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Colemak extra-wide layout. Alternate home position.

  • Started by cevgar
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  • From: Viken, Norway
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Looks neat, but...

Again: Symmetry and beauty is good for the eye, but not necessarily for the hands! ;-)

The Curl mod has been a step in the right direction for me, and it goes nicely with the philosophy of treating the hand according to its nature rather than to anything the eye has put on the table. The home row isn't straight, because the hand naturally curls! So with the number row: It isn't better for the pinky and ring finger to stretch up towards the middle because the hand isn't linear but spreads out! Curl in, spread out – these are natural movements for the hand and fingers. Therefore your enforced symmetry and beauty is nice to look at but not necessarily an advantage to actual typing. I don't think it is, at any rate.

And the middle fingers are both strong and flexible so they should indeed be given two number keys each like the index fingers (nearly) have.

Last edited by DreymaR (13-Mar-2015 18:06:31)

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I wasn't trying to argue a case based only on aesthetics. Since the hands are symmetrical, it seems reasonable to assume an ergonomic scheme should have symmetry where possible too. Looking at your fingering diagram, it's clear you also have a lot of symmetry, but I see this is achieved by changing the right hand fingering - 0 is typed with ring finger instead of pinky in the conventional scheme. If you are right about the pinkies liking to stretch outward as they go up, then this could be achieved (in the wide mod) by having both - and = in the middle two columns so that the pinkies stretch out for 1 and 0. I'm not saying that would be better overall to do that - as a common digit, maybe 0 on ring finger is better and ignore the standard finger model!  I was really just trying to think about consistency of approach between the left and right hands, and using symmetry as an indicator. Anyway, to cut a long story short - I think your finger scheme is probably right.

Last edited by stevep99 (13-Mar-2015 18:53:05)

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I'm not saying yours is wrong! There may be individual differences, ways to skin a cat. This is what I happen to like though.

I'm just enjoying our conversation. ;-)

Turns out I didn't have a very entrenched number key finger scheme when I started thinking about this, so I was free to choose.

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To be honest I don't really have a system for numbers either - I usually resort to looking at the keyboard to type them. I don't really like reaching for the number row; in fact I am thinking about modifying my AltGr layer to include a virtual numpad on the right hand.

To go back to the double-wide mod: my main motivation for that is the gain of thumb keys. While the brackets in the middle two columns looks nice, it's secondary to the main benefit, which is comfortable access to modifiers (esp Shift and AltGr) via thumbs!  And on a normal keyboard too (before someone mentions ErgoDox!!).

I take your point about the apostrophe, it's definately a problem. Perhaps Enter could be used for it. I use extend+space for Enter these days, as per your extend layer. Alternatively normal Enter could be achieved with AltGr+Enter. Updated version:

http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/# … c899307e2a

Some might prefer swapping thumbs for space and shift as per cevgar's suggestion.

Of course the idea of remapping RWin to AltGr works OK-ish even with the single-wide mod, but feels more awkward than ideal.

Ultimately though, I think the best solution is to have a keyboard with split space bar (as long as the two halves produce different scan codes). That would then allow Space, Shift and AltGr to become thumbs even on a normal(-ish) keyboard, and without having to resort to keyboard hackery.

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Doesn't that sound familiar. Most of my later mods have also been geared towards finding a solution to the lack of thumbkeys. Having a 9 key home row when you could have a 10 key home row is ludicrous. Second goal, find something that works on ANSI. As the layout with the fewest keys, it is the lowest common denominator when fiddling with design. Width comes in at a distant third.

The best solutions I have found are: (will add pictures... eventually)
-The Inversion Mod
-The MK Type
-Makeshift split keyboard using a Logitech G13 for the left hand.
-A Microsoft Sculpt Comfort.
-A JIS Keyboard. (Japanese Thumbshift)
-An Ergodox.

The Microsoft Sculpt comfort is the only keyboard that I am aware of that has a split spacebar with seperate scancodes. Even that is only when one of them is set in backspace mode, so you'd have to remap both L.Space and Backspace together. All other keyboards with a split spacebar use the same scancode for both halves.

The JIS keyboards are somewhat hard to find outside of Japan. Still easier and cheaper than obtaining or assembling an Ergodox.




As for your current proposal... well, the apostrophe placement is terrible. I'm not quite sure you realize just how bad it is. On the other hand, you don't have much space to play around in. I think your best bet would be to rely on your wordprocessor's autocorrect or automatic text replacement to add apostrophes when needed. (not sure what to do about 's though)

That aside, not much to say that hasn't been said about the ThumbsPlus or the Curl Mod separately. Though for what it is worth, on the ThumbsPlus - while Space on R.Alt is less comfortable - I put Shift on Space to reduce redundancy. The space key is easily accessible to either hand, so we can cut out the L.Shift as well as the R.Shift, and put something more useful in it's place. Like apostrophe for instance. Granted, with Dremar's Extend layer, most of the useful keys are already there, but on an ANSI you can actually pull off the Angle Mod without killing L.Pinkie.

