Magictyper Help

Please review this help page if you have any questions or problems concerning Magictyper. If you still need help after reading below, please contact me.

About Magictyper

Looking at web pages


Writing documents and sending emails

Creating web pages

Getting Magictyper on my website

About Magictyper

What is Magictyper?
Magictyper is a new website which allows you to type in other alphabets and languages. It uses Javascript to convert your English key strokes into other characters. It works best on English computers with Windows and Internet Explorer.

Which languages can I type in?
Magictyper allows you to type using the Hebrew, Arabic, Cyrillic (for Russian), and Greek alphabets. You can also type in any languages which use these alphabets, so feel free to communicate in Yiddish, Urdu and Bulgarian as well!

Why are the keyboards arranged that way?
The keys on the keyboards are arranged according to the most prevelant keyboard configurations for a given language. For instance, when you press D on the Hebrew page, you will see the letter Gimel, as this is the way keyboards operate in Israel.

By request, we have added purely phonetic keyboards for Hebrew and Russian, where (as near as possible) the letters sound like the English letters. So when you press D on the Hebrew phonetic keyboard, you will get Daled. Please let us know if you'd like to help make a phonetic keyboard for any of the other languages, and many thanks to those who have helped already.

Can other languages be added?
Yes, if you would like me to add another language, please contact me. Many thanks to Amin Asemi (amin [dot] asemi [at] gmail [dot] com) for helping with the Persian keyboard in February 2008.

Looking at web pages

Why does my web browser matter?
Web browsers are the computer programs which allow you to surf the Internet and look at web sites. Unfortunately they are not all the same, particularly when dealing with other languages. Before typing in other languages, you must first be able to view them, so this section of the help manual describes the capabilities of different web browsers.

Why do I only see question marks?
If you only see questions marks when looking at web pages in other languages, when looking at the home page of the Magictyper site, or when typing into Magictyper, then your web browser may not support the alphabet you are trying to use. This can happen in Netscape and all browsers on the Macintosh.

Why do I only see vowels?
If you encounter something like ÉÆÈÊ when viewing a web page, then your web browser will probably work, but is just set to the wrong encoding. On recent versions of Internet Explorer (or Outlook Express), go to the View menu, scroll to Encoding, and select More. Choose the alphabet for the web page you are looking at (such as Cyrillic for Russian). All those vowels should turn into other characters. If the alphabet you need isn't listed, Internet Explorer may try to install it automatically, or you may have to install it yourself (instructions on doing this may be provided at a later date).

Why do I only see boxes?
If you come across lots of square white boxes, it probably means you don't have a particular encoding installed at all, and that the page is written using ASCII codes for the letters (like ฐ). For example, if you don't have the Thai encoding installed, you will probably see a white box here: ฐ.


How do I type in other languages?
As long as your browser displays the alphabets correctly (see above for potential problems), you should be able to use Magictyper to type in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and Greek. Simply click the big links on the home page, and then start typing in the box. There is a mini keyboard to show you which English characters correspond to characters in your language. Some browser and language combinations (like Greek on Netscape) may still work even if you can't see them properly on the front page, so click through anyway. Other alphabets and keyboard layouts can be investigated upon request.

What if my keyboard is not English?
Magictyper works best on English keyboards. The mini keyboard maps shown on the site correspond to US/Australian English keyboards. UK English keyboards are very similar except the # key replaces the ' key. Users of other European keyboards will find that some letters are swapped, but they, and users of non-European keyboards, should be able to switch to a US English layout, as described below.

How do I change to an English keyboard?
If you have a non-English keyboard, you may be able to switch to English while using Magictyper. In Windows, there may be a small blue box in the bottom right of the screen, near the clock. It has the two letter code corresponding to your language. Clicking on this will allow you to change to other layouts. Simply change to an English layout, and try typing again. If this blue box does not appear, you may have to install other keyboard layouts. To do this, follow these directions at your own risk (Magictyper assumes no responsibility for mishaps): go to the Start menu, choose Settings, Control Panel, and double click Keyboard. Click Language, click Add, and add "English (United States)". You may need your Windows disc, and you may have to reboot. Then the blue box should appear and you can switch between English and your normal language. We're not sure how to do this on non-Windows computers.

Why are Hebrew and Arabic backwards?
This could be because the browser doesn't know that Hebrew and Arabic are written right-to-left. Or, if you encounter this problem while viewing a web page, it could be that the person who created the page purposely put all the Hebrew and Arabic charaters in backwards, expecting the web browser to display them wrongly.

