Home > Keyboard Release, Keyboards > New Keyboard Layout Project: Keyboard Version 3.11

New Keyboard Layout Project: Keyboard Version 3.11

This layout performs significantly better than any other I’ve found. But how good is it really?

Hands: 50% 49%
Fingers: 7% 15% 11% 15% 18% 13% 9% 9%

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

Fitness:       2084759
Distance:      7386.58
Inward rolls:  6.91%
Outward rolls: 6.88%
Same hand:     26.28%
Same finger:   0.58%
Row change:    12.34%
Home jump:     0.14%
To center:     3.50%

Distance and same finger are phenomenally low. Same hand and row changing could be better. But by all measures here, it’s very good. But is it really?

One thing that jumps out at me here is the “ing” trigraph. It is just weird. I practiced with it, though, and it’s actually not too hard. There are some strange words that loop back on themselves like “thingy” or “resurrect”, but I don’t find that to be too hard either, just strange. In fact, MTGAP 2.0 (which I am using right now) has a pretty major loop in the word “themselves”, and that’s not too hard to type.

EDIT: This layout was getting a huge performance boost. Due to a small bug, there were two ‘w’s, only one of which was getting scored. So the layout was essentially 1/30th better than any other layout without the bug. In truth, this is the best layout given the criteria:

y p u c b  x l d , .
i n e s f  h r t a o
j v ' w z  k m g ; q
  1. feurry
    September 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I think you made a typo posting the layout as there are 2 w’s and no m.

    • September 7, 2009 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out. It’s not a typo; it appears to be some sort of glitch.

  2. Atle
    June 30, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Can you do an experiment for me? Id like to see a keyboard that completely abandons the bottom row. Something like the following:

    c g m l w p f u b y
    d s k n r h a e o i
    z x j v q k . , / ;

    Bottom row: Keep any arrangement of puntuations in the right four positions. Keep any arrangement of the six least frequent letters, vkxjzq, in the six remaining positions.

    Home and top rows: Keep the eight most frequent letters, etaoinsh(r?), in the home positions. Fill the remaining positions with the mid frequent letters.


    Really I plan to reuse the bottom row as a ‘personal domain’ area, for letters and diacritics of other languages and other needs. That way, I can master the home and top rows for all situations and swap out the bottom row for special situations.

    I understand the ‘pinky penalty’ Il incur. But if I can handle it, the effort pays off. I already use five different keyboard layouts. In my case, to reuse one keyboard is urgent.

    For what its worth Id like to call the layout the ‘Vere Keyboard’.

    • July 1, 2010 at 2:55 am

      It looks like a layout with those restraints is not going to be nearly as good as one without. But nonetheless, given the current scoring system, here’s what my program came up with:

      Hands: 47% 52%
      Fingers: 7% 9% 11% 18% 14% 16% 12% 8% 
      w f l d g  b c u h y
      r a s t m  p n e o i
      x q v k j  z , . ; '
      Fitness:       2361238870
      Distance:      9099776
      Inward rolls:  11.40%
      Outward rolls: 6.68%
      Same hand:     20.62%
      Same finger:   1.12%
      Row change:    9.26%
      Home jump:     0.29%
      To center:     2.77%
    • July 2, 2010 at 1:09 am

      Your first experiment will take some time to do. Also, I will likely be busy tomorrow, so it may be a few days before I have finished. It won’t be too difficult though.

      • Atle
        July 4, 2010 at 4:09 pm

        Happy 4th of July!

  3. Atle
    July 2, 2010 at 12:26 am

    I can live with this.

    Enough components are excellent. Obviously, reach is good, but its better than I expected. The layout didnt force any less frequent letters into prime positions. No home jumping, yay! The finger distribution is solid – the pinkies will be ok after all.

    Some of it is surprising. In one hand combos, the high inward rolls swirl up thru the top row. Type, ‘Once you punch in pinion’. Its a bit tough but fun. Because each finger only needs to ‘remember’ two keys, I can get the hang of it to do it rapidly. Plus, the layouts hand alternation is good.

    Im happy.

    For comparison, can you have time to do two more experiments? See what happens if the punctuation moves around. This will satisfy my curiosity.

    In the one experiment: use the same parameters as above, but in the bottom row, keep two puntuation keys in the right corner and the other two in the left corner. I wonder how much influence these infrequent characters have on the rest of the layout. I suspect theyl pull the vowels, thus dramatically affect the layout.

    In the final experiment: place two punctuation keys in the bottom index-and-middle positions of each hand, both left and right.

    Im not sure how much work Im asking you to do, but I appreciate this. Il definitely use one of these three keyboards.

    • July 5, 2010 at 5:56 pm

      First Experiment

      I misread your experiment description so I thought it would be harder than it was. It didn’t take long at all; I just had to make some small modifications to your original experiment.

      This wasn’t the best keyboard it came up with, but it is one of the better ones:

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

      It’s almost identical to the previous one. I thought that was interesting.

      The best keyboard is this:

      Hands: 53% 46%
      Fingers: 9% 15% 10% 17% 16% 9% 11% 9%

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

      Fitness: 2437305569
      Distance: 9070536
      Inward rolls: 11.65%
      Outward rolls: 9.60%
      Same hand: 23.42%
      Same finger: 0.75%
      Row change: 10.52%
      Home jump: 0.32%
      To center: 2.83%

      It reminds me of Michael Capewell’s layout, with the e and the r positions. According to my program it’s not as good as the previous layout, but the program’s not perfect so it may be wrong.

