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    Danish Colemak

    • Started by erw
    • 14 Replies:
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    • From: Aalborg, Denmark
    • Registered: 18-Feb-2011
    • Posts: 166

    When I started looking at Colemak, I was kind of discouraged by the lack of an official Danish Colemak layout.

    So that other Danes will not feel the same, I propose this:

    ┏━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━┳━━━━━━┓
    ┃ ½ ┃ 1 ┃ 2 ┃ 3 ┃ 4 ┃ 5 ┃ 6 ┃ 7 ┃ 8 ┃ 9 ┃ 0 ┃ + ┃ ` ┃BackSp┃
    ┣━━━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━━━━┫
    ┃Tab  ┃ Q ┃ W ┃ F ┃ P ┃ G ┃ J ┃ L ┃ U ┃ Y ┃ Æ ┃ Å ┃ ~ ┃Entr┃
    ┣━━━━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┳━━┻┓   ┃
    ┃BackSp┃ A ┃ R ┃ S ┃ T ┃ D ┃ H ┃ N ┃ E ┃ I ┃ O ┃ Ø ┃ ' ┃   ┃
    ┣━━━━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━┳━┻━━━┻━━━┫
    ┃Shft┃ < ┃ Z ┃ X ┃ C ┃ V ┃ B ┃ K ┃ M ┃ , ┃ . ┃ - ┃    Shift┃
    ┣━━━━╋━━━┻┳━━┻━┳━┻━━━┻━━━┻━━━┻━━━┻━━━┻━┳━┻━━┳┻━━━╋━━━━┳━━━━┫
    ┃Ctrl┃Win ┃Alt ┃         Space         ┃AltG┃Win ┃Menu┃Ctrl┃
    ┗━━━━┻━━━━┻━━━━┻━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┻━━━━┻━━━━┻━━━━┻━━━━┛

    No mods and no attempts at americanization -- just everything as Danish QWERTY, except for the moved letters. Similar versions for the other Scandinavian languages have been made. They are all made in line with the principle that low frequency keys should not move and if they do, that they should stay on the same hand.

    Edit 2015-02-23: Replace image with text to avoid relying on hosting.

    Last edited by erw (23-Feb-2015 16:11:37)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    I disagree that that thing should be proposed as an "official" Danish layout. I'm strongly against all the stupid "national" layouts that move punctuation around haphazardly and unnecessarily, and I don't believe the placement of the national characters is optimal (or, at the very least, there's no evidence for that is there?).

    Therefore, I think you should be welcome to call this your own personal solution but I recommend not talking about anything "official". I have a different solution that I think you know of, that I feel would work a lot better. But that's MY solution, which I'll gladly share but that one isn't official either.

    What I do recommend, is that Colemak should present itself as a sum of ideas: The letter block (which is what you took from Colemak), keeping other punctuation as in the most standard QWERTY layout(s) (which I also used but not you), making the CapsLock a Backspace (really a quite separate idea, which I have modified for my uses). That way, there'd be a bit more to choose from when considering Colemak which might be stressful for a few but a benefit to more I feel.

    IMNSHO: Danish QWERTY, like the other Scandinavian QWERTYs, sucks badly! Even worse than the ("Intl") QWERTY, but at least not as much as the French one from what I gather...

    Last edited by DreymaR (18-Mar-2011 09:17:51)

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    • From: Aalborg, Denmark
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    I generally agree with you, but I think it comes down to the choice between perfection and dissemination, and the two are not compatible since many people don't want to learn a layout that is subject to change (assuming of course that there will someday be official Colemak layouts for non-US users).

    There will need to be national versions anyway since languages use different special characters. My reason for keeping the sub-optimal Scandinavian punctuation is in the same practical spirit as Colemak: Don't change infrequently used keys. Learning the new letters on a physical qwerty board is acceptable, but having seldomly used symbols on other keys than the ones they are printed on is more than I imagine people will want to do, and it also makes switching between Colemak and Scandinavian qwerty harder.

    With standard national layouts, those Scandinavians who want to use US qwerty punctuation can do so while those who don't can have an easy transition to the main idea of Colemak -- the lettes positions -- without having to invent their own spin on a national layout.

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    • From: Aalborg, Denmark
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    Does Shai have an opinion on official national layouts?

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    His opinion, from what I gather, is that he doesn't bother with them. His argument is that Colemak is optimized for English anyway, and also he doesn't like the idea of maintaining a bunch of layouts for different nationalities. No wonder.

    I and others have shown that the situation with other languages isn't bad at all - at least as far as monographs goes! - since the 11 most common letters are usually the same between European languages with only minor variations. Interestingly, the relatively good placement of the 'h' in Colemak may be just a bit on the nice side for English but it really benefits other languages where it's a much more common letter! The 'c' placement may be more of an issue for some, so I recommend using an 'angle' ergonomic mod if you're using a language rich in that letter (latin languages in other words).

