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updated 2016-04-22
Special thanks: Rudolf Schinz

aTypeTrainer4 Mac - User's Guide



CONTENTS



1. General Description

2. Detailed Description
2.1 Basics
2.1.1 How to Change the Keyboard Layout
2.1.2 Train-mode
2.1.3 Select-mode
2.1.4 Typing Texts
2.2 Main Menu Options
2.2.1 aTypeTrainer4Mac
2.2.2 Mode
2.2.3 Level
2.2.4 Text
2.2.5 Metronome
2.2.6 Sound
2.2.7 Window
2.2.8 View
2.2.9 Contact
2.2.10 Donate!
2.2.11 Help
2.3 Preferences Panel Tabs
2.3.1 General
2.3.2 Animation
2.3.3 Level
2.3.4 Font
2.3.5 Color
2.3.6 Sound
2.3.7 Lock
2.4 Statistics in the Run Log
3. Suggestions for Usage
3.1 General HOW TO
3.2 Special HOW TO for Teachers
4. History of the Project

5. Conclusion

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1. General Description




aTypeTrainer4Mac is a free multilingual typing tutor for Mac OS X. It is an advanced version of the TypeTrainer4Mac. All the system keyboard layouts (but not input methods!) as well as a wide variety of non-system keyboard layouts (i.e. Dvorak, Colemak or custom layouts being built using Ukelele) are completely or partially supported.

You have to type a mixed-string of random characters. You can customize a character set at each of the 30 levels, and thus, you can control the learning process. You can also import texts from TextEdit, Mail or Safari. Each session provides a run log in RTFD-format. By default, you will find it on your desktop in a file named aTypeTrainer4Mac_Run_Log.rtfd. The run log is generated at the end of each session. It is suited for printing as well as for a close inspection. In the Preferences, you can adjust a host of settings to make your typing exercises to your liking.

aTypeTrainer4Mac is a donationware. I would greatly appreciate any donations you might freely choose. If you want to make a donation, click the button


and follow instructions. I consider PayPal to be secure and easy to use. But, if you prefer some other way to make a donation,

The downloaded and unpacked application is ready to use. To uninstall the application, you should delete the file aTypeTrainer4Mac.app, the folder ~/Library/Application Support/aTypeTrainer4Mac, the folder ~/Library/Caches/aTypeTrainer4Mac and the file com.ValentinVassilevski.aTypeTrainer4Mac.plist, which can be found in the ~/Library/Preferences folder.

System requirements:
  • Mac OS X 10.4 or newer
  • Apple keyboard (Keyboards of other types may not be fully functional)
  • aTypeTrainer4Mac is not compatible with Jack server and WindowShade X
    (If you want aTypeTrainer4Mac to work properly, you should deactivate these applications when running aTypeTrainer4Mac)
Copyrights:
  • Icon © Bjørn Friese

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2. Detailed Description


2.1 Basics


2.1.1 How to Change the Keyboard Layout



Before launching aTypeTrainer4Mac, you should choose an appropriate keyboard layout as you usually do using TextEdit or other applications. Of course, you can change the layout also after launch, but in this case you must confirm the change.


Normally, you choose a keyboard layout using a shortcut or Inpu Menu in menubar.


To be able to choose a layout from Inpu Menu, you have to add some keyboard layouts previously. To add a layout, you should open Keyboard Panel in System Preferences.


Choose Input Source Tab then.


In the tab menu, be sure to check the box "Show Input menu in menu bar". Now, you can add any additional layouts you need.


You can enter Input Source Tab using a toolbar icon as well.


Using a toolbar icon, you can receive some more help from the web, how to add and change layouts.


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2.1.2 Train-mode



After launching the application, you automatically enter Train-mode with mixed-string exercises. Another available mode is Select-mode (see 2.1.3). You can switch between the two modes by clicking Select/Train Button or by using Mode Menu in the menu bar.


