Seniply is an ergonomic, minimal keyboard layout for a keyboard with at least 34 keys. The minimum requirement is 30 keys in the main body plus 4 thumb-keys. All the features (and more) of a standard full-size keyboard are available by making use of six layers, which are activated via the thumb keys. The default base layer is Colemak-DH.
It is designed to be compatible with both small ergo keyboards and traditional keyboards. Special firmware such as QMK is optional. On non-programmable and traditional keyboards, support is provided using KMonad.
See the hardware section below for more details on recommended keyboard types.
- Low travel distance by keeping fingers near their home positions; movements larger that 1 key-unit are avoided.
- Well positioned thumb-keys are used to access layers - six layers are supported - with no need for dual-role (i.e. mod-tap) keys.
- Sticky (one-shot) modifiers are used to fully support Ctrl, Alt, etc, without the need for dedicated keys. No more modifiers in awkward corners of the keyboard.
- Layer mappings designed to be intuitive and easy-to-learn.
- Easily adjustable and expandable to meet user requirements (e.g. to support multilingual typing).
- Compatible with standard staggered keyboards, but for best results, a keyboard with a split spacebar is recommended.
The base alpha layer is Colemak-DH, modified slightly so that apostrophe is moved to the semicolon location. Being the more frequent character, apostrophe is more deserving on a spot on the base layer when using a minimalist layout. (Semicolon and colon are still easy to access on a symbols layer). The spacebar is mapped to the inner-right thumb key. The second layer is the standard Shift layer, and is selected by holding down the inner-left thumb key.
Navigation and other non-printable functions are provided by the Extend layer, which is heavily based on DreymaR's original. The Extend layer is selected via the left-most thumb key. This layer provides navigation, page up/down, home/end on the right-hand side. Backspace
⌫ is assigned to a comfortable spot on a strong index finger (Ext-H), with Delete
⌦ also well positioned on the home-row (Ext-O).
On the left-hand side are home-row modifiers for Alt, Super, Shift, Control and AltGr on A,R,S,T,G respectively. As with DreymaR's Extend, these modifiers can be held down and combined with other Extend functions such as arrows etc, to comfortably produce combinations like
Alt ←. Importantly though, these home-row modifiers are also implemented as one-shot (sticky) keys, which makes it easy to do Control and Alt shortcuts without needing dedicated modifier keys. An additional non-sticky Super key is provided on Ext-D as some desktop environments require this key to be tapped on its own. Commonly used operations like Cut, Copy, Paste and Undo have dedicated shortcuts in this layer too.
(i) Output Ctrl-A using
(ii) Output Ctrl-W using
(iii) Output Alt-Tab using
To accommodate the reduced number of keys, the function keys are mapped in a dedicated Function layer. This is accessed by holding down the two outermost thumb-keys, or, on keyboards with support for additional thumb keys, you may prefer to map it to a spare single key. The function keys are mapped on the right-hand side, following a familiar Numpad-like convention for ease of learning. As with the Extend layer, home-row modifiers are available to combine with function keys. Mappings are also provided for browser zoom (Ctrl-plus/minus), screen brightness, plus media and volume controls.
(i) Output F11 using
(ii) Output Ctrl-F5 using
(iii) Output Alt-F2 using
Additional symbols are provided by Symbols1 and Symbols2 layers. The Symbols1 layer has the most frequent symbols and is activated by holding the right-most thumb key. Numbers and basic mathematical symbols are on the right-hand side, arranged in Numpad style for convenience. The most common remaining symbols, such as brackets, backslash, colon and semicolon, are on the left-hand side. Note also that each Bracket type is assigned a finger, e.g.
) are both on the index finger - this does not cause a same-finger bigram since opening and closing brackets are not usually typed together. In fact the opening bracket is often more common as many editing tools (such as IDEs) automatically fill in the closing bracket, hence in this layer it is the opening brackets that occupy the home positions.
The Symbols2 layer has the remaining standard symbols found on keyboards, including those normally output via shifted number keys. For easy recall, the symbols corresponding to Shift+1-7
are assigned to the corresponding number key in the Symbols1 layer (note, the characters
have been already assigned). The remaining vacant positions on the right-hand side are assigned to characters such as
_, and a selection of less common characters. The left-hand side provides mouse button and movement keys where supported - alternatively these could be substituted for custom characters or macros according to user preference. On keyboards with multiple thumb keys, you may prefer to assign Symbols2 activation to a single key.
Extra care is needed when assigning unicode characters to keys that are not usually defined in your operating system's keymap. For these to be printed correctly, the OS must translate a sequence of keycodes to printable characters, for example using Compose. On Linux, the "Menu" key
☰ is often defined as Compose. In operating systems that don't support Compose natively, this feature can be provided by an external tool, such as WinCompose for Windows.
A further note regarding symbols: is possible to type any of the symbols that would normally be made available via the AltGr key, where configured on your system. For example, if AltGr-a usually produces
æ on your system, you can reproduce this with
Ext-G a. Using this technique substantially increases the number of symbols that are available just using keys right under your fingertips!
Seniply works best on the following types of hardware:
- Small ergonomic boards such as the Planck, Kyria, Atreus, Corne, Lets Split, etc.
- Larger ergonomic boards such as the Preonic, Ergodox, Moonlander, etc. In this case, usage of the additional keys is optional.
- Traditional staggered keyboards that are physically split or have split spacebar, such as Ergo Pro, UHK, Dygma Raise, Mistel Barocco, or similar.
It is also works satisfactorily on traditional staggered keyboards with smaller (at most 5u wide) spacebar, as is typically found on laptops. On these keyboards the Wide Mod is required.
Other keyboards, especially those with a large spacebars, are not suitable for Seniply's thumb-based layer selection system. But you may adapt it somewhat by using other keys, e.g. CapsLock and Enter, as viable alternative layer selection keys.
Traditional Keyboard mappingsSupport is included for traditional keyboards, via the KMonad-based implementation.
• QMK - Some example mappings for QMK firmware based devices:
- a USB-USB converter device.
- the Redox keyboard.
• Chrysalis - for keyboards supported by the Chrysalis configurator (Atreus).
• XKB - SteveP's fork of DreymaR's Big Bag for XKB - mostly implemented.
• AHK - An AutoHotKey implementation is coming soon!
The name Seniply derives from seni (six) and ply (layer).