Yolngu font doesn't work in Elan

Hi there,

I have a query about using Keyman Yolngu font in the Max Planck Institute’s transcription software, Elan. The font works fine in other programs, but in Elan the keys just type as a normal keyboard (eg. backslash and square brackets etc instead of the special characters). I have an older version of Keyman Yolngu font on another computer, and this works fine. This older Keyman keyboard is called Yolngu-J and used a semi-colon, ;j, to make a tailed n, and similarly for all the letters. It is no longer available anywhere that I can see.

I put a query about the issue on github, and received a response saying that it is a bug in the Java platform, and that is has been documented for Oracle to fix for 3 years now.

On both computers I am using OS10.15.7 Catalina.

Is it possible that the old Yolngu-J keyboard could be reloaded to the website for us to use? This was a much easier keyboard for touch typing (I have used both keyboards extensively, having used A Yolngu NTU years ago which had the same keyboard layout).

I need to use this font in this software frequently for work and study, and I know others who are experiencing this same issue.

Grateful for any assistance you can offer.

With thanks,

I haven’t come across the Yolngu-J keyboard. Do you know who created it? Are you sure it is a Keyman keyboard – could it be a Ukelele keyboard?

I will try and investigate this again more deeply tomorrow, time permitting (I have short days this week), and see if there are other workarounds.

Hi Salome,

I will see if I still have a copy of Yolngu-J keyboard in my private archive. I have noticed recently that many of the Yolngu keyboards that used to be out there are no longer maintained and no longer on the sites that used to be their homes. The versions of Yolngu-J I have seen were not Keyman keyboards. There was a Windows keyboard layout created using MSKLC, and a macOS version created using Ukelele. There may have been a Keyman version before that, but it is not one I have seen.

It is possible to recreate the layout in Keyman (I might have a prototype somewhere on my laptop), but that would not address your issue with Elan.

From memory, the old NTU fonts were 8-bit legacy fonts rather than Unicode and even CDU (originally NTU) discourage the use of the fonts in preference to Unicode solutions. Also typing with the original NTU fonts was fundamentally different to the layout used in Yolngu-J unless someone at some point converted the NTU font to Unicode.


Hi again Salome,

I can confirm that the Yolngu J keyboards are not Keyman based. The macOS version is using the macOS XML keylayout format. It utilises three deadkeys. One for the additional letters needed for Yolngu. The other two are for extra punctuation.

As you indicated the el_yolngu is an update of the Open Road Layout for Yolngu. This layout was design in the early stages of migration from the old NTU font to Unicode. In its first version of follows the NTU fonts precisely allowing an easier migration for users.

There is a more recent version that breaks away the NTU model completely and adds additional characters in an attempt to support a greater range of languages. It is a work in progress.

I do also have a draft version of the Yolngu J layout for Keyman.

With respect to typing in Yolngu in Elan. Using Keyman is dependent on getting the Java bug fixed.

In the meantime if the Yolngu J layout works, then use that for the time being. The macOS version of the layout is no longer available on the website. Although the windows version still is.


@Marc it isn’t a Keyman layout, it is an XML keylayout style keyboard. AuSIL developed both a macOS layout and a MSKLC based layout for Windows tied to the Yoruba language.

AuSIL only have the Windows version of Yolngu-J available now. Either in 2019 or 2020 they removed it from their site and linked to el_dinka for a macOS solution. Not sure why they did that. I’d have to go through the way back machine to see when the change over actually occurred. The keyboard was only the keylayout file, not a bundle or installer, and only way of installing it is by doing what @Salome did, i.e. copying over to a new mac and adding it to the keyboard layout directory.

I do have a prototype Keyman port, I should be able to finalise next week, if there is enough interest. But that will not address @Salome primary issue with Keyman in Elan.

Hi @Andrew_Cunningham @Marc for your prompt and helpful replies.

I will send an email to Oracle (as per Marc’s advice on a github thread), to request a fix of the Java bug.

Andrew, I haven’t actually copied the Yolngu-J keyboard to my other computer - good to hear this is a possible fix to enable Yolngu in Elan. Could you explain in layman’s terms how I would do this?

With thanks.

I will DM you.

But might be easier to just build a bundle installer for you. How urgent is it?

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I’m the developer for Ukelele. I actually use the Yolngu keyboard layout as the basis for one chapter of the tutorial, so I have a working bundle for a version of Yonlngu. Let me know if you want it.

The advantage of the kind of keyboard layout that Ukelele produces is that it isn’t dependent on having Keyman on the computer. However, Keyman does have more capability in certain areas than an XML keyboard layout. It’s a trade-off that you have to evaluate for your particular case.

Hi John,

It would be wonderful to have that bundle. I do not have an understanding of the pros and cons of using a Keyman vs an XML layout, but I have found your keyboard to be excellent for my purposes, so I will just say yes, and give it a try.

Many thanks,


For Yolngu, the keyboard is not very complex – Ukelele is more than up to the task :grin:. Keyman shines when working with complex keyboards such as for many Asian languages, or when you are working on multiple different types of devices.

So we’ll continue to push on the Java compatibility issue because it has not gone away!

Ok, that’s great. I’ll add my voice to the mix of requests to Oracle for the fix.

Hi Salome, I have the Windows version of Yolngu-7, (bruce_waters@sil.org), which I could email to you as a .zip file, if you want to give me your email address. it uses ;j for tailed n, ;a for a dieresis, etc. But it looks like you use a Mac machine, and I’ve not got something for OSX. I’m limited to 2 links in a post, for new users. So I’ll try posting with some spaces, and ‘at’ instead of @ etc.
You might like to try stuart underscore cameron at sil dot org for help - he might have an OSX version; or Margaret Miller at margaret dot jean dot miller at gmail dot com; or Kathy Dadd at Kathy Dadd at gee-mail dot com. I hope you have success. Cheers from friends (Glenys and Bruce) of your mum. --B (does your mum have it?)

Thanks Bruce and Glenys. I know who you are, hello! I was given advice on another thread as to how to copy it across from my other Mac, so all is good. Thank you for your kind offer though. Salome