2 minute read

Edit (2021-01-24):

The website has recently been updated and bone is mentioned on the front page now. Again, thanks for the great work to all the people involved in the project.

It’s been quite a while that I started to use a keyboard layout that wasn’t designed to optimize the use of typewriters, but instead, to best fit today’s needs for writing on a keyboard: Neo.

The positions of the letters are not only optimized for German letter frequency, but also for typical groups of two or three letters. (Wikipedia)

Even more important (especially for programmers) is the “3rd layer”, which makes special characters ((){}[]<>:\/}{-)@~#’$”+%”‘*}) accessible, as they are inconveniently positioned on the number row in the commonly used QWERTZ layout (in Germany).

What I did not know when I went through the first weeks of using Neo and rewiring my brain to learn new keystroke orders for every single word, was that there is an improved version of the layout: Bone. Bone uses the same 3rd layer key positions, however layer 1 (the alphabet characters) is heavily changed and is optimized for German and English words alike.

The Neo website doesn’t dare to even name other layouts and motivates uninformed website visitors to go through painful weeks to learn a new keyboard layout which has been superseded. This situation has not changed in years (Bone is quite mature already).

Furthermore the official Neo website is under maintenance for a long time already which makes it hard to even access the keymap of the Bone layout.

What to do

Luckily, it is possible to access the layout over the Web Archive: Bone Layout. It is preinstalled on many Linux systems, so give it a try if you are brave enough.

To avoid making the same mistake as the Neo website, I want to point out that there is an adaption of the Bone layout to matrix keybords (like this one): Flux. It is very similar to Bone, so switching between the two should not take too much time.


Please don’t get me wrong: I am very greatful for all the effort that has been done by so many people to maintain the Neo website and work on optimized keyboard layouts. This is just a note to the internet to help people find the right resource, as I would have liked to know about Bone before I started learning Neo..