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#1 25-Mar-2008 12:12:02

#endgame
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Registered: 25-Mar-2008
Posts: 2

Colemak+Emacs?

I've discovered that Shai is a vim user, so I hope that emacs users are welcome here *g*.

I see that Colemak keeps the x and c keys in the same place, which looks good. One problem I had when I looked at Dvorak was all the emacs keys getting garbled.

Has anyone tried making caps-lock a control key (as seems to be common amongst emacs users anyway) and making the left control key a backspace?

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#2 25-Mar-2008 13:19:40

Shai
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Registered: 11-Dec-2005
Posts: 354

Re: Colemak+Emacs?

If you're just starting out with Colemak, I highly recommend for the first two weeks when the error rate is very high to keep the Caps Lock key mapped as Backspace. Afterwards depending on your usage pattern you'll be able to decide yourself better for yourself if you prefer it to be as Backspace or Ctrl.

Although I came up on my own with the idea of placing Backspace instead of Caps Lock, I wasn't the first to think of it. I found out that the Space-cadet keyboard, the keyboard which influenced the design of Emacs, also had a "Rub out" (Backspace) in the Caps Lock position.

Emacs out of the box is not very good from an ergonomic point of view, as it uses many shortcuts that might lead to strain on the hands, and using Emacs involves a lot more finger movement compared to Vim. That said, Emacs is a very powerful and infinitely configurable editor, so that aspect can be improved upon.

Under normal Emacs usage with a normal error rate, I estimate that people use the Ctrl key about as often as they use the Backspace key. But even full time programmers don't spend 100% of their time on Emacs. The Ctrl/CapsLock switch benefits mainly Emacs, but the Backspace/CapsLock switch benefits all applications.

If you're just using the left Ctrl key, try to get into the habit of using the Ctrl key on the opposing hand, which will reduce the need for the CapsLock/Backspace exchange.

I think several Colemak Emacs users have mentioned before that they switched the two. As I said, give Backspace a chance, and if after a while you see that you still prefer Ctrl, then go for it.

Here's an article about the MacIvory keyboard that advocates the Backspace in the Caps Lock position for Emacs users.

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#3 25-Mar-2008 22:28:09

#endgame
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Registered: 25-Mar-2008
Posts: 2

Re: Colemak+Emacs?

Good points Shai, and thanks for the response.

The one thing that those keyboards in the linked articles have in common is that the control keys are much closer to the space bar than they are on most modern keyboards.

Your points about error rates and benefits for other applications are something I hadn't thought about and since I'm not RMS, I don't spend all my time in emacs.

Perhaps the solution is a pair of foot-pedals: one for control and one for alt/meta. I'm only half-joking here.

I'll take your advice and see how it pans out.

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#4 25-Mar-2008 23:24:38

DreymaR
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From: Bærum, Norway
Registered: 13-Dec-2006
Posts: 2,653

Re: Colemak+Emacs?

Foot pedals would be nice - I'd like a set. Another nice touch is those enhanced thumb key blocks you find on the Kinesis and such boards. I think the thumbs have a real potential that those boards unleash.

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#5 26-Mar-2008 01:53:25

ryanheise
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From: Australia
Registered: 22-Oct-2007
Posts: 47
Website

Re: Colemak+Emacs?

#endgame

Has anyone tried making caps-lock a control key

I personally assigned control to the left-ALT key, which sort of emulates the feel of the Mac layout. i.e. The thumb holds down the modifier (without stretching!), and this leaves the 4 fingers free to press Z,X,C,V.

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#6 26-Mar-2008 14:09:15

cisum
Member
From: Switzerland
Registered: 10-Nov-2007
Posts: 16

Re: Colemak+Emacs?

With emacs, vi and all other things I use and recommend very much to have two pairs of Ctrl and Meta for both thumbs. Read here for more inclusive the link there.

With emacs I use and recommend very much the viper-mode, the vi emulation within emacs, to get the best of both worlds and to use less Ctrl and Meta. Read here for motion like I do with Colemak without remapping.

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#7 26-Mar-2008 20:40:25

ds26gte
Member
Registered: 07-Aug-2007
Posts: 69

Re: Colemak+Emacs?

ryanheise

I personally assigned control to the left-ALT key, which sort of emulates the feel of the Mac layout. i.e. The thumb holds down the modifier (without stretching!), and this leaves the 4 fingers free to press Z,X,C,V.

That would be the location corresponding to the Mac's Cmd key, no?   But the comparison is indeed apt since Mac OS uses Cmd for wherever Windows and Unix use Ctrl... except -- rats! -- when running the Unix-based text editors!

Is there a way to instruct vim on Mac OS to use Cmd pervasively wherever Ctrl is called for?

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