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Mod-DH for Colemak

  • Started by stevep99
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DreymaR said:

Okay you guys: As you'll see in my Big Bag (for xkb) topic I've now added the Curl-DH mods as layouts under English (us)!

Excellent! Always good to make things as easy as possible for new users!

DreymaR said:

Steve, time to update your difficulty model! ;-)

I have been thinking about this and will be expanding out the difficultly model at some point.

Using Colemak-DH with Seniply.

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I'm in doubts about my xkb solution. Making two 'English' layouts to showcase the mod is okay on paper, but my design goal of modularity is severely compromised. And enabling a hack to change the colemak letter block on the layout level seems unsatisfactory, especially since it'll cause trouble for any locale layouts that remap the affected keys (they may do that on the AltGr level).

I could make the Curl mods a keyboard model addition instead. On one side, there's already quite a few of those in my big bag and adding Curl mods would inflate this number further (effectively adding another dimension to produce a ANSI-ISO/Wide/Angle/Curl matrix that obviously has a lot of entries). On the other, I've already lumped the WideAngle mods with Curl in my head, as they're all about getting better hand positions without substantially changing the layout per se – and Curl is already entangled with Angle. Implementing them as models would enable any colemak layout to become a Curl layout, including all locales, phonetic layouts, mirrored and tarmak layouts and other people's colemak layouts. If it hadn't been for the G moving back in place, Curl models would in fact have worked for the dvorak and other homerow optimized layouts too!

In that case, the key codes themselves would move so that the 'h key' for instance would be found in its new position for all purposes! Trying to use such a model with QWERTY would be "interesting": The Hm switch would be the same but the Hn(Hk) and Gvbt(Dvbg) ones would be pointless. Also, it'd be silly to have Colemak move the G away and the keyboard model move it back instead of just leaving the damn thing be in the first place – but that'd happen under the hood, for the most part. Making the mod a model would emphasize our feeling that Colemak itself isn't really touched by this.

I'd like to imagine that Curl users will also be Wide users (it'd keep things simpler for sure), but I fear that doesn't quite hold. Ah well.

Another issue is that of hand modularity. As it stands now, you may choose which hand(s) to activate when, and even mix-and-match between the options to produce for instance a Curl-Dvbg/Hk mod! Although I don't think anyone will want to do that exactly, the freedom to choose here is very nice as it aids compatibility with the Tarmak setup for instance. I could make the keycodes component modular quite easily but not the geometry so that'd really balloon. Ah well, can't be helped I suppose; geometry isn't even strictly necessary for the function of the keyboard but it matters to help images and new users will want those to be working.

Last edited by DreymaR (25-Jan-2015 15:43:04)

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It's a difficult question really.
• If Colemak is the basis for your whole keyboard universe (as it is mine) then the Curl models are great. That way all variants will work with the mod, and the phonetic Kyrillic layout will follow suit for instance.
• If you're switching back and forth to a non-Colemak based layout at times then the Curl mod should be kept only as a layout! Otherwise you'll have to change model every time you change layout and the GUI don't have a method for that.
• I could make the mods into options instead, but that'd be strange as they'd in fact be layout dependent options. And it seems hackish.

With the setxkb script it's simple enough to change both layout and model at the same time, but that doesn't play so well with the GUI selections.

Maybe the best solution is to provide both: Keeping the "model layouts" and file editing possibility while adding models for a more thorough solution.

Last edited by DreymaR (28-Jan-2015 14:53:45)

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Hard for me to make suggestions, not being very familiar with the way Linux manages layouts / geometries etc. But I suspect that people installing your xkb files are generally going to be pretty solid Colemak users. I can't imagine there are many people who like to change their layouts around frequently. Maybe there are some that like to switch back to Qwerty for whatever masochistic reason, but that's the only likely use case I can imagine. Is the problem that even when back in Qwerty, you would still have the incorrect H,M etc?

