Layout Variants


See my Locale Variants forum topic for the various locale solutions. Also, in the EPKL program's Colemak layout folder there are README files and images describing several of my locale solutions. That may be the best place to look for updates these days.

I took off a bit and made quite a bunch of these, heh! I can make more on request. It'd be nice with feedback from local users as some design decisions are open to debate and depend on actual usage as well as personal preferences.

Here's what I've covered so far, for the most part both with conservative 'keep local symbols' and my preferred 'unified symbols' layers (On a side note, there were only 11 Dvorak layouts in the xkb files last time I looked!):
al at ba be bg br ca cz de dk es fi fr gb gr hr hu il is it latam nl no pl pt ro rs ru se si tr us vi

The brackets (lvl3-4) and the LSGT key may hold the most common locale-specific keys.

Cmk eD Usym Aw Xm Cmk eD Dk

The Colemak [edition DreymaR] layout, Norwegian+Danish 'Unified Symbols' variant
(mostly like the standard Colemak above).

Cmk eD No Ksym Xm

The Colemak [edition DreymaR] layout, Norwegian 'Keep Local Symbols' variant
(symbols like local key markings).

Please note: The 'Local Symbols' variant for a locale uses symbol mappings from the default locale layout (usually a QWERTY one), which are also the ones normally found on physical key markings on keyboards made for that locale. The letter block, however, is the Colemak[eD] one which may lead to some inconsistencies or faults in lv3-4 mappings. For the most consistent and complete set of AltGr mappings, use the 'Unified Symbols' layers.


See the phonetic subtopic of my Locale topic for more info on these layouts.

For the Greek and Hebrew phonetic layers I mostly moved the keys of their default phonetic xkb layouts to a Colemak setup, hardly changing anything else. Ideally, I should be able to define phonetic names for the keys corresponding to Colemak so that other 'phonetic' layouts would work automatically, but I think the XKB way of doing that may be too QWERTY-centric for that to work right now. For Kyrillic, I've used Ghen's excellent Rulemak which under my xkb patch is found under 'Russian (Colemak, phonetic E-Slavic)'. It isn't for Russians only, but that's how xkb likes to sort things. Similarly, for South Slavic there's the Bulgarian (Colemak, phonetic S-Slavic) variant now. Let me know how that works out, please?

Cmk X Phon Gr AWide Sl Mask

The Colemak phonetic layout for Greek, simply moving around the keys of the default (here xkb) Greek layout.


Advanced typing is possible with only one hand given a mimimum of training with the mirroring method. In fact, this paragraph was written entirely using the left hand with the exception of the mirroring key itself, with hardly any training! The brain is inherently good at mirroring things.

Mirroring for one-handed typing was described by Edgar Matias et al in the 1996 paper "One-Handed Touch-Typing on a QWERTY Keyboard". Dedicated Matias keyboards and various other implementations of the principle are available, but most of them cost money or require technical knowledge.

I think the Colemak is a very good layout for this kind of one-handed typing: It scores well on home-row usage, finger load balance and same-finger bigram avoidance, and it doesn't focus overmuch on hand alternation which could lead to same-finger bigrams when mirror-typing (Dvorak has lots of hand alternation; it also has separate right-hand and left-hand layers but then you'd have to learn a new layout).

You'll want an easily accessible key (such as a thumb key) to switch between normal and mirrored typing. One suggestion is using LAlt for left-handed typing, and RAlt or RWin for right-handed typing. But you may instead use an arm or foot switch set to any other key (maybe an out-of-the-way one like ScrollLock), or a "ghetto switch" made by stripping most keys off a keyboard and placing it on the floor. A more fancy but still cheap switch could be made by soldering the wires from a foot pedal switch (if you have something useable) to the contacts of a key on a cheap keyboard.

Some adventurous souls might want to try the mirrored Colemak as a main layout? Some say it's more similar to Dvorak that way. However, my implementation is meant for one-handed typing. To use it as a standalone layout, you'll want to take out the remapping of special keys.

Cmk ISO MirrorOn Angle

The Mirrored Colemak layout, which should be good for right-handed typing (the Angle mod is recommended for this)

Cmk ISO MirrorOn AWide

The Mirrored Colemak layout with the AngleWide-Slash mod (see the Wide mod heading); better for left-handed typing I think

A more straightforward one-handed typing method would be simply centering your one hand in the middle of the board on the TDHN (QWERTY FGHJ) keys; that's probably also easy to get used to and requires no software solutions at all, but I imagine it to be less ideal in the slightly longer run. People have reached decent speeds with this technique though. For more info on one-handed typing options, see for instance this KPR Blog page.