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    Suggestions Wanted!

    • Started by aspiringnobody
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    • Registered: 26-Oct-2018
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    Hey all!

    I've been working on a layout for personal use, and I've kind of reached my limit of understanding of the pitfalls of layout design.  Before I invest a lot of time learning this, I'd like to see if there are any obvious gotchas I should avoid.

    Let me start with a quick explanation of why I've done this:

    I've got small hands and some developing arthritis that make certain "normal" typing conventions difficult for me.  (For instance, it's easier for me to type QWERTY's R with my left middle finger than to stretch my index finger to reach it.

    I've come up with this tentatively:
    aspiring.png

    In a perfect world I'd like to have a more frequently used letter where B is (I find reaching up with my right ring finger very comfortable), but most of the available options either make digraphs with O or I or create imbalances otherwise.  I'd also, in a perfect world, switch F and K, since the reach to F is longer than the reach to K, but F is much more common than K.  Also, the locations of O and I are pretty much interchangeable.  I chose to put I on the pinky since I often miss the apostrophe when I'm reaching for it so since I've already hit the I with my pinky I can just pop over one.  If anyone actually wanted to try this I'd probably recommend trying it both ways to see what is more natural for you.

    I felt in the end that this was a decent compromise.  It started out sort of workman inspired but I think I've moved quite a bit around at this point.

    I tried to keep Z C V X F G and Q on the left hand for key shortcuts, which is limiting but fortunately doable.

    I don't think this would work super well with the traditional finger-to-key assignment, but it at least simulates as usable on the keyboard layout analyzer with my finger mapping.

    Help is much appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Evan

    P.S. a big thanks to whomever made the Keyboard Layout Analyzer and PKL.  They're both super useful!

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    Well, I'm typing this in a new layout.  A few hours on the old one and it was pretty clear something needed to be done about that B

    So, I think this is the layout I'd like you guys to critique.  It'll be my first non-colemak layout I've ever tried to learn (well other than QWERTY that is!).  Hopefully you guys can give me a few tips!

    aspiring2.png

    Edit:  It already looks like I should change F and B.  Anyone else thing that QWERTY H is easier to type than QWERTY U?  Maybe I just have sort index fingers but my whole hand has to move slightly up to reach QWERTY U whereas I only have to move my finger to get to H.

    Last edited by aspiringnobody (27-Oct-2018 04:17:27)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    YAKL ;-)

    The only gotchas I'll give atm are: With 99.99% confidence, your layout will be annoyingly inferior to Colemak(-DH). And it won't be supported by anyone but you.

    Workman is not a great place to start, as it has high same-finger bigram (not digraph, that's technically something else!) frequency. Basically, it isn't your best option. And despite the Workman creator stupidly claiming otherwise, bigrams are very important in layout design.

    But have fun! I did the same thing before I started properly using Colemak, had fun and learnt why Colemak was ten times better than my own layouts. ^_^

    If you mean PKL_eD, that was me. The original PKL was made by Farkas Máté.

    Last edited by DreymaR (27-Oct-2018 10:42:18)

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    With your first version, immediate issues would be the BO, CR, and CL bigrams. I agree the B is bad. Your second version looks somewhat better, but you still have CL and CR. If you're going down this route, I'd keep C in the Qwerty position and type it with your index finger, that should avoid a lot of the bigram issues and would allow you to keep ZXCV shortcut compatibility. Even if you have strong ring fingers, I'm doubtful of the need to put a key like D in the W position.

    In fact, you might want to look at something like this, which I previously considered in the days before Mod-DH:

    Start with base Colemak, then:
    1. Rotation of D > P > G
    2. Swap R - S
    3. Swap L - F
    4. Rotation of H > M > K to fix the HE issue.

    It's fun to create new layouts, but in the end, you're probably better off to stick with base Colemak or Mod-DH.

    Last edited by stevep99 (27-Oct-2018 11:50:08)

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

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    stevep99 said:

    With your first version, immediate issues would be the BO, CR, and CL bigrams. I agree the B is bad. Your second version looks somewhat better, but you still have CL and CR. If you're going down this route, I'd keep C in the Qwerty position and type it with your index finger, that should avoid a lot of the bigram issues and would allow you to keep ZXCV shortcut compatibility. Even if you have strong ring fingers, I'm doubtful of the need to put a key like D in the W position.

