If this is your first time here, welcome.
The bulk of the effort so far has been in the Best Layouts section (and the research required to get the best layouts...). Also spent a lot of time doing keyboard tests...
For the last few weeks, I have been busy with another round of testing keyboard layouts. It's been a lot of work. It was inspired in part by Arno Klein's new Engram research and layout. That led me to finally doing a write-up of the process I followed last year to create a new English and programming text corpus, suitable for keyboard layout evaluation.
That it turn led to solving the problem of "ideal input text" for the likes of the Keyboard Layout Analyzer. The problem with most input texts is that they don't mirror English letter frequency. So if your layout does best on Alice Chapter 1, it just means it's best for that text, and not English in general.
I solved the problem by extracting all the bigram pairs (English and code) for all characters, tab and enter, on a normal US ANSI keyboard. So that's 97 × 97 pairs. I then used that data to generate both English and code texts, with the correct character and bigram frequency, by chaining these bigrams together to make texts that look "kinda random" to humans but look English or code to the analyzers.
You can download the paper Keyboard Layout Analysis: Creating the Corpus, Bigram Chains, and Shakespeare's Monkeys and associated datasets with useful info for keyboard layouts. Get the 1.0.1 and -101 versions, they're more complete.
Like last time, my layout comparisons consider both finger-based metrics as determined by KLA, and word-based metrics as determined by a set of programs I wrote. I plotted the results on a graph,
with word-based scores vs finger-based scores. That gives us this result, where the gray dots are ANSI layouts, the red are Ergodox, and the blue are matrix form factor.
From this we see that ANSI layouts hit a ceiling. At the moment, the best word-based scores are on Ergodox, while the best finger-based scores are on matrix format.
For comparison, here's how a few layouts look, ANSI format only.
Those are ANSI layouts, but the scale is for all layouts. The Nirvana and HIEAMTSRN layouts are pushing the edges of "max" for ANSI layouts. Similarly, QWERTY is not the absolute worst.
Have added a mirror of Den's / Shenafu / ieants.cc KLATest version of his fork of Patrick's Keyboard Lyout Analyzer.
It's also linked from the Tools page.
I don't know what happened ... he just disappeared, and then his hosting expired.
A major update to the Glyph coverage comparison table for popular academic fonts.
There are now 59 fonts which should be suitable for academic writing, both free and commercial. You can now select which fonts to compare for glyph coverage.
Added a Glyph coverage comparison table for popular academic fonts, Cardo, Junicode, LeedsUni, Libertinus Math, Libertinus Sans, PalemonasMUFI, Quivira, STIX Math, Symbola, and TITUS Cyberbit Basic.
Updated the Glyph coverage comparison table to include Google's glyph lists for Latin Core, Plus, Pro and Expert unique glyphs.
Two people have tested my Seelpy 1.4 layout and posted reviews online.
The name Seelpy comes from the initials C-L-P, from Caps-Lower-Punctuation, describing how the characters are distributed on the keys. The layout was designed to get the high score on the then-current version of KLA.
Thanks for your interest and reviews :-)
My so-called Nirvana keyboard is progressing well. Here's the concept design as done on keyboard-layout-editor.com.
It's basically modelled on my current keyboard, a MS Natural (original version), with what I hope are viable improvements. Regarding the current letter layout, it scores very well in English and with a mixed code corpus on KLATest. As always, it might change tomorrow :-)
I learned from my first dev model, and I'm not going to have keys printed yet. I'm also keeping the keys as simple as possible in case they need to be re-arranged.
Here's what the test assembly looks like:
The previous build had an aluminium base and switch plate, with the other three layers acrylic. However, I had to have the different materials cut at different places with different lasers, and the end result was not good ... things did not align properly. So I thought to avoid that and have everything cut at one place. It was going to be all-acrylic, but I decided to try laminated MDF instead. So the top and bottoms are 3mm Sapele (aka African mahogany) veneer, and the other two are a cheaper 6mm veneer.
The real problem was what to use for the switch plate. I bought 1.5mm extruded acrylic because the thickness is supposed to be more exact, and it is touted as 'rigid'. They forgot to mention 'brittle', at least in that thickness. The switch cutouts simply snap when you apply pressure. Also, it's fractionally too thick and the switches don't click in.
The laser company suggested 1mm UHI acrylic which is better in some regards ... it doesn't snap, and the switches click in nicely. However, it's a bit too flexible ...
So of course I hit the interwebs to educate myself about plastics. The best option at the moment that I can find is POM (Polyoxymethylene)... which comes in two variants. The easist one to get here was the copolymer version, so we're busy testing that now. The homopolymer version is supposed to be a little stiffer.
In truth, even the 1.5mm aluminium plate had a bit of bounce in it, and I had to put some internal supports under it to reduce the bounce. I'll need to do the same with the plastics.
In case anyone local wants to do something similar, here's the sites:
The VHD keyboards from VEXC How Design are a pair of split, bowled ergonomic keyboards, available in two sizes. The model shown below has 48 keys, while the bigger version has 68 keys.
The keyboard offers a choice of red or silver Cherry switches, and is fully programmable thanks to running QMK firmware.
There are add-on stands for adding trackpads or other controls.
Read more at the VHD site.
Slightly updated version of the SHZ / Nirvana sayout. I realised that the K was in a silly place and moved it to a better spot.
Now have to teach myself to touch-type since this layout has such low same-finger keys that it makes sense.
Zergotech down in Australia have a split keyboard with some interesting design ideas
The keyboard comes with three different types of wrist pads, two of which are smaller than the ones in the image above, and can slide around in the pad recess as you move your hands. You could also use one of these pads for mousing.
The two halves offer various options for tenting, incline or decline to suit your physique and preferred typing position.
As is to be expected from an upmarket mechanical keyboard, the keyboard is programmable, and comes with a choice of white or brown Kailh box switches.
Read more at the Zergotech site.
I'm still busy trying to get my first keyboard finished. At the moment I'm having some issues with the QMK firmware, because my designs are a little different to the usual mindset.
At the same time, there are things about the planned X6.5h layout that bother me, particulary putting hH on the space key ... so I figured I should relook at the problem and see if I could do better.
One thing led to another, and some hours of playing with the Keyboard Layout Analyzer eventually led to the SHZ layout. That's the current name, it might end up being called WISH or even Nirvana.
The actual design I will probably end up building will be an angled ortholinear matrix design, which in KLA is represented by a regular slab matrix, since the angles of the hand are not relevant to the scoring model. It did well in testing, so I thought to put the letter layout onto a standard ANSI configuration, and test that against assorted other "standard" famous and well-performing layouts, in a battle of peers.
So I was pleasantly surprised when it did extremely well, finishing first for most tests of English prose, and second for two.
The ANSI version of the layout looks like this. This is the so-called 30/31 keys version, where keys are just re-arranged, and normal/shift pairs not changed. The matrix version does change normal/shift pairs, and puts some punctuation on
the AltGr layer as well. In truth, some of the layouts I tested against do change the normal/shift pairing, but it didn't help them.
Here's the layouts I tested against (using Den's KLATest version), and the results from the Typing Championship 1 test:
The Ginny is a minimal chording keyboard, pushing the limit of how many keys you actually need. Piano players should feel right at home.
It uses the ASETNIOP keyboard layout paradigm, which you can even do on a normal keyboard.
It's available as a kit, partially built, or ready to use, with their custom version of Kailh Choc switches.
Read more at the g Heavy Industries site.
Keyboardio, pumped by the success of their Model 01, have joined forces with Phil Hagelberg, the designer of the original Atreus, to produce a full-blown mass production version of the Atreus.
This mini keyboard is extremely portable. You can choose from four different hot-swappable Kailh switches, rated for 70 million keystrokes, and add on the optional wooden palmrest and carrying bag as well.
The keycaps are laser-engraved PBT for long life. Naturally the keyboard is fully programmable, via their bespoke Kaleidescope firmware configuration tool.
Read more at the Keyboardio site.
The Bloody B2418 is from A4Tech's Bloody Gaming brand.
It's a traditional slab design, with several distinguishing features. The first is that it uses their LK optical switch on the Q/W/E/R/A/S/D/F keys, getting rid of the debounce problem and supplying a 0.2ms response time. They've combined the optical tech into a switch which still gives a tactile bump, so you can feel that you've made contact. The switches are rated for 100 million keypresses, and only have to travel 1.5mm to activate, compared to the typical 2.2mm on mechanical switches.
The board electronics are spill-proof, having an electonic seal and drain holes, so any split coffee won't kill the board. The usual gaming bells and whistles like variable backlighting, anti-skid and wrist pad are also included.
Read more at the Bloody site.
The Moonlander, from the makers of the ErgoDox, is an updated variant on the same design concept.
It's a highly customisable split design, and you can even use the left half stand-alone for gaming.
The board is offered in black and white versions, and you can select from no less than ten different Cherry or Kailh switches. The switches are hot-swappable as well, making them easy to replace. The keycaps themselves are double-shot PBT for long life.
