I’m curious as to whether others have designed their own layouts here (the letters themselves I mean, not just the symbols etc, playing around with them makes sense whether or not you want to learn a new layout). I’d love to hear your thought processes about it. Some things I’ve definitely ignored that other people consider important, like rolling inwards vs outwards.
I’ve only recently finalised mine after finally getting a good hunk of free time to test out keyboardio. I’ve probably talked about it enough, but I’m doing it once more:
To start with, definitely wanted all my letters on the inner 5 columns of each hand, and not on the top row. That gives 30 keys, with 4 for punctuation etc. that I hadn’t already offloaded to the thumb keys. I settled on / - ’ and redial (there’s a plugin for that, just repeats whatever you typed last, hoping I can avoid single finger use by learning to use this).
My priorities were:
Increasing home row usage (not the fake home row keys in the middle, like G and H in QWERTY, since you have to move your index finger to reach those) and decreasing lower row usage and other awkward positions like little finger upper row and index finger down and across (upon testing as mentioned).
Decreasing single finger use, both through use of the redial plugin and by not grouping keys commonly used consecutively in the same column (or two columns, since the index finger basically controls 2).
I wanted any shortcuts I often do while using the mouse to be able to be done purely left-handed. This obviously meant some work on thumb key modifiers, but also assigning keys like yzxcv to the left (also buitds I use a lot, and ended up there).
To do 1 and 2, I found bigram frequencies (thankfully for both symbols and letters) and used them to make a spreadsheet (and made double letter bigrams count instead for the redial key). Upon applying heatmap colouring, it was clear that o, c and y would be problematic to combine while minimising bigram occurrence on single fingers, so I made them a priority to place carefully. Ultimately I decided to make 3 major compromises based on them:
- I grouped O with E despite both being common enough to justify them being home row, as the aren’t use together all that much and they are used together with almost every other letter all the time
- I broke up my intended preservation of zxcv, making it zyxcv on the bottom row so that y could combine with I and U with which it works well (and having Z and Y together makes a lot of sense to me, and shifting XCV over by one actually makes them more intuitive to me from QWERTY somehow)
- I made D a home row letter despite it being only I think the 10th most popular letter, as it combined really well with C where few other letters did, and worked well with many other letters making it ideal for ring fingers, where it has to deal with up to 6 letters, all of which have to not interfere with each other too much.
I ended up making upper pinky keys the absolute least preferenced keys, and gave them to Q and K. This worked very nicely with my placement of the letter U as a ring finger upper letter, incidentally.