Last edited by cevgar (14-Mar-2015 14:25:47)
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cevgar said:

All other keyboards with a split spacebar use the same scancode for both halves.

From what I've read, the upcoming Mathias Ergo Pro can be set to send different scancodes (space or backspace) on each of the two space bars - which is why I am keeping my eye on it.

cevgar said:

Though for what it is worth, on the ThumbsPlus - while Space on R.Alt is less comfortable - I put Shift on Space to reduce redundancy. The space key is easily accessible to either hand, so we can cut out the L.Shift as well as the R.Shift...

Even with using RAlt as a single Shift key, surely it's still easy to type uppercase letters with either hand? I think Shift on AltGr means no other Shift is needed, so that both the original shift keys could still be reused for something else...  perhaps (ironically) making them become AltGr would be interesting!?

Last edited by stevep99 (14-Mar-2015 14:54:33)

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Ooooh. I didn't know about that new Matias. Thanks for the info. It looks awesome, like a better version of the Kinesis Freestyle, and not quite as good as an Ergodox. Still, I see no mention of separate scancodes for the space keys. Link please.

R.Alt as MonoShift will cause all kinds of problems. Mostly for applications that expect Mouse+Shift /Ctrl /Ctrl+Shift. Also seems to make shifting the unmodded 6789 positions very awkward, though that is a rather minor concern.


EDIT: Though, with the Extended layer, you'd still have access to shift on the left, wouldn't you? Hmm....

On the other hand, not all applications play nice with PKL, and the Extended layer can't be applied through the registry.

Still PKL can just be toggled on or off as needed.

Hmmmm...

Last edited by cevgar (14-Mar-2015 16:15:03)
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Whoops. Right you are. Matias. Even after looking it up I still copied stevep99's misspelling. Thought it sounded off. I'll just go back and fix it.(In my defense, the last interest I had in a Matias product was back when the HalfKeyboard was software only.)

Thanks for the link davkol!

Last edited by cevgar (14-Mar-2015 16:14:37)
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SteveP: If you haven't already, check out my proposed NumPad Extend layer, in my main Big Bag sig topic. I'm working on implementing it well (currently it's only done for XKB and lacks a dedicated modifier but I think I know how to make one).

// KeyPad overlay with nav block to the left (lv7-8):
// +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
// |` €€€ |1     |2     |3     |4 £   |5 €   |6     |7     |8     |9     |0     |-     |=     |
// | Del  |  !   |  @   |  #   |  $   |  %   |  ^   | KP_7 | KP_8 | KP_9 | KP_* | KP_- | KP_= |
// +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
// |Tab   |Q ### |W ### |F ### |P €€€ |G €€€ |J ### |L     |U     |Y     |;     |[ {   |] }   |
// |      | Home | Up   | End  | Del  | Esc  | PgUp | KP_4 | KP_5 | KP_6 | KP_+ |  (   |  )   |
// +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
// |Caps+ |A ### |R ### |S ### |T €€€ |D     |H ### |N     |E     |I     |O     |' "   |\ |   |
// | ++++ | Left | Down | Right| Back | K_Bgn| PgDn | KP_1 | KP_2 | KP_3 | K_Ent|  '   |  \   |
// +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
// |_ *** |Z €€€ |X === |C === |V === |B *** |K     |M     |, ;   |. :   |/     |Spc   |Entr  |
// | *MOn | Undo | Cut  | Copy | Paste| *Bt1 | K_Lck| KP_0 |  ,   | KP_. | KP_/ | Spc  | K_Ent|
// +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+

When I get it to work, at least in PKL it'll probably be activated with Alt+Extend but holding Extend alone will maintain it – and there'll be a lock key combo too (for instance Shift+Alt+Extend to lock the Num layer on/off).

Last edited by DreymaR (16-Mar-2015 13:49:37)

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DreymaR said:

SteveP: If you haven't already, check out my proposed NumPad Extend layer, in my main Big Bag sig topic. I'm working on implementing it well (currently it's only done for XKB and lacks a dedicated modifier but I think I know how to make one).

That's why thumb keys are so useful! :)

I am going for the approach of a single AltGr layer. This is what I have so far in my AHK implementation:
http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/# … 33a70230f1

The right hand is numpad-like, the left hand for other symbols I don't want to reach for. I also figured that numbers like 10, 100, etc are quite common and so it would be nice to have 0 and 1 on different fingers, hence 0 on comma. The characters surrounded by pipes | | are dead keys for creating accented characters (which I don't really need but it's a nice feature to have).

