Having finally gotten wifi working on Ubuntu on my MacBook I wanted to setup input methods for Japanese in Gnome. While doing so, I stumbled upon an IPA input method, which turned out to be quite sexy.
First, make sure you’ve installed SCIM, additional tables for SCIM and of course, the SCIM GTK+2 module. Also, you might want a font that supports all of the Unicode IPA extension, so let’s throw Thryomanes in there too, since it does exactly that.
sudo apt-get install scim scim-tables-additional scim-gtk2-immodule ttf-thryomanes
(The packages can of course be installed with Synaptic or whatever you prefer, as long as you make sure to install ’scim’, ’scim-tables-additional’, ’scim-gtk2-immodule’ and ‘ttf-thryomanes’.)
Open “System > Preferences > SCIM Input Method Setup” and select “IMEngine > Global Setup”. Find “Other > IPA-X-SAMPA” and check it. Hit Apply or OK to save the changes and restart X (hit
Ctrl-Alt-Backspace, which will log you out and restart X) for the changes to take effect.
Then (if you want easy access to the IPA input method) right-click on one of your desktop panels and select “Add to Panel…” from the menu. Find “Keyboard Indicator” and add it. Now you can switch between the input methods simply by clicking the keyboard indicator.
Now, to actually use the super-cool input method, you just open any GTK+2 text editor (eg. “Applications > Accessories > Text Editor”, AbiWord or OpenOffice – actually, most applications that can take text input) and select the IPA method from the keyboard indicator (Other > IPA-X-SAMPA). Your keyboard layout will then change quite a bit and you’ll be able to write IPA easily. When you start typing, you might notice that sometimes a letter is highlighted and a little box is showing below it, that’s SCIM showing you the available IPA characters on that particular key – you can select them by using the up and down arrow keys and hitting space or enter. For instance, to write a schwa, type ‘@’ and hit space.
It’s worth noting, that not all IPA symbols are found exactly where you would expect, but it doesn’t take long to get used to and it’s so convenient – especially because it works in all Gnome applications, which includes your favorite web browser, you mail client etc.