Keyboard layout legacies - Hardware talk
Ivyl
Keyboards evolved from typewriters, devices that have design limitations due to it's mechanical nature.


**CASE STUDY 1: Caps Lock**

It's one of the most useless keys ever. How many times did you pressed it by accident and you were screaming at innocent people? How many times your Vim gone all wonky? It's legacy comes from how you did emphasis on typewriters. Caps occupies sweet spot in home row. That space deserves something that is more usable, something that will be pressed more often.

Since Control is one of the most heavily used modifier keys it's right choice. You can switch Caps with Left Ctrl or just remap Caps to have 3 Ctrl keys.

THAT'S RIGHT. I HAVE NO CAPS AND 3 CTRLS. I WRITE THIS USING SHIFT ONLY. LET THE MADNESS FLOW.

Code:
setxkbmap -option ctrl:nocaps

**CASE STUDY 2: Application Menu Key**

Seriously, who's idea it is? He needs to be smacked. Most laptops skips right Super key to fit that bastard. GOD, WHY. I WANT MY MODIFIER KEY. I WANT IT BACK!

Feed xmodmap with this:
Code:
keycode 135 = Super_R

**CASE STUDY 3: QWERTY and family**

Try writing *typewriter* on QWERTY keyboard. You see? It's all marketing. It's also designed to make you bit slow (or at leas urban myth says so). Have you ever seen typewriter. It have those arms that hit paper and makes character. If two of them close together they like to stuck. To avoid this QWERTY happened.

There are few nice keyboard layouts. [Programmer's Dvorak](http://www.kaufmann.no/roland/dvorak/) is great example. It makes all the heavily used symbols easily accessible. There's also [Colemak](http://colemak.com/) that makes your fingers move less around keyboard.

I'm not yet many enough to make the transition though.

**CASE STUDY 4: Rarely used keys**

This one is even more subjective than others. Insert, Home, PageUp, Page Down, End, Delete - who uses those? Most apps have key chords to do that (not to talk about vim), Ctrl-A, Ctrl-E, etc. This is how it should be done. Why in the would I would take my hand from homer row to do those simple, frequent operations.
PageUp and PageDown are useful in terminal, but they easily could be covered with some Fn + key chord.

Same goes for Print Screen, Pause, Scroll Lock. I used Pause 2 years ago once, to pause output of BIOS. I use Print Screen bit more often - [Magic SysRq key](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_SysRq_key) when it comes to debugging.

Functional keys? 12 of them? Why they make my keyboard so big? Fn + number row them!

Arrow keys - most people do use them, but it could be easily replaced by Fn + WASD. I HJKL everything so I consider them pure evil.
crshd
If you mention swapping Control and Caps lock, you should give the example for that as well:

Code:
setxkbmap -option ctrl:swapcaps

I prefer having a Caps lock around when I need it. And having two Ctrl on one side of the keyboard is plain lunacy IMO.

Also, the layout question is really a matter of preference - personally, I'm hacking on a (slightly) modified QWERTZ (German QWERTY) at 400+ chars per minute. Not what I consider slow, and it would take me ages to get the same speed with Dvorak or Colemak.

Also, I like to have the separate movement keys (PgUp/Down, etc.), and use them quite a lot. I agree you **could** use chords, but it's more convenient to have be able to press a single key, I try to avoid chords wherever possible, at least until I get a set of modifier keys on each side of my board, instead of just one. Otherwise you'll end up with hurting hands after half an hour.

-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK-----
Version: 3.1
GCA/IT d-(---)@ s+: a-- C+++(++++)$ UBL*+++ P+++>++++ L++ E W+++$ !N !o K !w !O M+>++ !V PS+++ PE !Y PGP+ !t-- !5 !X R@ tv- b+ DI D+ G e h r++ y+
------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------

Ivyl
(13-01-2013, 10:44 PM)crshd Wrote: If you mention swapping Control and Caps lock, you should give the example for that as well:
You are right. Luckily you did it for me.

(13-01-2013, 10:44 PM)crshd Wrote: I prefer having a Caps lock around when I need it. And having two Ctrl on one side of the keyboard is plain lunacy IMO.
I'm lunatic. Actually I'm still making my mind what should do original left ctrl. I don't really use it.

