Dynamic Keyboard review: flexible, excellent for spelling

As I mentioned before, it is difficult to use a standard onscreen keyboard with the touchscreen because of the visual clutter. In order to write with the touchscreen, I needed something that would let me concentrate on the words entirely. For that, I found the Dynamic Keyboard.

The Dynamic Keyboard is a free predictive keyboard modeled after eyegaze communication methods, but can be used with a switch (somewhat) or touchscreen as well as a pointing device. It covers the entire screen, and a message panel at the top displays the words as they automatically transfer to the activated document or text field.

The alphabet is divided into large blocks of 5 or 6 letters, arranged in a semicircle. Blocks for Backspace or Undo and Options round out the bottom. A side column shows your last 4 punctuation marks if you choose. When you choose a block, the letters in that block are distributed around the semicircle. When you choose a letter, word predictions appear. When you choose a word, more words appear, based on grammatical likelihood.

How they appear will depend on the settings, which must be changed via the Preferences option in its Start Menu entry. (There you can also choose the keyboard appearance and your selection mode: click, hover, or switch, along with their respective times.) I set it for “individually clickable regions,” which means that the predictions appear in a list at the center of the circle. There’s a little less movement that way.

A great feature is its automatic punctuation and capitalization, which also reduces movement. There is also an automatic suffix feature, whereby accepting “baby ” and spelling S will backspace and give “babies,” and so on. Experiment.

Both the main and learned dictionaries can be edited, but be aware that the main dictionary is large, even though the core word predictions make it seem smaller. The learned words can be edited by choosing Dictionary Editor from the Start Menu entry. To edit the main dictionary text file, you have to go into Dynamic Keyboard’s entry in Program Files.

Program Files is also where you can paste shortcuts to programs you want to launch. (Launch Mode is under the arrow in the top right corner.) In the Application folder, select File — New — Shortcut and browse for the program you want. Switch Mode lists your open programs, similar to Alt-Tab.

The keyboard does have a scanning mode, but it lacks the functionality of the pointing mode. You can’t access recent punctuation or options; you have to scan through the main Options group every time. Launch and Switch are also unavailable. However, it’s the only other free scanning onscreen keyboard I know of, and if the Click N Type doesn’t suit you, you might have to tinker with it. If you have more than one switch, you could use AutoHotkey to program the extra switches to launch programs.

In all, Dynamic Keyboard is rather good for a touchscreen because of the large target areas and clean layout, and the extra step involved in spelling is no big deal because tapping is a minimal motion. The contextual word prediction makes it borderline excellent for anything.

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