What keyboard options will be available?

@Brad_J I love it.

@nrp Is this something we can consider, please pretty please?

Obviously there is a demand here for multiple keyboard options. Is it possible to make the laptop in a way that third parties can create keyboard replacements.

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I would think if you want custom keyboard layouts, you could build a new top plate for the laptop to fit the new layout you want or need. It could even come as part of the new keyboard order. The bonus would be, it would make changing out keyboards easy if you wanted to swap them out depending on travel / home / office work. So far I am really liking the current keyboard. it feels nice, has good key travel and I have been making very few mistakes when i come back from a full size keyboard for my desktop. I’d like to try different types later, but for a first keyboard, I’m impressed. (especially since keyboards seem to be an afterthought on a lot of new laptops.) I would also like to see arrow keys of all the same size, and a way to incorporate insert and delete as their own keys, home and end. Thats from using a lot of terminal windows, copy paste and moving cursors around command prompts. I’m not sure which keys i’d like over others yet though. I haven’t used it long enough yet.

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I was thinking the same thing, a custom input cover would be needed if someone wanted to do like in my mock-up. I’ve been waiting for my laptop to arrive (I got the “shipped” email on Friday!) to see whether it looks like there would be room for the extra half-row for the arrow keys.

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Regarding the French layout, AFNOR (French norm institute) recently normalized a new AZERTY version, as well as a [new BÉPO](https:/ /en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%89PO) one, after about ten years of back-and-forth. I know users can be very conservative about their keyboards (heck, typewriter layouts are still the norm). The framework being modular though, it would be great to have options.

Here is a link to the official norm (paid).

Other than this, I would really like an ortholinear layout (the [typematrix](http:/ /www.typematrix.com/), [ergodox](https:/ /www.ergodox.io/) or even something like the gergo and variants). Blank keycaps would likely suffice for most users.
I think I’d buy the variant, even at a premium (though I’m waiting for AMD options TBH).

In case this is not something framework aims to do, could we have the specs (mechanical constraints, electrical interface) to design our own?

Thanks – Proudly typed on my ergodox EZ :slight_smile: (and that 2 links restriction is annoying).

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Big ups, guys! Can’t wait for the ISO layout! :smiley: ANSI is what’s keeping me from buying a framework atm.

Regarding the remapability: It would really be a lot better to support something like QMK and VIA, rather than hoping people can solve it in software, leaving them SOL in BIOS, reinstalls or anywhere outside of a fully booted session in their default OS.

Also putting in my vote for the super key to just read “meta” or “super” instead of a Windows icon :slight_smile:

+1 for what you say, but - being pedantic - I think you will find that an ortholinear is one of the grid type layouts (like the Planck). I actually made exactly the same error in terminology on another forum, so there is no shame in it. :grinning:

I have started another thread specifically to agitate for the Atreus as an option. This I consider the most practical option for the 13.5" Framework since it allows for the retention of the trackpad (on which any thumb clusters / arcs might impinge) whilst still being a relatively popular configuration.

Larger or deeper models offered in the future may have sufficient space for thumb-cluster keyboards and trackpad, or allow a pointing stick instead of trackpad which can fit between any thumb clusters.

I agree that ease of customising layouts is really important to me, and vital for smaller alternative configurations like the Atreus that really need layers. There is a thread specifically on QMK (and other configuration software) here.

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Ah, man, thanks for the link! Glad to see there are others here looking at the same stuff.

I’ve never heard of EC before, but I’m sure they know what they’re doing. The main thing I’m concerned about is them replicating the depth that QMK has. A ctrl-fn-swap would be considered quite basic in that world, where you also have modifiers that you can press once and then change the layer for one keypress, that keypress could then be another layer change key. Support for dropthrough keys (or whatever they’re called), where the key will function however it does further down in the layers. Support for keys that do one thing when held down and used as a modifier, and another thing when just quickly pressed, etc etc etc.

Anyhow, I’ve not even invested in the product yet, so I’ll try to restrain myself, hahah.

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I think that I would go for the GergoPlex keyboard over the atreus as I find they inner most thumb key on the atreus to be not really in the right place for me.

I would like to see a keyboard option that has trackpoint. Not having to move my hand from the home row in order to use the mouse is very nice.

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This might be a totally unworkable idea, and probably more complex to manufacture, but given the number of keyboard variants people seem to be interested in, what about a mostly-solid input cover (no key grid, just cutouts for the touchpad and power button) with an indented portion for users to install custom keyboards in? Somewhat like old Thinkpads where one could easily remove the keyboard and it was only held in place by a few tabs or screws, IIRC. (Though it might be difficult to make sufficiently thin keyboards…and if it’s not too difficult to manufacture an input cover, e.g. with a CNC machine – I haven’t looked at the schematics or anything – just having people make fully custom input covers might be more practical…)

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This. It seems like it shouldn’t be that difficult to manufacture “blanks” (with no key holes cut) and custom cut the key holes. It would probably cost a moderate amount, but I bet a lot of folks would be more than happy to pay a decent chunk of change for a keyboard they really like. Especially since with a frame.work, there’s at least a potential to get 10-15 years or more out of it.

Making “custom” keyboards to go with them might be more of an issue…

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I’m not certain it’s quite clear just how thin the current input cover is. You’re not talking about the kind of cross section that you can casually mill on a CNC router, there’s simply not enough meat there in the current design for you to have sufficient stiffness to make avoiding a chattering/bouncing workpiece a trivial thing, resulting in terrible geometry and surface finish (at least for a high end product). The input cover has the type of dimensions that really lends itself to sheet metal work, without being exorbitantly expensive. Going with CNC results in possibly multiple hundreds of dollars for a single input cover blank, if you have decent-but-not-massive volume production, just because of the tooling costs alone to get a CNC mill and tooling that can handle precision work of that degree and volume.

