Having thought more about the idea of a rotation mod to make symbol placements better, I don't see any real benefit to making QU a roll. It's a comfortable bigram already, using a nice hand alternation. However, I still see the potential in the idea:
A Symbol Rotation mod for the interested?
I feel that the semicolon gets a too good position in standard Colemak. It must be a remnant of the insane position it has in QWERTY that puts it inside the "letter block" so to speak, where it doesn't deserve to be by any standard. The three symbol keys that do deserve a position among the letters are period, comma and apostrophe/quote, since they occur frequently in text. Next up is the hyphen that's quite common and arguably too far away on the top row.
Furthermore, using the Wide mod moves the far right keys around already. The ANSI Wide mod moves the apostrophe up and the /? key to a somewhat uncomfortable position in the lower middle, while the ISO Wide mod moves the /? up.
My current feeling is that a semicolon-slash-apostrophe-hyphen rotation could be quite nice! Trying it out, it seems to make the apostrophe bigrams noticeably more comfy. It;s easier to stretch that pinky out upwards than opening the hand outwards, that;s my clear impression of what;s what.
But while we;re at that... Let;s take a wider look at punctuation vs letter frequencies in English! (✿◠‿◠)
On the McDickens letter frequency page we see the following relative frequencies for English, after the initial SPC e t a o i n s r h l d c u m:
Excluding code: g f p w y ENT b , . v k ' " - x 0 j 1 q 2 z ) ( : ! ? 5 ; 3 4 9 / ...
Including code: f g p y w ENT b , . v k - " _ ' x ) ( ; 0 j 1 q = 2 : z / * ! ? $ ...
It's clear that these punctuation keys are more common than the rare letters x j q z (having <0.16% usage each, all others having >0.8% – the below frequency estimates are based on the numbers on Wikipedia with a second line showing frequencies from SteveP99's keyboard layout analyzer based on a book analysis):
CM DT QU MN
Bb ,< .> Vv Kk '" -_ Xx Jj
1.5 1.2 1.3 1.0 0.8 1.0 0.5* .15 .15 (Approx. % usage. The -_ key varies 0.3-0.8 w/ coding.)
1.5 1.8 1.2 0.9 0.8 1.0 0.3 .14 .14 (SteveP's % usage, based on book analysis.)
The semi-/colon (SC) and slash/question (SL) keys are more of a toss-up. These don't quite deserve their good positions when entering text, as frequencywise they are on par with or worse than several number row symbols – especially the parentheses. For coding it feels different as particularly the semicolon is quite common in code. However, my impression is that the text-related symbols are more important for flow. Also, it's not as if the single/double quotes or hyphen-minus are rare in code, either! I think people may be overreporting the importance of the semi-/colon. Incidentally, I was a bit surprised myself that question/slash are as rare as they are.
Since the backslash is handled differently on ISO and ANSI boards, doesn't have a really good position on either and has a different key cap size on the latter, I'm loath to include it in remaps. I feel that the brackets should be left alone too since they serve many purposes in locale layouts and since they're cool in the middle of the keyboard using the Wide mod. If anyone still wants to improve their role, I suggest a simple brackets-parentheses swap. So in sum, my candidates for worse positions when promoting the more common symbol keys are:
SC SL EQ
;: /? Qq Zz =+
.13 .16 .10 .08 .06?
.29 .15 .10 .06 .00 (Note the huge variation in ;: frequency! SteveP reports 0.22+0.07 %.)
I've included the equals/plus (EQ) key since even though it's quite rare, it goes to the middle of the board in the Wide mod and that's ugly and unintuitive. Maybe it could take MN's place, and SL its old place? Having the question mark on the top row appears more symmetric with respect to the exclamation mark. Then, EQ would remain close to MN as it was before but just on a different row – like Dvorak's punctuation placements have it.
So I'm currently thinking that these cycles might be interesting:
Using vanilla Colemak, on an ortho board:
6 7 8 9 0 = /
j l u y ' [ ]
h n e i o ; \
k m , . - _____
With the Wide(ISO) mod, on a staggered board:
/ 7 8 9 0 =
[ j l u y ' -
] h n e i o ;
\ k m , . _____
Any insights and thoughts? I'm thinking this could be a "Symbol Rotation" mod on top of the other mods we use. Some optimizers might like it, while other Colemak users wouldn't bother. Is it time for Colemak-CAWS...?
I've tried this "Sym" mod out a little but found it too confusing to be worth the effort for me – for now, at least. Maybe others will still find it worth their while? However, now I'm testing the bang-for-buck version of it: Only the QU > SC swap. That's a very light mod from standard Colemak, only moving one more key. In the spirit of the DH mod, it seeks to reduce lateral stretches while changing no fingerings.
Last edited by DreymaR (24-Feb-2020 19:10:10)