Ortho-Linear Emacs and VI Keyboard Design 8

For creating key-binding name-spaces (key-spaces), modifier keys, key-chords (single and dual key) and Hydras each have unique strengths. For my use case, I wanted a bigger modifier key-space so I started there with Super.

Although Super is supposed to be reserved non-native packages, it is already getting scarfed up because the native key-spaces are painfully overcrowded. To top it off, when you run Emacs on Windows, Windows intercepts a bunch of key-presses for itself and never sends them to Emacs. Yea you can disable some, but not all and it is irritating. For my configuration, this is a showstopper issue and all of workaround are too painful. I enjoy using modifier keys, so I turned to Hyper.

Initially I thought it would be simple as buying a keyboard with Hyper on it. Wrong. Wrong. Compared to the painful workarounds out there to reproduce Hyper on a keyboard without it, building a keyboard with Hyper on it seemed like walk in the park in comparison. Although I’ve battled the urge to design and assemble a keyboard for years because I know that someone else has done it better, this weekend I finally broke-down and indulged myself with some mock-ups.

They key top legend is busy if not simple and its laid out like this

  • Left Side
    • Top: Press the key with Shift
    • Bottom: Press the key without any modifier
  • Right Size
    • Top: Press the key with Fn and Shift
    • Bottom: Press the key with Fn

This 8th mock-up feels perfectly suited for me.


The thing that I like about is that:

  • It has a familiar QWERTY layout
  • No typewriter slowdown junk
  • Power keys are all operated with the power fingers
  • Mostly symmetrical
  • Shift and Function handle everything that I want
  • Greek alphabet in order, so simple
  • No need to program and reprogram, super simple
  • Key-chord has taught me the power of the power-finger two-button press, so Function and Option do fine as single keys, combining with nearby keys for common actions
  • No finger-killing put every modifier key in one row
  • It is an ANSI 104 without: ScrollLock, BreakPause and duplicate keys
  • For my VI friends, Escape is an easy-to-reach two-finger press using Fn
  • Someone has surely laid it out this way already, so I can buy it from them

If you want to see this is in the editor, paste it into the awesome keyboard layout editor.

[{x:2.5},"!\n1\nF11\nF1","@\n2\nF12\nF2","#\n3\nF13\nF03","$\n4\nF14\nF04","%\n5\nF15\nF05",{x:0.25,w:2},"Caps Lock\nTab\n\nEsc",{x:0.25},"^\n6\nF16\nF06","&\n7\nF17\nF07","*\n8\nF18\nF08","(\n9\nF19\nF09",")\n0\nF20\nF10"],

This didn’t take too much time, but I probably spent a little too long on it :).

Addendum: <2016-04-16 Sat>

Re-published because I broke my RSS feed syndicated for Planet Emacsen and @hober fixed it. Thank you @hober.

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