Now, with a laptop that has even an extra two or three millimeters depth for a “blank” input cover… I can see this idea starting to make sense. CNC milling is probably still not the economical option, but you can get very stiff reinforced sheet metal work that’s either a single piece or spot welded together with that kind of footprint. And the blank could well serve as a drip tray to protect the internals of the laptop

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Right. And we have no technology capable of precision cutting sheet metals. Actually, I think a (still CNC!) laser / water-jet cutter might be cheaper than a CNC mill? (Yeah, yeah, laser cutting aluminum is hard. Not impossible, but hard. Still, I suspect there exists some method for CNC cutting aluminum sheet that would have acceptable precision.)

…but it’s much cheaper to make one that already has holes? I was assuming the same process would be used as to make ones with holes. At worst, that would require new dies / molds, but in the long term, the costs should be about the same. Depending on when/how the holes are cut, it might be as simple as skipping a step in the current process.

Ortholinear Keyboard Response

All those technologies are for 2-D subtractive processes. See: all of my comments on sheet metal being a better alternative than CNC milling/routing.

I’m not referring to the difficulty of making an 18 gauge sheet metal part with a hole in it the size of a keyboard layout, that’s trivial - heck, maybe the next-generation glowforge could do it. I’m referring to the difficulty of making a three-dimensionally milled part, with custom routed extruded cuts and reinforcing geometry to maintain stiffness, that you can then slap any keyboard you want into, regardless of layout, while STILL maintaining enough torsional stiffness without needing to use the keyboard as an additional structural component. Yes, it’s possible to mill a piece that thin. I’m arguing it’s not cost-effective to use a CNC mill or a CNC router to make precision partial-depth cut surfaces, and a vacuum bed to lock the part in place. And then you need the kind of sales volume to make the design, labor, tooling, and logistics worth it, for a niche feature of having a keyboard deck that you can swap arbitrary keyboards in and out of…

…and? I don’t think you understand what I’m suggesting.

Make the cover however it’s made now, only without the key holes. That shouldn’t be difficult; it should range from “trivial” to “equally as hard as making one with holes”. Then cut the holes using a CNC process.

First, I’m unconvinced this is as “niche” as you think, given how many requests are floating around for different keyboard layouts. Design costs should not be that significant; it’s not that hard to lay out a bunch of rounded rectangles. Maybe they could do some sort of kickstarter-like campaign where at least ten people pledge for a certain design before someone lays it out. As for logistics, plenty of companies are able to sell custom products. Everything else you said is independent of the number of custom designs produced; that’s the beauty of the idea. Yeah, it’s going to cost more, but I bet if it cost $100 more, most of the people that aren’t happy with the current keyboard would pay that, or more. (I definitely would.)

Or they could just sell “blanks” and let the marketplace (or individual consumers) figure out how to cut them.

I think I probably muddled the discussion a bit by suggesting both an input cover with an empty keyboard tray and bringing up CNC machining as a method for making fully-custom covers with a metal grid (like the current keyboard’s) in the same comment. (Thank you @Frosty for explaining so clearly why they’re likely not practical, or at least not cheap, options here; personally I have zero actual experience with CNC machines just yet :slightly_smiling_face:)

Selling “blanks” of the standard input cover, to be modified with an appropriate subtractive process (waterjet cutting? I’m no machinist, obviously), seems like perhaps the most practical option – assuming that people can make keyboards thin enough to fit inside!

(It sounds like my “tray” idea would be substantially more complicated/expensive, if it’s even feasible – and would have some inherent tradeoffs compared to imitating the current input cover design, like limiting the size/shape of alternative keyboards.)

I do wish the Framework were a bit thicker and then this would probably be a non-issue, but it’s a little late for that :wink:

Also, I’d anticipate a lot of bikeshedding over the details, but something close to @Brad_J’s design with a more traditional arrow-key cluster might be popular enough for a group buy…

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Even if an extra column isn’t feasible, I would still love to see full-height arrow keys by putting the up arrow to the left of the right shift, something like this:

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That would honestly drive me insane, because I’m used to shift being there, and I’ll go to capitalize a left hand letter, and find myself typing in the middle of the line above.

Why do we need full height arrow keys? Isn’t it better to have the two half height keys as a homing mechanism for the right middle finger, so that you can move around without looking at the keyboard?

PS: I type in a Workman layout, so I’d love to see the ability to swap the keys around to suit my layout. I’ll be getting the clear ANSI keyboard once its available, and see if I can manage a way to remove the keycaps of the original board and rearrange them without destroying it.

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Some of us really dislike half-height arrow keys. They’re also harder to press, due to needing more precise finger placement compared to every other key.

What I’d like to know is why we can’t just add a row (of only three keys). Yeah, it’d be a little different (but so are half height arrows which already place ‘up’ in the wrong spot), but it would give us an extra two total keys.

Personally, though, I think my first choice would be adding a few millimeters so we can have a proper keyboard tray that allows any layout (and allows using the space all the way to the edge so we can have one more entire column)… and, incidentally, a thicker (and thus higher capacity) battery.

Or (heresy!) we could make the side bezels the same width as the top and bottom, which would make the whole thing just a little wider, which would also give us that extra column of keys. (But that would require redesigning everything, or having different and incompatible expansion cards.)

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