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Pinyinput - Type Pinyin with Tone Marks


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Do you think if I gave an incentive to do it like 500 or 1,000 yuan, would people be more interested in doing it?
Haha, well, if I think about how much I can earn per hour as a programmer, multiplied by the number of hours it would take to complete such a project, then my answer is still no :mrgreen: For comparison, pinyinput (which was a relatively small and simple project), only took about 200 hours including research, design, development and testing. Back then, I also had both the time and the desire to write such a program.
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As opposed to now where you only have the time but not the desire
Well I don't have the time now either (have you noticed how long its been between updates?) :mrgreen:
I hadn't imagined it would take that long
Haha, well then you'd be like most people (programmers included) when they estimate how long it takes to write a piece of software. Actually, if you only talk about actual coding time for Pinyinput, then it would have been about half that. The 200 hours also includes time hunting around for, and reading the appropriate API documentation, time spent making little test programs to get a better understanding of APIs (which are poorly documented), time spent in Photoshop making the icons etc etc. It's the little things like these that people's brains tend to gloss over when doing estimates that together all add up to a significant amount of time.

I'm sure there was stuff on telly, but not having an easy and consistent way to type pinyin was something that had been bugging me for ages - not that I even write in Pinyin much at all, but it's just for those few occasions, it really bugged me to have to open up a web browser, or some other program just to get the tones.

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Hi imrom and Roddy:

I just joined this forum a few days ago. I came to it through a Google search on "Structure of Chinese Characters" and have been fascinated with many of the postings. I read all the threads to Pinyinput IME today. Thank you, Roddy, for starting the forum -- and, imron, for being Admin and for writing Pinyinput. I used to do a lot of bilingual word processing before the onset of Unicode, which wiped out all my old "double byte" Chinese word processing systems. I am gingerly getting back into it, under Unicode. I know several Chinese transliteration systems. I also know MS Office Suite very well (including the underlying VBA) and will want to try your Pinyinput soon, imron. I'm primarily a math/science editor and applications programmer (among other things). I try to stay away from the API's and IME's as much as possible, but for Pinyinput, I might just cross the line, imron. Wish me luck -- my laptop runs on Windows XP and I don't have a lot of free space left on my hard drive.

By the way, what's the difference between "Unicode", "Unicode endian", and "UFT-8"? Where can I find out?

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my laptop runs on Windows XP and I don't have a lot of free space left on my hard drive.

Not to worry, Pinyinput is quite small, and takes up next to no room on your hard disk (~160kb) :mrgreen:

Regarding Unicode and the different encoding schemes, endianess and other things, here is a good place to start.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...
By using Unicode's combining diacritic marks, it even supports tone marks over consonants, s̄ò ȳǒù c̀áň w̌řītě āll s̀ōřts̄ ōf čŕāžy̌ s̄tǔff lǐǩě thǐs

A mǒǒse once bit my sister.

OK, I know it's not the "O" with the slash through it, but I'd thought I have a bit of fun with some subtitles from a Monty Python movie... :wink:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Any inclinations towards open-sourcing, community-sourcing, or allowing other forum members to get involved in the development of Pinyinput?

I've only been using it for an hour or two, and so far I see two really annoying problems that I may be qualified to help fix, if I could look at the source code:

  1. Letters with tones are rendered in SimSun while surrounding text is kept in the original font in Word 2007.
  2. "Esc" key does not cancel the text input, but adds a control character.
  3. Random dropouts, where I get broken out of the Pinyinput panel and can't get back without switching keyboards and then back.
  4. To go along with #3, Spacebar should commit the current word, rather than waiting for an Enter. Because I've only been using it for two hours, and haven't developed the habit of hitting Enter yet, the random dropouts have caused a fair amount of retyping.

At least #1 is a longstanding known problem (all the way back on p. 3 of this thread). I appreciate that Imron doesn't have the time to work on the program much now. I also understand Pinyinput accepts donations, but likely it's not enough to compensate Imron for the time spent on the project.

It seems to me that bug-fixing is exactly where the open-source model shines (vs. coming up with a completely new idea).