(13-01-2013, 10:44 PM)crshd Wrote: Also, the layout question is really a matter of preference - personally, I'm hacking on a (slightly) modified QWERTZ (German QWERTY) at 400+ chars per minute. Not what I consider slow, and it would take me ages to get the same speed with Dvorak or Colemak.
Yeah. But you would have even more on Colemak. I'm in same situation. I'm around 400 CPM on QWERTY and having hard time deciding what to do.i

(13-01-2013, 10:44 PM)crshd Wrote: Also, I like to have the separate movement keys (PgUp/Down, etc.), and use them quite a lot. I agree you **could** use chords, but it's more convenient to have be able to press a single key, I try to avoid chords wherever possible, at least until I get a set of modifier keys on each side of my board, instead of just one. Otherwise you'll end up with hurting hands after half an hour.
Nah. It doesn't hurt. I do the Vim everywhere. Lots of ^D ^U for me and I'm fine. I actually remap everything in order to modifiers be symmetrical. I'm actually using TKL keyboard and reaching anything in PageUp/Down area makes me feel awkard.
yrmt
Colemak ftw.
Ivyl
(14-01-2013, 05:42 AM)Beastie Wrote: Colemak ftw.
There's even more optimized layout. BHEOLD [QGMLWB](http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/carpalx/?popular_alternatives) and it's kin.

I also don't like how Colemak makes harder writing in my native language. Accents are quite common so most layouts have two key chords, Colmeak makes them sequence beginning with chord.
Okeg
(13-01-2013, 06:43 PM)Ivyl Wrote: Keyboards evolved from typewriters, devices that have design limitations due to it's mechanical nature.


**CASE STUDY 1: Caps Lock**

It's one of the most useless keys ever. How many times did you pressed it by accident and you were screaming at innocent people? How many times your Vim gone all wonky? It's legacy comes from how you did emphasis on typewriters. Caps occupies sweet spot in home row. That space deserves something that is more usable, something that will be pressed more often.

Since Control is one of the most heavily used modifier keys it's right choice. You can switch Caps with Left Ctrl or just remap Caps to have 3 Ctrl keys.

Well, you are right for the most part.
However: Here's a little tips for you to optimize you layout:
Read this: http://ergoemacs.org/emacs/swap_CapsLock_Ctrl.html

Therefore, on my kb I decided to switch caps lock with mod4, since the mod4 key is in a quite strange place(considering how much use it gets), cramped in between the ctrl and alt key.
venam
I swapped CAPS LOCK with BACSPACE and it feels amazing.
Code:
xmodmap -e "remove Lock = Caps_Lock" # Remove Caps Lock
xmodmap -e "keycode 66 = BackSpace" # Make the key into Backspace
Ivyl
(15-01-2013, 09:34 AM)Vizaari Wrote: Well, you are right for the most part.
However: Here's a little tips for you to optimize you layout:
Read this: http://ergoemacs.org/emacs/swap_CapsLock_Ctrl.html

Therefore, on my kb I decided to switch caps lock with mod4, since the mod4 key is in a quite strange place(considering how much use it gets), cramped in between the ctrl and alt key.

It's easier to stretch my hand for Caps+Key combos that pressing controls with palms. I often use ctrl chords (Vim user here) and from my experience ctrl in home row is great. Only issues is that when pressing Ctrl along with Q/A/Z I have to use ring finger for the letter, but it's ok since I don't move whole hand.

I am able to press both Supers with pinkies pretty easily, targeting for bottom row Ctrls is hard though - edges of main key group are hard to reach. I need left Alt because my keyboard layout uses it to make accents (so called European Alt Gr),

Bottom line - I use single home row Ctrl, and it's the most used modifier key. I press Supers with pinkies and both Alts using thumbs. It works.
halfoff
(14-01-2013, 05:42 AM)Beastie Wrote: Colemak ftw.

Do you use Colemak, Beastie? If you do, that's quite the feat, assuming you started with QWERTY like most people. If not, still cool.

I've always wanted to learn another layout, but it just seems so unnatural to relearn typing once you've been using keyboard since you were 8.
trgc
Just started learning Colemak yesterday, up to 15 wpm today. :)




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