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    Is Colemak(DH?)-(CAWS?) for me? (Norwegian)

    • Started by steinar
    • 9 Replies:
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    • Registered: 09-Feb-2024
    • Posts: 6

    Background
    I've always used the standard QWERTY layout on Norwegian ISO keyboards (with added letters ÆØÅ on the right hand side of the keyboard and symbols moved around, for you non-norwegians). I type without looking at the keyboard at moderate speeds (50-70wpm with good accuracy with normal text), but it's not really touch typing as I favour my strong fingers, cross over and move around quite a bit. Every time I've decided to learn real touch typing, it's felt very uncomfortable on the qwerty layout, and I've been very frustrated with the placement of certain symbols when coding and using VIM, so much that I've abandoned any attempts at gaining any real proficiency, and have reverted to my quasi-touch habits of old.

    Use case
    I type 50/50 English and Norwegian, a lot of Markdown, and also do some programming in VIM and like using the terminal. Maybe 0.5% Spanish (yes, I know it doesn't add up, sue me). I want to become proficient at touch typing including normal symbols I need for programming ([]{}/|\'`~*@"!^ etc). I really want to avoid dead keys for the most common symbols for speed, but also because a lot of them are hotkeys in VIM. I've been toying with the idea of getting a portable programmable split keyboard like the ZSA Voyager, but realistically I will also be typing on Norwegian ISO Laptop keyboards (with QWERTY keys) pretty frequently. Oh, and I'm on MacOS.

    What I want
    I want to get a good setup for custom keyboards for English/Norwegian/coding that i can also use with standard ISO keyboards, and I'm willing to install/set up keyboard layouts and tinker with Karabiner Elements to make it work.

    Current plan
    - Set up a customized Extend layer to get symbols and hotkeys for VIM, activated by Option or Caps Lock (maybe switch opt and cmd to reach layer easier with thumb)
    - Pick a keyboard layout and modify it to add Norwegian letters: Colemak? Colemak DH? ISRT? Other?
    - Get a ZSA Voyager or similar
    - Use Curl-Angle-Wide mods of chosen layout for laptop keyboards
    - Finally learn touch typing...

    Questions
    - Has anyone run any tests on the modern custom layouts for the Norwegian language?
    - Any thoughts on which layout would be best for my use case?
    - Does the DH-version of Colemak make sense for Norwegian?
    - I've looked at Dreymar's NO/DK Colemak layout, but that middle row (ÆØÅ) is not very easily reached, so I'm wondering how that will pan out when writing Norwegian. Those vowels are use quite a bit, especially Å and Ø. But again, I guess it's better to put the hard to reach keys on the index finger, rather than the pinky...
    - Any thoughts on symbol placement for coding? Should I keep them all on the extend layer? It's hard to decide which would deserve a spot on the primary layer, especially since I already need the three extra letters to type in Norwegian...

    Sorry for the long and rambling post. I've spent the last few days reading up on custom keyboard layouts, so it's still pretty new to me, but already I just want to pick something and get going. Any input is appreciated.

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    • From: Viken, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    Heisann Steinar! Hyggelig med flere nordmenn her.  ( のvの) c[_]

    The middle row is actually quite easily reached once you get a little used to the Wide mod. And you can use either hand for it.

    However, what I actually use for æøå these days is my thumb CoDeKey sequencing with those keys – although the AltGr mappings to the same keys still work. Sequencing is so nice in practical use. It isn't implemented on MacOS that I know of though, so maybe you want something else. An easily accessible dead key layer will do the same thing, pretty much. But then you could also just use EOA as your ÆØÅ release keys, or whatever pleases you most.

    Maybe I write a lot less Norwegian than you will, but that feels good enough for me. Doing a fair bit of coding and suchlike means I'd rather have my brackets handy.

    As for typing Norwegian, I don't feel like trying to optimize a layout for both. Colemak feels, as I said, good enough for it. The KJ bigram sucks, maybe you could have that too in a DK layer if you feel like it? I never bother, I just tank it. Other than that, the most common Norwegian letters (ERNTSILAKO) are similar enough to the most common English ones (ETAOINSHRDL).

    For an Extend layer implementation, look in the BigBag for Mac (choose the Apple platform icon) to find ProfessorXWing's files; he's known as CSGO on the Colemak Discord.

    If you're considering other layouts than Colemak, I wouldn't go with ISRT. If you feel like being brave and adventurous and maybe get disappointed, then I recommend studying Pascal Getreuer's alt layout guide. Link in the BigBag. Again, Colemak-CAWS feels very good to me, but I know others prefer one new layout or the other. Seems there's no clear winner in that game, though, and many use wayyy too much energy layout-hopping when they could've learnt other useful typing tools instead. Consider yourself warned, heh.

