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Extend Extra Extreme!

  • Started by DreymaR
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  • Registered: 19-Jan-2016
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@DreymaR

Is it possible to add a second [extend] layer using the Tab key?

I use this in AutoHotKey for easier code symbols and I'd love to reimplement it into PKL:

#If GetKeyState("Tab", "p")
    y:: Send `=
    `;:: Send `>

    ;{}
    n::Send +[
    e::Send +]
    ;()
    l::Send +9
    u::Send +0
    ;() with thumbs
    s::Send +9
    t::Send +0
    ;[]
    i::Send [
    o::Send ]
    ;<>
    a::Send `<
    r::Send `>

    Alt::Send {Blind}{Alt Down}{Tab Down}
    Shift::Send {Blind}{Shift Down}{Tab Down}
    Tab::Send {Blind}{Tab Down}
    g::#^d
    w::#^f4
#If
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I chose not to mess with the Tab key because it's often useful on its own, and because PKL made it act wonky with Alt-Tab menus and suchlike.

Of course, it might be and likely is possible, I don't know.

I've used the second Extend layer for a NumPad plus plus as you can see, but in practice I haven't used that much because I didn't find a practical way of activating it without using up needed keys. My idea is to use Shift+Caps, Alt+Caps etc to activate different Extend layers, and then holding Caps down will keep that mode active so you don't have to hold a difficult chord for long.

I think that should be doable in XKB by making a "level7 modifier", activating a combination of level5/Extend and level3/AltGr.

Last edited by DreymaR (20-Jan-2016 10:40:05)

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I have my autohotkey script running at the same time as PKL and it's working pretty much as expected with using tab as a modifier when held down and a key when struck.

I'll have to dig into the PKL codebase to see how to combine my AHK script into it.

Have you ever considered Capslock+Space as an extended layer? Seems like it'd be much easier than Shift/Alt.

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Yes, Caps+Space would be easier to hit. However, since Space is and should be a glyph-producing key (not only that, but the by far most common glyph, at ~20% frequency!) there's a danger that using it as a modifier might send one or more space glyphs to the input stream before the Caps is hit. And hitting Caps first and then Space is and should be mapped as an Enter stroke in the first Extend layer. So the modifiers for Caps/Extend layers should be non-glyph, non-repeating keys.

It is my strong belief that the Space bar must not be messed with in any way that may impair typing. Ideas such as SpaceFn do this, and I don't approve.

I think Alt+Caps is very easy to hit, so that'd be my first choice. As I said, you wouldn't have to hold down the Alt key so it wouldn't get cramped.

Last edited by DreymaR (21-Jan-2016 17:21:24)

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I started using CapsLock as my Extend key, but after a while ended up moving my Extend key to left Alt.
(Effectively this meant swapping mappings for LAlt and CapsLock)

My Right Alt (AltGr) retains its normal function (level 3).

The nice thing about this is I get:
- standard symbol layer (level 3) on Right-Alt.
- extend layer (level 5) on Left-Alt.
- ... and by pressing both Alt keys together gives me a easy additional layer (where I have put virtual numpad etc).

Left Alt doesn't seem to be a common choice for Extend, but having used it for a while, have to say I am a big fan of it.

Last edited by stevep99 (22-Jan-2016 10:22:31)

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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Interesting choices, Stevep99! Indeed, the LAlt key is a beautifully positioned key and I, too, have noticed its potential. But what do you do for just Alt? To activate menus etc etc, I wouldn't want to have to go inside an Extend layer. Or did you put Alt on KeyUp? Because that tends to lead to trip-ups, I feel.

Going further with my tack, I might envision LAlt+Caps, RAltr+Caps, LAlt+RAlt+Caps – all leading to different Extend layers!
• Extend
• NumPad++
• Coding/Symbols
• Hotstrings

Last edited by DreymaR (22-Jan-2016 13:37:14)

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I have been perfecting a numpad extend layer that I really love. I will post it here pretty soon.

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Cool! I didn't post mine in this topic (which is crowded enough as it is), but it's in my main Big Bag topic as I hope you're aware.

I fell for the idea of keeping the 789 keys in the NumPad design. This means raising the hand one row to do proper NumPad entry, but in my opinion it's worth it. This also gives space for the zero/decimal++ keys below.

The nav block was moved to the left because it's a shame to lose it but I want the NumPad on the right hand.

Originally, I thought about adding several currency symbols and suchlike, but I decided against it in the end. There's never enough room for all of them anyway, and they're available on the Currency dead key and AltGr layers.

[edit: I'll add the NumPad overlay to the original post, as an appendix]

Last edited by DreymaR (15-Apr-2016 11:13:27)

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DreymaR said:

Interesting choices, Stevep99! Indeed, the LAlt key is a beautifully positioned key and I, too, have noticed its potential. But what do you do for just Alt?

It's a direct swap of LAlt <-> CapsLock, which means my Alt key is CapsLock.  It takes some adjustment, but as I don't tend to use Alt function that much, it's not really a biggie. On the other hand, the LAlt is in a very convenient place for the left thumb. I tend to have my left thumb hovering over it. I find it is faster to access the Extend layer than using CapsLock, as it doesn't require a lateral hand movement.

I also like that all my important layers are accessible entirely with the thumbs, which seems very natural and intuitive.  If you can live with relocating Alt, I think it's worth a try!

