the xt layout is underrated

this is a collection of notes, or suggestions on using the XT layout to make the most of it. i think it is pretty underrated. i also think part of the reason it is underrated, is because people arent thinking about it correctly. hopefully this document convinces you the XT layout is atleast worth a try :)

as a note, this is coming from the perspecive of someone who uses a tiling window manager, and writes code.


the f keys are easier to reach to the side of your hand, instaed of reaching up.

i prefer to mentally be thinking about the f keys as the thing my left hand does, while the numpad is the thing my right hand does. instead of needing to use both hands for the f keys.

the steps on many keys makes it very easy to find your positioning, anywhere on the keyboard. the best example for this is the steps on the ] } key. since you have the little gap, when your pinky is between the p and [ { key, you know for a fact it *is not* between the [ { and ] }, since otherwise there would be the gap. this is very convenient when programming, as in the past i often would typo between the p, [, and ].

the numpad is physically closer, without having the nav cluster in the way.

the "prtsc *" button serves as a perfect fn button, in the exact same spot as it is on the hhkb layout. this allows me to have arrow key binds in the exact motion as the hhkb layout would. if i am switching from my hhkb to my XT keyboard, and i inevertandly reach for the hhkb arrows, the keys are still being pressed correctly.

i also use the fn key to remap f9 and f10 to f11, and f12 respectively.

since the space where the hhkb backspace would be is stepped away, when you accidentally reach for the hhbk backspace, you end up hitting the correct backspace.

having ~ on the home row is very convenient.

the | \ key is in the perfect spot to be remapped into a super key. as i use tiling window managers this is essential. i turn the useless caps lock key into the | \ key, this is a pretty standard place for | \, so i have no trouble remembering to press it there.

when you get used to having discipline about the mode that the numpad is in you stop thinking about it, and press the arrows easily. i like to have the default mode always arrows, and when i input numbers i toggle to numbers, and as soon as i am done, toggle back to arrows.

when using vim it is pretty cool to be able to use the numpad 5 key as a repeat key at the same time that you are navigating with the arrows. that is, if you happen to use the arrows in vim of course :). while this is true of any numpad, the fact that it is not so far out of the way makes it much more comfortable to actually use.

the fact that numpad enter is missing doesn't matter, since return is right there, only now you have to get used to reaching to the left with your pointer.

i prefer to remap scroll lock to tab, as often it is used when using the numpad.

having a 10u spacebar is SUPER FUN.

it lets you use amazing keyboards like the model f xt, leading edge dc2014, zenith z150.