      Second Experiment

      This is the best layout it came up with:

      Hands: 54% 45%
      Fingers: 10% 13% 15% 15% 16% 9% 10% 8%

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

      Fitness: 2400848375
      Distance: 9070536
      Inward rolls: 11.87%
      Outward rolls: 9.63%
      Same hand: 23.90%
      Same finger: 0.98%
      Row change: 10.46%
      Home jump: 0.37%
      To center: 2.78%

  4. Atle
    July 6, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Awesome! These examples give a good feel for how the punctuations behave. The extra result you gave for the ring-and-pinky punctuations is telling. It confirms the original experiment is solid.

    Im surprised splitting up punctuation didnt improve fitness, but in hindsight it makes sense. The (only?) benefit of punctuation is to improve the same-finger values, especially for vowels. Since vowels dont like symmetry, symmetric punctuation positions are less helpful.

    Together the experiments reveal a number of interesting behaviors. Notice, the vowel O strongly gravitates to one punctuation to improve its same finger value yet oppositely allows a high-frequency letter to use its same finger. As long as the O combos with this letter dont ‘flip’ too often, its fine. For example, the H-O digraph is reasonably frequent, but the 0-H flip is exceedingly rare. Thus despite the frequency of H, the H-O digraph is a single tolerable factor. Oppositely, a finger with T-0-N would result in O-N, N-O, T-O, O-T, not to mention N-T, increasing the number of factors geometrically. Thus O likes a punctuation, and if it gets it, it doesnt mind certain frequent letters. A future experiment that lets the punctuation intermix freely among the least-frequent letters in the bottom row, would be interesting in its own right to finetune some observations. But the experiments that you already did tell me everything I need.

    For myself, Il use the layout from the original experiment. It is excellent. The only way too improve its fitness would be to let the punctuation intermix the letters, but that would lessen their reuse as a ‘private domain’ area. If necessary, the other two experiments show how to improve the same-finger value, but for now the overall cost to do so seems too high.

    I love these experiments. Not only do they give me an excellent layout. They also cure my cold feet. I feel I can commit to the layout without fear that somewhere a layout waits that is much better for me.

    • July 6, 2010 at 4:26 pm

      I’m glad you like it. If there’s anything you’d wish to change about one of the layouts, such as reducing same finger usage, I could tweak the values to get such a result. But as it is, these layouts look pretty good.

      Why did you want to restrict certain keys to certain places? The best of these layouts scores 236, while the best unrestricted layout (given the same scoring criteria) scores 219.

  5. Atle
    July 6, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    ‘But as it is, these layouts look pretty good.’

    Yeah, Im happy with the ‘Vere’ keyboard.

    ‘Why did you want to restrict certain keys to certain places?’
    I switch back and forth between different keyboards for several languages, and the ‘unlearning’ is maddening. I plan to use the Vere keyboard primarily for English, then for other languages to swap out its punctuations for special letters and diacritics. It helps to keep these ‘personal domain’ keys together as a block. In these other keyboards, I will use the side keys or even the number keys for the punctuations. The other languages want be optimal, but at least my fingers will ‘know’ where most of the letters are, so Il type quickly enough.

    ‘The best of these layouts scores 236, while the best unrestricted layout scores 219.’
    Out of curiosity, how do you determine these scores? For a benchmark, how does Colemak score? What do you mean by ‘unrestricted layout’? Is there an example of what it would look like?

  6. Atle
    July 6, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Oh, obviously ‘236’ refers to 2361238870.

    • July 6, 2010 at 9:35 pm

      Correct. Did that answer your question(s)?

      • Atle
        July 6, 2010 at 10:03 pm

        Still curious about Colemak and ‘unrestricted’.

        • July 6, 2010 at 11:21 pm

          By ‘unrestricted’, I mean a layout where keys can go anywhere. The punctuation keys aren’t restricted to the corner, for instance.


          Hands: 46% 53%
          Fingers: 7% 7% 11% 19% 18% 16% 9% 8% 
          q w f p g  j l u y ;
          a r s t d  h n e i o
          z x c v b  k m , . '
          Fitness:       2442573328
          Distance:      9159600
          Inward rolls:  9.81%
          Outward rolls: 9.19%
          Same hand:     21.24%
          Same finger:   0.82%
          Row change:    9.08%
          Home jump:     0.50%
          To center:     3.74%
  7. Atle
    July 7, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Wow! The 236 rates better than the Colemak 244? Now I really feel good about the keyboard!

    The best unrestricted keyboard that got 219, whats the print out for that?

  8. Atle
    July 7, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Thats the one thats the best so far? I was under the impression, you intentionally relaxed the distance. I see why the O perplexed you.

    Obviously its an excellent keyboard. So the question is, are the component values so precisely accurate, this surprising result is also accurate?

    Your insight into rolls v hand alternations from your own typing data is probably correct. The fastest typing occurs when a hand alternation follows a short (inward?) roll. Thus the alt crowd and the roll crowd are both right, because the both together is the optimal. Therefore, if the rolls are high, the alternation must be high too .. which is true here.

    Pursuing that line of inquiry about how to synergize rolls and alts, will probably yield the best results to objectively evaluate this keyboard.

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