ISO/IEC 24757:2008 provides a formal description format that can not only fully describe the international keyboards standards, but also the capabilities of keyboards on the current and future marketplace and their functioning with corresponding operating systems. It describes possible interactions between keys of a keyboard and standardizes the keyboard description so that it is machine-readable while staying relatively easy to interpret by human beings.
The keyboard description format is meant to be capable of describing existing capabilities of today's keyboard hardware and its associated software, plus foreseeable extensions. It relies on international standard format ISO SGML, in the form known as ISO RELAX NG, with an easy conversion to industry standard XML. Some additional functionality is covered, such as keyboards with programmable keys and keyboards with multiple key assignments such as telephone keypads.
The keyboard definition format is primarily intended to be used by the operating system, and during its boot process (e.g. in the BIOS), but can also be used for other purposes, such as reporting from the hardware of a keyboard to help the operating system configuring the keyboard driver, or to present the keyboard on screen with a user-friendly picture.
The keyboard definition format is described in four sections:
A number of existing keyboard definition formats are described, together with a mapping between these description formats and the format defined in ISO/IEC 24757:2008.