    Newcomers to Colemak and other layouts tend to complain about the HJKL Vim mappings being all over the place. On Colemak, that's especially true for J I guess. I use Extend arrows with Vim and many others do too. No problem. Some still complain, but I have a feeling it's mostly newcomers. See the Community FAQ at colemak.org if you want more info.

    If you have an ISO board and want CAW, I'd slap on a Sym mod for full CAWS. That's what I use, and I'm very happy with it! As you say, you can also put often-used symbols in layers, but symbols that are used in text like hyphen and apostrophe should IMO be on the base layer too. Some users of mech boards get very hung up on minimalism and want 30/34-key layouts, but I'm not one of those. The important thing is to keep often-used keys close to home position, but less-used keys can hang around on the base layer too! Plus, having more than 40 or so keys means you can map layers and whatnot to them without having to chord modifiers or use other convoluted and mind-intensive solutions.

    Either way, lykke til og god ferd!  (b ̄◇ ̄)b

    Last edited by DreymaR (09-Feb-2024 11:44:26)

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

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    DreymaR said:

    Heisann Steinar! Hyggelig med flere nordmenn her.  ( のvの) c[_]

    Hei! Takk for raskt svar!

    DreymaR said:

    The middle row is actually quite easily reached once you get a little used to the Wide mod. And you can use either hand for it.

    I'll take your word for it. Just started doing some testing/practicing with ColemakDH-CAW on keybr, but obviously have not gotten to those letters yet...

    DreymaR said:

    However, what I actually use for æøå these days is my thumb CoDeKey sequencing with those keys – although the AltGr mappings to the same keys still work. Sequencing is so nice in practical use. It isn't implemented on MacOS that I know of though, so maybe you want something else. An easily accessible dead key layer will do the same thing, pretty much. But then you could also just use EOA as your ÆØÅ release keys, or whatever pleases you most.

    I don't know if I fully understand how that works. Do you type your special key (CoDeKey/AltGR) and then an E to get Æ? Is that the type of sequencing you're using?

    DreymaR said:

    As for typing Norwegian, I don't feel like trying to optimize a layout for both. Colemak feels, as I said, good enough for it. The KJ bigram sucks, maybe you could have that too in a DK layer if you feel like it? I never bother, I just tank it. Other than that, the most common Norwegian letters (ERNTSILAKO) are similar enough to the most common English ones (ETAOINSHRDL).

    Yes, KJ looks quite bad...

    DreymaR said:

    For an Extend layer implementation, look in the BigBag for Mac (choose the Apple platform icon) to find ProfessorXWing's files; he's known as CSGO on the Colemak Discord.

    Will do!

    DreymaR said:

    Newcomers to Colemak and other layouts tend to complain about the HJKL Vim mappings being all over the place. On Colemak, that's especially true for J I guess. I use Extend arrows with Vim and many others do too. No problem. Some still complain, but I have a feeling it's mostly newcomers. See the Community FAQ at colemak.org if you want more info.

    Extend arrows sounds like a good solution, especially combined with other navigation keys on that layer to go to start of line, end of line (^, $, 0 etc).

    DreymaR said:

    If you have an ISO board and want CAW, I'd slap on a Sym mod for full CAWS. That's what I use, and I'm very happy with it! As you say, you can also put often-used symbols in layers, but symbols that are used in text like hyphen and apostrophe should IMO be on the base layer too. Some users of mech boards get very hung up on minimalism and want 30/34-key layouts, but I'm not one of those. The important thing is to keep often-used keys close to home position, but less-used keys can hang around on the base layer too! Plus, having more than 40 or so keys means you can map layers and whatnot to them without having to chord modifiers or use other convoluted and mind-intensive solutions.

    Yes, CAWS looks like a good starting point.

    DreymaR said:

    Either way, lykke til og god ferd!  (b ̄◇ ̄)b

    Takk!

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    • From: Viken, Norway
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    steinar said:
    DreymaR said:

    However, what I actually use for æøå these days is my thumb CoDeKey sequencing with those keys – although the AltGr mappings to the same keys still work. Sequencing is so nice in practical use. It isn't implemented on MacOS that I know of though, so maybe you want something else. An easily accessible dead key layer will do the same thing, pretty much. But then you could also just use EOA as your ÆØÅ release keys, or whatever pleases you most.

