Standard Qwerty Layout Layers

October 21, 2017 Scott Urueta

Steven Hum of the darnedest thing is configuring the firmware.

Here is a detailed view on what the layout is and why I arranged it that way:

I tried designing the most universally acceptable layout for people who normally use a US QWERTY layout. It includes both the standard number row keys and a numpad. It also has a standard sixkey/nav cluster, Function keys separated into groups of 4 keys, some common one-handed shortcut keys, as well as basic volume/media keys.

Some keys are duplicated to allow for variance in preference, relevant layer convenience, and to allow for more compatibility with software that specifically requires the numpad. Likewise, some typically unused keys are also included for compatibility, such as Scroll Lock and Pause/Break.

For positioning, most keys are in either a fairly consistent location between layers/rows/etc., or in a location that generally matches the normal qwerty keyboard. There are a handful of minor exceptions. For example, the Shift/Ctrl/Alt/Super modifier keys are not compatible with all shortcut combinations when tucked into a layer. These require dedicated keys so they are in slightly unusual positions.

Aside from the main qwerty layer, there are four others:

  1. Orange (right key/right legends)
  2. Blue (left legends)
  3. Mixing the two apparently gives this odd greenish hue (bottom sidewall legends)
  4. Toggle-able Plover mode
  • Hold down the Blue modifier key for number row, symbol, a few one-handed shortcuts, and media keys.
  • Hold down the Orange modifier key for function keys and the sixkey/nav cluster.
  • Hold both color modifiers to access the Greenish color layer: cursor, numpad, and another set of the nav cluster packed around the cursor keys (shown gray on the front sidewalls of the keycaps here).
Other details:

The upper left orange layer key "Plover" enables the Plover layer (either a TxBolt serial protocol or a QWER = STPH, thumb keys = CV NM, etc. "standard keyboard" input).

The other two keys on the left column disables the Plover layout to return to the main qwerty layer. Both need to be pressed and released simultaneously, with no other keys being pressed. This prevents accidentally leaving the Plover mode.

The enable and disable keys for the steno layer are on different spots so you can be positive you've enabled or disabled it even when you don't remember or aren't sure which mode you are in.

When numlock is turned on (which is found in the Greenish layer), the numpad cluster stays enabled. This allows for one-handed number entry, calculator use, etc., without holding down modifier keys.

The upper right key that says "Shift/Ctrl" in the Greenish layer allows for toggling a swap of the Shift and Control keys. The default shown is easy to use when coming straight from a standard qwerty keyboard because the Shift location is identical, whereas the non-intuitive swap is much more usable once accustomed to. When swapped, your little finger doesn't need to move away from the letter keys when holding Shift for uppercase letters.

The upper left key that says "TxBolt" in the Both layer allows for toggling between the TxBolt protocol or a standard qwerty steno input with the CV/NM keys as the thumb keys.

Note that the cursor keys are not aligned Vim-style. I'd hope Vim users are savvy enough to modify the configuration to suit themselves. It is also not aligned with the equally familiar WASD. This is because the bottom two rows have larger keycaps than the top row. It feels much more natural for the cursor keys to take advantage of this fact. I think this layout is a good default blend of user-friendly and comfortable.

I hope this is a sensible set of defaults to ship with the keyboard. Keep in mind all of this can be changed with firmware updates and Steven has a couple other comfortable layouts as well.


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  • analyticd

    Nov 08, 2019

    Just helping Delaney Gillilan (above) and others who wonder about tab key location. See here: for more extensive graphics of layout. There you will find TAB key in orange layer.

  • William

    Sep 14, 2018

    I just started learning stenography and the keyboard is great. Thank you!

  • Delaney Gillilan

    Jan 20, 2018

    What about Tab in the layers? Is this configurable with something like QMK?

  • Joe

    Jan 18, 2018

    The blue and orange keys are swapped in this image. Compared to what is here and what my brand new splitography does. BTW love the keyboard and how fast you shipped it!!!

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