Why do strange things happen when I type in Hebrew and Arabic?
You may experience some strange effects when typing Hebrew and Arabic in Internet Explorer. For instance, the delete key may remove the letter to the right instead of left, the cursor might jump around when you insert English text, the < and > keys might be switched, etc. This is a normal effect when mixing left-to-right and right-to-left text because of the way it is stored internally. We can only suggest practicing.

Why can't I type in the middle of a sentence?
Some browsers such as Opera display other alphabets, but don't support more complex text editing functions. The result is that when you are typing into Magictyper, the new letters do not appear where the cursor is, but always get added to the end of the text (or perhaps the beginning for Hebrew and Arabic). Unfortunately, any attempts to correct this have made the typing very slow and haphazard.

Why aren't the Arabic letters joining up?
On some computers and/or browsers, Arabic is displayed correctly, and in the right direction, but the letters don't join up. This is particularly noticeable when you type. In most situations, when you type your second Arabic letter, it automatically merges with the first. This problem needs to be investigated further, but the text you type should still work in emails and web pages.

How do I make accents in Greek?
Accented greek characters are produced by typing the desired Greek character while holding down the AltGr key. (Update September 2008 - I thought this would work but it doesn't, so I'm sorry but I don't know how else to do them.)

Why does the wrong letter sometimes appear?
This could be because you are using a non English keyboard, or else there is a mistake in Magictyper. If it is a mistake, please tell us.

How do I switch back to English?
If you would like to insert some English text into your typing, check the box at the bottom of the typing page. This will switch back to the English keyboard layout. Uncheck the box to switch back again.

Which browsers are supported?
Support for typing in Magictyper depends very much on the browser's alphabet support, as described above. In general, Magictyper works as expected in recent versions of Internet Explorer on Windows. In Opera, you can type but the characters always get added to the end of your text. In Netscape, you will probably be able to type in Russian or Greek, or else you will just see question marks (unless you install the other alphabets but we don't know how to do this). Mozilla works on Linux (and Windows), but in the same way as Opera. We haven't found any browsers that work on Maconitoshes because of the lack of supprot for other alphabets. However, since most Internet users run Windows and Internet Explorer, the majority of surfers will be able to use Magictyper.

It still doesn't work!
Despite all your and our best efforts, Magictyper still might not work, even if you've read all the sections above, and are using a fully compatible browser. There are a small number of Internet Explorer who have reported that when they start typing, the letters still come out in English. We are currently investigating the problem, but it is proving very tricky. If this happens to you, please contact me and I may ask you to help us solve the problem by running a couple tests with your browser.

Writing documents and sending emails

Which applications work with Magictyper?
After you have finished typing in Magictyper, you will probably want to transfer your text to another application (by copying and pasting it), so you can send it in an email, or add it to a word processing document, a spreadsheet, a presentation, etc. In general Greek and Russian text will copy and paste fine to Microsoft Office applications, but Hebrew and Arabic may appear backwards (which you can fix using the reverse this text link at the bottom of the typing page). Other programs, like Adobe Photoshop, don't seem to work, and email programs are discussed below. The best thing is to try pasting a small amount of text into you chosen application first to see if it works.

How do I copy and paste?
To get your text out of the box on the Magictyper website and into a document or email, you will need to copy and paste it. To do this, first highlight all the text by dragging the mouse over it (for Hebrew and Arabic, start dragging from the upper right corner to the lower left). With the text highlighted, click on the Edit menu in your web browser, and choose Copy. Then switch to your email or other program, click at the place where you want the text to appear, and go to the program's Edit menu and choose Paste. Hopefully your text will appear correctly and you can start using it! (Note that you can also use key commands to highlight the text with Ctrl A, copy it with Ctrl C and paste it with Ctrl V, but don't hold any of the keys down or it will confuse Magictyper. If a mistake is made while doing this, press Ctrl Z to undo.)

How do I send emails in other languages?
Whether you can send emails in other languages depends on your email program. If you use Outlook Express on Windows, you can copy and paste your text directly into a new message. (You may have to change the encoding for it to appear properly.) When you're ready press Send, and if asked, choose to Send as Unicode. (Note that when sending to a free email account, Western European encoding seems to work better.) Sending email from free email accounts is discussed below. Sending from Microsoft Outlook doesn't seem to work.

For Hebrew only, I have added a feature which will allow you to convert your typing into a picture, which you can then save to your desktop, and attach to an email. To do this click the link at the bottom of the page which says ...having trouble reading your emails.

