Option for customizable keyboards in the future

Looking at the list of different keyboard layouts offered in the shop or in the review thread ( Request: Review of Framework Laptop 16 Keyboard Layouts - #243 by eamaro ), it looks like there’s quite a few different keyboard layouts (mainly for different countries), which makes it unlikely that I’ll ever get the exact keyboard layout I’d like to have.

With standard desktop keyboards, some of the options would be easy to solve - just include a Windows key, a Super key, a Tux key and a Framework key with all keyboards and people could just put on the keycap they like.

With a laptop keyboard like the one in the Framework, that’s going to be way more difficult or even impossible without breaking stuff.

Given that right now there’s 19 different keyboards for the Framework 16, but basically only four actual keyboard “forms” - ANSI, ISO, RGB clear ANSI and RGB - that would have an actually different manufacturing process, every other layout is just a different silkscreen or whatever on the keycaps.

Is there any plans in the future for people to pick between these four keyboard forms when ordering a keyboard, and then uploading like a custom layout file for what they’d like to have printed on the keyboard?

Looking at the forums, there seem to be quite a few people interested in other keyboard forms - full-sized arrow keys, or even a normal tenkeyless that would be the same width as the original keyboard+numpad, to have space for Print/Scroll/Break, Insert/Entf/Home/end/PgUp/PgDn and the arrow keys in the same spot as on a desktop keyboard.

Even if framework were to add these keyboard variants, they’ll either be English only (like the current “Linux” or “RGB” keyboards - or Framework would need to produce tons of different keyboards and have them ready, in-stock. Both solutions wouldn’t really be ideal.

But if the physical keyboard layout (key positions) could be seperated from the text actually printed on the keyboard, it might be easier to offer more custom keyboards in all layouts.

For example, I’m looking for a keyboard that:

  • has German QWERTZ layout (ISO)
  • doesn’t have the Windows logo and instead uses the framework logo (or just the text “Super”)
  • goes over the full width of the laptop, and has full-sized arrows, Print/Scroll/Break, and Insert/Entf/Home/end/PgUp/PgDn in their usual positions like on a desktop keyboard.

However, I also recognize that it’s highly highly unlikely that many people would want to have that particular same keyboard. But if two out of these four things (the German layout, and the label for the Windows key) could be taken out of the equation (because they’d be added later to whatever physical layout that was chosen), I could see more people buying a tkl with full-size arrows. I would certainly be willing to pay more than the standard keyboard pricing to get such a custom keyboard (and also be happy with longer shipping times to account for custom production).

Such a process (custom layouts) might also make it easier for Framework to eventually introduce an ortholinear keyboard (which people have been asking about as well) as “just” a fifth keyboard form, without having to limit it to US English and/or without having to pre-stock ortholinear keyboards in dozens of languages …

If such a thing is not possible or not planned - are there any plans to make a seperate module in the form of the Numpad Module, with the additional full-sized keys I mentioned above? It looks like there’s certainly some demand for it (here or here or here ), and making that TKL a seperate add-on like the numpad module would at least ensure that there’d only need to be one, and not a seperate, full-sized TKL keyboard for each language.

Then I could use the existing small arrow keys as programmable macro keys or whatever (or just ignore them) and still have proper keys on the right side where the numpad would usually be. When programming and/or working on Linux, I’m using the arrow keys and Insert/Del way more than I’d use a numpad. I know that I could buy a numpad and re-map keys on that, but that’s still a hacky workaround. The keycap labels wouldn’t match, and you couldn’t easily detect the position of the arrow keys due to the missing space around them (which you can on a normal keyboard).

The keys are backlit, I don’t believe it’s simple printing.

I think the community can likely handle this adequately by using laminating film and/or transparent vinyl dye-sublimated adhesive stickers on the Clear RGB layouts provided by Framework. See some existing vendors and discussion in
Keycap stickers for the clearcap options.

I would rather Framework use their current limited resources to enable more hardware keyboard variations, before working on custom keycap printing (although eventually having both would be best!) For example, Framework currently only sells Clear RGB for ANSI and ISO layouts. It doesn’t sell a Clear RGB JIS layout, nor a Clear RGB Ortholinear layout, nor a Combo ANSI/ISO/JIS keyboard layout

Also see Designing a deeper chassis for "mechanical" keyboard module. It’s pretty difficult for the community to make custom hardware keyboard layouts because Framework doesn’t leave enough space for common consumer low-profile keyswitches.

Your requirements don’t seem so wild so my reckoning is that you might end up with something close enough to what you want, if you pick the most favourable combo of AZERTY and numpad units.

I’m here because the system notified me of the link to my post! As you point out there is not room to make something truly custom. As somebody acclimatised now to an Atreus with a non-querty layout, I scoff at the very modest requirements of the OP :rofl:. I have been waiting two and a half years for a staggered column, or ortholinear design to emerge.

Although Framework tell us their machines can be customised, that customisability is - as I see it - generally kept within certain guard-rails determined by the design itself. The dearth of successful aftermarket keyboard projects suggests that true input customisation lies outside these guard-rails. That is why I thought an aftermarket chassis might help, it would break out of the straightjacket imposed by the present keyboard depth.

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