Kochise, CFILORUX custom keyboard layout creator

Kochise

09 Dec 2017, 20:13

Hi, I'm from France and interested into keyboards not for their look, feel or taste, but for the ergonomic of their layout.

In june 2017 I participated to the French's Afnor (national norm regulator) for improving the ancient 'azerty' layout to propose improvements to make it more "up to date". Understand, largely more "programmer friendly" which the 'qwerty' keyboard is already (mostly about opening and closing tags).

However I also formalized an old project of mine about an "almost" universal keyboard that would be easier for everybody (even non computer users) to apprehend and use. I designed the layout online in my gist for everyone to review :

http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/# ... 014f825195 (CFILORUX)

The main motivation is to not be sticking to some local language specificities, but use an alphabet ordered keyboard. To avoid colliding fingers and using both hands, I used column based layout instead of row based, separated into two 'banks', one for each hand. I placed between the two banks all the dead keys that should allow the creation of all accent characters.

Btw, your favorite input method should help to propose you the right localized version of words as you type them.

I also started to work on a 4 rows 3 cols variant with a complete numpad in AltGr (with side effect of having almost all vowels on the top row) :

http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/# ... 1fadf26018 (AEIMQUY)

If people wants to provide me with suggestions, improvements and tips to have this keyboard made into a real product (wasd or max ?) you are free to do so. Should I open another topic in a more suitable section of the forum to discuss about it ?

Kochise
Attachments
keyboard-layout_cfilorux.png
keyboard-layout_cfilorux.png (59.89 KiB) Viewed 968 times

davkol

09 Dec 2017, 20:48

What's the point of an alphabetical layout?

Kochise

09 Dec 2017, 21:08

Finding letters more easily, for non computer users or not, same for all languages and countries, ...

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digital_matthew

09 Dec 2017, 21:17

I've always been curious to try a keyboard where the keys are are alphabetically arranged. Also it makes sense that "E" is in the home row, as it is the most used letter (at least in English).

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Myoth

09 Dec 2017, 21:44

I really don't see the point, AZERTY is old and needs updates, but this is definitly not the answer.


(this is about CFILORUX because the other is unfinished ?)

1) This is too different from AZERTY, everyone would stick to AZERTY because they're used to it.

2) Dead keys for accents are really a no go IMO, I wouldn't type each sentence with twice as much key presses for the same letter ... again, people would prefer AZERTY

3) BAE over ISO ? why ? I would have understood ANSI, but BAE is horrible, that 1u backspace is the worse backspace you could ever ask for, honestly.

4) Why is Caps Unlock shifted ? you'd press caps lock to e;ulate an all time shift, but then you'd press shift to unlock it ?

5) Triple Quotes ? "nj" ? 0/00 ? 3/4 ? that weird shifted alt gr B ? that alt gr H ? those will never be used they really don't deserve their place...

6) the Z is in a place where it wouldn't be easy to press it if you were to touch type, you don't have a spare finger to place on the Z so your pinkie would have to really reach far out of its way to type Z and X


You seem to know your stuff but I don't see that becoming the standard french layout, and I'm french. BEPO looks better in almost every aspect ... much more simple and while, yes it also changes lots from AZERTY, it still makes a bit of sense, there is weird things on BEPO but they are understandable.

I hope I gave you the feedback you were looking for :)

Kochise

09 Dec 2017, 22:12

1) AZERTY is old and everyone used to it ? Not children that start using keyboard, not my parents that started using keyboard not long ago. Don't assume people are used to it so they want change for a saner and more easier alternative. How long have they spent to "get used to it" ?

2) dead keys for accent characters because I have not the best answer to this issue, but there are so many accent characters that a keyboard should have 300+ keys to have them all.

3) BAE ? I used the default layout available on the site. I do agree that the key is a bit short. What about a 105 keys layout ? It's just an idea to start with, I'm not digging into the details right now.

4) Caps lock is shifted because I use 'CapsUnlock' ( http://www.brainsystems.com/capsunlock ) to avoid having 'Capslock' being locked by mistake, which happens quite too frequently. So my idea was to lock caps using shift, which makes 'Caps lock' more a voluntary move.

