Change My Mind: 40% layouts are insufficient for serious work


Plank makes it super easy to have a numpad style on a layer on a 40%


Typing on a ut47 here. I would agree with 40% not being feasible for work, but then there is QMK. I started off with TKL, then 60%. When you get familiar with QMK you start having redundant keys fast. For instance, I’ve mapped backspace key for ctrl + alt + del because I can’t come up with anything more useful for me there. At first, special characters from the numbers row were tricky, but then I realized I could map them to my native language layer letters that don’t have accents and now I don’t ever need to press a number with another modifier. What I would recommend is having less layers and really focus what you need the most rather than organizing the layouts ‘neatly’. For instance I have all the braces and other programming stuff on my nav layer and this combination is far more convenient than a full size layout.


i just got a planck from the goodwill guy and was like well this thing is fucking useless. but then i started thinking about how i can use some sneaky QMK tricks and am very interested in bringing it to work tomorrow and seeing how it goes. I am a designer so a lot of the left side shortcuts and arrow keys are important to me. but i think switching up the default layout to what i want will make it far more feasible for a daily driver.

i mainly got it because it was cheap and i wanted to try ortho layout and get an xd75. and man am i fan of the ortho layout, it is so much more comfortable for me


I just had a thought. A 40% could be pretty good for typing on a smartphone when you’re tired of the autocorrect mistakes and/or poor gesture typing predictions :smile: The standard onscreen keyboard is already pretty much a 40%! Now if someone could make a case with a USB Type-C dock-like connector so I can just pop in my Pixel XL and start shitposting chatting with keyboard enthusiasts :smiley:


I have no problem switching back and forth between Planck and 60%. What I do have problem with is the extra cognitive load from layout complexity which make it harder to get into the flow while programming (it’s just fine for general typing).

So these days I just put my main driver 60% in a plastic case when I need to travel.


ive only spent 3 days with the planck so far and am finding the same. i can use it just fine, but being required to stop and think about how to get a certain symbol, or key combo with keys on different layers is just not that pleasant to me. its great for general use though, but design and code are a bit of a struggle at least at first


This IC thread on Geekhack just appeared a couple days ago :open_mouth:


:thinking: coincidence?


Oh… oh my


I have a Planck and used it at work for a while after I built it. Very nice keyboard, but I didn’t find it practical for daily use

It was fine, with the exception that I never got quite used to typing on it, even after a few months. My error rate was consistently higher than on my 60%, and I was slightly slower. Not enough to make a huge difference, but just enought to be annoying.

There was also the issue of cognitive load - I had the ‘-’ key on the backspace and the ‘=’ elsewhere, and as a programmer I have to use those a lot. I found myself having to think for like half a second before I used those keys or the brackets/forward slash. I don’t think there is a layout that could avoid this - I need pretty much all of the keys on the base layout (although having the numbers on an alt layer seemed fine since they were in the same place)

It’s possible that I could get completely used to the alternative layout, but I’m not sure whether there’s a huge advantage. I had the same problem with my Ergodox (which is why I don’t use it any more). Plus, I’m not convinced that ortho is any better for your fingers than non-ortho.

I reverted to my trusty 60%, and haven’t looked back (except when I got my Acute keyset, which looked great with the purple backlight I installed on that board).


Personally, I find as a writer I get less distracted when I make my environment minimal. I use text and format with Markdown in sublime text maximized to my screen. I use a 40% keyboard, as It focuses me on the writing in front of me. That’s why I use a 40.


I use a Planck or Let’s Split every day, all day, unless I’m at somebody else’s computer. I have a 58-key Preonic with a number row but I mostly ignore it until I’m doing one handed number entry and use the same layouts I do on the smaller boards. I’ve even grown to prefer my game layout on smaller boards over having the number row. It’s all about the layers.

I’m just a tech so my job isn’t exclusively typing but I do use a keyboard a lot for fun as well. I use the nav cluster keys in conjunction with mods all the time for expedited cursor movement and regularly use F-keys and media keys. My base layer arrows and nav cluster are on the same keys in two different layers, it makes it easy to fly the cursor around. I’m not totally happy with my number pad operators placement and still use a Sweet16 for Alt-codes☺because just haven’t written a layer for it but for almost everything else I’m totally happy with 47 keys. This is mostly due to not having to move my hands away from the home row.

One thing I can’t see me adapting well to is missing punctuation that I touch type already like some smaller staggered 40% keyboards have. I even gave up having arrows on the base layer for a while to add back the rest of the missing punctuation. I ended up putting them on a layer and treating it like an island and moving my whole fingers down 1u and over 1u so I know what keys are under my fingers. They are under my Vim arrows so I’m already used to doing that.

My 2¢.


+1 on the link request, that would be so interesting to see