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It’s all about user expectations August 24, 2006

Posted by globalizer in International requirements, Keyboard layouts, Locales.

I was just involved in an interesting forum discussion about Dutch keyboards and Dutch user expectations in various applications. It started out with a developer wondering why, when he pressed the NumPad comma key on his Dutch keyboard (running in a Dutch locale), a period was displayed instead of the expected comma.

Since Michael Kaplan had posted about Dutch keyboard layouts and the expectations of Dutch users fairly recently, I was able to suggest a probable answer fairly easily:

The default Dutch keyboard installed by Windows is in fact not a Dutch keyboard, it is a United States-International keyboard – and this is actually what most Dutch users have come to expect, even though they may not realize it.

The forum discussion revealed another layer of the onion with respect to Dutch user expectations for keyboard behavior, however:

It turns out that certain number-intensive applications such as Excel and OpenOffice Calc produce a comma when the Numpad “decimal separator key” (the key with a period or a comma, depending on the physical keyboard) is pressed, even when users are using the US-International keyboard layout. In Microsoft Word, or Notepad, the same key, using the same keyboard layout, will produce a period.

Now I for one would find that confusing, but it seems to be the behavior that Dutch users have come to expect – a comma in certain applications, a period in all other applications.

This is something that I would definitely not have been aware of as a requirement for Dutch support until now.



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