Optimized TextBlade Key Layout ... THE-1 Keyboard Layout?

I heard back from the original author of the KEY-1 layout Nicholas Sterling. He was never able to completely convert to it. He built a few custom keyboards but then had health issues and has not been able to get back to it but had high hopes to one day. He still feels it would work and is excited that others may be trying it out. I let him know I would provide feedback as to progress made.

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I’m thinking that, at least on my dvorak layout, the “!” and “?” are already on the green layer. Maybe I’m overlooking something, but it seems they could be left in the same place. After all, I’m already used to them anyway. That would free up one spot on the main layer (and it’s shift position). Likewise, “/” and “” are already on the green layer so I could leave them as is.

That would mean the only characters I need to add back on are “>” and “<”. Heck, I suppose they could be put in place of the ? and ! that you have on the original chart. I also want to think more about the period/colon and comma/semi-colon. Though I certainly think the period and comma should be easy to access - which your setup allows. In fact, it has one notable advantage over my dvorak. If I’m accessing the green layer for numbers, it causes problems if you need a decimal since you need to release the space bar to get it. That has always been an issue for me. I’ll probably also want to study the placement of single and double quotes. I actually wonder if, though they may be more common than “Q”, if I’ll mentally keep up better if they and the Q are reversed (thus all letters together).

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Would you send out your entire mapping? I only saw a few of the lower layers the first time.

In looking at my green layer I rarely use the ^. I think I would look at swapping the ^ to the shift-green layer and moving the % to the ^ spot and then I could add an additional . To the same location as the top layer. So . Would be in the top and green layers at the same position.

Regarding the q position. My practice so far has not had any problems with the Q being on the right pinky and having the ‘ and “ on the right ring finger is really good.

Also, my positioning the <> at the same location but only in the green layer has worked very well since they!are in the same position WayTools had them previously, except in the green layer.

Finally, the ? and the !. I would tend to agree with you in that access the green layer is by far faster than accessing the shift layer. The pinky stretch off of home is always more awkward still than entering the green layer to do it. While I have the ! in the green layer I currently do not have ? there.

Here is where I landed. I shifted ( ) to the left one to put them on stronger fingers. I move the * to the \ position I had and the ? to the green pinky position. I think I will get a much faster response time with the ? there using the green layer.

Here is my layout now.

in the number layer I swapped * and / so the * is in the same position there… Note*** I have since swapped the : and ; above because of frequency of use.

I have never really used the NUM layer which I think is more of a weakness of learning much like I have note really used the MEDIA or APP layers either. I would really like to evaluate how to best use them…

Two quick questions.

How did you map the “battery level” on the shift layer? I can’t find that “character” when I try to customize the map.

What is the “-^-” character mapped to the “home” key on the alpha layer?


It is the last icon in the scroll All the way to the right…See below.

That is the enter key

This is my full dvorak mapping. Only section I’ve changed so far for “THE-1” layout is the main layer which is the same as you first posted (except I removed the ?! key since I use those on the green layer already. Just have to figure out what to put there! I’m also thinking about how maybe, on my dvorak setup, I may reverse the colon and semi-colon because I pretty much don’t use the semi-colon. But I do you the colon a fair amount. So probably better to make that on the unshifted map. Don’t know how I’ll handle those with THE-1 layout. I really probably need to just practice the basic stuff with it to see if it is even worth pursuing.

Hmmm, looks like you’ll gave to click on the layout below to see the whole thing.

I went ahead and changed my colon/semi colon on my dvorak setup (semi-colon being the one with the shift key since, when typing my own stuff, I don’t think I ever use a semi-colon!

I also made some decisions (at least temporary ones) on the new keyboard. Since the top right spot on the left blade was available, I decided to put the colon/semi-colon there in the same way. That, in turn, meant the shift keys for the other two spots below that were now available (since they used to have the colon/semi-colon). I put the > and < in those spots. I mostly use the > symbol so that is on the home row.

So, unless I’ve forgotten about something in all this confusion, I should now have everything on the new layout.

Thanks @dabigkahuna, I am very slow at this but I am typing this on THE-1 layout. I am pretty good with the home layer and getting better with the top layer but have not started the bottom layer yet. I actually really like the splat and have used it throughout typing this. Even with two character splats. Still have a long way to go though. TH splats and AT splats and ND combos and the are quickly intuitive but the word quickly is not.

I stole your turn off shortcut as well as agreeing with you on swapping the : and ;.

Going to practice more tonight. Switched back to QWERTY… Nicholas and I have ben in communication more. He may join the forum. Seems like a pretty cool guy. He is pretty intrigued with the TB and I gave him the speel about how long most of us have had our pre-orders in to not get his hopes up.