The firmware is the popular open source QMK, so you can tinker and remap to your heart's content, made easier by the Oryx configuration suite. It works with Windows, Mac or Linux with no additional drivers necessary.
The keyboard even folds up to fit into the nifty carrying bag for easy transport. The price includes courier transport to anywhere in the world.
The Tex Shinobi is a laptop-style keyboard for the desktop. Given that so many people now switch between laptops and desktops, it does make logical sense in that regard.
There are a host of options to choose from, starting with the switches. You can select from eight different Cherry switch options.
The board comes in six different key layouts, ranging from the ubiquitous US-ANSI via four northern European options, to Japanese.
Keycaps are ABS with laser engraving, and the keyboard features a built-in trackpoint with three mouse switches. It also features N-key rollover and is programmable.
Read more at the Tex site.
The Vortex Core is a compact keyboard for minimal desk space and hand movement.
You can choose which Cherry MX switches you want, from red, brown, blue or clear.
The board is programmable, for all keys, and the LED backlighting. There are four layers for programming.
Keycaps are PBT DSA profile, with dye-sublimated printing for long life and no yellowing.
Read more at the Vortex Core site.
The ROCCAT Vulcan 120 AIMO scooped the T3 Best Gaming Keyboard of 2020 award.
Roccat fit their in-house Titan switches to these boards. The switches are similar to the well-known Cherry brown or red models, but have faster activation point, and less wobble, which is designed to give the player a milli-second advantage over players using standard keyboards.
On top of that, Roccat fit reduced-weight keycaps, which allows the backlighting to show through nicely. The board also comes with a removable palm rest and 512kb integrated macro & settings memory, to support all the keys being remappable.
Read more at the Roccat site.
The Vortex New 75 is a compact ten-key-less keyboard with a vibrant keycap colour scheme.
The missing keys are assigned as Functions on other keys. The model is available with a choice of popular Cherry switches, topped by PBT DSA profile keycaps with dye-sublimated legend printing.
There are four possible layers that you can program, so you can make it behave exactly how you want it to.
Read more at the Vortex Gear site.
The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard is a split mechanical keyboard that has add-on modules to enhance the functionality.
For the left hand side, there is a key cluster with mini-trackball. For the right hand side, you can choose from trackball, trackpoint or touchpad modules.
There are six switch options to choose from, of which five are Kailh and the other, Cherry clear. You can also select case colour and even OS-type branding.
The source code for the software is available on Github, so you can tweak it to your heart's content.
Read more at the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard site.
Coolermaster has a gaming keyboard with a designed-in removable carrying handle.
You can choose from four of the most popular Cherry MX switches. The board accommodates up to 75 macros and 5 profiles, with USB3.0 ports and audio / microphone ports as standard.
High-speed performance is courtesy of the 64 key roll over, which should be more than enough for anyone playing with all their fingers and toes.
Read more at the Coolermaster site.
Corsair has a nifty wireless keyboard designed for operating your media and TV surfing from the comfort of your couch.
With an aluminium design, it features both a built-in joystick and a touchpad as well as a media control roller.
It even encrypts the traffic between the keyboard and receiver, to prevent eavesdropping.
Read more at the Corsair site.
Have added Ricardo font sample, keyboard mockup and analysis to the "Design" page of my build guide.
Have added the Adobe Latin 1 - 5, as well as Adobe's recommended glyphs for new fonts (AGLFN), as well as the W2G (World Glyph List 2) glyphs, to the Glyph Covereage Comparison page which shows the different glyphs provided by fonts which meet different "collection" standards, namely AL1, AL2, AL3, AL4, AL5, WGL4, W1G, W2G, AGLFN and SIL.
Wow it's been a long time. I smashed my left wrist back in middle January, that led to some forced changes in what gets done, but getting back up to speed again.
Have added a table Glyph Covereage Comparison which shows the different glyphs provided by fonts which meet different "collection" standards, namely WGL4, W1G and SIL.
Added page showing layouts ranked by efficiency.
This score is also buried in the finger-based metric and included in the averages, but put it on a separate page for viewing convenience.
See the Best Layouts by Efficiency page.
Added analysis of how the different layouts compare when measuring the likelyhood that they will need to type two given letters one after the other, using the same finger, on different keys.
See the same finger bigrams page.
The year has already started flying by.... added some extra typing lessons to the pages in the Letter Layout DB. These are words from the Word Warriors list, being words which are currently underused and could do with some love and attention.