thumb plancking

friday, 2 december 2016

Planck with SA profile keycaps

changes to my Plancks are incremental now. Without a totally different layout approach, it would be difficult to cram much more key overloading to the basic layout I arrived at.

That being said, I did manage to implement a small but ergonomic application. The Escape and Enter keys previously resided on the home row – common for the Enter key on ANSI keyboards..

Default Colemak layer

The Enter key with correspondingly reassigned CapsLock key on the home row has been entrenched in all my previous Colemak layout incarnations. However, with my use of blank keycaps – not needing legends for touch typing – those highlighted keys stood separate from the modifier keys and begged to be moved closer – not that the keycap colour needs to be bound to the underlying keystroke value.

Swapping those keys with the Minus and Slash keys was easy enough and made those keys feel more accessible with less of a pinkie stretch to press. The Escape and Enter keys now resided in what would typically be the Shift key positions.

The Shift key positions are familiar enough to typists but I have long since abandoned them with the Planck. And my pinkies, surprisingly, had gotten lazy over that period of time not needing to be used for shifting keys. This was born out during the Amphetype typing exercises I used to test the new layout..

Planck with SA profile keycaps

It wouldn’t have taken long to reestablish the once familiar pinkie finger reach but it occured on me that, for programming and editing where the Escape and Enter keys are used frequently, that relocating them to the modifier row might be better.

So, swapping these keys one further with the lesser used Tab and Delete keys on the modifier row does just that. The thumbs facilely press the Escape, Space, Backspace and Enter keys, the Tab and Delete keys are still easily accessible with the pinkies, and the Minus and Slash keys are now in better typing positions. Win, win..

Thumb cluster default layout

The ease with which this new layout has been adapted to is a good indicator. And the other layers remain unaffected. Other ergonomic keyboards, notably split keyboards, often assign similar keys to the thumb. I can now see why.

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