I do think I can be close to on par in a few weeks with this and the splats are pretty common on THE-1 layout.


Well, I’ve done a little testing with the THE-1 layout. Just the first lesson which apparently focuses just on the index finger and I’m really slow even with just that. I think my best is 23 or so wpm. Part of that is because I just do a few 30 second tests and then go about other business. Part is that I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it anyway since I want to keep up on my regular layout rather than get worse at that. I won’t really be able to do a good comparison until I’m typing words instead of mentally thinking of the letters it shows on the tests now. If I get to that point, my main concern is that I can switch without getting worse on dvorak. If I can do that, then I can risk working harder on the new layout.

I am continuing my interaction with the author of THE-1 layout, Nicholas Sterling.

He noted he had forgotten to update the layout to swap out B and V from top right stretch index and bottom right stretch index to benefit ‘ve words.

Also, he is re-engaging with the layout with some of us trying it. To help out learning Nicholas put together test words for typing tutors including Agile Fingers.

Here is the link to his initial training doc words as you add additional letters.


Just to be sure I understand, he suggests reversing the V and B that you show in the first post? (thus V on the top row).

Correct. Stretch finger faster than retracted finger giving benefit to ‘ words with v

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Just a little bit of testing today - I skipped to the first one with common words - probably not the ideal choice, but I wanted to do something “normal”. My best so far is 10 wpm and a lot of the characters I have to look at the onscreen keyboard of agilefingers. Even then, sometimes it is a little difficult to tell which finger I’m supposed to use from the picture. I’ll keep doing the same test over and over to try to get a little more automatic.

This actually looks interesting. Now I just need a keyboard to try it on.

Nicholas just sent me a link to a document specifically for practicing the “splat” as he refers to it. This is where he thinks there is a benefit to this layout.

Here is the link for those interested.


Also, Nicholas and I have been updating the first document above with more content for entering into teaching tutors. I am going to spend the evening practicing words and will return and report on my typing speed of real words.

Reporting back. I am at 13 WPM taking all the 4 exams to advance on Agile Fingers now using THE-1 layout. The splat combinations are becoming second nature now. I am typing this on that layout now.

FYI, I have my settings at 2min exam and text typing times.

Now switching back to QWERTY and still at least for now not typing any worse than I normally do. I will practice through the weekend and see if I can double my WPM. I have all the keys memorized now even though half of them cause me to think a little. I am blocking the keyboard on the iPad screen on Agile fingers to ensure I am not cheating. Will let you all know how it progresses.

Nicholas Sterling has submitted a request to join this forum so we may see him here if his request is approved.

I’m not sure how much I’ll pursue this. I think, already being proficient on dvorak makes the adjustment much harder. At least unless I really work hard at it. But I don’t want to do that unless I get far enough along where I feel I can switch back without any issues. It’s just hard to motivate myself to really work at it very much at all. OTOH, I can see some real benefit to working at it. If I can adjust, that would be useful information for others who are considering changing to any layout they aren’t used to.

For reference in learning a new layout, I am not an extremely fast typist normally. I decided to test QWERTY as a baseline. As expected, my normal speed after running 15 2 minute text typing was 38 to 43 WPM with 100% accuracy.

After another 30 mins of practice with THE-1 my speed has increased from 13 to 18 WPM. I am almost to the point that I will fully transition to this layout for work this next week.

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Full day of SQL development using THE-1 layout and was able to be adequately productive. Still not at the same speed as before, but anticipate that through the week it shouid speed up enough to complete my transition.

Three of six of my slots are now configured to THE-1 layout. Current slots are

1- iPhone - QWERTY
2- iPad - QWERTY
3- Work Laptop - THE-1
4- iPhone - THE-1
5- iPad - THE-1
6- Work Desktop - QWERTY

Once I am back on site at work I will transition slot 6 to THE-1.

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I’m at about 15 WPM including corrections for 100% accuracy.
For comparison, I’m around 54 WPM @100% (corrected) for QWERTY.
Speed is decidedly better when I have a visual reference for the letter placement. I’ve used a combination of dual monitors/iOS on screen keyboard and now a print out taped to my screen.

Not having to adjust most keyboard shortcuts (thanks to TextBlade’s platform agnosticism) has been a big help.

Two of six slots are now THE-1
1- iPhone - QWERTY
2- MacBook (Personal) - QWERTY
3- iPhone - THE-1
4- MacBook (work) - QWERTY
5- MacBook (work) - THE-1
6- Dongle - QWERTY

I’m doing practice runs on AgileFingers a couple of times a day.

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