Thank you for your through comparison, between these layouts. I printed out a paper version of your layout and tried it out. I used DSA keycaps, as that is all I have. I'm not sure what percentage of Ergodox users use DSA, but due to the fact they were easier to obtain, cheaper in cost, and ability to freely customize their locations, that is what I have. Note, I have medium/small hands. This is what I found,
Made the top left index finger key further to reach. Iím -1 on that
I agree with you here, I think reach in your original version, outweighs having bulkier keys.
Reduced the column stagger on the pinky column. Iím -1 on that
I also agree here, the pinky column stagger was ok, and put noticeably less strain on my pinky overall throughout hand movements.
Added dedicated arrows. Personally I donít have need for dedicated arrows, so Iím +0 on that.
Arrow keys definitely arn't for everyone. From your previous designs, it looks like you tried to incorporate a directional pad similiar to the one on the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard. I think that style of directional pad is too close to where the wrist sits, and could be uncomfortable for some users. My version was there to be optional (as it used one of the primary pink keys), but integrated enough, so it would be out of the way of the wrist.
Switched the corner pinky key from 1.5u to 1u. Iím -0 on that. I think the previous one is pretty good for a shift or other modifier key.
I agree, bring back the 1.5U, in fact bring back a whole row of 1.5U. Going back to the original ergodox design, one part I really like is the chunky 1.5U rightmost keys (especially on my left hand, for ctrl, shift, and escape). Although, they are not as easy to reach due to them being in pinky range, they are large enough to side palm, and I like to move my entire hand and take my index or middle finger and hold them down for some shortcuts. This is a personal preference, and though these keys could be mapped to the thumb area. I really enjoy them. I would like to see how otherwise view this row of keys.
Put the number row into alignment with the columns. Personally I think this is worse functionally, but possibly better aesthetically (though there are so many gaps and funny shapes on this keyboard that I donít think itís a big deal. Iím -0.5 on that change.
Here is a picture of the columns in the staggered layout, as you have them now.
Testing each key for comfort, 7, 8 and 9 all felt quite comfortable. Looking at the natural curve of my hand, I instantly could tell why. As my fingers extend they naturally spread apart, and land almost perfectly with the the locations of the 7, 8 and 9 staggered keys. However, when it came to the 6 and 0, each was somewhat painful (The 6 more than the 0). The 7 key is in a perfect spot for the extension of the index finger, but the 6 key is a stretch. In a non-staggered layout, my fingers were more cramped in the middle keys, but do not have to stretch as far for the outer numbers. Personally, I like the numbers, non staggered, as close to home row as possible. I urge everyone in this forum to try it for themselves, and report their hand size as well to see how they like it.
I am sure that staggered layout is good for some people, so I made a few changes to your original layout to come up with this,
Since I prefer the non staggered layout, I just alligned the number keys and came up with this (adding right side 1.5U keys, with a 1U for delete,
To fill it out, I added an additional top left 1U key and extended the 1U top right to a 1.5U. These buttons are not easily pressed, but makes it look nice, and allow sparingly used keys, that are annoying when you can't find them, like ~.
Thank you, and let me know what you think.