BInputServerMethod is a base class for input methods; these are instances of BInputServerMethod that act as an interface between the user and languages using character sets that can't be easily represented on standard keyboards, such as the Japanese input method that comes with BeOS.

Input methods generally handle B_KEY_DOWN messages in their Filter() function (see BInputServerFilter), keeping some sort of state around to translate these standard keyboard messages into new B_KEY_DOWN messages representing another character set. An input method can handle any input event, they're not limited to keyboard events.


Writing an input method is an involved process, even though the BInputServerMethod protocol is relatively simple. If you're working on an input method, please feel free to contact Be Developer Technical Support ( for additional information.

Input Method Events

Input methods insert B_INPUT_METHOD_EVENT messages (using their EnqueueMessage() function) into the Input Server's event stream. These messages let BView subclasses work together with your input method to create a seamless experience for the user.

Each B_INPUT_METHOD_EVENT message contains a be:opcode field (an int32 value) indicating the kind of event:



Indicates that a new input transaction has begun. Add a BMessenger in the be:reply_to field; the receiver of the message will use this messenger to communicate with you during the transaction.


Indicates that the transaction is over.

In between the B_INPUT_METHOD_STARTED and B_INPUT_METHOD_STOPPED messages, you'll send B_INPUT_METHOD_CHANGED and B_INPUT_METHOD_LOCATION_REQUEST messages as the transaction proceeds.

B_INPUT_METHOD_CHANGED does most of the work in an input transaction; add the following important fields:

be:stringB_STRING_TYPEThe text the user is currently entering; the receiver will display it at the current insertion point. BTextView also highlights the text in blue to show that it's part of a transitory transaction.
be:selectionB_INT32_TYPEA pair of B_INT32_TYPE offsets into the be:string if part of be:string is current selected. BTextView highlights this selection in red instead of drawing it in blue.
be:clause_startB_INT32_TYPEZero or more offsets into the be:string for handling languages (such as Japanese) that separate a sentence or phrase into numerous clauses. An equal number of be:clause_start and be:clause_end pairs delimit these clauses; BTextView separates the blue/red highlighting wherever there is a clause boundary.
be:clause_endB_INT32_TYPEZero or more offsets into be:string; there must be as many be:clause_end entries as there are be:clause_start.
be:confirmedB_BOOL_TYPETrue when the user has entered and "confirmed" the current string and wishes to end the transaction. BTextView unhighlights the blue/red text and waits for a B_INPUT_METHOD_STOPPED (to close the transaction) or another B_INPUT_METHOD_CHANGED (to start a new transaction immediately).

B_INPUT_METHOD_LOCATION_REQUEST is the input method's way of asking for the on-screen location of each character in be:string. This information can be used by the input method to pop up additional windows giving the user an opportunity to select characters from a list or anything else that makes sense. When you send a B_INPUT_METHOD_LOCATION_REQUEST, the receiver will reply to the be:reply_to messenger (that you sent in your B_INPUT_METHOD_STARTED message) with a B_INPUT_METHOD_EVENT message, filling in the following fields:

be:location_replyB_POINT_TYPEThe co-ordinates of each character (there should be one be:location_reply for every character in be:string) relative to the display (not your view or your window).
be:height_replyB_FLOAT_TYPEThe height of each character in be:string.


To create a new input method, you must:

At boot time (or whenever the Input Server is restarted; see "Dynamic Loading"), the Input Server loads the add-ons it finds in the input method directories. For each add-on it finds, the Server invokes instantiate_input_method() to get a pointer to the add-on's BInputServerMethod object. After constructing the object, the Server calls InitCheck() to give the add-on a chance to bail out if the constructor failed.

Installing an Input Method

The input server looks for input methods in the "input_server/methods" subdirectories of B_BEOS_ADDONS_DIRECTORY, B_COMMON_ADDONS_DIRECTORY, and B_USER_ADDONS_DIRECTORY.

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