One-handed keyboard layouts
All my custom keyboard layouts are essentially big AutoHotKey scripts.
AutoHotKey is fre scripting language for Windows that (among many other things) allows to capture and process all keyboard and mouse key presses. It is very lightweight (about 4Mb).
There 2 ways to run AHK scripts:
- AHK script has *.ahk extension. You need to have AutoHotKey installed in order to run them. After installation of AHK simply double click on your *.ahk script and you’ll see special tray icon confirming script has launched
- You can also directly run *.exe version of AHK script. You don’t need to install AHK this way. The only drawback to this approach is that you won’t be able to edit scripts source code.
Required keyboard standard
I design my layouts keeping standard ANSI keyboard in mind. Make sure to distinguish them from ISO keyboards:
I assume that AHK scripts will work perfectly OK with ISO keyboards too. Still, I havent’t tested it, so can’t give any guarantees.
Definitions of NKRO and ghosting are given here: terminology
For example, my OPRI.60 layout requires you to press [C + TAB + 5] combination to produce [*] symbol. If you take random cheap keyboard, there is no guarantees that it will be able to register all of that.
This is why it is better to have 6NKRO instead of 2NKRO keyboard.
However from my experience even the dankest $5 keyboard usually can process almost all really required key presses.
Using layout with other languages
I type both in English and in Russian languages. To make different language layouts you can use for example one of these softwares:
MSKLC (Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator): it is very old, but it still serves its purpose. Download link: www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=102134
KbdEdit is much more powerfull, but it is not free.
It has demo version though: www.kbdedit.com/demo.html
Other usefull software: Sharpkeys
Althouth my custom layouts don’t currently requre it, I use Sharpkeys to swap one or two keys, like [CapsLock -> Left Ctrl] for example.
Sharpkeys is Registry hack software that is used to make certain keys on a keyboard act like other keys. Once you assigned changes in keys functions, they are entered in Windows Register, so you’ll have your keyboard CONSTANTLY working as prescribed by Sharpkeys. You can easily unroll all of those changes when needed.
WARNING! Sharpkeys messes with Register! Although it is REALLY hard to make your PC unusable with this software, but it is possible if used mindlessly.