Individual custom layouts

I think it might be helpful to those of us who are planning to make our own individual custom layouts to share our ideas somewhere. I’ve made a first draft of a layout that I’d like to implement, and I’m presenting it here in case anyone is interested. No doubt I’ve made some choices here that won’t work out, and possibly some that are downright nonsensical. Everyone who is so inclined should fee free to offer suggestions and/or criticism.

My Keyboardio layout, draft 1

I want to activate the blue layer by means of either palm key, the red layer by palm + shift, and green via palm + “command” (I used Apple symbols) or “alt/option”.

I plan to use @algernon’s one-shot modifiers for layer switching, as well as plain base-layer modifiers.

The blue layer has function keys and navigation keys; the red layer is designed with spreadsheets in mind (navigation on left hand, numpad on right), and the green layer is for mouse emulation (mouse buttons on the top row, diagonal arrows are “warp”). I’ll probably add more media controls to the left side green layer, but the only ones I typically use now are volume and brightness controls.

The top right corner is the insert key, and you might notice that I included two (forward) delete keys; that’s more about indecision than anything else (I also think palm+backspace makes sense, but I don’t want to make it tricky to type shift+delete.

Feel free to use mine as a template for the keys, even if the actual layout horrifies you; I blew about an hour getting it to look (more or less) correct (keyboard-layout-editor does not make the mirrored sides easy to do with angles…)


Since I wasn’t very clear, I’m hoping to see other people’s custom layouts, too.

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I plan to have a Dvorak-based layout as my default for now, something that looks like this:

Keys in front-print position have the same color as the palm key that triggers that layer. All layer keys, all modifiers are one-shot, the two big buttons on the inner side are tap-dance keys, and so is :.

I’ll have a heatmap, a keylogger, a number of macros, and quite a bit of other stuff… the current work in progress sketch is on GitHub, for those who are interested. It’s a tad messy right now, as a number of things are in limbo, but it will be cleaned up and documented better. There are some - I think - interesting things in there.

I’m especially proud of my Magic Combo solution, for example, and the Hungarian layer’s code is something I plan to reuse when implementing “Language Pack”-style plugins.

I could go on for hours about what I plan to do, but alas, it’s past midnight, so perhaps some other time.


I’m considering rearranging the number row with the traditional odd/even Dvorak split, but for some reason I felt like I shouldn’t because of the F1-12 keys. Now I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to re-order the function keys, too. Either way, I want to try that row shift-inverted, though.

@algernon, can you tell me how tricky it will be for me to configure (for example) shift + , to produce ;, given that they’re not on the same key on the keyboard the OS is set up for?

Also, I’m curious — are you planning to use your thumbs for Ctrl and Alt? I’ve been wondering if those keys will be comfortably reachable that way. I’m looking forward to finding out.

It’s not too bad, I have my entire number row set up like that, if you take a closer look at my layout. It’s a bit messy to do it “manually”, but I’ll be writing a mapper plugin to make things easier. You’d just give it a set of {unshifted, shifted} pairs, like {Key_7, Key_2}, and whenever it sees the Key_7 code, and Shift is active, it will press Key_2 instead (resulting in @). This may not be the easiest to use thing, but it’s an improvement over what I have now, and can be refined later.

Mind you, this won’t help if you also want to shift-invert keys, only when you want to change the shifted part. Shift-invert will be another plugin, and the two will - I hope - compose well.

Thanks for the hint, by the way, I’ll be adding it to the firmware ideas thread.

Yep. I read somewhere on these forums that those positions are easy to hit with the thumb, and that’s one of the reasons I put them there. But I’ll likely keep them there even if I end up using an index finger for them, as my thumb arc is already full, and I don’t want to move anything from there.


I see now; I hadn’t looked that closely at the symbols on your number row.

The firmware discussion just made me realize that my idea for layer switching is not workable, because it leaves me no (chorded) way to type shift + right arrow (for example). I guess I should trigger the red layer with palm + backspace, rather than palm + shift.

That was me, regarding my experience with the prototype. Your mileage may vary. My hands are big.

(edit) In particular, I was saying that I found it easier to use my thumbs for those keys than my index fingers. I don’t remember honestly how comfortable the thumb was; just better than index finger.

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Having had the opportunity to type on a prototype, I’m currently torn: the keys are easy to reach with the thumb. I can even reach them without moving my hands, if I adjust my position a little, but that seems to feel less comfortable than what I’d use otherwise. In this other position, I need to stretch my thumb, or move my hands to reach these keys, and at that point, tapping them with the index finger feels better.

But I still have to spend more time with the prototype, and set it up so I can type on it continuously.