It appears that this site has been registered since 2006, but I’m not sure how long gate2home has been in its current incarnation, which quite honestly, kicks ass. This site is an onscreen, virtual keyboard that allows you to type with the characters you need in your language and then paste them in to whatever text program you need. And while it may initially look like it’s one of those hunt and peck things that you can use in other systems, it’s not. You can actually type from your computer keyboard and it maps the characters accordingly. The fellow who created it did so out of personal need, which is where I find a great deal of the best projects come from.
The reason that this caught my attention was the fact that when you open up the initial dropdown to choose your language, right there, bam, at the top is Akan. But, the African languages don’t just stop there. There is also Bambara, Bemba, Fulfulde, Ga, Hausa, seSotho, Lingala, Yoruba, and a wonderful slew of others. And naturally there are a lot of other language beyond the African ones, such as the developer’s original Hebrew.
Having dealt with installing keyboard language packs and dealing with all the issues around the fact that American operating system manufacturers don’t really care about languages in general, this is a godsend. Obviously, I probably wouldn’t use it on an incredibly long-term basis (language pack, you are there for me on that for now…) but for short things, or maybe even decently long ones, this is really, really cool.
For anyone who writes and speaks in a language with characters beyond the extended Latin set, I really recommend checking this out and see how well it works for you. Or just keep it in mind if you, like the developer find yourself in an internet cafe trying to use the local keyboards. I’m still traumatized by the Belgian French layout.
The Gate2Home Virtual Keyboard: Awesome in Typing Form