ThumbUp! keyboards are smaller than the laptop ones. How am I supposed to type all those keys that barely fit into the standard 104-key boards? The answer is layers which allow each key play more than one role.
In the conventional boards each key performs only one function. In fact that is not completely true. There are standard modifiehe rs: Shift, Control, Alt and Win. They allow to enter the capital letters by pressing Shift and a letter together, perform standard operations like Select All with Ctrl+A, open the file explorer with Win+E, and so on.
Each modifier (or their combination) while it is pressed switches the keyboard to another layout.
The programmable keyboards extend that idea by allowing multiple modifiers in addition to the "conventional" Shift, Control, Alt, and Win.
For QWERTY layer ThumbsUp! keyboard is big enough to fit all the Latin letters and some of the punctuation marks.
The default layer looks very close to the regular boards:
Obvious difference is the Shift keys moved under the thumbs (instead of pinkies) and the lack or a long space bar. All other keys are at their familiar places.
Shift key is used quite often. In the regular boards it is supposed to be pressed with pinkies, which is not so comfortable, especially with the laptop boards tending to make the right one smaller and shift it sideways to give space for the navigation keys. In ThumbsUp! keyboards Shift key is given a priority - it is put where it can be hit and held just by lowering the thumb. Very short and efficient move. The palm does not need to rotate (as in the regular boards) to reach for that button. There is a common recommendation to press Shift with one hand and use the other hand for the letter/key, this layout helps to follow this recommendation, the modifiers placed symmetrically with that in mind.
The same with Ctrl+Shift+..., or Alt+Shift+..., or Win+Shift+... combinations. With this layout one hand holds the modifiers, the other presses the letter.
But how one type the curly brackets or single and double quotes? For that Tab key is used - when it is pressed briefly/once it acts as usual Tab key. When it is held down (longer than 1/5-1/3") it becomes a modifier. The keyboard turns into this:
The right-hand side contains the marks that did not fit into the default layer.
Dash, underscore, single and double quotes are pressed with pinkie, as usual.
Parenthesis, brackets are moved under the middle and ring fingers, rather arbitrary decision, but they are more easier to remember. The opening and closing parenthesis are on the top row, and the square/curly brackets are below them - on the bottom row. (They may be good in the middle row too, so one may modify the layout thanks to the programmability.)
For the keys requiring Shift modifier - the relocated Shift key helps a lot. The left pinkie holds Tab, the left thumb lowers on the left Shift, and the right hand hits appropriate key. Sounds complex, but in action that requires fewer hand and finger movements. It is one rolling action - pinkie, thumb, right hand finger(s).
The text navigation and editing to be covered in the next post.