I’ve never fancied the Maltese Government-developed 47/48-key keyboard that is now shipping with Windows. It’s too biased in favor of those who had become accustomed to the Tabone/Star fonts of the early 1990’s. While the fonts were extremely popular, and were pretty much the only available Maltese character system for Windows PCs, not everyone used Windows. And no-one at the time seemed to realize that there already was a standard font encoding that included Maltese characters (i.e. ISO 8859-3:1988, and now ISO/IEC 8859-3:1999). Or indeed that fonts in that encoding (and therefore with Maltese characters) were available for purchase by a number of foundries.
So thanks to a free tool from Microsoft, here goes my contribution to solving this dilemma – a Maltese keyboard based on the US Layout. I offer no apologies for starting with the US base layout: most of my keyboards are US-layout, and I much prefer the US interface to the UK one, having gotten used to it while living in the US. Features of each published edition are:
- In the first edition, the Maltese character set (ċĊġĠħĦżŻ), as well as the lesser-used vowel accents (àÀèÈìÌòÒùÙ) are accessible simply by pressing right-Alt in combination with the corresponding key. The addition of shift or caps-lock gives the corresponding capital version, as expected.
- Since creating the first layout I moved to the UK while Malta joined the Eurozone, so that I needed to use the £ and € characters very often. These were added to the US layout keyboard as AltGr+3 and AltGr-4 respectively. The former is on the same key as the UK layout (and # is the ‘pound’ character anyway) while the Euro is in its proper place.
- The third layout, available for download below, also adds a few typographical symbols that I need every so often; clearly this is biased towards math usage:
- The section (§) and paragraph (¶) as AltGr+s and AltGr+p.
- Registered ® and Copyright © as AltGr+r and AltGr+R
- Trademark ™ as AltGr+t
- Numero № and Degree ° as AltGr+n and AltGr+0
- Times × and Divide ÷ as AltGr+8 and AltGr+/
- Half ½, Per-mille ‰, and Plus/Minus ± as AltGr+2, AltGr+5, and AltGr+=
- Left ← and right arrow → as AltGr+, and AltGr+.
- Dagger † and Double-dagger ‡ as AltGr+d and AltGr+D
For the benefit of those who would rather use a UK layout (given that most computers bought in Malta will have that keyboard type), I have also added a Maltese keyboard with UK base layout. The Maltese characters are in the same positions as in the US keyboard, while the acute accents on the vowels of the standard UK layout (I wonder how many people actually knew about these) have been replaced by the grave accents used in Maltese.
You may download the installers below: