Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

New Keyboard Layout Project: Some Cost Modifications

Posted by Michael Dickens on August 22, 2009

Today, I played around with the costs. I found a few things that didn’t work too well, and a few that did. I came across something interesting, though. I reduced the cost of outward rolls to zero, and I got a somewhat different layout. There was too much same finger usage for my taste, so I increased the cost of same finger. Interestingly, I got the exact same result as MTGAP 3.2.

k c f g b  j h u w .
o s a t d  l n e r i
q v , p z  ; m y x '

I don’t like the way the “he” digraph requires that I bend my hand, so I added something to the program to take that into account. When I factored that in, I came up with this layout, which I like a lot:


k y d c b  j f u l ,
o i t s g  h n e r a
q ' w p z  v m . x ;

This solves some of the problems of MTGAP 3.2. The “he” digraph is much easier in my opinion. Inward rolls are improved, and that awkward “he” is eliminated. There are some problems, though. Distance, same hand and same finger are all increased. So is this layout really any better?

You may wonder why I care so much about the “he” digraph. I mean, it’s just one digraph. But the thing is, it’s the second most common digraph after “th”. That digraph alone has a significant impact.

I will continue to look for a good balance.


6 Responses to “New Keyboard Layout Project: Some Cost Modifications”

  1. feurry said

    After having a quick glance I noticed some striking resemblance to arensito. Namely nera on the right hand is arensito reversed. Just thought that was interesting too.

    • I have some scorings of MTGAP 2.0 and 3.2, Colemak, Capewell, Arensito, Dvorak and QWERTY. They are based on a slightly outdated scoring system, but it’s close enough.

      It is indeed similar, as I agree with many of the design properties of Arensito. However, it fixes many of the problem. Arensito places some uncommon keys in easy-to-reach locations (like , and b) and some common keys in hard-to-reach locations (d, m, w). The only layouts of the above that scored worse than Arensito are Dvorak and QWERTY. Arensito does have very good finger rolls and low same finger usage, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

      My layout fixes some of these problems. It still keeps the easy finger rolls, but greatly improves on finger travel distance and a few other minor aspects. Same finger is a bit worse, but still low.

  2. phynnboi said

    If you’re worried about the digraph HE, why are you okay with H being an inward reach and E being typed with the adjacent finger of the same hand? That makes typing THE fairly awkward. (Although I suppose it’d decrease TEH typos.)

    • I think it’s easier than what I had before. You have to make a compromise there: either T and H are on the same hand, H and E are on the same hand, or T and E are on the same hand. The third option would put too much stress on that hand, and the first and second options could require the use of a less-than-comfortable digraph. I like what MTGAP 2.0 did with it, with T on the index home row and H above the middle finger.

      • feurry said

        Since “th” and “he” is so common, why not put one in a good spot for digraphs. On mtgap 3.5 switching h and m looks like a nice possibility. “t” is on the opposite hand, and “he” is comfortable.

      • Yeah, I like that kind of roll. It fits the shape of the hand. MTGAP 2.0 has something similar with TH. I’m planning on putting that into the program, but I can’t do that until I get home this evening.

        Have you gotten any interesting results from the program I sent you?

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