Topmost in the window, you can see
  • the name of the chosen layout followed by its ID number and the corresponding script in brackets when typing a mixed-string exercise or being in Select-mode
  • the file name when typing a text
  • the subject of the message when typing an E-mail content
  • the title of the web page when typing a web content

Underneath the window title, you see a toolbar with icons of TextEdit, Mail and Safari. An icon is dimmed when the corresponding application is inactive. Clicking an active icon imports a text into aTypeTrainer4Mac (see 2.1.4). You can show, hide and customize the toolbar using Show/Hide Menu of the menu bar.

Underneath the window, there is a drawer with a virtual keyboard and digits from 1 to 5, which correspond to the fingers from the thumb to the little finger. If a digit is small, the appropriate finger should be positioned above the key without pressing it. The two indexes (2 and 2, both digits green underlined in the virtual keyboard) are placed above the only keys with a little bump on their surfaces. If the digit is large and bold, the corresponding finger should press the key to type the next character. When a key is pressed, a bold black dot appears on the key of the virtual keyboard. The typed signs show up in both an input string and a run log. If alternate keys are used instead of those "recommended" by aTypeTrainer4Mac (i.e. caps lock key instead of shift key, numeric pad keys instead of number keys and numerous other alternatives in various keyboard layouts), the typed signs are underlined. The virtual keyboard in Train-mode is suited for visual orientation. The number pad is not represented in the virtual keyboard. For advanced training, you can close the drawer by clicking Drawer Button.

The virtual keyboard uses an alternate fingering for the number row that is taught in some countries. With this fingering, the right hand index finger only reaches to the number 7 key. Traditional touch type fingering has the right hand index finger stretching all the way to the number 6 key. The application may be used with the traditional number row fingering but the virtual keyboard shows only the alternate number row fingering.

The next character to be typed is placed between two sliders. Correctly typed characters appear in black on a gray background. Wrongly typed characters appear in white on a gray background.


At the end of each line of type (string), the text ends, and you can review your typing speed (characters per minute / words per minute) on that string by looking in the left bottom of the pane. aTypeTrainer4Mac starts the typing speed calculation when typing the first character in the string. To continue, simply press the Space bar (the default string terminator) and a new string of text will appear for you to type.

The application has a built-in unit which registers typing errors. When typing a mixed-string, each wrongly typed character has to be typed three times more. Typing errors will affect the next mixed-string. When typing an imported text, each wrongly typed word has to be typed three times more after the text is finished.


The pop-up menu in the left bottom corner of the main window manages the typing priority:


  • Option Quantity allows you to go on typing even if you made a typing error.
  • Option Quality requires you to retype a wrongly typed character before going on with the typing exercise (default).
  • Option Accuracy requires you to use the Backspace key before retyping a wrongly typed character.


To learn to type rhythmically and to increase your typing speed, you can use the built-in metronome. After the first launching, it is set to 60 BPM (beats per minute). You can adjust the frequency or set the metronome off using the pop-up menu in the right top corner of the window.


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2.1.3 Select-mode




Select-mode has another virtual keyboard. All character keys are divided into two parts. The upper part corresponds to the upper case letters (shift+key), the lower part to the lower case letters. Selected keys are brightly displayed, deselected ones are dimmed. Just click the appropriate characters in the diagram or on your keyboard to select/deselect them. To select/deselect all the keys, either you go to Level in the menu bar and click Select/Deselect All Keys or enter Cmd-A on your keyboard.


Mixed-string exercises are built in a chain of 30 levels. Clicking the pop-up menu in the left top corner of the window you can see the current levels scheme.


According to the Switching rule being set in Preferences/Level, you will be automatically led from level to level during typing. You can navigate between levels either clicking them in the pop-up menu or using options of Level Menu in the menu bar or using the corresponding short cuts. Furthermore, in Select-mode you can customize and save the levels scheme (for details see 2.2.3).