    I guess I have a lot more opinion on national layouts than Shai does. I really wish that we could agree on the principle of only changing a few designated keys from the usual Colemak layout at least. The punctuation discussion can be seen both ways of course: On one hand, you want to provide the familiar national punctuation layout for the people who switch and don't want to change too much from what they're used to. On the other hand, I see the benefits of changing it to the US/Colemak/"standard" layout for most other purposes. And having done that, you can have one Colemak layout and only a few (like our 3) keys need to be changed to produce the different national flavours. As you probably recall, I prefer having the brackets on top like in the standard setup for my purposes, but I also provide a "writer's" setup where the brackets go to AltGr mappings instead of the 'å' and 'æ' (that'd be 'ø' for the Danish).

    I do believe you should have the apostrophe key in the standard Colemak position. Apostrophes are very common, and should be needed more than your 'ø'. Especially considering that nearly all users will be typing a fair amount of English with their layout no matter what.

    Last edited by DreymaR (12-Dec-2011 23:42:48)

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    DreymaR said:

    His opinion, from what I gather, is that he doesn't bother with them. His argument is that Colemak is optimized for English anyway, and also he doesn't like the idea of maintaining a bunch of layouts for different nationalities. No wonder.

    But it makes sense for many people that type English as well as other languages to learn Colemak even when it is not perfect for their native language. But since these languages are also used a lot, it makes sense to have a national layout. And then we could just as well have official versions. Those who want to experiment beyond that can always do it. And I could see why he wouldn't want to maintain them, but the community could do that, maybe with official "sanctification".

    DreymaR said:

    I guess I have a lot more opinion on national layouts than Shai does. I really wish that we could agree on the principle of only changing a few designated keys from the usual Colemak layout at least.

    Well, agreeing on this kind of requires us to agree. It would be interesting to hear from other non-US users in the community.

    DreymaR said:

    The punctuation discussion can be seen both ways of course: On one hand, you want to provide the familiar national punctuation layout for the people who switch and don't want to change too much from what they're used to.

    Yes, and I do think the idea of minimizing the movement of rarely used keys in Colemak applies here as well.

    https://colemak.com/wiki/index.php?title=Easy_to_learn: "Colemak minimizes moving low frequency keys and except ; and : all punctuation keys remain in their QWERTY positions. Low frequency keys take the longest to relearn because you practice them less often."

    DreymaR said:

    I do believe you should have the apostrophe key in the standard Colemak position. Apostrophes are very common, and should be needed more than your 'ø'.

    Well, that depends on how much English you type. And since both are <1%, the above applies again.

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    I've thought of a maybe useful idea for Linux implementations at least, and I don't know why it hasn't been done before (or maybe it has?): Making a partial layout for the symbol keys only, that you could include/add to any layout to get your desired punctuation. Then you could for instance use a standard Colemak (or any national variant) and then choose whether to add the national punctuation setup or not!

    I already did something like that for the national layout in themselves: One standard layout install, and then the national ones just include that and change only 3 or so keys. Maybe I'll code in the added changes for a 'keep national symbol key setup' option for the Nordic installs!

    From being intimidated by xkb, I'm now impressed by the flexibility it offers. It's still maddening, but it's a delightfully flexible madness! :)

    When it came to the issue of moving less symbol keys and what's more and less familiar, I fell down on the side of irriation with all the national setups because they just don't make sense to me. I don't want to use the Norwegian symbol setup because it messes with apps on the net, messes with coding (when some needed symbols are only available on AltGr for instance), messes with my head (when I can't remember whether the '<' symbol is on unshifted or shifted <LSGT> for instance) and strikes me as a completely unnecessary mess in general. Sure it sometimes confuses me when I type the wrong parenthesis because I learnt that frakked-up setup as a kid and it's marked on most of my keyboards, but in general I feel that it causes LESS confusion and stress to use the most common symbol setup worldwide like the standard Colemak does. And it makes it possible to change between my proposed national layouts very easily instead of tripping over symbols all the time.

    However, I've recently set up laptops for my kids which naturally came with Norwegian-marked key caps. And now I see the need for a layout that "does what it claims" on those computers. While I'll keep using my US-symbol-style layout, they'll get a National-symbol-style layout and I'll keep making both available for Linux (X11) at least. The latter is identical to your proposed "national Colemak" except with the Norwegian peculiarities instead of the Danish ones. I'll soon upload a little something.

    Last edited by DreymaR (21-Dec-2011 13:40:15)

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    DreymaR said:

    However, I've recently set up laptops for my kids which naturally came with Norwegian-marked key caps. And now I see the need for a layout that "does what it claims" on those computers.

    Yes, this is where I'm at as well. Re-learning the letters is manageable, but rarely-used symbols are harder.

    I want to be able to tell my friends about Colemak and if they ask how they can try it, I can just send them a link. At the moment, I have to say "Well, you see, there's not really a right way to do it. You just have to learn xkb/AutoHotKey/PKL/Registry remapping and make your own version. Go ahead.". Which is why I don't talk to many people about learning Colemak. And that's a shame.

