colemak shift-dh

monday, 11 july 2016

is an unorthodox twist on the ergonomic finger Curl mod introduced to the Colemak mod-DH layout. It is a (personal) user refinement achieved on the Poker 2 keyboard by programming it to..

  • Shift the upper rows of the keyboard above the ZXC row one key to the right. What this does, is allow the left hand to curl its fingers for the bottom row keys (like the right hand) instead of twisting the wrist
  • Improve the left and right Shift key positions for each hand, as well as, the Enter key for the right
  • Minimize pinky finger stretches. The right hand previously had numerous extended pinky stretches. These have largely been replaced with easier columnar left hand pinky stretches for less frequent symbols – facilitated with the keyboard shift above
  • Map the Z, slash, Backspace (CapsLock), Del and Esc keys (as a *nix and Vim user) to more convenient and easier to reach key positions
  • Maintain home row coverage of the central rows of the keyboard. Number row touch typing, unfortunately, remains an issue of practice – not much can be done there to fix that!
  • Arrange symbols into effective and visually aesthetic key groupings whilst retaining the most important aspects of the Colemak design.

The left hand finger curl and improved Shift and Enter key positions are significant improvements over all other keyboard layouts IMO and the basis for this layout.

alphamerics

while almost completely remapped for the Shift-DH mod as a result of the columnar right shift, retain their crucial Colemak fingering relationships..

action setting
Fn + right Ctrl  
w q
Pn  
e w
Pn  
r f
Pn  
t p
Pn  
y b
Pn  
u j
Pn  
i l
Pn  
o u
Pn  
p y
Pn  
s a
Pn  
d r
Pn  
f s
Pn  
g t
Pn  
h g
Pn  
j m
Pn  
k n
Pn  
l e
Pn  
; i
Pn  
o
Pn  
v d
Pn  
b v
Pn  
n z
Pn  
m k
Pn  
, h
Pn  
2 1
Pn  
3 2
Pn  
4 3
Pn  
5 4
Pn  
6 5
Pn  
7 6
Pn  
8 7
Pn  
9 8
Pn  
0 9
Pn  
- 0
Pn  
Fn + right Ctrl  
Fn + right Shift  

Refer to the basic instructions on Poker 2 programming.

The number row is right shifted to maintain its relative position to the home row. The Z key from the prior Colemak mod-DH layout maps to the right shifted Qwerty B or N key position – a design decision made contrary to the standard Colemak ZXC cluster imposition.

function keys

F1 to F12 are right shifted to maintain their relative position to the home row, matching the number positions..

action setting key
Fn + right Ctrl    
Fn + 1 Fn + = F12
Pn    
Fn + 2 Fn + 1 F1
Pn    
Fn + 3 Fn + 2 F2
Pn    
Fn + 4 Fn + 3 F3
Pn    
Fn + 5 Fn + 4 F4
Pn    
Fn + 6 Fn + 5 F5
Pn    
Fn + 7 Fn + 6 F6
Pn    
Fn + 8 Fn + 7 F7
Pn    
Fn + 9 Fn + 8 F8
Pn    
Fn + 0 Fn + 9 F9
Pn    
Fn + - Fn + 0 F10
Pn    
Fn + = Fn + - F11
Pn    
Fn + right Ctrl    
Fn + right Shift    

The Fn + Backspace key is part of the GuiFn navigation cluster and remains, therefore, assigned to PgUp instead of F12.

symbols

in the standard Colemak layout are largely (save for the semicolon) unchanged from their Qwerty positions. The right shift resulting from the Curl mod, however, impacts the apostrophe, slash and square brackets. The published mod-DH layout maps the square brackets to the left hand so the apostrophe can be mapped to the right square bracket.

Taking liberties with the special symbols and borrowing (loosely) a page from the Dvorak layout, the square brackets are mapped, instead, to the number row and the minus and equal (see shift mod below) signs to the left hand. Aesthetically, the square brackets remain as a cluster pair, located conveniently next to the parentheses. More importantly, the hyphen and question mark are now easily reached from the home row.

action setting key
Fn + right Ctrl    
q -  
Pn    
[ ;  
Pn    
]  
Pn    
a /  
Pn    
. ,  
Pn    
/ .  
Pn    
Esc Fn + Esc `~
Pn    
1 =  
Pn    
= [  
Pn    
Backspace ]  
Pn    
Fn + right Ctrl    
Fn + right Shift    

The backslash is moved to the opposite quadrant of the keyboard from its previous location to accommodate the square brackets.

shift mod

the most contentious decision in this layout is to map the backslash sign to the left Shift and the Shift to the Qwerty Z curl position!

