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18 May 2018

Plank ortholinear keyboard

by Konstantin Petrov

I have crafted the Plank keyboard last autumn and was using it since.

The building process was fun, I met nice people in the makerspace where I went to build it. Feature wise the Plank keyboard are way beyond everything I have used before. It is possible to make layout as one pleases, not only to move letters around, but also to make any combinations of keys and modifiers one wants available on the fly.

I however didn’t do any significant changes to the default layout and tried first to use it as is.

I am not a fast typist, so maybe my experience was flawed by this.

The initial transition from staggered to ortholinear layout was simple. The latter really seems much more logical and pleasant for hands. Also the size of the keyboard helps a lot — everything is very close to the home row.

It required a lot of effort for me to learn all the key sequences for the special characters, but I got through.

In general it was a lot of fun for me to use this keyboard and for my colleagues to look at it and at me using it.

But it has flows.

It is small. Yes, it is 40% keyboard so it is supposed to be small, and I specifically wanted to have small keyboard, but still. For software development it is crucial to have all the []{}&%$!=+ at you disposal in minimal time. Not to mention numbers.

Because of the this, I had to use modifier keys all the time and it is no fun.

It also required some attention while using it because of all the modifier keys. And attention is precious resource not to be wasted on typing.

Also the size doesn’t allow it to have all the keys for Cyrillic alphabets so my Russian typing was much slower.

And it is ortholinear. Again, I had it coming, but I didn’t expect it to be that much different. The change to it was simple but the change from it wasn’t. And there is no laptop with ortholinear keyboard available, so for all cases when I cannot use external keyboard it was inconvenient.

In the end

I have to switch to the staggered layout back. To please myself I got a Pok3r III keyboard with exact same layout as on my laptop and I am going to emulate some of its behaviour on the laptops keyboard to make shifts as non-existent as possible.