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2.1.4 Typing Texts



Aside from doing mixed-string exercises, you can import text files into aTypeTrainer4Mac. You have a number of possibilities depending on the kind of the corresponding file:

TextEdit Format RTF
  • Drag-and-drop the RTF file onto the middle area of the window when in Select-mode.
  • Drag-and-drop the RTF file onto the aTypeTrainer4Mac dock icon (Thus, you can avoid starting a mixed-string exercise after launching the application and start training with the text right away).
  • Go to Text in the menu bar, click Import a Text File... or Import Recent, and select a text file.
  • Open the RTF file with TextEdit, go to Text in the menu bar and click Import from TextEdit.
  • Open the RTF file with TextEdit and click the icon TextEdit in the toolbar..
TextEdit other than RTF
  • Open a file with TextEdit, go to Text in the menu bar and click Import from TextEdit.
  • Open a file with TextEdit and click the icon TextEdit in the toolbar.
Mail
  • Select a mail message in any postbox window, go to Text in the menu bar and click Import from Mail.
  • Select a mail message in any postbox window and click the icon Mail in the toolbar.
Safari
  • Open a web page in Safari, go to Text in the menu bar and click Import from Safari.
  • Open a web page in Safari and click the icon Safari in the toolbar.


When importing RTF files through drag-and-drop or through Import a Text File... and Import Recent in menu bar, you can open the source text window in aTypeTrainer4Mac by clicking the Show source text button, whereas the source text window opens automatically in the other cases (see 2.1.4).


You can hide the source text again by clicking Hide source text button.

You can change the actual input point by double clicking the desired word in the source text window of aTypeTrainer4Mac,


and then confirm your selection by clicking Apply selection button.


To find a desired point in the source text, you can do a search by using Find in the Text etc. located under Text in the menu bar (for details see 2.2.4).

A text file may contain characters to be typed using option key (Alt-key), but such characters cannot be trained in mixed-string exercises. As far as I know, there is no common standard about what finger should be used to press the option key. Therefore, an X will show up on the virtual option key and it is up to you which finger you want to use.


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2.2 Main Menu Options


2.2.1 aTypeTrainer4Mac




  • About aTypeTrainer4Mac shows the about-window.
  • Check for Updates... loads the Download page from the web.
  • Preferences... shows the Preferences Panel (see 2.3 for details).

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2.2.2 Mode




  • Use Train/Select options to switch between modes.
  • Use Open Pop-Up Typing Priority Menu when the function in the main window is blocked by Teacher lock (see 2.3.1).

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2.2.3 Level




  • Using the first five options (Next Level, Previous Level, First Level, Last Level and Set Level OFF) or the corresponding short cuts you can navigate between levels both in Train- and Select-mode.
  • Use Open Pop-Up Level Menu when the function in the main window is blocked by Teacher lock (see 2.3.1).
  • Open Level in Preferences is an additional link to the Preferences Panel (see 2.3).
  • Last six options of this section (Select/Deselect All Keys, Copy Current Selection, Paste to Current Level, Save Current Levels as..., Import Levels from..., Restore Default Levels) are available in the Select-mode only (see 2.1.3). As you launch the application, there is a default levels scheme (a sequence of the consecutive character sets) already installed. But, the default levels scheme is not fixed as the only possible. Using these six options you can easily customize the levels, selecting or deselecting desired characters on each of them, copying a selection from one level and pasting it to another one etc. You can additionally save the current levels scheme in a .levels file and load a levels scheme from a .levels file. So you can build a library of levels schemes according to your purposes.


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2.2.4 Text




  • Using Import a Text File... and Import Recent you can import a text file in RTF format to train with.
  • Using Import from TextEdit you can import a text file in any format which TextEdit can open (see 2.1.4).
  • Using the fourth option Import from Mail you can import a selected message (see 2.1.4).
  • Using Import from Safari you can import the content of a web page (see 2.1.4).
  • Show/Hide Source Text shows or hides the previously imported text in the source text window of aTypeTrainer4Mac.
  • The last five options (Find in the Text..., Find Next, Find Previous, Copy from Text View, Paste to Find Panel) are active when the source text window is open. Using them, you can find a desired fragment of the text. To begin retyping from the found position, you should click the Apply your selection button underneath the source text view.

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2.2.5 Metronome




  • Using the first three options (Set Slower, Set Faster, Set OFF) you can adjust the built-in metronome.
  • Use Open Pop-Up Menu when the function Metronome is blocked in the main window by "Teacher lock" (see 2.3.1).

