Custom keyboard layout for SmartQ 5 / 7 MID

While the default software keyboard of the SmartQ 5 / 7 functions pretty well, there were some things I just didn’t like. The cursor keys had a horrible layout (up, down, left, right on one line), you couldn’t enter any special characters, it didn’t have function keys and the backspace key was just too small. I decided to make my own keyboard layout…

At first, it seemed like a easy task. The keyboard layout is stored as a XML file, so you would just need to edit the file and you’re done, right? Wrong. I encountered the following problems:

  • The keyboard uses a font that can’t be changed easily. This font apparently doesn’t support half of the special characters. So I had to write a script that outputted every character of a font to an individual PNG file.
  • When using PNG files, the whole layout of the keyboard was messed up. Some things like filling out a key didn’t work like they should, and when you change the size of one key it might affect all other keys.
  • Matchbox-Keyboard has a lot of horrible bugs. Changing something might result in a totally glitchy keyboard or the keyboard might not show up at all.

It took me about two days to get everything working. It’s still not pixel perfect, but that seems like an impossible task.

Installation

  1. Download smartq-5-7-custom-keyboard-layout.zip.
  2. Extract all files, make sure it keeps the full path.
  3. Start System Tools -> PCMan File Manager
  4. Browse to /usr/share/matchbox-keyboard/
  5. Click on Tool -> Open Current Folder as Root
  6. Copy keyboard.xml and the img directory from the zip archive to this directory (press and hold the file or dir icon, select copy, then go to the directory, press and hold somewhere in the directory and select paste). Choose to overwrite existing files.
  7. You might not see the keyboard immediately, so press and hold the keyboard icon at the upper right of the screen.
  8. Select Finger.
  9. Do it again and select Standard.
  10. Done!

For some reasons, it first switched back to the old keyboard after I restarted the device. Just repeat steps 7 to 10.

Video of the keyboard in action:

ps. Ever wondered what that Chinese button at the bottom left did? It’s assigned to F3. That’s all.

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