Update: I’ve added the layouts I use to MyDvorakLayouts at Github
I have been using Svorak (a Swedish variant of the Dvorak keyboard layout) for some years, so I’ve had the chance to use it under some different operative systems. The standard Dvorak layout is available in all (?) operative systems but the Swedish variant is available out of the box in Linux only. Luckily there are ways to install a layout, that you then can select from your keyboard settings, it in both Windows and Mac OS X. It works fine for the most part.
One issue I have been dabbling with a lot is that when switching between layouts, both OS X and Windows, it changes per application. This means that if you have Firefox and Notepad opened you’ll have to switch layout twice to get it in both applications. It’s really annoying if you switch a lot (for example if you do pair programming and switch every 10 minutes). Other annoiances are that multiple layouts sometimes seems to cause problems with inconsistent shortcuts between the layouts (i.e. ctrl-c means ctrl-c in one layout but not in the other).
Svorak with AutoHotkey
Instead of installing a keyboard layout I’m now running AutoHotkey to remap my keys. It’s a tool that allows you to create macros, so I have one (big) macro that remaps my layout from Swedish to Svorak. It works perfectly! It also makes it easy to customizatie my layout (e.g. swap CapsLock with the Left Shift key). AutoHotkey also allows to generate an executable file that’s easy to put on a USB stick and bring to other computers. Just start it and it remaps the keys. Close (or pause) it and you’ll get the Swedish layout back.
Since I’m using the Kinesis Contoured keyborad I wanted a layout optimized for that. My modifications to the Svorak A1 layout are:
- Swap CapsLock and Left Shift. It made Shift much easier to reach.
- Duplicate all AltGr key compinations from the right hand to the left. I did this to be able to write for example curly brackets with two hands instead of stretching one. (There is one layout called Svorak A5 that also have the AltGr combinations on the left side similar to mine so check that out as well)
- I’ll probably remapp the Insert key to some better location than the standard (for the Contoured keyboard); Keypad + < combination.
I created different tray icons for Swedish and Svorak but I couldn’t get AutoHotkey to change between them. Hopefully I’ll be able to fix that later.
Svorak with PortableKeyboardLayout
Another flexible way of remapping the keyboard layout is to use the tool PortableKeyboardLayout. It currently supports several different layouts but not Svorak so you’ll need to install both the program and then add the layout by copying it to the layouts folder. You’ll also need to change the layouts definition in pkl.ini to: layout = dvorak-svorak-a1:Svorak A1 (Extended). Several different configuration possibilities are available, unfortunately I couldn’t find any documentation (the project is really new so that’s probably change soon!).
I ran this for a while and it worked fine! I had some issues with some GTK applications (i.e. Inkscape) but try it out. It’s really nice!
Download my Svorak A1 (Extended for Kinesis Contoured) PortableKeyboardLayout (you’ll need to install PortableKeyboardLayout). This file also contains the layout (SvorakA1Extended.klc) for the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. This file was used to generate the PortableKeyboardLayout file but it can also be used as a native keyboard driver. See Microsoft KeyboardLayout Creator help for more information about that.
PortableKeyboardLayout has the possibility to display an image of the layout you are using. Unfortunately couldn’t I manage to generate the image in the correct format so there aren’t any such image for the Svorak A1 layout.