As keyboard enthusiasts, we’re constantly making new switches, trying out new keycaps, and checking out great layouts perfect for different general and specific computer-related tasks.
The keyboard community is a diverse and creative space as they’re always experimenting and finding new and better ways of using keyboards.
That’s how WIP keyboard layouts came into being. Some of them are amazing, so, naturally, these WIP keyboard layouts pique our interest especially when they are exceptionally well-designed.
You might be thinking what exactly is a WIP keyboard layout and why do I need to know about it as a member of the keyboardist community? If that’s the case, then you’re in the right place because that’s what I’m here to tell you.
This article will talk about 11 of the best and most unique WIP keyboard layouts and how they help accomplish different tasks, along with a set of their details and pros & cons. So, hold onto your seats because we’re about to get started with this one.
What is a WIP Keyboard Layout?
A WIP or Work-In-Progress Keyboard Layout is a customized keyboard layout that anyone can create by themselves. The design depends on the level of ease of use they might be aiming for as well as their comfort level and functionality of the work they want to perform.
Such a keyboard can also be designed for the games they are playing on the computer.
There’s no particular benchmark or rules for creating WIP keyboard layouts so that you can find a lot of them out on the internet. Still, there are some few and far between that are very high-quality, practical, and super-impressive in terms of their capability and functionality.
WIP layouts are becoming more popular with time because existing software tools allow you to make your designs and then bring them to life. So, if you have a good plan in mind, you should think of creating your very own unique WIP keyboard layout.
Objectives of a Custom WIP Keyboard Layout
A number of people ask what is the purpose of designing a custom WIP keyboard layout when you’ve already got layouts like QWERTY, DVORAK, etc.
Well, that’s an interesting question. There are actually multiple reasons why WIP keyboard layouts might be better for your keyboarding needs.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Comfortable Usage – Sometimes, a person might not feel comfortable using the pre-defined layouts. It could be because of muscle and tendon issues or any other form of discomfort. In such cases, a custom WIP keyboard layout can help you make sure the keyboarding experience is as comfortable as you’d want it to be.
- Personal Preference – It isn’t mandatory for everyone to use the same layout as everyone else. Depending on how commonly a particular person uses different keys and their personal preference, they can choose not to use pre-defined layouts. WIP Keyboard Layouts come in quite handy in such situations.
- Functional Requirements – Different keyboard enthusiasts might use different applications and software tools or play other games. Depending on the operational requirements they need the keyboard for, a unique WIP keyboard layout can work well. In addition, they can make their structure specialized for their usage to make their movement efficient and effective.
How to Create a Custom WIP Keyboard Layout on Windows
You’re lucky if you’re a Windows user because you don’t even need to buy licensed third-party software to create your WIP layout. All you need is the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator App.
What you’re going to do is go to their official website and download the keyboard layout for your PC. It is quite an old application, but it seems to work well even on the latest versions of Windows.
Then, you’re going to open your application and choose your existing keyboard layout. Here, you’re going to be able to remap all the keys according to your requirement and see what works for you.
Once you’ve made sure that you have found the particular style of layout that works for you, you can implement it or get it designed to your liking by a professional keyboard creator. Again, it is a quick and easy process.
11 Unique WIP Keyboard Layouts to Take Inspiration From
Are you bored of using the QWERTY layout used in most of the keyboards around the world right now?
Well, lucky for you, I’ve made a list of the 11 best and most unique WIP keyboard layouts made by professional keyboard manufacturing organizations and working keyboard enthusiasts.
So, let’s take a look at the list and what the layouts offer.
1. Corne Layout
This is one of the best split WIP keyboard layouts I’ve seen to date. The letters and keys are divided into two split frames to accommodate both hands comfortably from each other. As a result, it is the best layout for writing and content creation purposes.
With the press of a single button, you can change the functions of the letter keys and get access to the unique characters and function keys on the same controls, which is excellent and effective. If you’re looking for a high-quality typing experience, the Corne Layout is the best ergonomic split layout you can opt for. It will make for an awe-inspiring typing session.
Corne layout is well-suited to the needs of software developers and writers who type a lot on a regular basis. Not only do they have to type for hours at an end, but they also do some other tasks quickly. For example, navigating through a huge document or code and using keyboard shortcuts to achieve special tasks.
Sometimes you do not need a full-featured keyboard. It wastes your time to move your hand all the way from one side to the other to do a task. So, a keyboard layout in which the keys are split into two halves not only allows for faster typing but also saves your time when you have to do some keyboard-intensive tasks.
The Maltron layout has been around for as long as you can imagine. It was initially created as a replacement for the QWERTY layout simply because the QWERTY layout ended up jamming the keys on typewriters.
Later on, this particular keyboard layout became much more popular due to the ergonomic structure of the keys and their placement.
It looks like split keyboard layouts, but it actually isn’t. There are simply two sections of keys and a couple of thumb key sections that make for the perfect keyboarding experience. You can take a lot of inspiration from this layout and build your design perfect for your functional usage.
In this type of layout, the most used letters and functions are placed within easy reach. The user can reach out to these keys quite comfortably and avoid wasting time looking for the functions they need.
Some people may not find it very user-friendly at first, but with proper training and experience, this layout can greatly improve their productivity.
A new and highly functional WIP keyboard layout is the Katana60. It has four functional layers that will allow you to perform different tasks and be comfortable while using your keyboard simultaneously. In addition, there are 60 keys implemented on this layout design.
The first layer is the default layer consisting of all the letters and the primary keys. The second layer is the unique character and symbol layer, which is essential.
