wings for quite a while, but finally completed and released!  Extra Keys Pro is an extended edition aimed at web writers, computer programmers and possibly technical writers.  It is based on the latest standard edition and looks much the same. However,  it offers the important additional capability of outputting characters in a number of coded formats. These include HTML entity name and code, plus other numeric code formats.

If you only need to type accented letters and other symbols into documents,  then you don’t need this edition – the standard one will be fine.  But if you edit source code files then you will know all about the frequent need to use coded formats for various characters.  Extra Keys Pro could well save you a lot of time and effort. The “Pro” in this case stands for “programmer”.

Considering its intended purpose, we decided to make a small charge for this edition of the product. At only £6 (GBP currency) for a life-time licence, we think users will find it good value.  The standard edition will of course always remain free.

More information on the Extra Keys Pro web page.

A new  version of Extra Keys has been released, which is a major change in one respect as it introduces selectable sets of keys. This enables a big increase in the number of character keys, in fact there are now over 600 unique characters available.

The characters are grouped by alphabets and languages that share characters.  Common accented letters are repeated on several sets,  aiming at reducing the need to switch sets.  For the first time, letters from some non-Latin alphabets are included. This version has Greek, Cyrillic, Georgian and Armenian as well as additional Latin accented letters that are relevant to Eastern European languages such as Polish, Hungarian and Romanian.

The default start-up set remains as Latin for Western European languages, but with some changes.  Letters for Nordic languages are moved to a separate set, while some new accented letters are added to the default set.  Perhaps most notably this now includes the letters needed for Welsh.  It has been pointed out that the original Extra Keys provided accented letters for most Western European languages but omitted Welsh, which is an official language within the UK. Welsh is unusual in treating W and Y as vowels that are sometimes accented. The new version has these characters. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve little knowledge of Welsh, even though my father could speak it!

The original versions concentrated on characters that were part of the ANSI code.  Greatly extending the character range relies entirely on using Unicode.  Most modern applications are Unicode compliant but older programs may have trouble displaying all letters.

It is also very important to use a suitable font, which can be an issue on older Windows versions.  Some applications don’t give a choice of font, but many do, especially word processors and similar programs.  Standard Windows fonts such as Arial and Times New Roman are actually pretty good and have most characters.  If you are running on Windows XP or even Windows 2000 then you may want to install the latest font updates in order to display certain letters. There are additionally some great free fonts that have excellent Unicode support, for example the DejaVu font family that comes with OpenOffice/LibreOffice.

Due to  all the additional character data the program file for this version is quite a lot bigger, though no heavy-weight at just 970Kb.  The new version is still self-contained and fully portable.  If you don’t need all the new letters, perhaps you only use French or Spanish, then the previous version will be fine (and smaller). It remains available for download and the actual program logic is the same as the new version, only the character range is different.

As always,  for more information and downloads  see  the Extra Keys web page.