This is a clear deviation from the Colemak design – well, pretty much every keyboard layout design! – and, Microsoft and Apple users will prefer to retain the Shift and ZXC key cluster and map the backslash, instead, to the Qwerty N (confusing, I know)!

action setting key
Fn + right Ctrl    
right Shift \  
Pn    
Z right Shift  
Pn    
Fn + right Ctrl    
Fn + right Shift    

What this does is allow the left hand pinkie to curl for the left Shift instead of extending laterally and downwards with a twist of the wrist. In the old Qwerty layout it was the right pinkie that did so for the right Shift – which is now rectified by this Shift-DH mod.

This simple but unorthodox assignment accomplishes what the Colemak Wide mod attempts to rectify (among other things), albeit, with a swap of the Shift key itself. The difficulty itself lies in the strangeness (visually) of using such a diminutive Shift key. But the fingers do not lie!

capslock

in the standard Colemak layout is the handy Backspace key. Mapping the (CapsLock) Backspace to the (unused by me) right Alt allows the Esc key to be more conveniently mapped to the CapsLock and restores the previously remapped Tab key..

action setting key
Fn + right Ctrl    
Tab Esc  
Pn    
CapsLock Tab  
Pn    
right Alt Backspace  
Pn    
\ Fn + Backspace Del
Pn    
right Ctrl left Ctrl  
Pn    
Fn + right Ctrl    
Fn + right Shift    

Note: the Tab key is restored to its default value and the right Ctrl no longer needs to be mapped to grave/tilde, a common practice with 60% keyboards. It is not simply restored to its default value because Dip Switch 2 on the Poker 2, if enabled, assigns grave/tilde to it instead of Ctrl.

numeric keypad

while not part of the Colemak specification, a numeric keypad is defined for left hand data entry via the Fn key. A nice to have add-on to a 60% keyboard..

action setting key
Fn + right Ctrl    
Fn + Esc Shift + 6 ^
Pn    
Fn + Tab Shift + 8 *
Pn    
Fn + q 7  
Pn    
Fn + w 8  
Pn    
Fn + e 9  
Pn    
Fn + a 4  
Pn    
Fn + s 5  
Pn    
Fn + d 6  
Pn    
Fn + Shift 0  
Pn    
Fn + z 1  
Pn    
Fn + x 2  
Pn    
Fn + c 3  
Pn    
Fn + Alt .  
Pn    
Fn + right Ctrl    
Fn + right Shift    

The equal, minus and slash keys map to the same region, somewhat conveniently (although, the Fn key must be released).

guifn

see Poker 2 GuiFn..

action setting navigation
Fn + right Ctrl    
Fn + ; Fn + a Right
Pn    
Fn + ‘ Fn + s Down
Pn    
Fn + Enter Fn + d Left
Pn    
Fn + [ Fn + w Up
Pn    
Fn + p Fn + ; Home
Pn    
Fn + ] Fn + , End
Pn    
Fn + Backspace Fn + ‘ PgUp
Pn    
Fn + \ Fn + / PgDn
Pn    
Fn + / Fn + Backspace Del
Fn + right Ctrl    
Fn + right Shift    

ergo layout

with all the above mappings together, whew!

with Fn + right Shift enabled..

`~ = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 [ ] Esc - Q W F P B J L U Y ; ‘ Del Tab / A R S T G M N E I O Enter \ Shift X C D V Z K H , . Shift Ctrl Win Alt Space Backspace Fn Pn Ctrl

with Fn (thumb) held down..

^ F12 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 F6 F7 F8 F9 F10 F11 PgUp * 7 8 9 R T Y U I O Home Up End PgDn CapsLock 4 5 6 F G H J K L Left Down Right 0 1 2 3 V B N M , . / Shift Ctrl Win . Space Alt Fn Pn Ctrl

with Pn held down..

Esc 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - = Backspace Tab Q W E R T Y U I O P [ ] CapsLock A S D F G H J K L ; ' Enter Shift Z X C V B N M , . / Shift Ctrl Win Alt Space Alt Fn Pn `~

Refer to the GuiFn guide for the navigation cluster assignments.

The hand symmetry (bottom row finger curl) introduced by this layout, specifically to the left hand, improves the ergonomics of the standard keyboard significantly. Left hand wrist strain is noticeably absent (even if unnoticed before). And the Shift keys are now balanced.

This Colemak inspired variant is easily implemented on the Fn layer of the Poker 2 programmable keyboard. OS dependent software can also accomplish the same result, albeit, with the incumbent issues of propagating the solution to every computer necessary.

Not as radical (or expensive) as hardware ergonomic keyboard solutions – such as, the Ergo Dox and Kinesys split keyboards and SafeType vertical keyboard – this Poker 2 Curl mod implements an ergonomic layout on a standard keyboard with all the benefits, portability and geekiness a 60% mechanical keyboard can provide!

»»  planck ortholinear

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