Can I use a free online email account?
Yes, you can use a free online email account, like Yahoo or Hotmail to send emails in other languages. Simply copy and paste your text into the box when composing a new message. (With some online email accounts, you will need to check the send as HTML or allow HTML tags box, although this may mess up the spacing in the email.) Then press Send. It is recommended that you send a couple test emails to find out what works best.

Why does the email contain lots of strange characters?
When viewing an email in email software such as Outlook Express (or in a browser based account like Yahoo or Hotmail), you may see lots of vowels or other strange characters. This is similar to the vowels problem above. To correct it in Outlook Express, go to the View menu, choose Encoding, choose More, and select the correct alphabet. (For Hebrew and Arabic, you may want to repeat the process and choose "Right-to-left document".) We're not sure how to overcome this in other email applications.

Why does the email contain lots of numbers?
This sometimes happens when email is sent from an online email account, and the send as HTML box was not checked. You can ask the sender to rectify this, or you can try the web conversion page. Visit this page, paste all the numbers into the box and press the button. It may convert it back to something readable.

Creating web pages

Can I use what I've typed in a web page?
Yes, but you'll need to convert it to a special format. To do this, after you've finished typing, click use this text in a web page. Your text will be converted to a series of numbers (the ASCII representation of each of the letters you typed). This can be copy and pasted into your web development application. When your web page is viewed in a capable browser, it will display correctly.

Can I edit something I've previously typed?
After pressing use this text in a web page, your words are made ready for the web. You can keep editing this text by pressing the edit this text button. You can also paste some previously created text into this box, and then edit it. So if you made a web page a few weeks ago using Magictyper, there's no need to retype all your words, just visit the web conversion page, paste the words into the box and press edit this text.

How do I make Hebrew and Arabic read from right to left?
When placing Hebrew or Arabic into a web page, you should specify the attribute dir=rtl in the containing element. This ensures the browser will align it on the right, and display it from right to left. So if you are placing some Hebrew text into a table cell, specify this:

<td dir="rtl">&#1506;&#1489;&#1512;&#1497;&#1514;</td>

Getting Magictyper on my website

Can Magictyper be used on other websites?
Yes! There are a huge number of Internet users living abroad or travelling, who would love to be able to communicate in their native language. Adding Magictyper to your website will greatly enhance their experience. Whether you run an email service, a discussion forum, a friends and classmates website, or even an online shop, Magictyper will win you loyal visitors.

Will Magictyper interfere with my other users?
Magictyper is there specifically to help people with English keyboards type in other languages. Your other users, who have the correct keyboard already, won't notice any difference.

Does Magictyper cost anything?
Magictyper is free for you to include on your own website, unless it receives over 1000 uses a day, in which case please contact me contact me to discuss licensing.

How do I try Magictyper?
It is very easy to try Magictyper. At the top of the web page where you want to use it, insert the following lines:

<script language="Javascript" SRC="http://www.tero.co.uk/magictyper/typer.php"></script>
<script language="Javascript">MTsetLanguage('hebrew');</script>

The first line includes all the Javascript code from the Magictyper web site. The second line sets the desired alphabet to either "hebrew", "arabic", "russian", or "greek". Then you need to add a bit of code to every form field which will use Magictyper. For instance:

<input name="firstname" type="text" dir="rtl" 
       onFocus="MTsetFocus(this);" onBlur="MTsetFocus(null);">

The onFocus and onBlur tells Magictyper when to start and stop converting key strokes, and can be added to any input or textarea form field. (Note that for Hebrew and Arabic, you also need to include dir="rtl", standing for direction = right to left). That's the minimum you need to get Magictyper working.

How do I display the keyboard maps?
Your Magictyper users may not know which keys to press, so ideally you should show them a keyboard map. These are available as images of different sizes and styles, by inserting an image tag in the following format into your web page:

<img src="http://www.tero.co.uk/magictyper/keyboards/hebrew30_square.gif">

The 30 refers to the pixel size of each key in the image and the square refers to the style. Size 35 is also available, as are outline and keyboard styles. (The square and outline styles use colours to roughly show which fingers should be used for which keys.) Other styles and colours can be created upon request. Examples are given below:




How else can I customise Magictyper?
You are welcome to integrate Magictyper however you would like, and we can provide programming advice free of charge. However, Magictyper itself cannot be customised, so if you would like to see a new feature or another alphabet, please contact me.

Can I host the Magictyper source code?
The Magictyper software should always be accessed from the Magictyper website. This helps me to maintain our copyright and license, and allows me to make corrections and additions as necessary, without having to redistribute the code. However, if you run a really big or critical web site, and you don't want to depend on the Magictyper server, we can negotiate a transfer of the source code and provide updates. Please contact me.

What are your terms and conditions?