WASD vs ESDF for mouse movement keys

Any strong feelings here?

Personally I’ve always remapped movement keys in games to ESDF, since it seems more natural to use the home position. I for one would rather that any default mappings on a movement layer such as mouse movements should be here rather than WASD.

Consider in particular that the keycaps on the Model 01 are moulded and expect particular fingers to be used on them. Would it not be unnatural to move your hand one key to the left on the Model 01 to use WASD as cursors (or game movements)? Or is the idea to use the ring finger for W, and pinky, ring, middle for ASD? (Surely not…)


I strongly agree with you here that ESDF is more natural for movement (and consequently IJKL on the right part), it is simply where we put our fingers on touch type form. It simply feels natural.

However, some common keyboard that I know still put it on WASD, perhaps because it is what people are accustomed to (from games etc), and they are closer to modifier key cluster on the leftmost column in most keyboards (shift, ctrl).
But since the Model 01 is an ergonomic keyboard and most of the modifier keys are moved to the thumb cluster, I think this is not an issue anymore. After all when people first move from staggered keyboard to an ergonomic one, they have many things to get accustomed to anyway, and I think this is one of the most important early on.

TLDR : I agree 100% that ESDF (and IJKL on the right part) should be the default movement keys :slight_smile:

I think the reason for asdf being so persistent is actually that you can place you’re pinky on the left of the ctrl key and use it to guide your hand, this becomes strenuous with esdf.

I was just thinking about this - I use HJKL daily for vim, but see no problem with IJKL, as remapping the vim insert key should be cake. I have used WASD in the past for games, but never really liked it that much and I think ESDF might make more sense when the keys are arranged in columns, as the W only works because it’s a lazy reach for the ring finger.

I feel that symmetry also helps tip the scales-

There are a number of reasons people prefer WASD for gaming:

  • The layout mirrors the triangle shape of the cursor keys on full-size keyboards: familiarity.
  • Moving your hand one column to the left, you have your middle finger on W, not your ring finger. This allows your pinky to hit Shift or Control (on a traditional keyboard) easily. For a lot of games, these two keys are important modifiers.
  • The homing indicator on F is a bit annoying when gaming. You don’t find it a problem during typing, because you hit the F key considerably less than you want to hit the right arrow key during a gaming session.
  • With WASD, you can use a mouse in your right hand, for aiming or camera movement.
  • With WASD, you have access to Space too, another important key for a lot of games.

On a traditional keyboard, because of reasons above, I think WASD is superior to ESDF. As the Model 01’s current layouts do not have neither Shift, nor Control near WASD, the most important factor is void, and ESDF would make it easier to reach the thumb arc. On the other hand, a lot of games that can be operated with WASD, also require Space (usually for jumping or shooting or the like), which is on the other hand, with which one would use a mouse.

As such, gaming should not be considered a reason either for WASD or ESDF, because for gaming, one would want to remap a few keys in the Fn layer, to have access to the other keys required, on one hand.

IJKL is slightly better, because then you can reach Shift, Space and Control easier. But if you were playing with your mouse in your right hand, changing hands would be a steep learning curve, and it’d be easier to remap the keys. So for gaming, IJKL is not a good idea, unless you are using a mouse with your left hand.

With these in mind, I suggest we either forget about gaming when trying to figure out a cursor setup, or start thinking about a gaming layer.


I understand the arguments for WASD for a regular keyboard. I’ve never had even a slight problem holding caps/shift/control while using ESDF, but maybe my hands are larger than average.

But I think the most important point I was making, which nobody seems to have commented on so far, is that on a regular keyboard the keys aren’t moulded to the fingers and so they still feel the same if you shift away from the home position: on most keyboards the ASDF keys are all exactly the same shape. This isn’t so on the Model 01; the shape of they keycaps themselves over ASD is different from the shape of the keycaps over SDF.

I don’t recall from when I used a prototype, but I would have thought moving the fingers one unit to the left would simply feel wrong and uncomfortable given how they’re shaped.


To specifically respond to your individual points:

Same with ESDF.

I personally find them no harder to use when using gaming with ESDF rather than WASD, but I understand this. But it’s not relevant to the Model 01 since those modifiers are on the thumb arc.

I find the opposite. I find it reassuring to feel and to know my hand is in the right place without looking away from the screen.

On top of that, the Model 01 has homing bumps both on A and F, so if you don’t like feeling it you’re out of luck whether it’s WASD or ESDF!

Same with ESDF.

Same with ESDF.

But my main point is still the Model 01’s moulded keycaps. ESDF for any default left-hand movement controls on the Model 01 just seems like a clear winner to me. Another thing I hadn’t considered before is that if the hand is moved to the left, to WASD, the thumb arc is now out of its regular position relative to your hand.

Are there any other arguments for WASD?


I disagree with this. Having the modifiers on the thumb arc actually makes them harder to use many times. Considering how many games I use modifiers while jumping (space) to have them all on the same position makes it harder in these games. Also, I can’t reach ctrl hardly at all right now from the home position (but that’s my personally, and my tiny little hands)

Just that this is the default layout for every game I currently own, and changing key configurations every time you install a new game will get annoying for many people, especially those with large game libraries.

All other points aside, this seems to be the way to go. An easy to use layer to use to adjust the key mappings for games.

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I think the official Model01 layout has Vim HJLK style arrows on the right hand in favour of left hand so I think it’s a mute point for anything other than a gaming layer.

This isn’t relevant. If you’re using a Model 01 those modifiers are on the thumb arc whether you’re using WASD or ESDF.