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If the mod is used as a model, yes – H and M etc would still be switched. That switches the actual key positions around as if it were the physical keys, and not just what's mapped to them. More specifically, in the model definition each "physical" scan code from the keyboard driver is mapped to a key name which may be a position (<AC01>, <AC02>, <AC03> etc) or an alias (<BKSL>, <LSGT>, <ENTR> etc). By shuffling the positions around, I can make a "physical" model that's WideAngleWhatHaveYou for instance. Then that affects all layouts, because those map glyphs to the various shift levels of the key names.

"Geometry" is really just for help images. But if it isn't defined at all, the layout can't be activated with setxkbmap. Also, those images are useful especially for new users.

The reason for switching to QWERTY would be if it's a multi-user computer. But in those cases one could just use the Curl modded layouts. Or run a logon script for each user that calls setxkb with the model they want. Or something.

Other than that, I expect most multi-layout users to be locale users. I myself might have both the English and Norwegian Colemak[eD] active for instance, and if I were to write much Greek I'd also have the phonetic Greek Colemak. I'd like all of those to be Curl modded of course, and for that a Curl modded "model" would be ideal as with that I could use any Colemak layout without worries.

I've started preparing, and it's going to be a lot of models we'd need even when trimming off some of the less useful combinations! But it's not so bad for the user, as they'll only have to call the one(s) they want and it can be done with a shortstring:

         4n)    XKBmodel='pc104'            ;;    # Generic ANSI-101/104-key
         4a)    XKBmodel='pc104angle-z'        ;;    # w/ Angle(Z) ergo mod
         4w)    XKBmodel='pc104wide-qu'        ;;    # w/ Wide(Quote) ergo mod
        4aw)    XKBmodel='pc104awide-zqu'    ;;    # w/ Angle(Z)Wide(Quote) ergo mod
        4af)    XKBmodel='pc104aframe'        ;;    # w/ AngleFrame(Quote) ergo mod

         4v)    XKBmodel='pc104curla-vz'    ;;    # w/ Curl(Dvbg)Angle(Z) ergo mod
         4b)    XKBmodel='pc104curla-bz'    ;;    # w/ Curl(Dbg)Angle(Z) ergo mod
        4vw)    XKBmodel='pc104caw-vzqu'    ;;    # w/ Curl(Dvbg)Angle(Z)Wide(Quote) mod
        4bw)    XKBmodel='pc104caw-bzqu'    ;;    # w/ Curl(Dbg)Angle(Z)Wide(Quote) mod
        4vf)    XKBmodel='pc104caframe-v'    ;;    # w/ Curl(Dvbg)AngleFrame(Quote) mod
        4bf)    XKBmodel='pc104caframe-b'    ;;    # w/ Curl(Dbg)AngleFrame(Quote) mod

         4c)    XKBmodel='pc104curla-vmz'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DvbgHm)Angle(Z) ergo mod
         4d)    XKBmodel='pc104curla-bkz'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DbgHk)Angle(Z) ergo mod
        4cw)    XKBmodel='pc104caw-vmzqu'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DvbgHm)Angle(Z)Wide(Quote) mod
        4dw)    XKBmodel='pc104caw-bkzqu'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DbgHk)Angle(Z)Wide(Quote) mod
        4cf)    XKBmodel='pc104caframe-vm'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DvbgHm)AngleFrame(Quote) mod
        4df)    XKBmodel='pc104caframe-bk'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DbgHk)AngleFrame(Quote) mod

         5n)    XKBmodel='pc105'            ;;    # Generic ISO-102/105-key
         5a)    XKBmodel='pc105angle-lg'    ;;    # w/ Angle(LSGT) ergo mod
        5aw)    XKBmodel='pc105awide-sl'    ;;    # w/ AngleWide(Slash) ergo mod

