Typing glyphs

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APL uses a large range of special graphic symbols to represent most functions and operators. While keyboard mappings become memorized over time, entering APL characters can frustrate the beginner. However, a study involving high school students found that typing and using APL characters did not hinder the students in any measurable way. There are several convenient ways to enter the glyphs.

How to Set up an APL Keyboard

The in-browser language bar

Web

Adám Brudzewsky's in-browser language bar adds APL keyboard functionality to most web pages on demand.

Text editors

Keyboard layout extensions exist for several popular text editors like VS Code, Emacs and Vim. This can be an alternative, or complementary, to system-wide settings.

Linux

Main article: Typing glyphs on Linux

Most Linux distributions released after mid-2012 have Dyalog keyboard support included with the distribution.

Hacker's Keyboard + APL language

Android

dzaima's Hacker's Keyboard + APL language uses a long-press to access APL glyphs.

Windows

Approaches to Layout and Input

Most of today's APLs use a mapping which derives from the original APL\360 terminals' keyboard layout. For example, Dyalog APL's standard US English layout for is as follows:

┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬─────────┐
│~ ⌺ │! ⌶ │@ ⍫ │# ⍒ │$ ⍋ │% ⌽ │^ ⍉ │& ⊖ │* ⍟ │( ⍱ │) ⍲ │_ ! │+ ⌹ │Backspace│
│` ⋄ │1 ¨ │2 ¯ │3 < │4 ≤ │5 = │6 ≥ │7 > │8 ≠ │9 ∨ │0 ∧ │- × │= ÷ │         │
├────┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬──────┤
│Tab    │Q   │W   │E ⍷ │R   │T ⍨ │Y   │U   │I ⍸ │O ⍥ │P ⍣ │{ ⍞ │} ⍬ │| ⊣   │
│       │q ? │w ⍵ │e ∊ │r ⍴ │t ~ │y ↑ │u ↓ │i ⍳ │o ○ │p * │[ ← │] → │\ ⊢   │
├───────┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴┬───┴──────┤
│Caps    │A   │S   │D   │F   │G   │H   │J ⍤ │K ⌸ │L ⌷ │: ≡ │" ≢ │Enter     │
│Lock    │a ⍺ │s ⌈ │d ⌊ │f _ │g ∇ │h ∆ │j ∘ │k ' │l ⎕ │; ⍎ │' ⍕ │          │
├────────┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──┬─┴──────────┤
│Shift      │Z ⊆ │X   │C   │V   │B   │N   │M   │< ⍪ │> ⍙ │? ⍠ │Shift       │
│           │z ⊂ │x ⊃ │c ∩ │v ∪ │b ⊥ │n ⊤ │m | │, ⍝ │. ⍀ │/ ⌿ │            │
└───────────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────────────┘

Additional charts for other layouts are available.

There are multiple ways to access the glyphs associated with a particular key.

Shifting key

It is quite common to use Ctrl or Alt or AltGr (right-side Alt) as an additional shifting key. For example, AltGr+AltGr+4 would give while AltGr+Shift+4 would give .

  • APLX uses AltGr with an option to also use Alt

Prefix key

A prefix key is a special key or character which is entered immediately before typing the corresponding key.

  • TryAPL and ngn/apl's scripted demo interface support ` as prefix key.
  • The Dyalog Unicode IME and the Dyalog RIDE (Remote Integrated Development Environment) uses ` by default, but allows choosing any key as prefix key.
RIDE keyword lookup

Keyword look-up

  • The Dyalog RIDE (Remote Integrated Development Environment) allows hitting the prefix key (` by default, but configurable) twice, followed by the (beginning of the) name of a symbol or a functionality. It then displays a drop-down of choices with arrow keys to indicate choice and the Tab key to insert the symbol. E.g. `,`,d,i,v,Tab↹ inserts ÷.

ASCII symbol combination

  • Many APL glyphs can be approximated by overlaying or juxtaposing two ASCII characters. ngn/apl's scripted demo interface and Adám Brudzewsky's in-browser language bar allow such a pair of characters and hitting the Tab↹ key to replace them with the corresponding APL character. For example, <,-,Tab↹ will insert and T,o,Tab↹ will insert .
NARS2000 language bar

On-screen language bar

Several APL IDEs allow the display of a toolbar with a button for each APL glyph:

US keyboard with Dyalog APL glyphs

Hardware

A couple of keyboards are being sold with APL symbols pre-printed onto the key caps:


APL development [edit]
Interface SessionTyping glyphs (on Linux) ∙ FontsText editors
Publications IntroductionsLearning resourcesSimple examplesAdvanced examplesMnemonicsStandardsA Dictionary of APLCase studiesDocumentation suitesBooksPapersVideosPeriodicals
Sharing code APLcartAPLTreeAPL-Cation
Vendors APL2000DyalogGNU APL communityIBMIPSASTSC
APL glyphs [edit]
Information GlyphTyping glyphs (on Linux) ∙ UnicodeFontsMnemonics
Individual glyphs Jot () ∙ Right Shoe () ∙ Up Arrow () ∙ Zilde () ∙ High minus (¯) ∙ Dot (.)