Author Topic: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards  (Read 16971 times)

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Offline spiceBar

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The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 09:57:01 »
Here is a new layout that I have designed for 60% keyboards and that I have been using for several months now. I have even created dedicated keycaps for it.

63087-0
    Fig. 1: Basic GuiFN layout.


Features:
- Standard-sized keycaps.
- Minimal impact on typing habits.
- Both Esc and backquote/tilde are directly accessible.
- One-handed navigation.
- Works on both ANSI and ISO keyboards.
- Can be easily programmed in hardware on the Poker 2.
- Works very well on Poker X and HHKB and other 60% keyboards.


This layout is called "GuiFN" because the right Windows key becomes "Fn" (a key that gives access to some additional functions).

The idea is to retain some of the best features of the SpaceFN layout (http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=51069.0), but without overloading the space key this time.

In the picture above, the functions in the blue boxes are accessed by pressing and holding the Fn key, which is supposed to be pressed with the right hand thumb. Rotating the keycap of the Fn key by 180° helps a lot because it's easier on the thumb, and it helps finding it without looking at the keyboard.

The keys that do not have a "Fn" function are not sensitive to the Fn key: they always produce the same character. This is very convenient because you can use for example Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V to copy/paste text while navigating, without even releasing the Fn key.



Customizing GuiFN:

There are naturally a few things you may want to change in the layout.

This variant for example keeps the backquote/tilde key in its standard location, and allows you to lock your Windows computer with the well-known Win-L combination:

63089-1
    Fig. 2: GuiFN variant. Backquote on standard location, Fn-L to lock.


You can also swap Ctrl and CapsLock. In this case you end up with backquote on the bottom left of the keyboard, which is OK I guess if you do not use this character too often.

I use the following variant on the Poker 2. It adds two keys that allow me to go directly to the top and bottom of a document, and one that replaces the missing Menu key:

63091-2
    Fig. 3: GuiFN variant. O and L for Top and Bottom of document, and U for Menu.


I actually use the AZERTY version of this variant, as you will see in the pictures below.



Usability:

I have refined the layout several times since the first design. For example, moving Caps Lock to the Fn layout in order to make room for backquote/tilde (or Esc) came early on. Del just above Fn came later. I did not want Del to be too close to Fn, but once I tried it for real I realized it was absolutely not a problem. Top, Bottom and Lock have been added more recently.

I use my keyboard heavily to code in C, Objective-C and C#, answer emails, browse the internet, use the command line, and so on. I have been able to adapt to this layout rather easily. With a flipped Fn key, I think that one may need only one or two days to start being comfortable with it.

I still use a standard keyboard several times a day on my other computer, and I have found that switching back and forth between GuiFN and a standard layout was not a problem at all.



Custom GuiFN keycaps:

Here is my current keyboard, a Poker 2 with Tex case and custom AZERTY GuiFN keycaps:

63093-3
    Fig. 4: Poker 2 with dedicated GuiFN keycaps.


I have created a SVG graphic file with the GuiFN layout and ordered the custom keycaps from WASDkeyboards.com . The graphic file is designed for a full set (104 keys) because I wanted alternate versions of some keys.

The left arrow key has been printed on the numpad's "5", which has a tactile point in the center.

The Fn key is special: it has been printed upside down, and is inserted on the keyboard upside down. This way, I can find it easily by touch without looking.

Here is a close-up of the area:

63095-4
    Fig. 5: Upside-down Fn key and tacticle point on the left arrow key.


On my keyboard I have opted for a light design: on some keys I have omitted to print the secondary function. For example Fn-P does Home, but the function is not printed on the key. I have another P key on which the Fn function (Home) is printed. This alternate key come from the parts of the fullsize keycaps set that is not part of the typewriter cluster. I have created a print mask that makes use of almost all the full set, and which contains alternate versions. I also have alternate versions of the number row keys, one with the Function key number (F1...F12), and one without. On my keyboard I have installed a mix of them, as you can see.

Here is another keyboard, a GH60, with more GuiFN legends:

63097-5
    Fig. 6: a GH60 programmed with the GuiFN layout, using most of the GuiFN legends.



Implementations:

Hardware: at this time, the GuiFN layout can be implemented in hardware on the Poker 2, using the built-in programming feature, and on any keyboard that support Hasu's TMK firmware (GH60, HHKB with special controller card, PS/2 to USB converter...).

Software: I'll update this section when I get software implementations for Windows, Mac and Linux. I need volunteers to write the AHK script for Windows, and if you know how to implement this under Linux I'm very interested (I have not tried yet).


Poker 2:

Thanks to the location of the built-in Fn key, the Poker 2 is compatible with GuiFN. This occured to me only after designing GuiFN, which I tried first on a Poker X, on a GH60 and on an HHKB. After noticing this, I ordered a Poker 2. GuiFN has not been designed for the Poker 2, but it happens to work perfectly on it!

The Poker 2 can be easily programmed by the user without using any software. The user enters the mapping by hand, and it's retained after the keyboard is turned off or disconnected from the computer.

By default, the functions you program are only accessible by pressing the Pn key together with the programmed key.

However, you also have a special mode that allows you to bypass the Pn key. In this mode, pressing a key invokes what you have programmed, no need to press Pn. This mode allows you to completely reprogram the keyboard. For example you can convert the Poker 2 to DVORAK using this. The original function of the key is still accessible by pressing Pn and the key. To get the original Fn- meaning of the key, press Fn-Pn- and the key.

We are going to use this special mode, which also allows to reprogram the Fn layer.

First, let's check that the keyboard is not write-protected. Under the keyboard, the DIP switch 4 must be in the OFF position.

Now, let's reprogram just two keys to see how it's done. We are going to change the Caps Lock key so that pressing it directly will produce a backquote and pressing it together with Fn will give access to the original Caps Lock function. Press the keys in this order:

Key                   Comment
---------------      ----------------
Fn-Ctrl              - enter programming mode - the LED at the right end of the space bar blinks

CapsLock          - the key we want to program - the LED stops blinking
Fn-Esc               - the character it should produce: this is how you get the backquote on the Poker 2

Pn                      - we are done programming CapsLock, the LED starts blinking again

Fn-CapsLock    - we are going to program Fn-CapsLock
CapsLock          - what Fn-CapsLock should do

Pn                      - we are done programming Fn-CapsLock

Fn-Ctrl              - exit programming mode, the LED is now off

Finally press Fn-Shift (the Shift at the right of the keyboard). The LED at the left end of the space bar lights up. It means you can now use the programmed keys without using Pn.

Press CapsLock and you should get a backquote. Shift-CapsLock should do the tilde. Fn-CapsLock puts the keyboard in Caps mode, and will turn on the LED under the CapsLock key.

Not bad.


NOTE1: You need to press Fn-Shift every time you exit from programming mode, and every time your keyboard is disconnected from your computer (and maybe every time your turn your computer on, it depends on your motherboard).

NOTE2: If you get lost at some point and end up with a scrambled keyboard, you can return it to factory state:
- disconnect the keyboard, then reconnect it
- press and hold Fn-R for 15 seconds
The LED at the left end of the space bar will flash for 3s to tell you that the keyboard has been reset to factory defaults.


Now let's program the arrow keys. Please note that the instructions are written for an US-ANSI Poker 2, but it's not difficult, by looking at the "Basic GuiFN layout" at the top of this post, to translate the instructions for UK ISO or any other language:

Key                   Comment
---------------      ----------------
Fn-Ctrl              - enter programming mode - the LED at the right end of the space bar blinks

Fn-;                   - Fn-semicolon is going to do the left arrow
Fn-A                  - This is how you get the left arrow by default

Pn

Fn-'                   - Fn-quote is going to do the down arrow
Fn-S                  - this is how you get the down arrow by default

Pn

Fn-Enter           - Fn-Enter is going to do the right arrow
Fn-D                  - this is how you get the right arrow by default

Pn

Fn-[                   - Fn-[ is going to do the up arrow
Fn-W                 - this is how you get the up arrow by default

Pn

Fn-Ctrl             - exit programming mode

Press Fn-Shift (the right side one) and test your new arrows. When navigating, I recommend that you put your right thumb on the Fn key and your index, middle, and ring fingers on the left, down and right arrows (semicolon, quote and Enter). Maybe now is the time to flip your Fn key so you can find it without looking.

Please note that the original Fn layer meaning of these keys (what is written on the front side of the keys) is not lost. For example, you can still get Home by pressing Fn-Pn-semicolon (press and hold both Fn and Pn, then press the semicolon key). However don't worry, you will not have to do that to get Home, because it will be on Fn-P.

Now that you know how to reprogram keys, you can finish programming the keyboard. Remeber that Fn-Ctrl allows you to enter/exit programming mode and that you must press Pn when you have finished programming a key:

This key             does:                     Comment
---------              ------                     --------------
Fn-P                 Fn-;                       Home
Fn-]                  Fn-.                       End
Fn-Backspace  Fn-'                       PgUp
Fn-\                  Fn-/                      PgDn
Fn-/                  Fn-Backspace      Del
Fn-M                 Fn-P                      Print Screen (PrtScr)
Fn-,                   Fn-[                      Scroll Lock (ScrLk)
Fn-.                   Fn-]                      Pause
Fn-U                  Fn-X                     Menu


You could also program Fn-O and Fn-L to move to the top and bottom of document, respectively:

This key             does:                     Comment
---------              ------                     --------------
Fn-O                Ctrl-Fn-;                Top (Ctrl-Home)
Fn-L                 Ctrl-Fn-.                Bottom (Ctrl-End)


Or you could have Fn-L lock your Windows screen:

This key             does:                     Comment
---------              ------                     --------------
Fn-L                 Win-L                    Lock screen


And finally there is something important left to do. You need to make sure that all the keys that have no function in GuiFN are indifferent to the Fn key. This will allow you for example to type Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V even if you are still holding down the Fn key. It's an important final touch that improves the usability of GuiFN. You just tell Fn-<key> to simply do <key>. There are only 9 keys that already have a function and that we need to "reset":

This key             does:
---------              ------
Fn-W                W
Fn-Y                 Y
Fn-A                 A
Fn-S                 S
Fn-D                 D
Fn-J                  J
Fn-K                 K
Fn-X                 X
Fn-N                 N


Now your Poker 2 is completely converted to the GuiFN layout!

NOTE: Fn-F, Fn-G and Fn-H cannot be reprogrammed, I don't know why. I think it's a bug and it may have been fixed in the latest firmware. I just leave them alone.

Don't forget:
- Before typing, make sure that the LED at the right end of the space bar is ON (Fn-Shift if it's not).
- Fn-Pn- allows you to access the original Fn layer (written on the front side of the keys).
- You can easily restore the keyboard to factory defaults by pressing and holding Fn-R for 15s.


TMK Firmware:

I'm going to contact Hasu and ask him if he wants to add the GuiFN to the list of supported layouts. I'll update this section if he accepts.

Meanwhile, just PM me if you would like to try GuiFN on your TMK-compatible hardware. At this time I have the "KEYMAPs" for:
- the GH60
- the HHKB Pro 2 (you need Hasu's replacement controller for the HHKB 2)
- the PS/2 to USB converter (that's how I started designing and testing GuiFN on a Poker X)
and all these have been tested.

From this starting point, it's not difficult to create the keymaps for other keyboards.

63099-6
    Fig. 7: GuiFN prototype (Poker X with Hasu's PS/2 to USB converter).
« Last Edit: Mon, 12 May 2014, 04:46:35 by spiceBar »

Offline jdcarpe

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 10:10:41 »
This is one I could get behind. I never use that key anyway. And it's much easier to learn than the SpaceFn.
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Offline metalliqaz

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 10:26:07 »
I'd switch the position of Fn and R_Alt

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 10:41:45 »
I'd switch the position of Fn and R_Alt

I wish we could do that.

But both Alt keys are not equivalent. The right Alt is called AltGr almost everywhere in the world, and it is heavily used to type many important characters.

Touch the right Alt and you immediately inconvenience millions of people.

Offline metalliqaz

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 10:50:31 »
I wish we could do that.

We can do anything we want.

But both Alt keys are not equivalent. The right Alt is called AltGr almost everywhere in the world, and it is heavily used to type many important characters.

How about moving arrow keys to [ ; ' Enter? Aren't those heavily used?  If you can move the grave key to caps lock, then you can move AltGr over one key.

Touch the right Alt and you immediately inconvenience millions of people.

Millions?

Edit: I should note that it was just a suggestion.  I don't use 60% layouts.

Offline jdcarpe

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 10:51:23 »
Maybe like this, I think...

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Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 11:14:37 »
I wish we could do that.

We can do anything we want.

You can do that if you want.

For a generic GuiFN layout that may be used on international layouts, it's a big no-no.


Quote
But both Alt keys are not equivalent. The right Alt is called AltGr almost everywhere in the world, and it is heavily used to type many important characters.

How about moving arrow keys to [ ; ' Enter? Aren't those heavily used?  If you can move the grave key to caps lock, then you can move AltGr over one key.

The [ ; ' and Enter keys still do what you are used to. They have not been changed.

These keys simply have an additional meaning when pressed in combination with Fn.

Moving keys on the main layout (the keys that are used without pressing Fn) gets you in trouble quickly, because people don't want them to be changed.

Backquote: on a 60% keyboard, you cannot stuff both Esc and backquote without having to relocate one. I have shown in my OP an alternate layout that does not relocate backquote.

All the 60% layouts that I have seen so far solve the problem by locating Esc on the top left of the keyboard, and the backquote is also on this key. But to get a backquote you must press Fn, which is inconvenient if you use backquote often.

The novel solution provided by the GuiFN layout is to overload the CapsLock key, which is generally considered to take up valuable space while being seldom used.

It's a compromise, and I hope it's an acceptable one.


Quote
Touch the right Alt and you immediately inconvenience millions of people.

Millions?

OK, Let's say "A high percentage of people would could potentially be interested by this layout".


Quote
Edit: I should note that it was just a suggestion.  I don't use 60% layouts.

I had guessed that.
« Last Edit: Wed, 30 April 2014, 11:17:43 by spiceBar »

Offline geniekid

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 11:17:36 »
This is almost the exact layout I came up with for use on my keyboard!  My actual layout is this:
Base:
63080-0

Layer1:
63082-1

Layer2 consists of Caps Lock, Boot mode and Debug mode somewhere.

It's nice because to begin navigating using the arrow cluster I have to move all my right fingers EXACTLY one key to the right.  I tried a number of other combinations, but found them too disorienting for touch typing.  This is the only configuration I've found that I prefer over the native HHKB layout.

EDIT:  Obviously this is tailored to my daily use case.  I am not claiming my layout is superior as a general layout to GuiFN.  I was just excited that someone else had come up with a layout so similar to my own.
« Last Edit: Wed, 30 April 2014, 11:19:13 by geniekid »

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 11:24:17 »
This is almost the exact layout I came up with for use on my keyboard!  My actual layout is this:
Base:
(Attachment Link)

Layer1:
(Attachment Link)

Layer2 consists of Caps Lock, Boot mode and Debug mode somewhere.

It's nice because to begin navigating using the arrow cluster I have to move all my right fingers EXACTLY one key to the right.  I tried a number of other combinations, but found them too disorienting for touch typing.  This is the only configuration I've found that I prefer over the native HHKB layout.

I guess it's perfectly fine for a US layout keyboard, but it does not work on international layouts because you are moving the right Alt key. The right Alt key is called AltGr on international layouts, and this key is so heavily used that it's like an alphabetical character. Moving it is like moving the E key. People will refuse such a change because it breaks too many typing habits.

Offline geniekid

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 13:28:40 »
I think this is a really well thought out layout - much better than SpaceFn IMHO.  If you need AltGr you'll have to move your fingers significantly to switch between typing and navigating, but the reversed Fn key addresses that in a very creative way.

In any case, the general idea of the right thumb activating a navigation layer underneath the other right fingers is sound.  I would recommend this even for TKL users because it's just more efficient, especially for programmers who frequently switch between typing and navigating (in my personal experience anyway).

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 30 April 2014, 16:16:37 »
I think this is a really well thought out layout - much better than SpaceFn IMHO.  If you need AltGr you'll have to move your fingers significantly to switch between typing and navigating, but the reversed Fn key addresses that in a very creative way.

Yes, I never have to look down at the keyboard when I switch from typing to navigating.

The fact that the navigation cluster is at the edge of the keyboard also helps.


Quote
In any case, the general idea of the right thumb activating a navigation layer underneath the other right fingers is sound.