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2.2.6 Sound



  • When you want to listen to music while you are training (iTunes etc.), you should turn off local sounds using Set Local Sound Off option or the function key F5.
  • Open Sound in Preferences is an additional link to the Preferences Panel (see 2.3).

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2.2.7 Window




  • Using Hide Active Window/Panel you can hide the window of aTypeTrainer4Mac or of its Preferences Panel.
  • Using Show Application Window you can show the window of aTypeTrainer4Mac again.
  • Using Minimize Application Window you can minimize the main window to the dock.
  • Using Set Background On/Off you can manage the shielding of the screen background. You can achieve the same effect using the corresponding short cut or the green button at the left top corner of the main window.

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2.2.8 View




  • Use Show/Hide Toolbar and Customize Toolbar to manage the toolbar of the main window.
  • Use Show/Hide Drawer when the function of the +Drawer/-Drawer button in the main window is blocked by "Teacher lock" (see 2.3.1).
  • Use Show/Hide Keyboard Viewer to open or close Apple's Keyboard Viewer.

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2.2.9 Contact




  • Using the four options (Feedback..., Bug Report..., Question..., Suggestion...) you can send a message with the corresponding subject to the developer.

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2.2.10 Donate!




If you want to make a donation, use this tab.

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2.2.11 Help




These options provide some help.

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2.3 Preferences Panel Tabs



You can use a wide variety of settings to make your training as comfortable and individual as possible. When you click aTypeTrainer4Mac in the menu bar and then Preferences..., a panel opens with seven tabs.

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2.3.1 General




On the screenshot, you can see the following options in the first tab with marked default values:
  • Using Restore all defaults button, you can reset previously performed customization.
  • Using Reset statistics summary button, you can reset the statistics summary, which should be output at the end of the run log in form of tables and graphs.
  • Option Repeat the text (RTF file): Once means that the typed text will automatically be followed by a repeat of wrongly typed words, which trains typing errors, and then with a mixed-string exercise. The selected keys in this exercise will correspond to the character set of the last typed text. If you set the value to In loop, an imported text will begin again after having been typed to the end.
  • Option Close the Drawer when typing correctly: As already mentioned above, the application has a built-in unit which registers typing errors. When typing correctly with opened drawer and the option is set to YES, the drawer will be automatically closed at the end of the string.
  • Option Open the Drawer after a double mistake: When making double mistake typing with closed drawer, the drawer will be automatically opened.
  • Option Set Screen Background: To better concentrate on typing, you can shield the background using this option (see also 2.2.7).
  • Option "Un-smart" quotes and apostrophes:It straightens curved quotes and apostrophes.
  • Option Create a run log: Two run logs of the training session can be created on your desktop or any other place you choose to save it to. The name is aTypeTrainer4Mac_Run_Log or any other name you choose in the saving dialog. The default run log RTFD has the extension rtfd and will be generated at the end of each session. It should be suitable to be printed and analyzed. In this run log, you can see all typed strings with marked errors and typing speed as well as some other relevant information. The run log HTML has the extension html and should be suitable especially for teachers to follow a typing process of the pupils/students in real time. This run log will refresh every second and its strings will be arranged in reverse order. The teacher can open all the HTML run logs of the pupils/students simultaneously on his/her Mac and so have a complete live overview.
  • Option Save Log as...: The run logs are displayed on your desktop (default). You can customize the name of the run logs. Both logs will have the same name, but the HTML run log will show the extension html. Giving a pupil's/student's name or computer's number as the file name, you make it easy to identify the corresponding run logs.
  • Option String Terminator: After having finished typing a mixed-string or a text-string you have to terminate the string to start a new exercise. You have three options to do so namely, the Space character (default), the Return key and the Tabulator character. However, within a text-string return key and tabulator character are automatically replaced by a space character.

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2.3.2 Animation




When typing, the strings follow each other animated. Text strings can be scrolled Vertically or Horizontally (the last option is not available for right to left languages). A mixed-string can be scrolled only vertically: instead of vertical Scrolling, you can choose Immediately for immediate replacement of the strings.

