The project was launched at the end of 2015 on a proposal from the Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France (Ministry of Culture), based on the observation that the current "azerty" keyboards constrain the writing of French, regional languages and European languages with a Latin alphabet.
For the first time, a standard (NF Z71-300) defines the placement of characters on the French keyboard. It describes two layouts, one of which closely follows the AZERTY keyboard used by most people who write in French. However, it is in many respects superior to the old keyboard :
The new AZERTY layout has been developed using computer algorithms. These are based on the results of the most recent research in the field of text input, on a large amount of French text data (including newspapers, programming code, and Twitter posts), and on large-scale studies of keyboard typing speed.
This web page is intended to serve as a reference for anyone interested in exploring the new AZERTY layout, and to learn more about the methods behind its design.
|Fixed characters(?)Unaccented letters and numbers have not been moved.|
|Diacritics(?)A diacritical sign is a sign accompanying a letter or grapheme: accents, umlauts and cedilla are diacritical signs.|
|"Modes(?)"The symbols ¤, μ and Eu, placed in Alt+F, Alt+G and Alt+H, give access to many other characters, respectively (¤) currency symbols, (μ) Greek letters, and (Eu) characters and symbols used in other European languages and dialects.|
Click on a character for details.
Every step in this standardization process was focused on keyboard users, but it is difficult to decide what constitutes a good layout : should we favor speed and ergonomics, or make the characters easy to find? Should it favor "formal" text input, or everyday speech? How useful should it be to IT engineers, or to social media users? Juggling all these criteria and constraints is very difficult if you do it by hand.
The design of the new AZERTY layout was therefore supported by advanced algorithmic methods. We developed an optimization process that was used by the experts of the AFNOR standardization committee to design a keyboard layout that can be useful for everyone. The resulting layout is illustrated above. Clicking on a character brings up elements of the rationale behind its position, which takes into account the quantitative and qualitative criteria that presided over the design of the new AZERTY layout.
You can learn more about the methods and algorithms we used to develop the new AZERTY layout in our research articles :
The purpose of this section is to reference the efforts of organizations or individuals to make the "Azerty Amélioré" layout usable and testable. The researchers involved and the managers of this web page will not derive any material benefit from the dissemination or use of this content. If you would like your sticker template or keyboard driver to be referenced, please feel free to contact us.
|Characters and symbols in direct access, or using the Shift and AltGr modifiers||The "Currency mode" can be accessed by first pressing ¤ (AltGr+F)||The "Greek letter mode" can be accessed by first pressing μ (AltGr+G) (incomplete picture)||The "European character mode" can be accessed by first pressing Eu (AltGr+H)|
Näppäimistö uusiksi - algoritmi teki ranskan kirjoittamisesta helpompaa , Aalto University press release
Press articles available soon
The code and data used to iteratively optimize the new layout, in a back-and-forth process with the AFNOR expert committee: github.com/annafeit/norme-azerty.