5) no ideal answer to them, I also wondered to add Cyrillic into the play at the expense of having a much too complicated keyboard layout.

6) Z is anyway a quite less used character (but not in french). What about the characters/symbols located currently at this place ? I'm not the one that made the alphabet so long and the keyboards such a layout. Don't underestimate the power of your pinkie to reach distant places. After all, it can reach the big return key at the far right.

7) BEPO is for french, DVORAK for english, CFILORUX for everybody using the latin alphabet.

Thanks for your feedback.
Last edited by Kochise on 09 Dec 2017, 22:16, edited 1 time in total.

Spok

09 Dec 2017, 22:14

Have you looked into the BÉPO layout already ? There is a lot of material about how It was designed on bepo.fr.
Also who would be the “non-computer users” that benefit from your layout ? Do you have specific types of people in mind ? That would help refine the design by thinking in use cases.

Kochise

09 Dec 2017, 22:17

1) AZERTY is old and everyone used to it ? Not children that start using keyboard, not my parents that started using keyboard not long ago.

Azerty was created by/for typists. Many people use computers because they don't have the choice. Not everyone are going to get used to azerty. I use it for 30+ years and still cannot type with all my fingers.

7) BEPO is for french, DVORAK for english, CFILORUX for everybody using the latin alphabet.

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Myoth

09 Dec 2017, 22:37

Kochise wrote: 1) AZERTY is old and everyone used to it ? Not children that start using keyboard, not my parents that started using keyboard not long ago. Don't assume people are used to it so they want change for a saner and more easier alternative. How long have they spent to "get used to it" ?
Right, because 18 years or more of raising children to learn that layout (and be in an active professional life) isn't a lot ... (sure some people will adapt to it but now that I know that you want to make almost of of Europe use it, there is no way that this is going to happen)
Kochise wrote: 2) dead keys for accent characters because I have not the best answer to this issue, but there are so many accent characters that a keyboard should have 300+ keys to have them all.
You can't please everybody, that's not soemthing anybody has done, there is not a single thing that everybody like. I get your attention to detail, but this can't be managed by a single keyboard layout, and if it did, it would probably be by something like ISO-UK or ANSI-US...
Kochise wrote: 3) BAE ? I used the default layout available on the site. I do agree that the key is a bit short. What about a 105 keys layout ? It's just an idea to start with, I'm not digging into the details right now.
The 104 and 105 key layouts is a non-ending rivalry between the two, nobody has yet to come to explain why one is superior or inferior, though, both sides agree that BAE (Big Ass Enter) is not good.
Kochise wrote: 4) Caps lock is shifted because I use 'CapsUnlock' ( http://www.brainsystems.com/capsunlock ) to avoid having 'Capslock' being locked by mistake, which happens quite too frequently. So my idea was to lock caps using shift, which makes 'Caps lock' more a voluntary move.
Simple thing, try putting Caps Lock where Control normally is, you'll adapt to that very quickly and you won't press Caps Lock accidently anymore.
Kochise wrote: 5) no ideal answer to them, I also wondered to add Cyrillic into the play at the expense of having a much too complicated keyboard layout.
You could make a mix between JIS (it has the ability to be able to switch between English, Hiragana and Kata (or muhenkan, henkan, and kana ? I'm not too sure)) and ANSI to add lots of languages, but that won't be pretty... though it would let you use multiple language on the same keyboard (maybe even too many languages).
Kochise wrote: 6) Z is anyway a quite less used character (but not in french). What about the characters/symbols located currently at this place ? I'm not the one that made the alphabet so long and the keyboards such a layout. Don't underestimate the power of your pinkie to reach distant places. After all, it can reach the big return key at the far right.
Sure, but the signs, aren't as used as the letters, that's why they are here ...
I'm having a hard time understanding how you're "not the one that made the keyboards such a layout" since you designed your own layout ?
Kochise wrote: 7) BEPO is for french, DVORAK for english, CFILORUX for everybody using the latin alphabet.
oh, I didn't know.


I just have a last question because I'm interested in this project, I don't agree with it but I can't say that I'm not interested, so, my question, have you actually used your layout ? if so how is it ?

davkol

09 Dec 2017, 22:38

Kochise wrote: Finding letters more easily, for non computer users or not, same for all languages and countries, ...
Researchers tested alphabetical layouts in practice about 40 years ago and found that they didn't make any difference, not for the better anyway.