For horizontal scrolling, you can vary the length between typing pauses from 1x to 5x. The typing pauses in the text string are marked with cyan color. The longer intervals between typing pauses reduce typing interruptions and therefore allow to achieve higher typing speed.

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2.3.3 Level




Using the Switching rule you can manage the level switching. By default, you must type at least five strings and you may not make more than one mistake in each of the last three typed strings to achieve the following level. Should you not be able to pass a level (excluded the first and the last one) after having typed ten strings, you will be relegated to the previous level.

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2.3.4 Font




Training texts (but not mixed strings) files, you can use any font available on your Mac and, if you disable the default setting Fit the font size to the view size, you can use a smaller font size. However, typing a mixed-string exercise, you can select one of the two available options. The changes take effect in the next mixed-string or in the next text.

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2.3.5 Color




You can vary the color of the main window as well as both the color and the opacity of the background in full screen mode.

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2.3.6 Sound




This tab is devoted to sound tuning. There are eight pop-up menus named according to the correspondent events in aTypeTrainer4Mac. Within each pop-up menu, you can choose various sounds or assign/reassign downloaded or recorded sounds.

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2.3.7 Lock




Using lock, you can block the main window interface. This option is suited for teachers (see 3.2).

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2.4 Statistics in the Run Log



The run log in RTFD-format is divided into two parts. The first part is devoted to the last session. The second part provides an overview over not-less-than-five-minutes sessions.

In the first part, you will find all the typed strings prefaced with a string number and average speed values in CPM/WPM and gathered in contextual groups. Each group, as well as the session as a whole, is followed by the values of
  • totally typed characters (number) ttc
  • wrongly typed characters (number and percentage) wtc
  • typing duration excluded all the pauses between strings
  • average speed in characters per minute (CPM)
  • average speed in words per minute (WPM)
  • effective speed in characters per minute (CPM)
  • effective speed in words per minute (WPM)
where effective speed = average speed * (ttc - wtc) / ttc


The first part of the run log ends with up to four figures of the keyboard illustrating the accuracy of using the trained keys.




The second part of the run log begins with a statistics summary table with reversed ordered strings.


The run log ends with graphs demonstrating the evolution of the average and effective typing speeds.



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3. Suggestions for Usage


3.1 General HOW TO



As you start using aTypeTrainer4Mac, there are 8 keys selected in the middle row of the keyboard and the level number is set to 4. Try to practice this first up to level 16. Probably, you need to customize the default levels scheme according to your needs (see 2.1.3). Thus, you can soon make yourself familiar with the most frequently used keys. Then, you may start with some texts (see 2.1.4).

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3.2 Special HOW TO for Teachers



Managing a couple of Macs simultaneously is not really more difficult than one only. You can make all the settings on your Mac and then simply copy the Preferences file com.ValentinVassilevski.aTypeTrainer4Mac.plist, which can be found in the in the ~/Library/Preferences folder, to the corresponding folders in the pupils'/students' Macs.

As a teacher, you can take a special advantage of using a run log in HTML format. Open the HTML run logs of the pupils/students in Safari or other browser on your Mac and you will be able to follow all of them simultaneously and live using Expose function (F10) of the Mac OS X.


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4. History of the Project



TypeTrainer4Mac project was started in June 2004 as Carbon application for Mac OS X 10.3. The homepage was created on 2004-08-14, the version 1.0 was announced on the www.macware.ru and had supported Russian, German and Swiss-German keyboard layouts. The version 1.2 was announced on www.versiontracker.com on 2004-08-28 and had supported six keyboard layouts: Russian, Swiss-German, German, American "QWERTY", American "Dvorak" and French. Swiss-French layout was added in the version 1.3. The last version of the first generation 1.5 was announced on 2004-09-15.

The second generation began on 2005-03-07 with the version 2.0 as Cocoa application. It was completely new developed, and it has reached on 2007-03-30 the version 2.8.2.

The new project aTypeTrainer4Mac is not very different. It inherits from TypeTrainer4Mac of the second generation.

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5. Conclusion



This application is constantly being modified and may contain features that are not described in this manual.

Thank you for your interest in this project. anytime when you want to suggest improvements or have some questions.

Valentin Vassilevski


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