    In fact, you might want to look at something like this, which I previously considered in the days before Mod-DH:

    Start with base Colemak, then:
    1. Rotation of D > P > G
    2. Swap R - S
    3. Swap L - F
    4. Rotation of H > M > K to fix the HE issue.

    It's fun to create new layouts, but in the end, you're probably better off to stick with base Colemak or Mod-DH.

    Thanks for the idea!  I'm trying that layout out right now!  Since I've been using Colemak anyway I'm hopeful it won't be that much of a learning curve.

    Last edited by aspiringnobody (27-Oct-2018 23:55:31)
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    Yeah, just remember: SteveP, the creator or the illustrious Keyboard Layout Analyzer, tried out and abandoned those ideas – apart from #4 which is just part of Colemak-DH today. And #1 is a step on the way to Cmk-DH as well (permuting DPG instead of DVBG, an idea both him and I find light but inferior). Give you any ideas? ^_^

    BTW, the R-S swap is the most common gripe with new users, because of Colemak "castling" the two keys from their QWERTY positions. Shai himself had the following to say on this back when Colemak was still new – you may contest it of course but I've yet to see anyone settle down on swapping R and S from Colemak's positions:

    Shai said:

    * E has been moved to the right hand because it would cause a very high same-finger ratio with the C key, and in order to increase a bit hand alternation.
    * I've explained my reasons for the S/R switch in the Asset entry for CapsOff.org competition. The ring finger which is the least dexterous finger should avoid as much as possible same-finger.
    * Colemak balances equally the effort between the hands. I don't believe that the right hand should do more work, because the right hand needs to use the mouse as well, and in fact it is more likely to be strained due to mouse use.

    Last edited by DreymaR (28-Oct-2018 00:32:25)

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    DreymaR said:

    Yeah, just remember: SteveP, the creator or the illustrious Keyboard Layout Analyzer, tried out and abandoned those ideas – apart from #4 which is just part of Colemak-DH today. And #1 is a step on the way to Cmk-DH as well (permuting DPG instead of DVBG, an idea both him and I find light but inferior). Give you any ideas? ^_^

    BTW, the R-S swap is the most common gripe with new users, because of Colemak "castling" the two keys from their QWERTY positions. Shai himself had the following to say on this back when Colemak was still new – you may contest it of course but I've yet to see anyone settle down on swapping R and S from Colemak's positions:

    Shai said:

    * E has been moved to the right hand because it would cause a very high same-finger ratio with the C key, and in order to increase a bit hand alternation.
    * I've explained my reasons for the S/R switch in the Asset entry for CapsOff.org competition. The ring finger which is the least dexterous finger should avoid as much as possible same-finger.
    * Colemak balances equally the effort between the hands. I don't believe that the right hand should do more work, because the right hand needs to use the mouse as well, and in fact it is more likely to be strained due to mouse use.

    Mod DH is a little tough for me personally because of the location of the D (arthritis).  That's why I'm toying with unique layouts.  That's what's so cool about PKL -- OS support is not a big deal anymore (thus everyone can come up with the best option for their personal issues).

    I get that it's not for everybody, and some here believe that you should stick with the tried-and-true.  Which might be what I end up doing.  But it's fun to try something in the meantime and that way I feel at least like I'm taking some control over what hurts me specifically when I type.

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    DreymaR said:

    Yeah, just remember: SteveP, the creator or the illustrious Keyboard Layout Analyzer, tried out and abandoned those ideas – apart from #4 which is just part of Colemak-DH today.

    I'm actually not sure if he meant mine or the patorjk one, but I guess the latter judging by the screenshots. Mine doesn't make such pretty graphics :P

    DreymaR said:

    BTW, the R-S swap is the most common gripe with new users, because of Colemak "castling" the two keys from their QWERTY positions.

    The reasoning for the R-S swap in Colemak is sound of course, but it can be mitigated to a large extent if you use the "angle-cheat" mod (C with index finger) as it then avoids what would be a common CR bigram. Putting L in the Colemak F position is also reasonable given that most people regard the top-row middle-finger position to be quite good, and LR/RL is not too common. It still introduces SW though, and increases the number of keys that change sides, but worst of all is the dreaded Qwerty B position. OP has tried to address that by putting X there, but I still find that a lot less satisfactory than the DH solution, with Z moving there on ANSI boards.

    aspiringnobody said:

    Mod DH is a little tough for me personally because of the location of the D (arthritis).

