A professional looking on screen keyboard, is not as easy to make as one might think. The little steps along the way, can lead to absurd time consuming snags. This article should save you a lot of time and help you build a sturdy foundation for your own osk.
It’s been almost two years since I wrote an article about sending keyboard messages to applications. I got a ton of emails, and other positive feedback from it.
In this article I will be using an updated Sendkeys module, from that article. The modules come in two flavors, classic VB6 and VB.NET 2005. It’s also largely compatible with 64 bit operating systems. The sample osk included with this article was built to compete head-to-head with the Windows 7 On-Screen keyboard, and win!
- XP/Vista/7 (32-64 bit) compatible.
- UAC(User Account Control) compliant.
- Starts at login(welcome screen), to provide basic keyboard functionality.
- Text completion.
- Text to speech, capable of using external voices on all compatible OS.
- Low profile layout, maximizes desktop work space.
- Prevents other windows from lying underneath, and vice versa.
More accesible than using the “Always On Top” option, which is commonly used in other programs.
- Alternate functions(Fn), can be used to change the volume, or power down windows.
Can also resize, move, maximize, or close the window in focus, by pressing a single function button.
- Customizable gradient color themes are aero(Vista Windows 7)capable, with optional translucency.
- Menu shortcuts, allow you to launch frequently used programs.
(X, poor, fair, good, excellent)
|Feature||(osk)Windows 7||On Screen Keys|
|Text prediction acuracy||good||good|
|Button text visibility and contrast||fair||good|
|Always On Top||good||excellent|
|Number of Text predictions||good||excellent|
|Button background color contrast||good||excellent|
|Visual help window, with narration||fair||excellent|
|Button text w/mouse over highlight||poor||excellent|
|Always tile windows||X||good|
|Custom theme colors||X||excellent|
|Text to speech narration||X||excellent|
|Compatible with XP/Vista/Windows 7||X||excellent|
|Start at login||X||excellent|
|Start after logon||X||excellent|
|No windows underneath||X||excellent|
|No icons underneath||X||excellent|
|Common program shortcuts||X||excellent|
|Low profile keyboard layout||X||excellent|
|Hides the titlebar when minimizing||X||excellent|
|Alternate function buttons for volume, power down, and focus window manipulation||X||excellent|