Absolutely.

It's a fundamental feature of your layout, of SpaceFn and of GuiFN.

Putting the Fn key on the left side of the keyboard, as is done almost universally (especially on laptops), completely breaks our typing habits. It messes very badly with the Ctrl and Shift chords we are doing all the time during editing. I have been using a wireless Apple aluminium keyboard for some time, and this is the thing I could never get used to.

It must be noted that Fn on left is a design choice that is almost forced when you use an inferior keyboard technology. Due to the flat shape of the keys, an Fn key that you would press with your right thumb would not work well on the Apple keyboard or on laptops. On rubber dome keyboards, where you need to apply significant pressure in order to keep the membranes in contact, it would not be practical as well.

Fn pressed with the right thumb works beautifully on mechanical keyboards, because the keys have some height and long travel, and you can flip the Fn key and make it much easier on the thumb.

Pressing Fn with the thumb when you want to navigate becomes quickly very natural. And if you look at your typing patterns, you will notice that most of the time you type a bunch of characters, then you press a bunch of navigation keys, then you go back at typing characters and so on. Switching between typing and navigating is frequent, but the keypresses for typing and navigating are grouped together, reducing a lot the "cost" of switching (finding the right spot for the thumb and pressing Fn). And as you have pointed out, switching on a full size keyboard or on a TKL may be even more costly.


Quote
I would recommend this even for TKL users because it's just more efficient, especially for programmers who frequently switch between typing and navigating (in my personal experience anyway).

My experience after using SpaceFN exclusively for one full month has been that going back to a full size or a TKL is almost painful. It made me realize how much we move our hands on a standard keyboard.

With SpaceFN your hands move very little. It's only when you go back to a full keyboard that you realize it.

GuiFN is between SpaceFN and a full keyboard in this regard. Much less hand travel than on a keyboard with dedicated arrow keys. And because it's for 60% keyboards, much more space for the mouse.

Offline cooldiscretion

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 11 May 2014, 12:30:06 »
This is almost the exact layout I came up with for use on my keyboard!  My actual layout is this:
Base:
(Attachment Link)

Layer1:
(Attachment Link)

I really like this layout.  Is it possible to program this into the Fn layer of the Poker II or did you have to use the Pn layer.

Offline geniekid

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 11 May 2014, 12:48:23 »
This is almost the exact layout I came up with for use on my keyboard!  My actual layout is this:
Base:
(Attachment Link)

Layer1:
(Attachment Link)

I really like this layout.  Is it possible to program this into the Fn layer of the Poker II or did you have to use the Pn layer.

I did all of this on my QFR using bphipany's Frosty Flake and metalliqaz's Easy AVR because I believe in this layout so much I use a navigation layer even though I have dedicated navigation keys.  I don't own a Poker II so I'm not exactly sure what it allows, but after re-reading the OP I don't know if it's possible to map another key as as the Fn toggle key.  SpiceBar may have more advice to offer here.

Online Puddsy

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #13 on: Sun, 11 May 2014, 12:57:59 »
My problem with this over spaceFN is that the right super is a pain to reach while gaming.

Hence why I think miniLA is best layout.
QFR | MJ2 TKL | "Schumiboard" | "Bulgogiboard" (Keycon 104) | MIRA SE | Weaven (MOD-M) | TGR Alice (68g vints) | MEME | Keycult No 1 (when it ships) | Southpaw Fullsize (when it ships) | I mostly use the Alice, but the Mira gets some use

has puddsy gotten an award for person most involved with things hes not involved in at all, yet?

Offline Oobly

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 12 May 2014, 06:03:46 »
My problem with this over spaceFN is that the right super is a pain to reach while gaming.

Hence why I think miniLA is best layout.

I actually prefer the Pure layout, since you can toggle the right hand modifiers into arrow keys for gaming. The Pure Fn layer is simply awesome when combined with using the LEFT Windows / Super key as Fn (dip switch 4).

I just wish it had a full size right shift, since I have to cherry pick keycap sets.
Buying more keycaps,
it really hacks my wallet,
but I must have them.

Offline Coreda

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 12 May 2014, 06:24:31 »
Oooo, I like this. Saw someone recently suggest Fn+[;'Enter for the arrow key cluster, but Backspace and \ for Pg Up/Down is unique. Nicely planned out layout, may try this.

Offline wuqe

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 12 May 2014, 13:23:25 »
This is simply the best use of WASD's custom key printing that I have ever seen. Love it! OP, would you care to comment on the quality of the printing of the legends? I am curious to try this myself with an Ergodox, just a little worried about the profiled keys on it...

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 12 May 2014, 21:04:27 »
This is simply the best use of WASD's custom key printing that I have ever seen. Love it! OP, would you care to comment on the quality of the printing of the legends? I am curious to try this myself with an Ergodox, just a little worried about the profiled keys on it...


OK, this is my review of the WASD keycaps (http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keycap-set.html).


Keycaps base:


The keys are made of ABS. The plastic is not thick, which is not great, but the white keys happen to give an interesting effect with backlighting (Poker 2 with blue LEDs):

64511-0


There is no warping on these keys. The spacebar and the other long keys are well molded.

I admit the keycaps don't compare to thick PBT, but I have not noticed any quality issue.


Printing:

The resolution of the keycaps legends is excellent. In my design I have been quite conservative about the level of detail, but now I know I could have designed details twice as small and they would have been rendered very well.

Actually, you can go as small as you want. I have a test keycap (an unused one in the full set that I have used as a test) on which I have printed 4 lines of text, and it is perfectly readable. If they can't print it, you couldn't read it anyway.

