Thank you for your feedback.
>I feel that your layout isn't quite tidy enough? I wouldn't duplicate dead keys for instance. Keeping the standard Colemak's accent mappings isn't much of a point since I don't think they're very well known as they are and they don't strike me as perfect anyway.
Just didn't want to make any enemies ;-) I don't really care what is on the Alt+Gr keys, but somebody else might.
>Sacrificing the dash for a macron dead key seems overmuch to me! I bet that'll annoy the hell out of a lot of users and not really be worth it? It'd certainly do me in!
For me it's not a big deal because a) it's possible to use the minus key and b) after the dash you'd normally type a space anyway, so typing two spaces instead isn't too much of a difference. However, that is probably the weakest point of my proposed layout and I'm ready to move the macron key somewhere else where it's accessible enough. I personally need it for Latin and Chinese Pinyin.
>I think that a national user needs a national layout, but at the same time it should be very minimalistically changed! That way you could change between the national layout you needed but in reality only change the mappings for a couple of keys! So I use all the punctuation like in the standard Colemak (ergo the US QWERTY).
I disagree. Looking at the national layouts nowadays almost none changed the QWERTY keys in a significant way, just moved the punctuation for no good reason and made space for accented characters. Also, letter distribution is not all that different across languages, and two-letter combinations are limited by what our mouths can produce. I believe the advantage of having one keyboard to type all languages is a huge advantage in this age where most Europeans are multilingual. I'm okay with using US placement of punctuation for all.
> I use the VK_102 for the most needed national symbol (in Norwegian, that's 'Ø'; in German, maybe 'ü' or 'ß'?). The next needed chars are on AltGr+ (I use 'ä' and 'ü' there - or rather, the Norwegian 'æ' and 'å' which I believe play a similar role) and if more are needed (say, for a slavic language) I'd use the \| and /? keys too.
This is a reasonable way to handle it if you're assuming monolingual users and languages with a limited amount of special letters. For French and for Slavic languages for example, you absolutely need dead keys for character input because of the wide variety of accents. Even being German I don't see the advantage of having one key each for the ä ö ü and even before I heard of Dvorak and Colemak I was playing with the idea of designing a keyboard that would unify those and leave more space for other accents.
The problem with the approach of always putting the most needed accented letter in a place is that you have to re-learn how to type for every language. For example, é should figure somewhere (hidden away) on the English keyboard for unusual cases like déjà vu, but the same key needs to be prominent on a French keyboard. The ¨ key is needed for French (for words like Noël) but not nearly as often as ´ ` or ^ . For German, it is essential. So this key will be present on both keyboards but placed in different positions as well. I believe this confusion is way more annoying than having all Western European accent keys readily available in defined spots, even if it means a less-than-perfect placement considering national letter frequency.
> You mention that the AltGr key is hard to hit because you have to twist your hand. This depends a bit on which keyboard you're using but generally speaking you have a point. However, I strongly recommend using a Wide ergonomic mod (see the last images in the linked topic) for any ISO keyboard because this will let you completely off the hook!
I'm already using an ergonomic keyboard. The main issue I was getting at is that it's impossible to use Alt Gr with your left hand (under Windows, Alt doesn't have the same functionality as Alt Gr), and using Alt Gr with your right hand while trying to hit another letter with your right hand at the same time is very uncomfortable.
> I haven't finished my layout completely because I'm very ambitious about it - I want to be able to use it for not only Latin-based European languages but also Greek/Cyrillic, most African languages and IPA. But if you like you could check out what I have so far.
I'm a student of Modern Greek as well, but I wouldn't think of including it on the main keyboard. At the moment I just hit Alt-Shift to switch to another custom keyboard and I can type phonetically in Greek letters, including the tonos and Greek punctuation. This is a lot more reasonable than having to keep hitting a deadkey. I would put a dead key for Greek letters somewhere among the Alt Gr places though just to enable English speakers to access Greek letters for math/physics formulas. For Cyrillic, which is not used by English speakers at all, a separate keyboard has to suffice. It might make sense to keep IPA on the main keyboard, but I'm putting it on a separate one anyway because it's too different. If you want to support the full IPA, there are way too many new letters and new diacritics to make it viable, and the average English speaker won't ever need any of them.
According to my survey, the following languages are now supported in Colemak, and my flavour in particular:
Optimal support (= all letters can be typed without use of Alt Gr; only listing the languages where that wasn't the case with regular Colemak):
Latin (with vowel length indications)
Almost optimal support:
Estonian (just missing the haceks that might occur in foreign words)
Finnish (same as Estonian, except the haceks may be replaced by h)
Better supported than in pure Colemak (= some accents are easier to produce, some are still hidden in the depths):
Chinese in romanization (Pinyin)
Same as Colemak:
All languages that don't have diacritics or special letters, e. g. English, Malay, Swahili, Nahuatl, countless other indigenous languages
Latin alphabets not supported:
Aymara? (unable to find a computer implementation of their special letters)
International Phonetic Alphabet
There are not many unsupported languages, apart from those requiring a completely different alphabet (Tibetan anyone?). I think this is a great achievement for Colemak.
Last edited by Sprachprofi (23-Mar-2010 14:03:16)