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Seems we're mostly on the same page as far as the NumPad block itself is concerned. Nice. Concerning all the other minor mapppings, the problem is to make them really easy to remember. I ended up keeping the left-hand number row for such symbols as $ % etc, simply because putting them in more easily reachable positions didn't seem worth the effort of learning those positions! But I see you're working from the known too, so your way should work well.

It doesn't matter much to me whether you select this layer by AltGr or another modifier; it's still a mapping layer. In Linux, it's my Extend+AltGr layer, but that should change to something more workable. So far I haven't really felt the need for this layer so it's not at the top of my TODO list.

I moved the nav block to the left hand for the NumPad layer, as navigation is still necessary for number entry and a left-hand nav block is almost as easy to use as the main one due to the intuitive layout of the nav keys and the workings of our wonderful brains. As it stands, I haven't got a coding layer as I didn't feel I could implement it in a simple enough way to make it worthwhile (and I'm not sacrificing my AltGr mappings – I need those and my dead keys need to be in better places than yours!).

That's a decent point about the '10'-bigrams. My little dilemma is that in Norway and some other countries we use a decimal comma instead of a decimal point – commas also crop up in other NumPad-related contexts of course – so I need both the comma and period in place. Therefore I'll accept that same-finger bigram. I don't feel that it'll hurt me much.

Indeed, thumb keys are useful! I'm still dedicated to implementations that'll work on my current and future laptops though. ;-)

Last edited by DreymaR (16-Mar-2015 14:41:29)

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The Alphapad could be improved:

J  L  U  Y  enter
H  N  E  I  O
K  M  ,; .: shift
space al '" ()

Only left backspace is used. Colons and brackets are added, <> removed.

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Hmm, interesting, having comma-semicolon and fullstop-colon keys does have a certain logic to it.
Not sure I'd be keen on the top-row enter position though. Anyway, I've become too accustomed to the DreymaR-style Extend-Space (which I find to be very nice) to consider changing enter now.

For those who don't mind moving punctuation around, maybe this?

J  L  U  Y  '
H  N  E  I  O enter
K  M  ,; .: shift

Where would you put  <> though?

Last edited by stevep99 (24-May-2015 13:40:10)

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stevep99 said:

Hmm, interesting, having comma-semicolon and fullstop-colon keys does have a certain logic to it.
Not sure I'd be keen on the top-row enter position though. Anyway, I've become too accustomed to the DreymaR-style Extend-Space (which I find to be very nice) to consider changing enter now.

For those who don't mind moving punctuation around, maybe this?

J  L  U  Y  '
H  N  E  I  O enter (invalid position)
K  M  ,; .: shift

Where would you put  <> though?

That is NOT valid numpad!
This is valid numpad (19-key USB):

(rotated clockwise)
@ @ @ @ @

@ @ @ @ @

@ @ @ @ @

@@@ @ @ @

And 17-key:

@ @ @ @

@ @ @ @
      @
@ @ @ @

@ @ @ @
      @
@@@ @ @

Alphapad is made by remapping numpad keys to right side of alphanumeric.
And note that comma-semicolon and fullstop-colon keys are used in german and other layouts.

Last edited by PiotrGrochowski (24-May-2015 15:20:53)

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Ah, then it seems I didn't understand what you were talking about.
Is this proposal to use a numpad as the right hand home position?

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stevep99 said:

Ah, then it seems I didn't understand what you were talking about.
Is this proposal to use a numpad as the right hand home position?

Alphapad is a numpad replacement for right hand. You can't have six columns. You didn't read. https://forum.colemak.com/viewtopic.php?pid=6168#p6168

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Oh, do pipe down Piotr! Half the time your writing skills aren't exactly what I'd describe as the most illuminating. You can seem positively opaque, maybe it's a language barrière and maybe it's just your style but try to be polite and humble because god knows you should.

And for what it's worth, I didn't immediately remember which part of this 4-page, fairly complex topic you referred to either. Cevgar's a fount of ideas, so there's plenty to take from where he's been. So I dare say steve's in good company here.

There, said it. ;-)

Last edited by DreymaR (26-May-2015 17:42:40)

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Indeed... the most recent topic being discussed in this thread was about virtual numpad on *the standard right-hand home position*. Some of these threads do end up having multiple things discussed, so clarity of context is important. Despite my improved typing technique of late,  unfortunately this has not yet had any knock-on effect on my mind reading abilities!!

I think the Alphapad idea would be quite nice if you could get programmable numpads. Then you could have one for each hand and use it as a matrix-like board in two halves. It would be quite portable too.

Last edited by stevep99 (27-May-2015 12:38:19)

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