You provide a SVG file to them so they can print it on the keys. On their site, they provide a template SVG which includes several languages and styles. Most people just select the language layer and the mods layer of their choice and that's it. I went much further: I redesigned a lot of stuff and added a layer (actually several ones) for GuiFN.

You can easily edit the SVG file with Inkscape (it's free software available for Windows, Mac and Linux). I had never used Inkscape, and I have found it was easy to use. It gives you total freedom on your design. You can include text and graphics in any way you like as long as it is monochrome. You can write text in diagonal or upside down if you want. I have taken advantage of both possibilities. My pictures do not show the diagonal legends, but you will have noticed that the Fn key has been printed upside down on purpose.


Coating:

Once the legends have been printed on the keys, a layer of coating is added on top.

The coating protects the legends. In other words, your finger will first have to destroy this layer in order to be able to attack the legends themselves.

The coating covers completely the top surface of the key, which makes even harder to attack it. I do not know how resistant it is, because I have not tried hard to scratch it yet, but it certainly looks and feels well done.

I have found, however, that it is a little bit too shiny. It does have a sandy texture, but it's not enough to scatter reflexions. So black keys may not be so great if you happen to have a light source coming from the wrong direction.

Here is a picture of one black WASD key on a Filco TKL. The WASD key is the one with "[ ] 2" on it, the other keys are the stock Filco. The problem is evident here because I have a lamp shining light from above my monitor, and it's the only light source. So this picture shows the worst case:

64513-1


This black key comes from my first order to them: a SpaceFN black keycaps set.

Having noticed this, I have opted for white keys in my second order (GuiFN keycaps). And as I suspected, white keys almost completely eliminate the "shine" problem. Here, I have really tried to find the worst angle, and readability is still excellent:

64515-2


Please note that the white keys are really white. They look yellow on this picture because the lamp above my monitor is yellow-ish.


Overall I would say that WASD is doing a great job with these custom keycaps. I'm not aware of any other easy way to create 100% custom keycaps.
« Last Edit: Mon, 12 May 2014, 21:07:58 by spiceBar »

Offline wuqe

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #18 on: Wed, 14 May 2014, 11:43:27 »
Great review, and I love the work you did here. Agreed that WASD seems to be the easiest way to get one-off custom caps for the time being. I think I will go ahead and order from them based on your experience and write up. Thanks!

Offline jmolino

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #19 on: Sun, 25 May 2014, 23:01:04 »
Do you really feel that this layout is better than the built in layout of the HHKB? I guess I'll just have to try this in software first before I go mod'ing my HHKB with the hardware mod to see for myself, but I was just curious your thoughts....

Offline geniekid

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #20 on: Mon, 26 May 2014, 00:15:26 »
Do you really feel that this layout is better than the built in layout of the HHKB? I guess I'll just have to try this in software first before I go mod'ing my HHKB with the hardware mod to see for myself, but I was just curious your thoughts....

Having used a similar layout to this (see above) as well as the stock HHKB layout both for about 5 months now I can say that I believe GuiFn is better.  The HHKB's function layer is just as good for the arrow keys, but the PgUp, PgDn, Home and End (used frequently while coding) are a bit of a stretch.  GuiFN makes it a lot more ergonomic and intuitive IMHO.  As mentioned above, if you don't need AltGr you can shift everything one to the left which lessens the distance your right hand has to move in between layer switches and removes the need to invert the Fn key.

Offline jmolino

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #21 on: Mon, 26 May 2014, 01:08:56 »
Would it be possible to print keycap "stickers" to put on blank keys?  Has anyone ever tried this or know where/how this could be done? (I wonder how it would feel under your fingers)

...  actually maybe you could use blank keycaps and print stickers for the inside front of the keycaps (like that one Filco Stealth board...or I think CM also makes one).

What'cha think?

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 27 May 2014, 18:56:27 »
Do you really feel that this layout is better than the built in layout of the HHKB? I guess I'll just have to try this in software first before I go mod'ing my HHKB with the hardware mod to see for myself, but I was just curious your thoughts....

Naturally I'm completely partial here, but I really believe that GuiFN is better than the default HHKB layout. I have been able to test both because I have a programmable HHKB.

Why is it better?
- Because using your thumb to activate the Fn key is much easier than using your pinky. It's easier because your thumb will fall naturally on the key (and the flipped Fn key helps a lot), and it's easier because your thumb is strong and will have no trouble keeping the Fn key pressed while you are navigating. I have found that the pinky is not well suited to hold a key down for a while.
- Because reaching for Home/End/PgUp/PgDn is borderline uncomfortable on the HHKB layout. The pinky, which is a weak finger, must not only keep a key pressed down, but it must also stretch in this case. It's much easier on GuiFN.

If you want to try GuiFN on your HHKB, you will have to program it in software (for example with AHK if you are using Windows), and I'll have to give you the layout for the HHKB, which is slightly different from the one I have posted as the HHKB has different modifiers on the bottom row.
« Last Edit: Fri, 25 July 2014, 21:21:27 by spiceBar »

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #23 on: Tue, 27 May 2014, 19:04:51 »
Would it be possible to print keycap "stickers" to put on blank keys?  Has anyone ever tried this or know where/how this could be done? (I wonder how it would feel under your fingers)

...  actually maybe you could use blank keycaps and print stickers for the inside front of the keycaps (like that one Filco Stealth board...or I think CM also makes one).

What'cha think?

I would recommend putting stickers on the front side of the keys, like in your second picture. It will look and feel much cleaner.

There will not be many of them (you probably do not need to have stickers for F1-F10) and after a while you don't need to look at them anymore anyway.

Print them with a background color that matches your keycaps color, put them in place, then cover them with transparent adhesive. If the adhesive runs around the key it will be stealth enough, and probably relatively durable.

You only have to do 12-15 keys to do, so it can be done in half an hour I guess.

Offline ideus

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 27 May 2014, 19:26:43 »
Would it be possible to print keycap "stickers" to put on blank keys?  Has anyone ever tried this or know where/how this could be done? (I wonder how it would feel under your fingers)

...  actually maybe you could use blank keycaps and print stickers for the inside front of the keycaps (like that one Filco Stealth board...or I think CM also makes one).

What'cha think?

I would recommend putting stickers on the front side of the keys, like in your second picture. It will look and feel much cleaner.

There will not be many of them (you probably do not need to have stickers for F1-F10) and after a while you don't need to look at them anymore anyway.

Print them with a background color that matches your keycaps color, put them in place, then cover them with transparent adhesive. If the adhesive runs around the key it will be stealth enough, and probably relatively durable.

You only have to do 12-15 keys to do, so it can be done in half an hour I guess.

Front side stickers sound like a very good idea. Cleaner and can be applied to any keycap set you are currently using.

Offline jmolino

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #25 on: Tue, 27 May 2014, 22:46:56 »
If you want to try GuiFN on your HHKB, you will have to program it in software (for example with AHK if you are using Windows), and I'll have to give you the layout for the HHKB, which is slightly different from the one I have posted as the HHKB has different modifiers on the bottom row.
HI SpiceBar - yes I would like to try this on my HHKB.  I have both a linux box and a Win box... so for Win I use AHK - for linux I use AutoKey / xmodmap / and a few other tricks - that I may be able to even help improve upon your layout once I can test it.  So would you please send me the AHK script file - I'll try to port it over to Linux for others that may want that.

Also - I am considering modifying my HHKB to be hardware programmable - since I'm finding that AHK doesn't play well with Remote Desktop (and I do a lot of that).  Can you also give me some help / tips / etc. for that since you've done it?  At the same time I will be switching my keys to 55g Topre's (i found a donor board!) and silencing it at the same time.

Hardware programmable, silenced, 55g HHKB... sound nice doesn't it?:)

OK thank you so much!

-John

Offline jorgenslee

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #26 on: Wed, 28 May 2014, 01:50:58 »
Hi Spicebar,

I would also like to try this on my HHKB, Im using mac. I am using your SpaceFN for more than 6 months now. My only gripe is when using using space + JKLI, I accidentally press JKLI instead. Which makes me 'Like' a certain NSFW page, lol. This GuiFN could be safer I think.

Offline OnTheBrink

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #27 on: Wed, 28 May 2014, 10:06:35 »
Excellent layout and guide. I recently ordered my Poler 2 and reassigning keys is a necessity for me. Not only am I going to use your layout, but your instructions will help me immensely.
Check out my channel: https://www.youtube.com/OffTheBrinkTV
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Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #28 on: Fri, 30 May 2014, 01:09:41 »
If you want to try GuiFN on your HHKB, you will have to program it in software (for example with AHK if you are using Windows), and I'll have to give you the layout for the HHKB, which is slightly different from the one I have posted as the HHKB has different modifiers on the bottom row.
HI SpiceBar - yes I would like to try this on my HHKB.  I have both a linux box and a Win box... so for Win I use AHK - for linux I use AutoKey / xmodmap / and a few other tricks - that I may be able to even help improve upon your layout once I can test it.  So would you please send me the AHK script file - I'll try to port it over to Linux for others that may want that.

Ah but the problem is that I don't have any AHK file for this layout. I'm only using Linux and Mac OS X, and I have no Windows box anymore (and I wouldn't say it's by pure luck either... It took me a lot of work and time to get rid of these).

as I said in my OP, I'm still looking for volunteers for the Windows AHK scripts and anything you can come up with Linux (I had not enough time to dig into this).

Quote
Also - I am considering modifying my HHKB to be hardware programmable - since I'm finding that AHK doesn't play well with Remote Desktop (and I do a lot of that).  Can you also give me some help / tips / etc. for that since you've done it?  At the same time I will be switching my keys to 55g Topre's (i found a donor board!) and silencing it at the same time.

To my great shame, I did not do it myself. I purchased the assembled keyboard directely from Hasu, who has been kind enough to give me his last unit of his programmable HHKB controller. This one is a jewel.

I think he is working on even better stuff for the HHKB, so maybe you could ask it directly. He is really the master of these things.

Quote
Hardware programmable, silenced, 55g HHKB... sound nice doesn't it?:)

Oh yes it does! :)

Quote
OK thank you so much!

-John

For the HHKB, here are the slight differences from the GuiFN layout that I have already posted:
- on the first rank, the leftmost key is Ctrl (or Command on a Mac).
- the next key is Alt (or Option on a Mac)
- to the left of the space bar, you have another Alt (Option) key and then the Fn key, that should be flipped upside down.
- The original HHKB Fn key should now be the right Ctrl (or Command on a Mac).
- The extra key at the left of Backspace should be assigned to the Super key (the Windows key)
- The rest follows the GuiFN layout.

The original Fn key on the HHKB is going to cause some trouble. Without a dedicated programmable controller board, it's just a dead key. The PC does not receive any event when it is pressed alone. I don't feel too bad about this. This key could as well not exist and we would still be fine.

Sending the Windows (Super) key near the backspace is less fortunate, but I have not been able to find a better place for it.

If you think about valuable changes to the layout, don't hesitate to post them here so we can talk about the merits of the various ideas.