Last edited by stevep99 (22-Jan-2016 15:37:15)

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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Dreymar, I meant continuing the extend layer over to include the physical number pad on the right side of some keyboards. I have one that I use a lot, and it was sad about getting left out of the party.

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Ah, yes, I see! I've given that a little thought but in the end I didn't come up with anything really useful. Extend in its purest form is about bringing keys to better positions, and the NumPad, obviously, doesn't play that tune well. So I was thinking, maybe it could be a HotString pad? But on the other hand, then those without a physical NumPad are left out. My ideal keyboard is tenkeyless to make the mouse more reachable, and I use tenkeyless laptops much of the time. Hmmm...

It'll be interesting to see what you've come up with, then!

Last edited by DreymaR (22-Jan-2016 16:08:35)

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  • tst
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Thanks for this awesome layout,
May be I missed it, but which fingers do you use exactly for this combination "Ext (Sh+)F3 , prev quick find link" or this one "Alt+F2 <...>      | A+2 <...> " ?

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Yeah, hehe, those are a little pesky aren't they.

Anything that works for you, really. If you do such a shortcut often you'll get used to it, if not it'll remain a PITA I'm afraid. But here are my suggestions:
• Ext+3: 3rd(3)
• Ext+Sh+F3: 3rd(3); 2nd(S). Or, LeftHand_3rd(3); RightHand_5th(RShift)
• Ext+A+2: 4th(A); 3rd(2). Yes, this one's a bit cramped.
• Ext+A+2: 3rd(2); 1st(Alt). Another way (actual Alt+Ext+2).

Left pinky for the Extend key (on the Caps key) for all of the above.

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  • tst
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Ok, got it, thank you.
I was curious because I thought each finger should use only it's keys, and you should not press the same key by different ones. I've read somewhere that it influences on speed and increase mistakes.
But if you do it in such way I think it's ok, and would not worry about.

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That thinking is basically mostly true, but only mostly. The fastest typists in the world use a lot of "alternative fingering" as we call it, adapting each word or at least n-grams (sequences of keys) to the best way of hitting them. But for basic typists, that's too advanced.

When typing bigrams with the center column (infamously, HE on vanilla Colemak; KE on DH-mod Colemak) I "slide in". That is, my index finger hits H(K) but instead of stretching the hand a lot to type E with the middle finger I allow the hand to retain its more relaxed shape and type E with the ring finger instead. Similarly for the NK(NH) bigram for which I use the index plus middle finger instead of a same-finger bigram with the index finger. And so on and so forth. Some forum members have suggested that alternative fingering may make you substantially faster at high typing speeds.

Keep in mind though that this is about shortcuts, not normal typing. What you do to hit the F# keys isn't normal touch typing anyway, it's jumping. It's not done in a normal typing flow but as a special action. As such, normal typing rules don't (quite) apply to this.

Last edited by DreymaR (23-Feb-2016 18:35:46)

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  • tst
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Thank you for detailed explanation. It's clear now.

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I've come up with a new Extend trick: The mouse homing key! Only available for PKL on Windows so far.

In PKL, I added this to my pkl.ini file replacing the line for the tilde key:

SC029 = Click 24,24,0

What this does is place the mouse cursor in the upper left corner of either the active window or, if no windows are active, the desktop. Why is that A Good Thing™, you ask?

• Sometimes, I lose track of where the mouse cursor is. Now I can easily reposition it.
• Sometimes, the mouse cursor gets in my way. Now I can easily put "baby" in the corner.

Snazzy side effects (not necessarily the simplest way but interesting nevertheless):
• On the desktop it'll be placed right over the "My PC" icon. Following up with a click (Ext+C on the CurlAngle mod) and Enter (Ext+Spc) opens an Explorer window.
• Sometimes on the desktop though, it goes to the menu line instead. Not sure when/why this happens.
• On windows, it'll be placed over the app icon. A click will open the app menu (but LAlt+Space is a simpler way – I use that a lot).
• One or two mouse down (Ext+G on CurlAngle, Ext+D on vanilla Colemak) will bring me to the menu and icon lines for more advanced virtual clickage.
• On my Firefox browser, it'll be placed right next to the first tab. Two down clicks and I can access the address line icons (I use Ext+6 for the line itself).

Last edited by DreymaR (15-Jun-2017 08:52:52)

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Hello there Dreymar, I just registered to write you. Thanks for doing these layouts, I'm actually using the tarmak layout to completely switch over to colemak and I really like this Extend key too, but I find it really unconfortable to press with my pinkie (main reason for colemak), thats why I would like to use Alt keys (left and right) as modifiers. Since I do code I need symbols at hand without pressing shift and navigation (yours!) without leaving the home row.

Can you tell me how to do that? I was editing that layout.ini file on notepad, but my results are not close to what i want. Thanks in advance, really preciate your work!

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Glad you like the Big Bag! :-)

The BigBag PKL/Win topic is the most correct place to ask such a question. But basically, you'll have to choose one of the Alt keys for Extend as PKL doesn't let you use both. Then set its name on the extend_key line in layout.ini. I think you should unmap the key too like I've done with CapsLock in my layouts, but not sure.

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I miss not moving my hand to access arrows... I am using wide angle now and each time need to move my hand a little to the right. Would be nice to have sth for wide mod.

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In my implementations Extend follow the Wide mod so you'd be covered. This is true both for Linux, TMK and Win/EPKL.

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