The third layer is the extend layer, which provides excessive text editing functionality, which is impressive. The last layer is the Num Lock layer, which is remarkable in a keyboard layout with only 60 keys.
While Kantana60 was a hit back when it was first introduced, keyboard enthusiasts no longer like it. Some of these experts have pointed out that there are no A-shaped angles on this layout that would keep the wrist and forearm straight.
Another issue with this layout is the short distance between the left and right-hand key sections. If these issues are resolved, the layout itself is quite useful.
This particular WIP keyboard layout posted by u/mikestahh on the MechanicalKeyboards subreddit was a unique and intriguing design, almost like a Tetris round. Although still not a completed layout design, this particular one looks very soothing to the eyes.
The units of the letter keys and the function keys are unique and different from the pre-existing layouts, and in the future, such a pleasing design can lead to better creations by your own hands.
This layout is perfect for improving your efficiency and optimizing your work. So, breathe in the knowledge and inspiration you can get from this layout; you’re going to come up with something great!
The Lily58 is a newly designed WIP keyboard layout that amalgamates both the Corne and the Maltron layouts to build a high-quality ergonomic and incredibly functional structure that consists of only 58 keys and delivers a powerful punch.
The enter and spacebar keys are on the thumb sections. In contrast, all the other keys are divided into two sections. A few layers incorporate all the special characters, function keys, letters, symbols, and everything into the 58-key layout, which is impressive.
You’re going to have a great time using this keyboard layout and you might even get an idea of your own from it. The basic layout is designed to work with MacOS keyboard environment, but you can customize it easily to suit your needs.
The Workman keyboard layout is designed especially for all the typists who work with keyboards a lot. The top row contains numbers and special characters, but the changes occur in the letter rows.
The letter structuring is entirely different from QWERTY because it has basically been designed to address the issues with the QWERTY keyboard layout. Therefore, you can expect more commonly used letters placed together in the rows to ensure no excessive strain on the fingers is exerted.
The purpose was to build something that was ergonomic for people who have to type a lot on a daily basis. Workman greatly reduces the strain on the wrist while typing and this is what makes it so great.
This layout is pretty unique and well-thought-out, and if you want to improve on it, you can take your best shot and use a layout creator to find your perfect Workman edition.
Colemak is another incredibly fantastic keyboard layout that is unique in its own right. It was designed as an alternative to the QWERTY layout in the 19th century and has become a popular layout for keyboards.
The Colemak layout allows your fingers to move more than 2.2 times their movement on the simple QWERTY layout. The placement of keys is different than QWERTY as well. So, with this particular layout, you can learn a lot about your own WIP keyboard layout if you’re thinking of making one.
Colemak is a hit because it gives quite amazing results when it comes to finger travel and same finger frequency metrics. If you try it, you will find out that your fingers do not move up and down very frequently as is the case with the traditional QWERTY layout.
However, just like with anything else, this keyboard layout also has its demerits. The placement of a couple of keys is a bit awkward, which makes typing some common words quite difficult and time-consuming.
The Norman layout is another impressive worker’s layout for the keyboard. It uses 22 out of 26 letter placements of the QWERTY layout and reduces 46% of the effort exerted on the QWERTY layout with a perfect layout of its own.
This particular WIP keyboard layout maintains the keyboard shortcuts for the QWASZXCV letters and offers better support for typists than Colemak.
So, either you can switch to using this layout yourself, or you can incorporate some changes and build a layout of your own choice using the Norman WIP keyboard layout.
Norman layout is best suited for touch typing in the English language. It is comparable to the famous Dvorak and Workman layouts in terms of efficiency.
The AZERTY layout is a spin on the original QWERTY keyboard layout for the Latin-specific alphabet. There are quite a lot of similarities between the QWERTY and the AZERTY layout, and wherever changes are included are for ease of use and the inclusion of Latin symbols and characters.
This layout is the prime example of a WIP layout made for a specific audience and requirement. Therefore, it can serve as the perfect example for choosing precisely what layout you need to create for your own functional usage and requirement using your own keyboard layout creator.
The main difference between QWERTY and AZERTY is the placement of the first four keys from the left. These keys are Q, W, A, and Z. This type of layout is common in European countries especially France and Belgium.
Like the AZERTY layout, the QWERTZ layout is also derived originally from the QWERTY layout. It is another WIP keyboard layout that is incredibly popular among the keyboard typists of Central Europe.
The main difference exists in the placement of Z instead of Y. It is because, in the German and central European languages, Z is a more commonly used character than Y.
So, placing Z in the cluster allows the users to type letters and words faster, increasing the overall functionality and efficiency of the QWERTZ layout. But, of course, you’re going to want to use it if you’re typing in a Central European language.
The Neo keyboard layout is a particular WIP layout created by German Neo Group Users to accommodate the German letters and multiple other functional keys and English letters into the simple keyboard layout.
There are over three layers in the Neo keyboard layout, and it is actually one of the most functional layouts for Central European keyboard users. If you’re a resident, you should try this layout for yourself, and if you have that creative mind, perhaps you can even improve on it with your very own WIP keyboard layout as well.
Have you ever wondered that each one of us uses our keyboards differently? We not only position it to our convenience but we are also used to using some keys more than others. And this diversity allows us to have a completely custom-designed layout that is tailored to our specific needs.
WIP keyboard layouts are a great invention and they can help people use keyboards and computers in a better way according to their keyboarding needs. With the help of the aforementioned WIP keyboard layouts, you can get the right inspiration for your structures to come.
You’re going to have a great time messing around with WIP designs and building your very own comfortable and impressive WIP keyboard layout. I hope you learned a lot from this article. May you have a great day ahead of you!