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #29 on: Fri, 30 May 2014, 01:12:29 »
Excellent layout and guide. I recently ordered my Poler 2 and reassigning keys is a necessity for me. Not only am I going to use your layout, but your instructions will help me immensely.

Great! I'm really interested in hearing about what you have to say after using it for a while.

Offline SonOfSonOfSpock

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #30 on: Fri, 30 May 2014, 01:24:57 »
Definitely not the layout for me. Hitting Fn plus other keys with the same hand looks like it would lead to awkward hand movements.

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #31 on: Fri, 30 May 2014, 01:36:57 »
Hi Spicebar,

I would also like to try this on my HHKB, Im using mac. I am using your SpaceFN for more than 6 months now. My only gripe is when using using space + JKLI, I accidentally press JKLI instead. Which makes me 'Like' a certain NSFW page, lol. This GuiFN could be safer I think.

I would say that GuiFN has indeed been designed as a safer alternative to SpaceFN, trying to keep as many strong points as possible without hijacking the space bar.

I know for sure that SpaceFN is strong: I have used it for several months on several keyboards and it's incredibly comfortable. GuiFN is strong too. Slightly less effective in term of hand movements than SpaceFN, but "safer" and so it minimizes mistakes and their consequences, ultimately growing as a strong contender to SpaceFN.

SpaceFN and GuiFN are not meant to fight against each other anyway. Together, they may attract more users than one of them alone, and I don't view one as superior to the other. They both have strong advantages.

As a software developer I make extensive use of my keyboards, and I can attest that working with SpaceFN or GuiFN on a 60% keyboard you are not less productive than a standard TKL or even full size keyboard. SpaceFN and GuiFN have been designed with a lot of care and refined on the scale of months. The way you approach them and learn them will ultimately decide if you will end up productive with them or not. It's really in your head, and if you start with the idea that they are not efficient, I guarantee that you will demonstrate that they are not... for you. The only way to make them efficient for you is to start with the idea that you want them to be.

It's all in the way you perceive them and what you really want of them.

Offline Matias

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #32 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 18:30:48 »
Another option for freeing up the Caps Lock key for something else...

Press both Shift keys simultaneously to trigger Caps Lock on/off.

Had this idea bouncing around in my head for a while, to use on a remote control sized keyboard.

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #33 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 19:06:42 »
Another option for freeing up the Caps Lock key for something else...

Press both Shift keys simultaneously to trigger Caps Lock on/off.

Had this idea bouncing around in my head for a while, to use on a remote control sized keyboard.

You would need first to log typing sessions and check if people don't press both Shifts by accident sometimes. I bet they do quite often.

It's also less easy to discover how to Caps Lock, even with legends on the keys. I fear some customers or users of your keyboards would be left thinking that the Caps Lock function has simply been omitted, or that it doesn't work.

What I am saying is that it's the kind of idea that really needs to be tested before you adopt it.

Offline Matias

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #34 on: Tue, 08 July 2014, 01:39:50 »
Another option for freeing up the Caps Lock key for something else...

Press both Shift keys simultaneously to trigger Caps Lock on/off.

Had this idea bouncing around in my head for a while, to use on a remote control sized keyboard.

You would need first to log typing sessions and check if people don't press both Shifts by accident sometimes. I bet they do quite often.

      . . .

What I am saying is that it's the kind of idea that really needs to be tested before you adopt it.



I've been paying attention to my own typing and noticed that I do indeed overlap the two Shift keys.  When I'm too lazy to press Caps Lock  :))  I use Shift on whole words and will frequently overlap them.  That kind-of put me off the idea.

Then I thought some more...  You could restrict it so that Caps Lock only triggers when no other keys are pressed, and put a 1/4-second timeout on it.  That gesture is probably fast and intentional enough to prevent erroneous activation.

But yeah, you'd have to test it to know for sure.




It's also less easy to discover how to Caps Lock, even with legends on the keys. I fear some customers or users of your keyboards would be left thinking that the Caps Lock function has simply been omitted, or that it doesn't work.



Yes, they'd have to be told how it works.


Offline Pro XKB

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #35 on: Sat, 12 July 2014, 09:27:13 »
I've been paying attention to my own typing and noticed that I do indeed overlap the two Shift keys.  When I'm too lazy to press Caps Lock  :))  I use Shift on whole words and will frequently overlap them.  That kind-of put me off the idea.

Then I thought some more...  You could restrict it so that Caps Lock only triggers when no other keys are pressed, and put a 1/4-second timeout on it.  That gesture is probably fast and intentional enough to prevent erroneous activation.

But yeah, you'd have to test it to know for sure.

The Neo 2 and “Aus der Neo-Welt” layouts use Shift+Shift to activate Caps Lock, without additional save-guards. So this idea has been actually successfully tested in real life for a couple of years by quite a number of people (certainly hundreds, if not thousands). I remember seeing just one complaint by a user who did not know this feature despite using Neo 2 for some time, and happened to discover it in a speed typing competition…



Offline JayG30

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #36 on: Sun, 03 August 2014, 14:25:14 »
I think I'd like "HJKL" as the arrow keys (vi users) and set the DIP switches 1 & 3 ON so FN is in the Caps Lock position.
Using arrow keys allows you to keep all your fingers right in the home row.
Negative side is you won't be doing it one handed.

I wish you could completely remove Caps Lock. I'd actually rather have the WIN key instead of Caps Lock when in windows (snap windows, bring up start menu, open programs in task bar with Win+#). But I can't find any way to do that.

Offline dantan

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #37 on: Mon, 04 August 2014, 00:15:07 »
I wish we could do that.

We can do anything we want.

You can do that if you want.

