Some of you told us that you want an ISO version of the UHK so we've sent out a survey and received a whopping 1,372 responses over one week! Wow! It's truly exciting to see such an awesome, active community and let me just take the opportunity to thank every one of you for participating. We think that we learned quite a bit so let us share the questions, the responses, what we learned and the road ahead.
There was a text box at the end of the survey where you could enter your suggestions so let's start by addressing the 10 most popular ones.
- Swap Control and Super for God's sake! – Fair enough. I intentionally diverged from the standard layout to make Control easier to reach but let's stick to the conventional layout then. It'll be updated on our site.
- I want to map Control or Esc to Caps Lock. – No problem, it's perfectly possible.
- I want blank keycaps – We'll provide a blank version.
- I'd like ortholinear / columnar layout. – I'm personally intrigued about columnar layouts and it can happen in the future but not anytime soon.
- A tilt stand would be nice for ergonomic purposes. – Indeed and we plan to make this a stretch goal of our campaign!
- I want a separate numeric pad. – We don't plan to offer any but you should be able to buy one from other manufacturers.
- Provide a Mac layout. – We will provide custom labels for Mac / Windows-specific keys.
- Please support Linux! – Given that our primary development platform is Linux we already support it.
- I need the AltGr key. – It's the same as the right Alt.
- What is this Super key? – Same as the Windows key.
It's important to note that question 2 and 3 were only visible to those who choose the ISO layout in question 1.
Question 1: Which layout do you prefer?
ANSI layout (featuring a bar shaped Enter key)
ISO layout (featuring an L shaped Enter key and an extra key next to the Left Shift key)
Question 2: Regarding the Enter key…
I'm fine with the ANSI Enter key despite being an ISO user.
I'd prefer a small ISO Enter key.
Only a full sized ISO Enter key works for me. (Please note that this would make the keyboard wider, more asymmetric and increase development time substantially.)
Question 3: Regarding the ISO key (the extra key next to the Left Shift key)…
I don't need a dedicated ISO key. I'd rather map Mod+Z (or some other shortcut) to the ISO key.
I need a dedicated ISO key.
The above chart was filled out by all the 1,372 of the participants and the ISO-specific answers below were filled out by 450.
Why do people spare the ISO key so easily?
We expected those who choose the ISO layout to heavily insist to have a dedicated ISO key but oddly most of you choose the "Without ISO key" option. This clearly begs for some explanation so in order to gain a deeper understanding we looked into the keyboard layouts of various countries. As it turns out there are 3 main categories of country-specific ISO layouts regarding the ISO keys.
Relational ISO layouts
First up, it's important to realize that even though the above is the German layout, its ISO key yields the same characters as the Austrian, Croatian, Finnish, French, Greek, Italian, Latin American, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish layouts so we're talking about a vast number of countries.
Let's name such layouts as "relational ISO layouts" because here the ISO key produces the
< relational operator in itself,
> when pressed along with Shift and
| when pressed with AltGr. These are rather rarely used characters and in 2 of the 3 cases a modifier needs to be pressed to invoke them anyways so the ISO key doesn't seem to be that critical for this layout. One could easily map these characters to
Mod+, respectively without significantly affecting productivity, according to the following mapping:
|UHK key combination||Scan code sent to the host||Resulting character|
|Mod + N||ISO key||<|
|Mod + M||Shift + ISO key||>|
|Mod + ,||AltGr + ISO key||||
Backslashed ISO layouts
The above is the UK layout and its ISO key yields the same characters as the Irish, Romanian and Russian layouts. In the same vein,
| are rarely used characters and they can be similarly mapped to the Mod layer without really affecting productivity.
Special ISO layouts
The above is the Hungarian layout and it's a special case because its ISO key yields letter
Í which is part of the Hungarian alphabet. The Bulgarian layout is similarly special with its ISO key yielding letter
Ѝ, part of the Bulgarian alphabet.
Even though the ISO key can be mapped to the Mod layer, in these situations this approach may be less comfortable given that we're talking about a letter of the native alphabet of these countries. In any case, these two countries only include 15 million people which is 0.2% of the population of Earth. (As a Hungarian I don't want to belittle these people, I'm merely talking about statistics.)
Summing up the ISO key issue
We think people have reevaluated the significance of the ISO key when presented with an alternative option, namely to map the ISO key to another layer. In light of this realization and according to the above the ISO key doesn't seem so critical. Some people won't be able to live without it but according to the statistics they're the minority of the ISO users.
You know what's the most surprising to us? We, as Hungarians thought that the ISO keys of all countries always feature a country specific letter but according to our research there are only 2 countries where this is the case. From our perspective this hardly justifies having an ISO key in most cases.
Do people need the ISO Enter key?
According to the statistics 64.95% of the participants who choose the ISO layout want an L shaped ISO key. It's very surprising for us because we thought that the ISO key is the main reason why people prefer the ISO layout but according to the above it's the L shaped Enter key. Also, we'd have thought that it's harder to get used to the Mod key than an alternative Enter key. How's that?
According to the above there's a need for ISO but it's not so big to justify making separate ANSI and ISO versions for a small startup like us. This doesn't mean that we won't ever release an ISO version but probably not for the first time.
We might have came to wrong conclusions here and there. As always, you're welcome to let your voice heard in the comments below.