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Any inclinations towards open-sourcing, community-sourcing, or allowing other forum members to get involved in the development of Pinyinput?
I have considered it, and have previously provided the source code to a couple of people interested in looking at it. I'm not interested in open sourcing it though unless I know that there will be someone to work on it. If you're interested in discussing it further, feel free to drop me an email. The code is all fairly standard C++ (compiled under VC++ 6)

Regarding the bugs you raised, number 1 is a problem with Word trying to be clever and automatically changing the font based on the language classification of the input method. The only way I can see to fix it would be to not classify Pinyinput as a Chinese input method, but as an English one. There are other problems associated with that though.

2) is a legitimate bug I hadn't noticed before.

3) Strange, I've never seen any problem like this. What OS are you using? and under what circumstances does it occur?

Number 4 is also a long-standing issue (there are a couple of posts on it earlier on in the thread), but this was a design decision. Initially during development I used the space bar, however found it annoying because when typing long sentences you end up needing to double press the space bar every word (once to accept input, and once to add the next space). Of course you could make it automatically put in a space, but then you run into issues when you don't want a space (i.e. when you want to put in some sort of punctuation). In the end, using enter was the simple (although slightly non-standard) way to solve the problem. It probably wouldn't be too hard to modify this though, or to have an option for the user to choose.

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I will send you email about working on the code. Just to get my thoughts out there, in case others have run into the same issues, or would like to comment on them too.

On #1: I'm sure there must be a way to get around Word using the language to set the font. The MSPinyin IME soft keyboard doesn't do it, for example, on Pinyin tones. Even when you click instead of type (which means the IME has to insert).

On #3: The random dropouts from IME mode occured on Word 2007 on Vista SP1 32-bit, and I have not discovered a clear repro yet. My first suspicion would be a timing issue -- I type rather rapidly, and I encountered this problem several times as I was transcribing Pinyin from a hand-annotated printout.

On #4: I wouldn't mind pressing backspace once in a while. The important thing is that allowing space to commit would reduce data loss from problem #3. And, as a Tablet PC user, I'm quite tolerant of computer mistakes in alternative input. :-)

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The MSPinyin IME soft keyboard doesn't do it, for example, on Pinyin tones
Are you sure? I can't test on Word 2007, but on Word 2003, when using the soft keyboard of MS Pinyin 2003, or the soft keyboard of the Google IME, it's still converting the font to 宋体 (just tested it now) when typing characters with tonemarks.

On 3, it might be a Vista issue. I've had a couple of people remark that Pinyinput was causing issues under Vista.

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Oops, you're right, the soft keyboard still kicks it into SimSun. I must've had in mind another bug, which is that Pinyinput sometimes produces double-width accented vowels in non-checked mode. (I think it might be a Word 2007 compatibility thing with the old DOC file format, in which case I'm inclined to "Won't Fix" as a "This will go away as more people starting using DOCX.")

Looking forward to getting these bugs into a real issue tracker on Sourceforge soon. :-)

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Hello imron,

Yes, pinyinput is the tool I had been waiting for!

Congratulations for this nice piece of work!

Let me report a small bug: Pinyinput seem to have an English-leaning prejudice. When I start input with Pinyinput, I find that the "US English" input gets installed automatically (appears in the language bar). I have no need for it. It only complicates my toggling between Spanish (language of my system) and Chinese. Do you think you can do something about it?


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Actually, I tried hard to make sure Pinyinput doesn't have an English leaning prejudice, hence the reason it supports multiple keyboard layouts to accommodate users from different countries. So it's fair to say that this is a bug and definitely not by design - otherwise, I would have made it come up with Australian English instead :mrgreen: I will look into the problem.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Imron,

Finally, i've found the piece of software that was missing on my system.

I'm very glad to know that people like you, are willing to make these kind of programs.

And i've to say, it works perfect.

Many, many thanks :wink:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dear Imron,

I've installed your pinyinup program on my Windows XP environment, but but since the installation i've got two problems:

1. When I start Word 2003 I get these grey corners on every page and I can't seem to remove it. I even installed Word 2007, but nothing works. I've never had that before.

2. The program, pinyinput, doesn't seem to work, or I can't make it work. If I go to Word and try to chance the language I can't seem to find anything that is similar to pinyin.

I truly appreciate your time and effort.

Thank you in advance.


The Netherlands

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