I’ve never found it annoying. It takes less than a minute, which is a vanishingly small percentage of the time actually playing the game. YMMV.

Yes, it does.

Let me step back a bit and say that I don’t really care about gaming. I wouldn’t want a gaming layer either. It seems to me that would just make things more confusing.

These keys on the left aren’t cursor keys, as antevens points out; those are on the right half. People can remap controls in games to whatever they want. That wasn’t the argument I was really trying to make or the discussion I was trying to start. I’ll try to rephrase and be much more specific:

Starting over

At present

The default qwerty mapping of the Model 01 has a mouse movement layer on the left hand, as shown on the website in these diagrams:

As you can see, the mouse movements correspond to W, A, S, D.

As far as I can imagine, the only reason WASD was chosen for these is that those are commonly used for movement in games. But let’s ignore games now.

I don’t know if these movements will be etched onto the keycaps (they’re not in any renders or photos I’ve seen so far, but I don’t know what the intention is), but whether or not they are I wanted to start this discussion questioning the decision of placing the mouse movement keys here.

  • I’m assuming that the idea was to use the middle finger on W, and ring, middle, index on ASD. This means moving the hand one space to the left. This seems an unnecessary extra movement, given that the idea of the mouse movements is to keep things fluent and to be able to move the mouse pointer without moving your hands.
  • I argue that moving the hand one space to the left is undesirable since on the Model 01 the keycaps are all moulded for specific fingers and their relative positions are designed for the home position.
  • On top of that, the positioning and reach to the other keys (such as the centre keys and thumb arc) are based on the idea that the hands are in that same home position.


I propose that instead of having the default mouse movement keys here, they are instead one position to the right. The warp keys and middle mouse click key can easily move to make way.

Proposal 1

ESDF, with the warp keys in the four corners WRXV, and middle click below on the C key:

Proposal 2

ESCF (diamond shape), with the warp keys in the four corners WRXV, and middle click in the centre on the D key:

I don’t really care about the position of middle click in either case – it could be over on Q or A, or to the right on G or T or B with something more useful in the centre like perhaps another left click.

(Editable version)


The hand doesn’t need to move from the home position when the function layer is activated in order to use the mouse movements, and so

  • Less hand movement is required
  • The keys being used by each finger are the ones moulded for those fingers
  • The thumb arc keys, centre keys, and palm key remain in the optimal relative positions to the hand while using the mouse movements
  • The warp keys are in more intuitive positions


  • Some people are used to the concept of left-hand movement being on WASD, from games. I personally don’t think this is important.

In the discussion above I was attempting to question whether users would still use WASD for game movements on the Model 01 or not (if not, that would be one less barrier to this proposal, in my mind). My arguments against still using WASD on the Model 01 (for anything which involves moving the hand one space to the left – gaming, mouse movements, anything) are mainly that the keys may feel “wrong” to the fingers in that position. Whether other users agree with me or not on the games front, I don’t think it’s actually relevant to this discussion of mouse movement keys.


Personally I’ll be using a Non-QWERTY layout (Similar to Colekmak) so I’ll be programming my own arrow keys on the left hand under “SDFE”, On my ErgoDox I use this both for games and to avoid the endlessly frustrating scattered HJLK because it becomes easier to just use those as arrow keys than to try to tell thousands of computers that when I use Vim I want to use AEIO which are in the HJLK positions.

For reference:

Not in the layout you just posted. The qwerty HJKL would be your HAEI.

But given your left side, it looks like you agree regarding the left-hand cursor position.

Err yeah, like I said I don’t use them :slight_smile:

Point is double proven, even for the right hand HJKL, AEIO on my keyboard would be preferable assuming the resting positions are similar to the ErgoDox.

Hi Bart,

Picking WASD was indeed deliberate. It’s somewhat less surprising to the average user to find those keys causing a cursor to move than some other set of four.

My experience with the mouse keys is that the warping feature makes a lot more sense when you think of the keys as mapping to the quadrants you’re zooming into.

The feature is almost entirely disjoint from “regular” mouse movement. Trying to map them both into the same nine-pad is more likely to confuse and frustrate than to be helpful.

While both features fall into the “neat and kind of useful” category, they’re not a substitute for a proper pointing device.

My intent hasn’t been to print them on keycaps, which means that users will have a lot of flexibility to customize the behavior and layout to their preferences.


I question this given how the keys are moulded, and that ESDF would be the “home position”. Does moving the hand left to WASD not feel odd, given the moulding of the keycaps? And does it not throw off the positions of the keys you’ve designated as left and right click?

OK. I guess I don’t understand what exactly it is these keys do.

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I may be misunderstanding you.
WASD is just as much home position as ESDF.

A is the home position for the pinkie. S is home position for the ring finger. F is home position for the middle finger. W is directly above S.

The positions currently mapped to left and right click are the home positions for the left and right thumbs, respectively.

It feels pretty comfortable to me with my hand on the keyboard.

As to the warp feature: Essentially, it lets you binary search your screen. Hitting T jumps to the upper right quarter of the screen. After that, hitting R jumps to the upper left quarter of that. From there, hitting F jumps to the lower left quarter of that, and so on. It’s about 7 clicks to get to just about anywhere on screen with fairly good accuracy. This was something I originally built as a parlor trick, but some early beta testers found it indispensable.


You use the mouse movement keys with your pinkie, ring, and middle fingers only?

Oh, wow. That actually sounds great!

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I do. Comfortably, even. :slight_smile:

Oh! OK then.

I think that makes pretty much this whole thread moot.

…Is that common? I thought everyone who does movements with WASD would use ring, middle, index.