A compact keyboard layout for traveling programmers

TL;DR: Look at the pictures below and let me know which one you think is better.

I spend most of my waking hours at my laptop, so I tend to think about laptop design a lot. Most of my work day is spent writing code, docs or email, so I care an awful lot about the keyboard. This post is about an extremely compact keyboard layout I’ve been designing. The goals is that the keyboard should:

This is probably an opinionated design; it reflects my priorities and acquired tastes. (I’ve been using ThinkPads for eight years, and I’ve run some kind of Linux most of that time.)

To save space, 5-row keyboards drop the usual top row of function and media keys that most laptops have; the challenge is to move all of those functions onto the other keys while keeping it obvious where they are and making it easy to hit them.

I’ve put together two slightly different layouts:

Option 1

Option 2

Common features

The difference

Which one do you prefer? Comment on the facebook post to let me know.


Now read this

Proportional representation

The AAP manifesto mentioned something about “supplementing the existing first-past-the-post system with proportional representation.” This was a pleasant surprise — it mirrored something I’d discussed with friends in 2010. In response to... Continue →