Monday, April 5, 2010

Files are up at the github

If you want to try out the new GUI version of Plover, go here and download tktest.py, stenowinder.py, and ploverbd.py. Put them all in the same directory, and if you've got Python 3.1.2 installed on your computer, just run tktest.py. A little window should pop up, and if you have an anti-ghosting keyboard, you can just start chording away. If anyone tries this, please let me know how it works. I'm really excited to get to the next step, where it actually starts outputting to files and/or other programs, but I think even just being able to mimic the action of a steno machine with a qwerty keyboard is worth something, if only to show people how awesome steno looks when you're writing in it.

8 comments:

Abigail said...

I just wanted to say that I've downloaded Plover and I am just amazed. It is like you have read my mind. For a bit of background, I was a steno student years ago, also at NYCI, loved it but quit because of life circumstances, moved overseas, moved back. Intended to return to court reporting - got very sick. Anyway, I say all this because I'm a little better but not good enough to go back to school but have been learning Stenomaster theory and re-teaching myself in the hopes of using steno to do transcription from home but wasn't sure what I going to do about the heavy outlay of funds just to make that happen. This could be my miracle solution. Thank you so much for using your brilliance and vision to come up with this program - please keep going! $60 for a keyboard? Heck, I could buy 10 of them and still be ahead, even with Ebay prices for dirty old equipment and ancient software! I tried Plover with my HP bundled keyboard and a few words came out so this could be just fabulous! Thank you!!!!!

Sonja said...

I received my SideWinder X4, my key tabs and my StenoMaster Theory book. My journey can begin now.

Are you still using the mapping locations such that AO is CV on the Qwerty, and final TS is P;?

Are you on any IM program so I can relate my experiences and Plover testing with you? If it matters, I'm using Windows 7 and used the Python 3.1.2 Windows X86-64 MSI Installer.

Sonja said...

Alright, I got it working! Cool! I normally use Dvorak keyboard layout, so I had to tell Windows I was using regular Qwerty ("United States") keyboard for Plover to recognize my keystrokes.

The big question I'm asking myself now is whether I want to paste the keytabs in a staggered way to try to make them line up in perfect vertical columns as per a steno writer, or whether I want to simply use the regular Qwerty keyboard despite its keys being slightly crooked.

Because I'm a n00b at steno, I am not invested in any particular key alignment or positions. I could just as easily learn to type steno with the regular Qwerty key alignment and build up my muscle memory that way. Or I could learn it in a more steno-writer-like way, so if I ever migrate to a real steno machine, I won't have to adjust my style.

The advantage of using the crooked key positions is that if I keep using anti-ghosting keyboards in the future, I'll never have to add special key tabs. I'll also be able to quickly switch between "steno" and "dvorak" mode in my OS (once Plover matures to that level), so every time I'm on any normal computer (with an anti-ghosting keyboard), I can switch between steno and Dvorak with a simple keystroke, rather than needing to pull out a 2nd hardware keyboard.

Do you think it would be a bad habit for me professionally or would there be other disadvantages if I learned steno and got used to using the Qwerty's crooked alignment? It means I'd be always invested in using cheaper anti-ghosting keyboards than expensive specialized steno machines.

I could become the first student to pass the speed tests using such an unconventional keyboard. :P I'd be working in courtrooms with a gaming keyboard in front of me. :P

Sonja said...

Eventually Plover would just be another keyboard locale for Windows 7 (and other OSes). Or maybe it would be a little agent that sits in your taskbar that you can switch on and off, similar to the program Tajpi by Thomas James that I use for special Esperanto characters.

I'll contact Thomas James to see what he could do to integrate Plover into Tajpi. It could be an easy way to switch Plover on and off in Windows to work seamlessly in other programs like Word or FireFox or NotePad or whatever.

Sonja said...

Maybe I'll want to use Plover with only one asterisk column instead of two. That leaves me room for characters like [] {} \| on the right side. And I can continue using the number and shift-number keys unchanged 123 !@#.

This is related to my Depoman thread about needing to have keys like Ctrl, $ and < on a steno writer:

http://depoman.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=73348#73348

I guess it wouldn't really help with < and >, because those would be covered.

Also, I wonder if any netbooks have an antighosting keyboard. Maybe Alienware's? http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/alienware-m11x?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=mn

Mirabai Knight said...

I wish Blogger had threaded comments, because I want to reply to each of these individually, but I'm currently writing this on my phone while walking to the subway, so I'll just talk about the most pressing one: There's no need to switch between qwert and dvorak every time you want to play with Plover. Just open stenowinder.py in a text editor and search for "Stenchart". Leave the steno mappings (the capital letters with the hyphens) but change each qwerty key in that chart to its corresponding dvorak key. That's the beauty of open source! You can modify the code to your heart's content, and you don't necessarily have to know much about programming. Feel free to eliminate the second column of asterisks and move the mappings one step left, if you like. Knock yourself out! Currently I've got it set to ignore all keys not mapped to steno keys, but I can change that in future versions if there's a demand for it. (Though I, personally, would rather just make up and define new syllabic chords to produce those special characters, rather than having to lift my fingers off their steno positions. Your mileage may vary.)

As far as teaching your fingers to play the keyboard in crooked qwerty rather than using the parallel columns, I worry that it could become a problem ergonomically; pressing two vertical letters offset diagonally from one another sounds uncomfortable to me, and I'd imagine that accuracy would tend to suffer as well, but give it a try and tell me how it goes!

Also, send me the Stenomaster dictionary. In the absence of specific permission from Mark, I'll convert it to Plover format, send it back to you, then delete it from my hard drive. We can sort out permissions issues later, but I want you to be able to use the dictionary that comes with your theory. Okay, almost at the subway. More later! Good luck, all! This is very exciting. I'll try to add a stopgap file output option as soon as I can find the time, though my eventual goal is to use Plover as an invisible or taskbar-pinned utility, exactly as Sonja described it above.

Mirabai Knight said...

Also, Abigail: Your post completely made my day. :'D

Mirabai Knight said...

Just one more thing: If the qwerty only thing doesn't wind up working, and keypads are too much of a hindrance when switching between qwerty and steno layouts, how about trying to develop something like a vinyl overlay? If it was attached at the top, you could tuck it under the keyboard when not in use, then throw it over the keys when you wanted to switch to steno, attaching the bottom side as well to ensure lack of slippage. It might be tricky to manufacture in small quantities, but it seems like it could be a practical compromise.