         5v)    XKBmodel='pc105curla-v'        ;;    # w/ Curl(Dvbg)Angle ergo mod
         5b)    XKBmodel='pc105curla-b'        ;;    # w/ Curl(Dbg)Angle ergo mod
        5vw)    XKBmodel='pc105caw-vsl'        ;;    # w/ Curl(Dvbg)AngleWide(Slash) mod
        5bw)    XKBmodel='pc105caw-bsl'        ;;    # w/ Curl(Dbg)AngleWide(Slash) mod

         5c)    XKBmodel='pc105curla-vm'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DvbgHm)Angle ergo mod
         5d)    XKBmodel='pc105curla-bk'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DbgHk)Angle ergo mod
        5cw)    XKBmodel='pc105caw-vmsl'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DvbgHm)AngleWide(Slash) mod
        5dw)    XKBmodel='pc105caw-bksl'    ;;    # w/ Curl(DbgHk)AngleWide(Slash) mod

With this, there's the option to get
• Angle, Wide, AngleWide and in the case of ANSI boards AngleFrame mods
• The left-side or full mod, for both DvbgHm('v/c') and DbgHk('b/d') Curl mods
• Curl mods combined with either Angle, AngleWide or AngleFrame mods

That's 20 extra models to provide the Curls ... phew! (6+4 each of the left-hand and full mods.) Now, to actually implement all that...

Last edited by DreymaR (29-Jan-2015 12:36:08)

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On second (or is that third or fourth, maybe?) thought: Changing the XKB model will change the Extend layer! This is unwanted behaviour.

I want Colemak Extend+G/D/B to be Mouse Up/Down/Button1, for instance. This is mostly geometrically based and not by letters (although it is a nice mnemonic that 'Button1' falls on 'B' of course). Changing the model, the mouse up/down would be jumbled. Not badly, but unintentionally so I don't like that.

The changes to the Extend layer due to the WideAngle mod felt reasonably intuitive. But they mostly concern rarely used symbol keys which therefore aren't given central functions in the Extend layer.

Ah well. Maybe I'll find a robust and simple solution eventually. The current layout implementation isn't that bad, it mainly lacks a bit in modularity.

On the typing side: I think that some n-grams and near-n-grams are very nice with this mod! A trigram like 'beg' used to be more troublesome when the left index finger had to jump up two rows instead of down one, and there are several common words containing this and similar n-grams – including, it turns out, the word 'bigram'! :-)

The 'NK' bigram rolls nicely with the hand moving in for it, and it also seems to work well in 'kne'/'kni'/'kno' type trigrams . That's interesting, as the Colemak 'he' bigram was uncomfortable enough to partially inspire new layouts and this mod – it'd have been easier if it were a 'hne' trigram I think!

Last edited by DreymaR (11-Feb-2015 10:06:22)

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Tricky. I suppose it comes down to the Extend layer is mostly position-based and is pretty much layout-independent. Well, except for wide mods and the like. It's as though the Extend layer is defined not by the character assignment of the key, or even the physical key position, but by the position of the key relative to the chosen 8 home-key positions.

Last edited by stevep99 (11-Feb-2015 14:39:37)

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Well, it's in between as it's a bit about physical key position but as you say the most important keys of Extend are bound to the home position.

While I have you on the line: I only found a link to the other DH-mod topic from your github pages! This topic is at least as important I think, from the Cmk forum perspective.

Also, could you please mention my mod variant on those pages? I think it's beneficial that both variants are shown so people can find the choice that fits their preferences best.

Last edited by DreymaR (11-Feb-2015 15:38:11)

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DreymaR said:

I only found a link to the other DH-mod topic from your github pages! This topic is at least as important I think, from the Cmk forum perspective.
Also, could you please mention my mod variant on those pages?

Good points, I think the github pages were written before this thread existed. Will update...

Using Colemak-DH with Seniply.

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https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=66546.0

Whoa, a brain wave (plus, a plug for the DH mod at GeekHack, yay)!

In that thread, a Dutch typist talks about the J key being common in Dutch which is a problem for Colemak. H and M on the other hand, are about equally common while K is rare (J/M/H/K had 46/34/33/27 k strokes in that Dutch-based syllabus).

So... for a Dutch typist, wouldn't something like a KJ switch be nice?!? Like the DH mods, that'd make for a better experience for the Dutch typists without really changing the other benefits of Colemak. And it wouldn't even move any keys from their QWERTY positions, unlike our Hk and Hm switches.

Sounds like a nice possibility, at least. Now, if I were Dutch I'd be in a dilemma because I type a lot of English no matter what. But it seems to me that the Dutch find English-optimized keyboards in general to be bad for their own language.

Last edited by DreymaR (13-Feb-2015 17:39:49)

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DreymaR said:

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=66546.0

Whoa, a brain wave (plus, a plug for the DH mod at GeekHack, yay)!

In that thread, a Dutch typist talks about the J key being common in Dutch which is a problem for Colemak. H and M on the other hand, are about equally common while K is rare (J/M/H/K had 46/34/33/27 k strokes in that Dutch-based syllabus).

So... for a Dutch typist, wouldn't something like a KJ switch be nice?!? Like the DH mods, that'd make for a better experience for the Dutch typists without really changing the other benefits of Colemak. And it wouldn't even move any keys from their QWERTY positions, unlike our Hk and Hm switches.

Sounds like a nice possibility, at least. Now, if I were Dutch I'd be in a dilemma because I type a lot of English no matter what. But it seems to me that the Dutch find English-optimized keyboards in general to be bad for their own language.

I like your idea, however you're quite off with the frequencies. The J is the least common of all those keys you mentioned, so switching it with any of those ones would be a waste. You could however think of some weird switcharoo with the y. Check out this image, it might be helpful.

JxhD8e1.png

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Oh. I was assuming based on the info from that Geekhack thread, which only used a home-cooked syllabus. Too bad it was so off the mark then.

Based on frequencies, the Y and J certainly should switch in a Dutch layout! But that switch alone would create a bad same-finger bigram for the infamous IJ! So while the Y probably gets put in J's corner, I'm really not sure where to put that J then. I'm not Dutch and it's not all that easy to find a letter that doesn't link up with I a lot, so I'm out of good ideas... ;-) But it should be some 3-key switcharound for the sake of simplicity, I think.

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DreymaR said:

Oh. I was assuming based on the info from that Geekhack thread, which only used a home-cooked syllabus. Too bad it was so off the mark then.

Based on frequencies, the Y and J certainly should switch in a Dutch layout! But that switch alone would create a bad same-finger bigram for the infamous IJ! So while the Y probably gets put in J's corner, I'm really not sure where to put that J then. I'm not Dutch and it's not all that easy to find a letter that doesn't link up with I a lot, so I'm out of good ideas... ;-) But it should be some 3-key switcharound for the sake of simplicity, I think.


I did some calculations based on 10 random threads with over 150 replies of a major Dutch forum.

ij means the number of ij's in the thread, ijs the number of ijs's, etc.
r3cO5QP.png
Last row is the avg of these 10 threads. Some interesting conclusions:
-About 60% of the j's are used in the 'ij' combo
-ijs is a pretty rare combination. There is a 2% change that after a 'ij' comes an s.
-ijc is a nonexisting combo in Dutch language


Frequency of F is 0.8%, of J is 1.5%, of Y is 0.05%.
Y goes to J
J goes to F
F goes to Y
To get:

I4bg9DH.png
Which makes sense. Keys with the highest frequencies are in the best spot according to the workman scheme. You don't have the problem with the ij anymore, and there is little change of having to use the same finger after typing an j.

Thoughts?

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Nonono. If you do that, FI/IF becomes a huge stumbling stone. Remember that you type some English too, but in Dutch those bigrams can't be nonexistent either?

But uh, we're not discussing the DH-mod at all now are we, although this started off as a relative of it. Maybe we should take this elsewhere...

Last edited by DreymaR (14-Mar-2015 01:07:50)

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DreymaR said:

Nonono. If you do that, FI/IF becomes a huge stumbling stone. Remember that you type some English too, but in Dutch those bigrams can't be nonexistent either?

But uh, we're not discussing the DH-mod at all now are we, although this started off as a relative of it. Maybe we should take this elsewhere...

Yeah you're right, this is not too relevant for this topic. I'm gonna post it anyways though, it will be my last offtopic post here :D.

I just did the if/fi thing aswell, turns out that about 1 in 10 f's has an i before or after it in the Dutch language, that's not too bad I guess. F has frequency of only about 0.8%, so only 0.08% is if/fi combo.

9 topic, 200+ replies per topic.
b5cGQuU.png
It's important to note that this is only relevant for the Dutch language! I type Dutch most of the time so English is not too relevant for me (yet?). I'm still gonna say that the way I posted is above is a bit better than standard colemak for Dutch users.

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DreymaR, stevep99: Just wanted to let you know, an ANSI keyboard user here, using your A-frame mod-DH layout on a 60% programmable keyboard (a Poker 2).

A long time Colemak user, I had been using the simple mod-dh layout for a week and finding it quite natural. Out of curiosity, I decided to try the ANSI mod-DH with the **Z** key moved. That was a serious improvement (in feel for the left hand). Shocking!

That sold me enough to try the full A-frame mod-DH layout today and, I must say, it is a revelation. Brilliant! I don't suffer from RSI but I can tell that I am going to enjoy typing with this layout, it is so much more relaxed. Muscle memory is learning naturally to NOT twist the wrist ever so slightly -- something I wasn't even aware of before.

You have found the holy grail of layouts for this ANSI keyboard user (I happen to prefer programmable 60% keyboards). Only downside: I need to take my keyboard everywhere I go, having so quickly adapted to your layout!

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Nice! We've been waiting to hear from the ANSI crowd so this is heartening.

Interesting that you fell for the A-Frame in the end; I do consider that the most full-fledged of the ANSI alternatives – unless one is willing to remap the LShift...! But then you'd truly leave the standard keyboard.

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Which LShift mapping are you referring to (the extra wide mods discussion)?

Last edited by sdothum (24-Mar-2015 20:06:12)
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Indeed, that crazy and wonderful idea of making the LShift your Z key for the Angle mod. If you like, you could use RShift only after that, but the idea was to use the Space bar as an either-thumb-shift, move the Space to for instance AltGr/RAlt (to keep it on the right thumb) and that key to RShift.

It'd work best with a Wide mod I think, as the distance to AltGr and RShift would be lessened.

Last edited by DreymaR (25-Mar-2015 11:07:11)

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Ah yes.. I did give it some consideration but found the A-frame more rational for me -- the frequency of Space usage outweighed the Shift relocation (as intriguing as it is).

I actually like the right shifted home row and feel it *improves* the layout for me. Years of using the left pinkie on the convenient Colemak (CapsLock) Backspace, I guess, have made reaching the (Qwerty) Q and A positions feel more natural to me. Curiously, I find the left pinkie extensions feel easier even though I am right handed.

To that end, I left the square brackets on the right hand and mapped the semi-colon to the (Qwerty) Q and the quote to the A. I mapped the Esc to the CapsLock (big Vim editor user here with many applications conforming to the Vi modal mode of operation) and mapped the Backspace to the right Alt of the ANSI keyboard right of the Space bar (with the keycap inverted for the thumb). The right shifted hand position makes the thumb key quite easy to reach (and would be much less so without).

I right shifted the number row with the equal sign mapped to the left (right of the grave/tilde) to maintain the relative home row positioning.

The only other non-standard mapping I have is swapping the backslash with the Backspace. Actually, the Del is mapped to the (ANSI) backslash since the thumb (Alt) Backspace takes care of that!

      ` = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - \
    Tab  ; Q W F P B J L U Y [ ]  Del
     Esc  ' A R S T G M N E I O  Enter
    Shift  Z X C D V / K H , .  Shift
Ctrl  Win  Alt   Space   Backspace  Fn  Pn  Ctrl

To my eyes, the key assignments even look logical and balanced. :-)

Last edited by sdothum (25-Mar-2015 14:17:15)
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It does look nice. :-)

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sdothum said:
      ` = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - \
    Tab  ; Q W F P B J L U Y [ ]  Del
     Esc  ' A R S T G M N E I O  Enter
    Shift  Z X C D V / K H , .  Shift
Ctrl  Win  Alt   Space   Backspace  Fn  Pn  Ctrl

This looks like a very nice approach for an ANSI keyboard!  As you have gone for moving all the keys to the right, you also get the benefit a easy-to-reach AltGr thumb key, which you have cunningly set to backspace. Did you find a bit weird initially to have the semicolon and apostrophe on the left-hand side?

My current setup is using the approach of keeping space where it is (using left thumb), settting Shift to be on AltGr (using right thumb). Despite seeming unconventional, I am finding it works quite well. Mind you, with an ANSI keyboard the shifts are not so bad so the motivation to try that may be lessened.

Last edited by stevep99 (26-Mar-2015 11:31:49)

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stevep99, I have not found placing the semicolon and apostrophe on the left hand side to be a difficult transition at all. The apostrophe had to be moved regardless. Placing it in the right square bracket location as illustrated in the mod-dh web page felt quite natural and I could have easily adopted it. The square bracket placement on the left hand side on 2 rows I was ambivalent about.

In the end, because my navigation clusters for Vim/Vi, applications, and tiling window managers (solely a *nix user here) are all right handed (which include usage, as my systems' are currently defined, of the square brackets for multihead navigation), I decided to move the semicolon and apostrophe to the left. I liked retaining the row positions for those keys.. even if they're on the other hand. The muscle memory appears to be establishing effortlessly. And, at my age, the exercise for my neural pathways is probably a good thing!

You are using the double wide layout (with the right shift as the GT symbol)?

I have to thank you and DreymaR et al for advancing the Colemak design. These improvements are not insignificant, IMO.

Last edited by sdothum (26-Mar-2015 21:55:45)
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Interesting, I agree, I think your approach of having the apostrophe and semicolon is likely to work better than having the two square brackets there. Perhaps I'll update the example diagram on the Mod-DH page...

I have stopped short of using the double wide layout - the less than ideal possible solutions for apostrophe have held me back. But I have still implemented AltGr -> Shift and RWin -> AltGr on my single-wide layout.  It makes AltGr a little less ideal to reach (still using thumb - just) but I like having easy thumb Shift more. Probably the more optimal solution is to have Spacebar become Shift and AltGr as Space, but that's also too big a jump for me as I'm too used to left-thumb shift.

Using Colemak-DH with Seniply.

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  • From: Canada
  • Registered: 23-Mar-2015
  • Posts: 27

stevep99: Well, I made one more minor change to my layout! The *slash* in the centre of the bottom row looked out of place -- not that, as DreymaR points out, this is sufficient criteria for change.

But, being a *nix user, the seldom used *Z* did not need to be near the modifier keys, so I swapped them -- the *slash/?* is used much more frequently and is now in a preferred position (for me). Win/OSX users might find the loss of the single handed Ctrl-Z too much to lose. But it is a win for me both mechanically and aesthetically.

    `  = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 -  \
    Tab  ; Q W F P B J L U Y [ ]  Del
     Esc  ' A R S T G M N E I O  Enter
    Shift  / X C D V Z K H , .  Shift
Ctrl  Win  Alt   Space   Backspace  Fn  Pn  Ctrl

Who would have thought that attempts at improving the Colemak layout (for ourselves) could be so gratifying. Thank you all, for thinking outside of the box!

Last edited by sdothum (28-Mar-2015 16:41:41)
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