Google Releases Virtual Keyboard AJAX API

Google has just released a new Virtual Keyboard API as part of its AJAX Language API that should enrich sites that use forms to collect information from multi-lingual users. This new API (our Google Virtual Keyboard API profile) allows users to input text into form fields in a variety of languages (and corresponding characters) without the need for a physical keyboard or specialized software.

Virtual Keyboard

Loading the Virtual Keyboard requires just a few lines of JavaScript code, and Google has included 5 language layouts in the initial release (support for additional languages will be rolled out in the near future):

  • Arabic (العربية)
  • Hindi (हिन्दी)
  • Polish (Polski)
  • Russian (Русский)
  • Thai (ไทย)

The Google AJAX APIs Blog summarizes the rationale behind the release of this new API:

It is often difficult for Internet users to input text in many non-Latin script-based languages for a variety of reasons. The correct keyboard layout may not be installed on the computer they're using - sometimes such a layout may not be well developed or widely available. This poses a challenging problem for web developers because there is no way they can ensure that their users have access to this very basic input technology.

In addition to class reference documentation, Google has made samples of the new API available in the Code Playground. Despite its simplicity, this new API is sure to prove quite valuable for a variety of sites already implementing the Google AJAX Language API as well as other sites that serve an international audience.

Be sure to read the next Language article: Microsoft's Translator and API Now Support Haitian Relief Efforts by Translating Creole