There has been a consensus that the optimal way to use a keyboard (as we know it in the mainstream) is touch typing. This consensus has been out there for over a century.

An alphabetical layout doesn't help with touch typing in the slightest. It's neither efficient, nor particularly easy to learn.

It also breaks compatibility with user interfaces, that are usually designed for QWERTY.

Kochise

09 Dec 2017, 23:07

@Myoth

1") Spending 18+ years to learn children a certain layout because it isn't trivial and hard to understand tells a lot about its ergonomic. My parents don't have 18 years left to learn it. When they look for a specific letter, I'd like to offer them a more meaningful way to find what they are looking for.

2") accent characters is a mess, even for me being french. They are here just for historical reason and serve no other purpose that to complicate things (learning french, keyboard layout, ...) that I have not much theory how to dig their grave if not making them dead keys by default.

3") Yeah, I now understand the BAE term :) It rightfully describes it quite well. In my mind I would have placed this key between the space bar and 'AltGr'.

4") 'Capslock' instead of 'Ctrl' ? Nice hint, I'll try it.

5") Yeah, I stick to latin alphabet, that would be enough. I already looked at russian or japanese keyboards including latin alphabet, that makes things rather messy.

6") X and Z are not much used anyway, and I made the layout in such a way that they follow the alphabet order, hence thay are at the tail position. Since there is a meaning for their place, I don't see it as much as a problem that you believe. But as I asked for suggestions, I won't discard yours, even if I don't find it quite serious.

7") Nope, I not yet used my layout IRL. I was thinking about creating a custom keyboard at http://www.wasdkeyboards.com or http://www.maxkeyboard.com but since it will cost $200+, I'm a bit reluctant to create such a naive experimentation without a little more research and discussion about its coherence with specialists (you !) on the subject. I also considered using an e-ink keyboard (not the optimus) like sonderdesign.com, but it's even more expensive, $300+.

@davkol

Researchers paid by who ? Keyboard manufacturers ? 40 years ago, no newer research since then ? When I myself was looking for a specific letter, it would have saved me much time and trouble have a meaningful layout instead that random gibberish garbage 'azerty' is "because otherwise typewriter legs would cross and block the machine".

My layout is not keeping into consideration "compatibility", it's much more like a complete redesign from scratch, yet using the layout keyboards are into currently, that's to say 104/105 form factors. Perhaps less for laptops/netbooks.

What is "touch typing" for you ?

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Myoth

10 Dec 2017, 00:18

Kochise wrote: 1") Spending 18+ years to learn children a certain layout because it isn't trivial and hard to understand tells a lot about its ergonomic. My parents don't have 18 years left to learn it. When they look for a specific letter, I'd like to offer them a more meaningful way to find what they are looking for.
I didn't say you needed 18 years + to learn the keyboard, but since nobody under the age of 18 works, you can say that you'd need 18 years to make a child actually work with the keyboard, I'm sure s/he would learn it in a few years.
Kochise wrote: 2") accent characters is a mess, even for me being french. They are here just for historical reason and serve no other purpose that to complicate things (learning french, keyboard layout, ...) that I have not much theory how to dig their grave if not making them dead keys by default.
We had this conversation already on another thread and we didn't agree with eachother at the end, I personally think that accented keys are necessary for any french typist, but an english wouldn't need them... you can't satisfy everyone ...
Kochise wrote: 3") Yeah, I now understand the BAE term :) It rightfully describes it quite well. In my mind I would have placed this key between the space bar and 'AltGr'.
That exists, it's called split space bar, search it up, it allows for a lot of possibility :)
Kochise wrote: 4") 'Capslock' instead of 'Ctrl' ? Nice hint, I'll try it.
This key swapping is loved by anyone who uses their computer a lot, and no need to say that caps lock doesn't really deserve it's place...
Kochise wrote: 5") Yeah, I stick to latin alphabet, that would be enough. I already looked at russian or japanese keyboards including latin alphabet, that makes things rather messy.
I wasn't talking about their layout, but more about their ability to switch between multiple language pretty easily, look at the key where Tilde is on a normal US layout, this key on the JIS layout switches between japanese and english, you could make a three way key, with enlgish when you press it, cyrilic when shifted and japanese when alt gr'd, see what I mean ?
Kochise wrote: 6") X and Z are not much used anyway, and I made the layout in such a way that they follow the alphabet order, hence thay are at the tail position. Since there is a meaning for their place, I don't see it as much as a problem that you believe. But as I asked for suggestions, I won't discard yours, even if I don't find it quite serious.
You don't find it too serious ? too bad because I'm actually trying to help you as you're not apparently seeing... I really am, when creating something you always need to question what you're doing before questioning the others, you thought about everything and yet they have something to say about it ? there has to be a problem on your side since you thought you had everything planned. Take it as you want, but I'm really trying to help you.
Kochise wrote: 7") Nope, I not yet used my layout IRL. I was thinking about creating a custom keyboard at http://www.wasdkeyboards.com or http://www.maxkeyboard.com but since it will cost $200+, I'm a bit reluctant to create such a naive experimentation without a little more research and discussion about its coherence with specialists (you !) on the subject. I also considered using an e-ink keyboard (not the optimus) like sonderdesign.com, but it's even more expensive, $300+.
this combined with a cheap yet good keyboard could do it honestly, it would be a sub 70 euro build...

davkol

10 Dec 2017, 00:22

You clearly haven't done any research in literature on the topic whatsoever. :roll:

You've also missed the relevant time frame by 40+ years, because hardly anyone but a few hobbyists and a handful of researchers from only semi-related fields is interested in typing anymore. Why? Because majority of typing (data entry) has already been automated.

Kochise

10 Dec 2017, 00:33

@Myoth: I'm not dismissing your inputs, just that there are already things far more grating than having X and Z at the end of the alphabet, thus placed where [!/§] and [*/µ] currently are, that's to say below and right of M (french keyboard). Why isn't a dedicated key for 'ê' then for instance ?

I'll consider your Cherry keyboard option when the layout has matured enough, even tough you can switch caps later. I'd like to be more sure about some keys.

https://imgur.com/gallery/JoQcH

@davkol: I'm not targeting "data entry", but text typing, like, say, writing on a forum or a mail, a student its courses and thesis, whatever.

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Myoth

10 Dec 2017, 01:20

Kochise wrote: @Myoth: I'm not dismissing your inputs, just that there are already things far more grating than having X and Z at the end of the alphabet, thus placed where [!/§] and [*/µ] currently are, that's to say below and right of M (french keyboard). Why isn't a dedicated key for 'ê' then for instance ?
because we don't use it as often maybe ? I don't have the answers to anything :oops:
Kochise wrote: I'll consider your Cherry keyboard option when the layout has matured enough, even tough you can switch caps later. I'd like to be more sure about some keys.

https://imgur.com/gallery/JoQcH
You want some keycaps like that ? You're going to have a hard time then... those aren't even available in ISO there is no way you'll find them with you're layout :?

Kochise

10 Dec 2017, 01:34

No, it was a fun imgur gallery :) I'll try the Cherry experience a bit later. I want first to optimize the layout then tell you what it feels like IRL.

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Myoth

10 Dec 2017, 02:00

Oh, I see ;D

Sure no problem ! update us whenever you can !!

Kochise

10 Dec 2017, 07:39

Btw, is there any keyboard that embed its keys mapping like the logitech g600 embeds its own ? So that you don't have to install a software on the host computer to have the right mapping, or have to reo it each time you plug your silly mapped keyboard into another computer ?

davkol

10 Dec 2017, 11:53

Here are some keywords worth researching before even getting into keymap design:
  • ISO/IEC 9995 (framework for national layouts)
  • keyboard controller in the wiki as a starting point for understanding how keyboards work
  • path dependence, lock-in, network effect etc. for understanding why QWERTY-based layouts are unavoidable

Kochise

10 Dec 2017, 13:11

Thanks.