    I don't know if I fully understand how that works. Do you type your special key (CoDeKey/AltGR) and then an E to get Æ? Is that the type of sequencing you're using?

    Described under 'sequencing' in the BB, at the end of the section. Under Ergonomy > Modifiers is a description of the physical key arrangement I use.
    https://dreymar.colemak.org/layers-main.html#sequences

    But basically, you don't require that key to be a Compose/Deadkey combo key like I use – that's obviously just gravy. A normal dead key would do it just as well, minus the Compose thing (which you could have on another key anyway).

    As you can see, I use the home row mappings (Colemak NEIO) for punctuation-space(-capitalization). Not sure whether that's even doable on MacOS. So yes, you could put your ÆØÅ there if you wish to.

    Last edited by DreymaR (09-Feb-2024 12:48:04)

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

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    Lots of great info on your site, I really appreciate it. There are still a few things that confuse me, maybe because I'm so new to this and I don't fully get all the lingo and acronyms. So I'm sorry if the questions are asinine...

    Just because I need it "inn med teskje":
    - For å skrive ÆØÅ bruker du en "sekvens" + CoDeKey?
    - fx. E + CDK = Æ, A + CDK = Å, O + CDK = Ø?

    On your keyboard layout schematics, your keys show 4 outputs for each key represented in each corner. I didn't find a legend for this on your site, but maybe I overlooked it. I take it that:
    - lower left corner = base layer
    - upper left corner = shift layer

    But what about the remaining two layers?
    - lower right corner = ?
    - upper right corner = ?

    In the section on CoDeKey you have a table describing some sequences and their output. What is "Cmk" and "QWE"?

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    Never mind, I think I'm getting it now. "Cmk" = Colemak and "QWE" is QWERTY keys. The table looks very interesting. If I can get Karabiner Elements to remap the right CMD (where right alt/altGR would be on Windows) key individually, I might try out your CoDeKey mappings.

    I still didn't find any explanation on your website to a sequence for ÆØÅ - mind sharing exactly what you use?

    And I'll try once more for the keyboard layout overviews under locales:
    - lower left corner = base layer
    - upper left corner = shift layer
    - lower right corner = alt?
    - upper right corner = altGR?

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    And if I'm putting ÆØÅ on a separate layer, or with a compose key (if I can even get that to work on MacOS), I could just use the standard Colemak-CAWS base layer with the brackets which does sound appealing...

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    The four standard layers of key maps are base, Shift, AltGr and AltGr+Shift.

    The sequence I use is, e.g., `CDK, [ ` for å or `CDK, }` for Æ, etc. It's at the bottom of the CoDeKey section in the BigBag.

    That key is special as it can be both a leader key (dead key) and a post-hoc Compose. If it doesn't recognize a composable sequence, it acts as a dead key. It's a fun project I have. Sometimes I'll write something that turns out to be a Compose sequence even if I didn't intend it to be, so it takes a little tweaking to get right. But it's fun for me, mostly, and can feel very powerful at times. I still sometimes wonder whether I should separate the two functions again, but so far I'm happy with the CoDeKey.

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

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    DreymaR said:

    The sequence I use is, e.g., `CDK, [ ` for å or `CDK, }` for Æ, etc. It's at the bottom of the CoDeKey section in the BigBag.

    Thanks for that. I might be a little slow, but I couldn't find it on your website, neither on the "Big Bag Theory" page, nor under the CoDeKey header in the "sequences" section. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place...

    I'll start out with the "regular" Colemak-CAWS and put æøå on my Opt-layer (AltGr on mac) to see how that feels. As of now I can't install Karabiner Elements on this mac, so the extend layer(s) will have to wait, unfortunately.

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    steinar said:
    DreymaR said:

    The sequence I use is, e.g., `CDK, [ ` for å or `CDK, }` for Æ, etc. It's at the bottom of the CoDeKey section in the BigBag.

    Thanks for that. I might be a little slow, but I couldn't find it on your website, neither on the "Big Bag Theory" page, nor under the CoDeKey header in the "sequences" section. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place...

    No biggie, but it's where I said it was. At the bottom of the the CoDeKey subsection under "Sequences" there's a table listing my CoDeKey mappings, and the bottom of that table looks like this:

    |  Q        |  Q        |  Escape                |
    |  D        |  C        |  Delete Previous Word  |
    |  [ ] /    |  [ ] /    |  locale/custom glyphs  |
    +-----------+-----------+------------------------+

    In our case, our locale glyphs are ÆØÅ.

    Last edited by DreymaR (12-Feb-2024 10:20:36)

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

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