QMK is the only thing that has made it possible for me to use 40-45% layouts like the Pearl.
With QMK, I have my keymaps set up so that the key to the left of the ‘A’ key is always a combination: if I tap it, I get
Esc, but if I hold it, it becomes
Ctrl (well, technically,
Similarly, if I tap the right spacebar, it gives me a normal space character, but if I hold it, the entire keyboard switches to layer 1 (where my numbers and my most-commonly-used symbols are).
Enter gets me enter, like you’d expect, but holding it switches to layer 2 (pretty much just a shifted layer 1 - for example, on layer 1,
1, but on layer 2,
!). This makes it a lot easier to type—instead of having to hold down space, then shift, then the key I want, it’s just hold
Enter + key.
I’m of two minds about this; I love being able to actually type with surprisingly little slowdown on the Pearl, but it also means that I’m training myself to use a layout that is pretty much completely unique, and it makes switching back and forth between non-QMK keyboards (like my Models M) and my QMK keyboards a pain in the ass. However, getting used to this layout on the Pearl, and then translating it as closely as I could over to the Iris, is what made it possible for me to actually start using the Iris.
If you’re curious, you can see my Pearl keymap on GitHub.