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mecano

10 Dec 2017, 23:32

Kochise wrote: No, it was a fun imgur gallery :) I'll try the Cherry experience a bit later. I want first to optimize the layout then tell you what it feels like IRL.
By optimising the layout, you mean reordering the alphabet?
If so, I have some suggestions. :D
Until then btw
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/two-kool- ... 785-3.html

and…

keyboards-f2/let-s-laugh-at-this-alphab ... t8694.html

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kbdfr
The Tiproman

11 Dec 2017, 16:56

Kochise wrote: […] Not everyone are going to get used to azerty. I use it for 30+ years and still cannot type with all my fingers. […]
Oh come on…

At the time I learnt typing, normal mortals did not have access to such things like computers, and typists were scorned upon by higher-prestige employees like shorthand typists and secretaries for having no other skills than typing, which was considered an absolutely basic and simple requirement.
It was so absolutely basic, simple and low-prestige that no man learnt it. I was the first guy to ever register for the course :lol:

The course itself lasted exactly three weeks, with just one lesson a day. You had a typewriter with coloured (but not lettered) caps corresponding to the fingers, and a tape recorder rhythmically dictated letters, and later words and sentences. At the end of the three weeks, everybody was able to touchtype. The rest (and acquisition of speed) was simply practice.

So if you cannot type, don't blame the keyboard :mrgreen:

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hansichen

11 Dec 2017, 18:03

When I would go for a new layout I would do some research with other layouts, eg Dvorak, Colemak, Workman or Neo for German input. All of these layouts are based on which key you use the most in the input language. As a German I use a modified version of Colemak where I have my German symbols and Umlaute on the normal positions but the alphas are in Colemak positions. That's the best way for me to type.
Stuff like neo which is strongly adapted to the German language was never so appealing to me as eg the Y is very far away and English typing is not so nice with it. So you basically always have some downsides of the layouts, you can't really adjust them to all languages.
Iso international is a beginning for that but the Alt gr key is imo in a horrible position for typing ergonomics

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Phenix
-p

11 Dec 2017, 19:01

hansichen wrote:When I would go for a new layout I would do some research with other layouts, eg Dvorak, Colemak, Workman or Neo for German input. All of these layouts are based on which key you use the most in the input language. As a German I use a modified version of Colemak where I have my German symbols and Umlaute on the normal positions but the alphas are in Colemak positions. That's the best way for me to type.
Stuff like neo which is strongly adapted to the German language was never so appealing to me as eg the Y is very far away and English typing is not so nice with it. So you basically always have some downsides of the layouts, you can't really adjust them to all languages.
Iso international is a beginning for that but the Alt gr key is imo in a horrible position for typing ergonomics
Can you share a pic or keymap?

i use iso de on my ergodox but ordered a planck out of curiosity and figured why not learn a new language..!?

to make this post topic related:
check out cherry or tipro relegendable caps and printout your own letters - not awesome. Like dyesub or ds but a option tough

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hansichen

13 Dec 2017, 08:05

Here you go:
Spoiler:
^ ° 1 ! 2 " 3 § 4 $ 5 % 6 & 7 / 8 ( 9 ) 0 = ß ? ´ ` backspace
tab q w f p g j l u y ö ü + * iso enter
ctrl a r s t d h n e i o ä # ' iso enter
shift <> z x c v b k m , ; . : - _ shift shift

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Lustique

13 Dec 2017, 09:07

Phenix wrote: […]
i use iso de on my ergodox but ordered a planck out of curiosity and figured why not learn a new language..!?
[…]
I thought there aren't really enough keys for that (or for any other ISO layout) on an Ergodox, are there? I kind of asked about this in the Ergodox euro tour thread, but no one reacted to it.

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mecano

13 Dec 2017, 10:48

hansichen wrote: Here you go:
Spoiler:
^ ° 1 ! 2 " 3 § 4 $ 5 % 6 & 7 / 8 ( 9 ) 0 = ß ? ´ ` backspace
tab q w f p g j l u y ö ü + * iso enter
ctrl a r s t d h n e i o ä # ' iso enter
shift <> z x c v b k m , ; . : - _ shift shift
No space? :shock:

Kochise

25 Feb 2018, 14:59

Updated original design, added more details here : https://imgur.com/gallery/mfwwa

Feel free to add your thoughts about it.

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