Inscript is the input method devised by C-DAC as a common input method for all the Indic Languages. In this method, simply said, the Indic langauge characters are classified as base characters and derived characters. ie the characters that can be used to derive others are used as the bases and are given a key mapping in the keyboard. eg: the conjunct mpa(മ്പ) is derived as a sequence ma virama pa (മ ് പ). This method is devised to bring all the indic languages under a single Indic platform so that the transliteration between them becomes easier, a common Indic keyboard can be marketed and manufactured, as the same keypositions are used in all Indic languages. We see Arabic keyboards in the Middle East. Similarly, we can have Malayalam Keyboards also in the near future when many people follow this layout and demand for a physical keyboard.
We have to acknowledge that the writing system is a little alien to Malayalam style. The typewriter/roman users will not find it difficult though. Instead of our traditional writing of േ ക ര ള ം, we write ക േ ര ള ം. ie as in the roman style we write the consonant first and then the vowel.
Another thing is that, we just have to “forget” the qwerty keyboard layout, when we use the Inscript layout. We need to think in Malayalam and write Malayalam. So the keys remain as ക േ ര ള ം , instead of k s j N x. ie we are not writing ksjNx to get കേരളം, instead we use ക േ ര ള ം. This is not a difficult task, as many Arabic users are using the BiLingual kayboard over years. There k and ن are mapped at the same place.
The Inscript keyboard for Unicode Malayalam is built-in the Operating System from Microsoft Windows XP ServicePack 2 onwards and in the mainstream Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu 6.1 has a better Malayalam support. More distributions are likely in the near future.
There are Inscript Keyboard layouts for the non-unicode OSes like MS Windows98. There the ISFOC fonts are used to write “Malayalam”. The website http://www.ildc.in provides the resources for Indic language computing.
People often confuse real Malayalam (Unicode Malayalam) with the “hack-font” Malayalam (ASCII/ISCII Malayalam ). The Unicode Malayalam needs an OS that supports Unicode and any Malayalam Opentype Font. Here the Malayalam data is not dependent on its font.Malayalam written with Kartika font can be read better with Rachana font. The ASCII Malayalam data, on the other hand is fully dependent on its font. eg: Malayalam written with matweb font cannot be read with manorama font.
I shall provide the layout pictures in Flickr, meanwhile you can see the Keyboard layout in your Visual Keyboard Layout provided by the OS.