Author Topic: A better QWERTY?  (Read 7777 times)

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Offline ergonaut

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A better QWERTY?
« on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 03:06:18 »
I've been using an alternative keyboard layout (Neo2) for around eight years now, and am really happy with it. I do touch type, so I don't really need keycap legends; in fact, I've been using standard QWERTY legends all the time. But sometimes I think it would be nice to have legends that actually reflect the layout I'm using – for example when typing one-handed while eating a sandwich, or to make it clear to coworkers that my keyboard is somewhat different from theirs.

However, when using sculpted keycaps with different shapes for each row, they cannot really be rearranged – except within their respective rows. So, just as a thought experiment, I wanted to ask: could we make a better (i.e. more efficient and ergonomic) layout than QWERTY just by rearranging the letters within their respective rows?

Just as an example, I made up this, without any optimization or anything:

u i e o w     q r t y p
l F g a k     d h s J ;
x v b c z     m n , .

The thoughts behind this were:

– put all the vowels on the left hand and (as far as possible) the most used consonants on the right hand
– put the most used letters on better positions
– put F and J on the ring fingers to retain the functionality of the homing keys while having the index and middle finger positions for more important letters
– leave x, v, c and z on the left hand to be able to use the associated shortcuts while mousing with the right
– leave comma and full stop where they are, because the Wikipedia article on letter frequencies didn't provide any data for those ;)

Like I said, all of this is really just a thought experiment, as I don't have any plans to move away from Neo any time soon (and certainly not for an inferior layout, which this would inevitably be), but maybe some of you would like to think about this with me :)

Offline saint_james

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 04:12:16 »
I've been using an alternative keyboard layout (Neo2) for around eight years now, and am really happy with it. I do touch type, so I don't really need keycap legends; in fact, I've been using standard QWERTY legends all the time. But sometimes I think it would be nice to have legends that actually reflect the layout I'm using – for example when typing one-handed while eating a sandwich, or to make it clear to coworkers that my keyboard is somewhat different from theirs.
 ...

Like I said, all of this is really just a thought experiment, as I don't have any plans to move away from Neo any time soon (and certainly not for an inferior layout, which this would inevitably be), but maybe some of you would like to think about this with me :)

It seems like a terrible idea to contrive and switch to "an inferior layout" to preserve row height consistency in sculptured keycaps.

Why not just use blank keycaps?  Legends are like training wheels on a bicycle IMO.  Then QWERTY, Dvorak, Colemak, Neo don't matter.  If you're eating a sandwich with one hand, you can either figure it out or put down the sandwich.
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Offline ergonaut

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 04:54:19 »
Like I said, I'm not planning on changing layouts. I’m just wondering what can be achieved within the constraint of keyset compatibility. I know it’s silly 😄

Offline nevin

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 05:53:02 »
interesting idea. i've been using blank caps for years for pretty much the same reason. if you wanted legends for your board/s i'd go with uniform profile keycaps, there are a couple different uniform profiles that get full legends pretty regularly (DSA, XDA, TEX ADA). There is also G20, but i've only seen that in blanks. OMO is a new XDA alps variant.

some links & refrences:
https://mechlab.cc/a-guide-to-keycap-profiles/
actually massdrop/drop is still running the TEX ADA set at a decent price (retro, uniform profile, like if SA & DSA had babies) note: drop ends in 4 days.
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Offline depletedvespene

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 08:45:34 »
Like I said, I'm not planning on changing layouts. I’m just wondering what can be achieved within the constraint of keyset compatibility. I know it’s silly 😄

I will say that when it comes to working within those constraints, moving the keys with bars or scoops to a different spot comes off as not that good of an idea. Every single training course on how to type on a typewriter will tell you that those guides are meant to be used by the index fingers. Heck, one of the reasons the early Apple keyboards were disliked was that S. Jobs moved the nipple guides to D and K.

Offline nevin

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 09:12:13 »
D & K FOREVER!
well... that's what i learned on, at least. doesn't really make a big difference either way.
.... bars, nipples & scoops....  sounds deliciously.....err, umm....  sorry, i digress.....
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Offline ergonaut

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 09:32:04 »
I will say that when it comes to working within those constraints, moving the keys with bars or scoops to a different spot comes off as not that good of an idea.

Sure, you're probably right about that. Then again, none of what I'd outlined in the first post is anywhere near being a good idea ;)

However, it causes physical pain in me to see that primo real estate on the home row right below the index fingers wasted for F and J (which, according to Wikipedia, account for 2.2% and 0.15% usage in the English language).

Offline depletedvespene

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 09:42:32 »
interesting idea. i've been using blank caps for years for pretty much the same reason. if you wanted legends for your board/s i'd go with uniform profile keycaps, there are a couple different uniform profiles that get full legends pretty regularly (DSA, XDA, TEX ADA). There is also G20, but i've only seen that in blanks. OMO is a new XDA alps variant.

some links & refrences:
https://mechlab.cc/a-guide-to-keycap-profiles/
actually massdrop/drop is still running the TEX ADA set at a decent price (retro, uniform profile, like if SA & DSA had babies) note: drop ends in 4 days.



Actually... when it comes to learning a new layout, I find it best to NOT change the profile, as that can complicate things (same thing goes viceversa, although it usually takes less time). I also think it's best to use an explicitly hostile keycap set, so as to tell you "Don't bother looking here!", and sometimes blanks aren't unfriendly enough.

With that in mind, this is the keyboard I rotate into usage whenever I'm learning a new international layout:

226949-0

Note the presence of the homing bars in the correct places (those two keys were custom-ordered; the rest weren't). Of course, here I took advantage of IBM Model M/F keycaps being single profile. Cherry MX based keyboards would have it quite more difficult to pull the same feat.

Offline ergonaut

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 09:48:08 »
With that in mind, this is the keyboard I rotate into usage whenever I'm learning a new international layout:


geekhack doesn't seem to have a 'like' button, so let me just tell you this way that I really like that board, and your matching signature.

Offline depletedvespene

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 10:09:15 »
With that in mind, this is the keyboard I rotate into usage whenever I'm learning a new international layout:


geekhack doesn't seem to have a 'like' button, so let me just tell you this way that I really like that board, and your matching signature.

Thank you. :)

The signature will change soon, though, after I've completed a little project I'm working on. ;)

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: A better QWERTY?
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 24 September 2019, 17:31:22 »
I've been using an alternative keyboard layout (Neo2) for around eight years now, and am really happy with it. I do touch type, so I don't really need keycap legends; in fact, I've been using standard QWERTY legends all the time. But sometimes I think it would be nice to have legends that actually reflect the layout I'm using – for example when typing one-handed while eating a sandwich, or to make it clear to coworkers that my keyboard is somewhat different from theirs.
 ...

Like I said, all of this is really just a thought experiment, as I don't have any plans to move away from Neo any time soon (and certainly not for an inferior layout, which this would inevitably be), but maybe some of you would like to think about this with me :)

It seems like a terrible idea to contrive and switch to "an inferior layout" to preserve row height consistency in sculptured keycaps.

Why not just use blank keycaps?  Legends are like training wheels on a bicycle IMO.  Then QWERTY, Dvorak, Colemak, Neo don't matter.  If you're eating a sandwich with one hand, you can either figure it out or put down the sandwich.

workman i should switch to