A Guide to Using Myanmar Unicode

Keyman / KMFL-SCIM

Tavultesoft Keyman on Windows and the related KMFL module for SCIM on Linux provide good support for Myanmar Unicode. I've now developed an Open Source alternative for Windows called Ekaya, which is based on KMFL. Tavultesoft Keyman was until recently free for personal use. You need to pay to compile keyboards, but the keyboards here have been already compiled. KMFL can use the same Keyboard Source files as Keyman, but it is covered by a GPL license. KMFL is a module for SCIM, the Smart Common Input Method framework on Linux. You can download KMFL source and binaries from Source Forge.

A few Myanmar Unicode keyboard layouts are now available for Keyman. myWin (loosely based on the traditional layout used by WinMyanmar fonts) supports Unicode 5.1. Myanmar NLP has also developed one for the Myanmar3 font, but it should be compatible with Padauk and other fonts compliant to Unicode 5.1.

The Unicode layouts do not exactly match the old layouts because all the old fonts relied on complicated Alt and Ctrl key code combinations to get the different glyph combinations. With a smart input method this is no longer needed so all the Myanmar characters can be typed using only the normal keyboard keys + Shift combinations.


Ekaya Setup (Windows)

Run the Ekaya installer and make sure that you have the language bar enabled under Control Panel / Regional and Language Options.

Keyman Setup (commercial alternative on Windows)

Run the Keyman installer my-Win installer and choose which version of Keyman you want. If you are a home user, the Home Use edition is free and perfectly adequate for your needs. Other users will need to purchase a license from Tavultesoft. If you already have Keyman installed, then you can just download the .kmx files and double click on them to install them. You can switch keyboards by clicking on the Keyman icon in the task tray. You may need to enable support for an “Unknown Language” in the Keyman Options dialog.

KMFL Setup (Linux)

Download the appropriate RPMs or Debian packages for your Linux distribution from kmfl.sourceforge.net or build from source.

Download an appropriate .kmn file from keyboard downloads and create a kmfl directory either as ~/.scim/kmfl (current user only) or /usr/share/scim/kmfl (system wide) and then copy the *.kmn files and the icons directory into this directory.

In most GTK applications you can select SCIM as the input method by right clicking and choosing Input Methods->SCIM Input Method.

The default SCIM and SCIM-Bridge Input Modules work well in GTK applications. You can select these from the Input Methods item on the right click menu in most GTK applications. However, in OpenOffice, you may need to set some variables to get KMFL to work correctly. You can test this by closing OpenOffice and then running the following from the terminal:

If this allows you to use KMFL correctly, then on Ubuntu systems you can add the following lines to /etc/openoffice/soffice.sh:
export GTK_IM_MODULE=xim

Firefox also needs the GTK_IM_MODULE to be set to xim rather than scim or scim-bridge. This can be done at the top of the firefox shell script /usr/lib/firefox-3.0.10/firefox.sh (version number may vary).

If you are using a my_MM.UTF-8 locale then this may also cause problems for SCIM. Try adding the line export LANG=en_US.UTF-8 in the soffice.sh and firefox.sh scripts.

If you built from source code then you will probably need to add LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib as well. For more details see KMFLInstallationInstructions.sxw.