    I can also see that X11/xkb includes Colemak versions of more layouts than just the US layout. I guess these are not official, but seeing them sure makes me want to make one for Danish as well, so I can just say "You don't even have to download anything, you can just select it right here!". Even for people who don't want to learn it, it will raise awareness that they see it in the list. It shouldn't just be Dvorak in that list :-)

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    I've made an almost-ready version, but right now I'm thinking that I'd like to add some more variants such as German/French/Spanish/Italian. Maybe it should wait, hehe.

    I've put my files at this link so have a look. If you want to use the patch script/files you'll have to start from fresh Ubuntu X11 files, otherwise do it manually using the xkb-mod file directory.

    As you can see, that adds options for everything and the kitchen sink: Wide/Angle ergonomic keyboard models (you have to edit /etc/default/keyboard I think - Ubuntu lost its model chooser!), Colemak-ED (my flavour of the lv3-4 mappings), Tarmak1-4 (stepwise learning), the Extend addition (home position navigation etc) and local variants (US/No/Se/Dk so far) with unified symbols (which is what I call my strategy of keeping the US symbols and changing only a few keys) or keeping local ones. Unless you hack it a bit there won't be support for Shai's original lv3-4 mappings with everything else - sorry, I can only do so much.

    Also keep in mind that not all the Extend mappings are working in the current implementation; I think it's not quite my fault but the state of Linux/XKB that's mostly to blame now. ;) I may also change my mind about some Cmk-ED mappings still. Basically, consider some of it a work-in-progress. I'm releasing it for you and your friends in case you find it useful!

    Last edited by DreymaR (06-Jan-2012 17:42:41)

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    I'm a dane who's interested in trying out a localized version of Colemak. I have no experience with altering the keyboard layout on my computer, a Macbook Pro. What is the easiest way for me to acquire the layout that erw has posted in the top of this thread?

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    This is basically the same layout as my Danish 'Keep Local Symbols' Colemak[eD] layout apart from the AltGr mappings (in that topic it's shown with a Wide ergonomic mod but that can be switched off). So if you were on Linux you could use my install.

    The Mac uses a Linux core but it doesn't use the X.Org XKB server so my files won't help directly I think?

    So I guess you'll want to use the Ukulele editor then. I haven't seen any Danish Colemak files for the Mac around so you may have to make your own! If you do, let us know and we'll share. I could put them in with my Linux and PKL files if you wish. :)

    Last edited by DreymaR (08-Aug-2012 12:23:08)

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    Hello guys

    DreymaR, just wanted to thank you for pointing me towards Ukelele back then. It's really great!

    Immediately after you posted that reply, I created my own Danish colemak layout and dubbed it Danemak :D And actually used it to become fairly good at colemak. I didn't reach my QWERTY WPM, but practiced enough that even though it's been more than a year since I used Danemak, my fingers still remember the layout.

    Additionally, I found out that the Caps Lock button would serve better as Alt, since Alt is ridiculously badly placed on my MacBook Pro keyboard, and I very rarely use all-capital letters in words. It works really well!

    Just yesterday, it dawned upon me that all of the special characters that I used a lot when programming - such as the various braces, %, /, \, $ and so on - are placed far from home row. And, I thought - "I never combine Alt and letters..." And so, the characters {()}[] are now on, respectively, alt+hjklæø on my Danish QWERTY layout. I'm working the other special characters closer to home row, as well...

    As to why I haven't used Danemak, well, I wanted to learn classic Vim, and I thought that Danemak would hinder my process - better to learn Vim properly with the QWERTY layout that I've used all my life and then switch to Danemark afterwards. I'm fairly proficient at Vim now, so I'm going to go back to Danemak soon, I think :)

    I guess I just wanted to post this to say thank you for nudging me in the right direction, and for your other inspiring posts. I think I'll be using this forum more actively from this day on!

    Last edited by Cort3x (25-May-2014 12:03:37)
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    You're welcome!

    Vim is fairly layout agnostic in my opinion. I don't use the jhkl navigation much since I have an Extend layer, and the rest is by letter mnemonics which follow the keyboard layout mappings. Problem solved for me at least.

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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    The mnemonics are fairly good and I think would sustain my general Vim productivity if I switched to Colemak. However, j and k, which I use a lot, are placed awkwardly in the Colemak layout, at least on my MacBook Pro keyboard. Eyeing a TypeMatrix or Truly Ergonomic, though. :)

    What is an Extend layer?

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    It's the best thing next to Colemak!!! :)

    The full explanation is found in my Big Bag (XKB) topic. Basically, you use Caps (or whatever key you like) as a new modifier ("Extend") which lets you use not only arrows but everything you need without flying all over the keyboard. This negates the need for jkhl as you can replace those with the arrow keys, and lets you enjoy vim-like goodness outside of Vim as well.

    In Windows, for example, I can hit Caps+A+4 (= Alt+F4) with my left hand only. The possibilites are wondrous.

        Cmk-ISO-Extend_90d.png

    Last edited by DreymaR (26-May-2014 08:41:18)

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