For a generic GuiFN layout that may be used on international layouts, it's a big no-no.


Quote
But both Alt keys are not equivalent. The right Alt is called AltGr almost everywhere in the world, and it is heavily used to type many important characters.

How about moving arrow keys to [ ; ' Enter? Aren't those heavily used?  If you can move the grave key to caps lock, then you can move AltGr over one key.

The [ ; ' and Enter keys still do what you are used to. They have not been changed.

These keys simply have an additional meaning when pressed in combination with Fn.

Moving keys on the main layout (the keys that are used without pressing Fn) gets you in trouble quickly, because people don't want them to be changed.

Backquote: on a 60% keyboard, you cannot stuff both Esc and backquote without having to relocate one. I have shown in my OP an alternate layout that does not relocate backquote.

All the 60% layouts that I have seen so far solve the problem by locating Esc on the top left of the keyboard, and the backquote is also on this key. But to get a backquote you must press Fn, which is inconvenient if you use backquote often.

The novel solution provided by the GuiFN layout is to overload the CapsLock key, which is generally considered to take up valuable space while being seldom used.

It's a compromise, and I hope it's an acceptable one.


Quote
Touch the right Alt and you immediately inconvenience millions of people.

Millions?

OK, Let's say "A high percentage of people would could potentially be interested by this layout".


Quote
Edit: I should note that it was just a suggestion.  I don't use 60% layouts.

I had guessed that.

I really don't understand why although every body agrees that CAPSLOCK is nearly useless, it still stays in the same place and remains the same size. Worse thing is I can't find blank keycaps for it except from SP which is expensive to ship.

I think Capslock ought to put where backspace is and made into a 1u key. Or maybe shifted to the function row. It is that useless. Even my CAPSLOCK above was typed by holding the shift down with a little finger.

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #38 on: Mon, 04 August 2014, 01:06:02 »
I wish we could do that.

We can do anything we want.

You can do that if you want.

For a generic GuiFN layout that may be used on international layouts, it's a big no-no.


Quote
But both Alt keys are not equivalent. The right Alt is called AltGr almost everywhere in the world, and it is heavily used to type many important characters.

How about moving arrow keys to [ ; ' Enter? Aren't those heavily used?  If you can move the grave key to caps lock, then you can move AltGr over one key.

The [ ; ' and Enter keys still do what you are used to. They have not been changed.

These keys simply have an additional meaning when pressed in combination with Fn.

Moving keys on the main layout (the keys that are used without pressing Fn) gets you in trouble quickly, because people don't want them to be changed.

Backquote: on a 60% keyboard, you cannot stuff both Esc and backquote without having to relocate one. I have shown in my OP an alternate layout that does not relocate backquote.

All the 60% layouts that I have seen so far solve the problem by locating Esc on the top left of the keyboard, and the backquote is also on this key. But to get a backquote you must press Fn, which is inconvenient if you use backquote often.

The novel solution provided by the GuiFN layout is to overload the CapsLock key, which is generally considered to take up valuable space while being seldom used.

It's a compromise, and I hope it's an acceptable one.


Quote
Touch the right Alt and you immediately inconvenience millions of people.

Millions?

OK, Let's say "A high percentage of people would could potentially be interested by this layout".


Quote
Edit: I should note that it was just a suggestion.  I don't use 60% layouts.

I had guessed that.

I really don't understand why although every body agrees that CAPSLOCK is nearly useless, it still stays in the same place and remains the same size. Worse thing is I can't find blank keycaps for it except from SP which is expensive to ship.

I think Capslock ought to put where backspace is and made into a 1u key. Or maybe shifted to the function row. It is that useless. Even my CAPSLOCK above was typed by holding the shift down with a little finger.

CapsLock is sometimes very useful, depending on what you do. Instead of moving it, I have chosen in GuiFN to leave it at the same place, but you access it with the Fn key. When Fn is not pressed, this big CapsLock key is put to a better use and does backquote, which used to be where we had to put Esc on a 60% keyboard.

One example of reasonable CapsLock use can be found on non-US keyboards. For example on the French keyboard, the digits have to be accessed with Shift (we are talking about a keyboard without numeric keypad here). They are at the same place than on the US keyboard, but must be Shifted. Some people in France use CapsLock to type numbers without having to hold Shift. Under Windows at least, it works. It does not work by default under Linux or Mac OS, but can be configured to work. It is also the only practical way to get an "É" (uppercase accentuated E) on the French keyboard: there is an "é" key, but shifting it does 2. Fortunately, when CapsLock is on, "é" does "É".

In other languages, CapsLock has similar uses which makes it much more useful indeed than on the US keyboard.

There is always, unfortunately, some sensible reason for not changing the things we think should be changed. :(

Offline cooliehack

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #39 on: Thu, 16 October 2014, 19:03:57 »
I wanted to say thanks to spiceBar for sharing this layout. I've been using it for the last few weeks on my Poker II and I'm pretty happy with it. I still need to look up a few of the shortcuts since I don't have any custom keycaps and I haven't found a clever way to add labels to the existing keys.

I most appreciate that I can access the arrow keys with one hand on the 60% keyboard.

Offline spiceBar

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Re: The GuiFN layout for 60% keyboards
« Reply #40 on: Thu, 16 October 2014, 20:54:45 »
I wanted to say thanks to spiceBar for sharing this layout. I've been using it for the last few weeks on my Poker II and I'm pretty happy with it. I still need to look up a few of the shortcuts since I don't have any custom keycaps and I haven't found a clever way to add labels to the existing keys.

I most appreciate that I can access the arrow keys with one hand on the 60% keyboard.

Thank you Cooliehack!  :thumb: