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    Closer Mouse, Wider Home Position, Better Editing+Navigation. Flip it!

    • Started by cevgar
    • 7 Replies:
    • Reputation: 2
    • Registered: 04-Feb-2010
    • Posts: 143

    Update Nov.12: PKL Demo now includes Inverted and Inverted+Angle Shifted Qwerty, Colemak, Dvorak, Workman and MTGAP (main 30 version).
    Note: This post is a work in progress.

    Now, I want to do a nice lead in, cover my bases and get everyone on the same page about design failures of the traditional keyboard (standardized roughly 1878) before unveiling the Mod. On the other hand, I figure most people visiting this page will know me, what I'm doing, and more importantly, why I'm doing it. So, the short and sweet version.

    Presenting: The Inversion Mod +3

    (turn on images, no text art this time)


    Ok, admittedly I'm not entirely happy with the pic. Still it was the most compact way I could find to visualize the most data graphically, with the least eyestrain. Background colors indicate handwidths from home positions, and are hopefully subtle enough to not interfere with the first perusal, yet visible enough to be noticed by people giving it a more thoughtful inspection. The header and footer mark 5 inch increments outward from center. Original concept emphasized desk positioning by lining up keyboards by layout centerpoint... but it felt wasteful.

    Input on how this could be improved is welcome. Donated images are even more welcome. (The whole project is still a work in progress, and I'd rather not do all the heavy lifting myself.)

    Anyways, terrible image and all, there are still things you still be able to gather from the diagram above.

    Thumbkeys create much more balanced workload and significantly reduce finger travel distance.
    Greatly reduced R.Mouse distance. On a full keyboard, by about 5 3/4 inches / 15 cm.
    Increased hand separation (roughly 2 1/4 inches), reduces inward typing angle.
    Centered Modifier, Navigation and Editing Cluster within easy reach of either hand. Better R.Mouse+L.Keyboard... 'synergy'. L.Hand can now hit most browser shortcuts.
    Reduced travel distance within the Navigation Cluster itself. Example: Arrows to Delete/Backspace.
    Left Hand Numberpad allows for simultaneous R.Hand Mouse. Or R.Navigation. Generally speaking, much better spreadsheets.
    Adjacent keys such as Ctrl+Shift and Ctrl+Alt can be pressed with a single thumb.
    It uses a standard keyboard. And is layout independent, though Dvorak users will still get shortchanged for shortcuts.

    ...Also Features:
    Awkward at first. Takes some getting used to. … lots of getting used to.
    Reduced redundancy. Can be either good or bad.
    Numberpad+ standard L.Hand shortcuts are a bit... not good. Maybe just different. Difficult to tell how that will play out with changes to mouse and navigation.
    Numberbar shifted one key to the right..
    Ctrl+Backspace is kinda awkward on L.Thumb and L.Index. Better with L.Thumb and L.Middle. Ctrl+L.Arrow then Backspace/Del is easier.
    Alt+Shift isn't that great one handed. Swap Ctrl+Alt+Tab when you think you might need Alt+Shift+Tab.
    Due to movement of function keys, Windows requires some form of keyhook (PKL, occasional compatibility issues) or registry edit (KeyTweak, requires reboot). Not sure about the other OS's. By comparison, the Wide Mod can be implemented as a layout.
    L.Hand Enter is a bit of a reach when R.Mousing.
    Moving the keycaps to match this layout will be impossible.
    Keyboards with low key rollover might have problems, as the function keys are not really intended to be used as modifiers.
    Needs a separate keyboard, tenkeyless or bigger. Laptop keyboards won't work. (obviously)
    Function row, while often as shown, is not standardized. Users will need to adjust mod for their own devices.
    :Right of Spacebar also not standarized. Will require tweaking... and user adjustment.

    The Advantage of  Thumbkeys

    I ran a test on PatorJK's Keyboard Layout Analyser using a rough  Thumbrow, with Shift/Backspace on L.Thumb and Space/Enter on R.Thumb. The text used was a collection of short stories. All settings can reviewed by following the link. Warning: Due to size of text, it takes a while to process. http://patorjk.com/keyboard-layout-anal … d/pFj89jkQ


    Note: Currently KLA's same finger calculation is not entirely accurate.

    Mod Variants

    This is where the narrower widths (+0, +1 and +2) will go, when/if I find the motivation to finish them. They aren't bad, but by comparison the +3 just fell into place. Everything where it should be, requiring no sacrifices. Still, feel free to offer your own proposals.


    PKL Inv. Mod 0.2 (zip)
    Includes Qwerty, Colemak, Dvorak, Workman and MTGAP (main 30) layouts, and angle shifted versions. ANSI only ATM. Hit a snag, Numberpad not flipped.

    Next Project:

    cevgar's Space-Saving, Eye-Friendly, Quick-Adjust Sit/Stand/Squat Computer Desk. (For less than 100 USD)

    Last edited by cevgar (04-Apr-2017 20:35:13)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 4,649

    Wow, nice work there! I won't try it but I most certainly have to congratulate you on your innovative diligence.

    I agree that the +3 looks very nice, but something feels wrong with it. The thumbs aren't placed where they should be and the right hand is one key too far to the right. Ah well, that's my feeling and as you say you'd need time to get used to this! I prefer using Extend mappings to an actual arrow cross anyway, so for me it isn't so important to have those keys there in the middle. Home position beats anything!

    I'd put PgUp/PgDn and Home/End more like the way they are on the original keyboard! It's more intuitive to have them on top of each other than left/right, even though Home/End have a left/right logic to them as well.

    Wouldn't it be better to swap the Ins and Del keys? The Ins key is generally in the way and quite annoying when hit inadvertently; Del can be annoying but less so in my experience – and it's much more frequently used.

    Esc can be damn handy – ask any Vim or Extend user! I'm thinking of the three remaining former F# keys – maybe Esc could take the place of W and W move one step to the left? Then you could put ScrollLock up in the old Esc position. Another suggestion is the old Space bar for Esc! Then, the three special keys in the old Esc/Alt/Win locations (they're so rarely used, they don't deserve thumb estate!) and the three old F# keys could be freed up for something awesome! They're a bit of a stretch for the thumb but they might be used for something useful that you don't need very often? Macros, maybe (one may map them to F13–F15 and then remap)? Or the Japanese could use them for Hira/Kata and other special keys they need!

    Last edited by DreymaR (11-Nov-2014 12:15:31)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
    *** Check out my Big Bag of Keyboard Tricks for Win/Linux/TMK... ***

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    • Registered: 06-Jun-2013
    • Posts: 484

    This sort of keyboard layout hints at the general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament.

    Do you also make outrageous claims, like you invented the question mark or sometimes accuse chestnuts of being lazy?

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    • Registered: 04-Feb-2010
    • Posts: 143

    Update: PKL Colemak Demo now available.

    @davkol. If we are talking about Cherry style keycaps, the regular sized ones can be shuffled and flipped 180 degrees (Not 90 degrees!). Or you can buy flat POS style keycaps. Other sculpted keyboards... as you said YMMV. Still, I'm going to try to stick with it for a while, see if it isn't something that can be adapted to.

    @bph... I'm not sure how to feel about that comment. I mean, chestnuts ARE lazy. I thought that was obvious.

    @DreymaR: Thanks for the feedback! Some questions:

    -Could your elaborate on your issues with thumb placement. I realize the L.Thumb would probably be more comfortable on F8, but that complicates key placement.

    -The Right Hand placement is due to necessity. Even in the +2, moving the L.Hand over was the better choice. With standard F Row placement, moving the R.Hand over would mean tucking the thumb under the hand to hit F3/Space. The more natural home for R.Thumb in that case would be F4 which means the R.Thumb only has two keys in easy reach instead of three. Then you need to reshuffle the nearby thumbkeys, the best option probably being F5/Alt, F4/Space, F3/Enter, F2/AltGr. Alt should stay relatively centered for its various shortcuts, and enter should be within range of the L.Hand when mousing.

    -I love your extended mappings as well. Problem, doesn't fix lack of thumbshift issue, doesn't fix mouse distance issue, doesn't fix right side numberpad issue, doesn't (as far as I remember) fix AltGr placement issue, and requires PKL (which doesn't always play nice with other programs.)

    -Home/End PgUp/PgDn... meh. I'll point out in your BoT you have the same Home/End placement relative to the arrow keys. PgUp and PgDn are secondary to Home/End in my book and going Up a row is easier than going Down.

    -Ins and Del were a tossup. Placement was chosen as the more central position has less hand bias, and makes Ctrl+Alt+Del easier. Considered U/D + Del vs End/R + Del same finger use, but could not come to a solid conclusion. Fair point about Insert though.

    -Win+R, Win+D, Win+E, Win+F, Win+M. Maybe not as useful as Esc, but on the other hand, the F9 key is really not THAT easy to hit from that position. Still, it does allow for most of the above shortcuts to be hit with the R.Hand. You know, should you ever need quick access to both the numberpad and show... desktop... ok, ok. Shut up.

    -Esc. Agree it should probably get better placement. I was tempted to put it on the space bar, but having that big of a target for Esc made me nervous. Esc was originally put so far out of the way so it wouldn't be hit by accident. Not really the designers fault that everyone seems to think it is appropriate alternative to Ctrl+Q or whatever.

    Idea: What about swapping Insert, Delete and Esc?

    BTW: Interesting fact, Typematrix keyboards come with an insert that reminds buyers that it may take a week or two to get comfortable with the layout.

    Last edited by cevgar (11-Nov-2014 19:09:11)
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    • Registered: 27-Jul-2014
    • Posts: 35
    davkol said:

    Moving keycaps might be actually absolutely necessary, if they're sculpted. I found this to be a deal breaker, when trying something similar a while ago. Negative tilt is neat, but hitting keys on the wrong row by accident is not. Two keyboards rotated 90 ° have the same issue, obviously.

    Row swapping and rotation for most of the 1x keys(would work the best with mech keyboards, as those keys can be pretty easily rotated.), but you wouldn't really be able to move the other larger keys on the keyboard. You wouldn't really have to do any row swapping for keyboards that have DSA style key caps instead of the OEM or DCS ones.

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    • Registered: 04-Feb-2010
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    Man, no love, eh? ...oh well, that's fine. I'll make my own posts, with blackjack and- ...yeah, anyways.

    Update: PKL Demo now includes Inverted and Inverted+Angle Shifted versions of Qwerty, Colemak, Dvorak, Workman and MTGAP (main 30). Numberpad still not fixed. No ISO layouts yet. Maybe tomorrow.

    @davkol - I've done my own work before with rotating and shuffling keys, but that is an excellent reference link. Thanks!

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    • Registered: 25-Oct-2013
    • Posts: 136

    Hi cevgar, I *do* love the concept. Great feature is that you won't have to build, pry off, cut, solder - no, just flip a regular keyboard! Of course there is the disadvantage that keys/ keycaps are placed and sculpted for regular, not for upside down. On a laptop it's a no go as well.

    I (right hander) have been mousing left handed for 3 years now, in order to keep the mouse close by. Works.

    How about mousing left handed and "Doing an Arensito"? Meaning, prying the space bar off and shifting all rows one up? That way you'd have
    - easy mousing (left hand)
    - thumb keys (Win Alt c v b n m AltGr Win)
    - no akward sloped keycaps

    Of course, if you can get used to upside down keys, more power to you! Let us know how that works for you !

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    • Registered: 04-Feb-2010
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    Hi, pieter; thanks for the support!

    To answer your questions: I already did a 'raised' keyboard back in 2010. I should probably update it as now that I've actually given some serious thought to the thumbrow. Also the demonstration image and keytweak urls seem to no longer be working. The text art is still there if want to check it out. The MK-Type. Also listed as the Maltron test drive in my sig.

    The problems with the MK-Type were:
    - Altered row shift.
    - Didn't fix numberpad issue.
    - Distance to numberkeys.
    - I didn't tell people you could just disable the spacebar and type THROUGH it instead of actually removing it.
    - Symbol keys needed to be shifted to thumbrows.

    On the other hand, the problems with Left Hand Mousing:
    -Almost all mice are biased towards right hand users.
    -Almost all keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys are on the left hand.

    Last edited by cevgar (15-Nov-2014 00:35:54)
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