    I'm surprised about that as one of the key design goals of DH is to make it *much easier* to type D (and H) compared to base Colemak.

    I don't know how your arthritis is affecting you of course, but it makes me wonder if you might be able to improve the way you approach the keyboard. In Angle-Mod / Mod-DH style typing, the wrists should be approaching the keyboard symmetrically, and at an angle. Judging by the way you coloured in the keys, I imagine you must be doing something like this already. The index finger will be resting over the bottom part of the T keycap. Typing D should involve just curling that finger inward ever so slightly, probably no more than a 1cm from its home position, and with no lateral hand movement. T,N,D,H should all be extremely easy with this technique.

    Last edited by stevep99 (28-Oct-2018 17:28:23)

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

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    stevep99 said:
    DreymaR said:

    Yeah, just remember: SteveP, the creator or the illustrious Keyboard Layout Analyzer, tried out and abandoned those ideas – apart from #4 which is just part of Colemak-DH today.

    I'm actually not sure if he meant mine or the patorjk one, but I guess the latter judging by the screenshots. Mine doesn't make such pretty graphics :P

    DreymaR said:

    BTW, the R-S swap is the most common gripe with new users, because of Colemak "castling" the two keys from their QWERTY positions.

    The reasoning for the R-S swap in Colemak is sound of course, but it can be mitigated to a large extent if you use the "angle-cheat" mod (C with index finger) as it then avoids what would be a common CR bigram. Putting L in the Colemak F position is also reasonable given that most people regard the top-row middle-finger position to be quite good, and LR/RL is not too common. It still introduces SW though, and increases the number of keys that change sides, but worst of all is the dreaded Qwerty B position. OP has tried to address that by putting X there, but I still find that a lot less satisfactory than the DH solution, with Z moving there on ANSI boards.

    aspiringnobody said:

    Mod DH is a little tough for me personally because of the location of the D (arthritis).

    I'm surprised about that as one of the key design goals of DH is to make it *much easier* to type D (and H) compared to base Colemak.

    I don't know how your arthritis is affecting you of course, but it makes me wonder if you might be able to improve the way you approach the keyboard. In Angle-Mod / Mod-DH style typing, the wrists should be approaching the keyboard symmetrically, and at an angle. Judging by the way you coloured in the keys, I imagine you must be doing something like this already. The index finger will be resting over the bottom part of the T keycap. Typing D should involve just curling that finger inward ever so slightly, probably no more than a 1cm from its home position, and with no lateral hand movement. T,N,D,H should all be extremely easy with this technique.

    I tend to keep my left index finger fully extended and my other fingers curled as normal.  This rotates my left wrist so it lines up less angled than optimal, but it hurts to bend it back at the middle knuckle (in my finger) so when I need to type C I bend my whole left hand at the top knuckle (where the finger meets the palm) and that has the effect of moving my whole index finger back to the C.  It's not uncomfortable, per se, but it's not something I want to do all the time.  It's part of why I moved the C over to the X position; moving my middle finger back doesn't require me to move the other fingers in any abnormal way.  That was working okay but I've stopped using my layout for now and I'm working with what Steve suggested.  Less of a change from Colemak proper so it's a little easier to learn.

    Also, your analyzer is much more useful than the linked one because it actually shows what bigrams are conflicting so it's easier see your problems.

    That's part of why I settled on moving the C and not the M.  C is sub-optimal in the Colemak location anyway if you're doing the alternate technique (CT is much worse than either CR or CL), but it gets a pass because of ZXCV compatibility. Swapping T and R could work, but R has bigrams with pretty much every letter and moving T really screws with Colemak's rolls so it should stay where it is.  Thus I moved the C.  CL is more annoying than CR but I found popping up one key for CR was pretty natural.  Ideally you'd swap W and C in my layout but that gives up any pretense of the command keys working so that's part of why everyone shouldn't make their own keyboard layouts.  There are truly only a couple good compromises and they're already out there.

    Last edited by aspiringnobody (28-Oct-2018 22:29:25)
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    I wouldn't advocate the Angle-Cheat unless you're quite sure you won't try a real Angle or CurlAngle (DH) mod in the future. Some get stuck with the cheat and can't proceed to something inherently better. The cheat does nothing for your B position for instance, and musses up some bigrams while admittedly improving some.

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