Ergonomic Keyboard Mods



In the context of keyboard layouts, Curl is a design principle which aims to deprioritize the centre columns of the "home row" as these feel much less comfortable to many typists, and instead favour the lower-row positions reachable by a relaxed curling of the index fingers while keeping the wrists straight. This principle can be applied during the design of a layout, or can be applied to an existing home-row based layout such as Colemak.

Keys are colour-coded to indicate the finger that should be used. Using Angle Mod-style fingering, the Qwerty C and M keys (indicated with a tick) can be easily accessed with an inward curl of the index finger. The central column keys, Qwerty G and H (indicated with a cross) are unsatisfactory for frequently-typed keys.

Criticisms of the straight home row in the standard Colemak layout have led to the generation of some alternative layouts that may be inferior in other respects. In the case of Colemak, the two home-row centre column keys are frequently typed letters, D and H. Applying a ‘Curl’ mod provides an improved experience for these letters, without adversely affecting Colemak's many other strenghts.

The ‘Curl’ principle is perfectly exemplified by Colemak Mod-DH. The Workman layout was also developed with a similar idea in mind.

The currently recommended ‘Colemak-DH’ layout for an ISO keyboard, giving an improved experience for the frequently typed letters D and H using index fingers.

Note: An important observation is that each key moved should be typed with the same finger as the original layout, to avoid any adverse effect on same-finger bigrams (i.e. letter pairs). This means the Curl concept works in harmony with the Angle Mod.


Colemak Mod-DH