Name of the extra modifier (Fn/Meta/Sym/...)

Which name do you prefer?


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_wb_

Microbe
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The Pyra, like the Pandora, does not have enough keys to fit all symbols on just the keys and the Shift-keys. A third level is needed. On the Pandora this was called Fn.

Unlike the Pandora, the Pyra's extra modifier will not be a "hardware" modifier -- meaning it is invisible/transparent to applications, they cannot detect key events for the Fn key itself. It will instead be a "software" modifier, like Shift, Alt, Ctrl and all the rest of them. This means it will be easy to remap its location, change its behavior, have it on a shoulder button and still use that shoulder button for games, etc.

Now the question is: what name should the modifier have?

I have seen the following proposals so far:

  •  "Fn". Like on the Pandora. A bit confusing, since "Fn" has a connotation of being a hardware modifier.
  • "Meta". This is a modifier that some (rare/historic) keyboards actually have, so some people may be familiar with it. It has the symbol ◆. Meta is a nice Greek word (so that's a weak reference to the name "Pyra").
  • "AltGr". Many keyboards have AltGr instead of Alt on the right Alt, and it is used as a third-level modifier to get symbols like €. It stands for "Alternate Graphic".
  • "Sym". Short for "Symbol". Used on some calculators. As seen in Saber's proposals.
  • "Pyra". The name of the device itself (the logo could be used instead of the name). (example). Emphasizes that it is a device-specific modifier.
  • "AltGr" + "F-ing". As comradekingu proposes, use AltGr for the extra symbols (-=`~\|/ etc), and F-ing for the F-keys and media keys. So we then have not just one extra modifier, but two of them.

One potential problem with AltGr is that we could end up having 3 or 4 Alt keys (START is Left Alt, presumably some shoulder button is Right Alt, some keyboard key and/or shoulder button is AltGr), which is a bit much. Another disadvantage is that you don't have AltGr available anymore in case you need it (except for the keys that don't have an AltGr symbol yet). I suppose a solution could be to physically label the key(s) as "AltGr" but actually refer to them as something else internally in the software (e.g. Meta or Hyper).
 
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Kiga

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After reflection not Pyra because a keyboard modifier isn't related to Pyra, Pyra is the whole device a button named Pyra should lead to something that have to do with the whole device like a menu.

Pyra as a modifier  makes no sense.
 

comradekingu

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You made it seem like a normal keyboard doesnt have AltGr. If it indeed does, it can have an unencumbered name for the F-modifier. Be it F-ing or something else.

FN is often also brightness functionality and powertoggles, on cheaper laptops without dedicated switches.

Meta is something that is sometimes used for the second super(windowsbutton) and it was a button of its own back in the day

AltGr It does what AltGr should do, which is the same everywhere, except for US international layout (I dont think anyone uses a vanilla version of this) AltGr+numbers should produce symbols, not F-keys.

          It is not a very central key, but if the F-keys are on QWERTY it could take the place of the pandorabutton and it would be possible to input everything with only keyboardbuttons.

          However an ugly solution because AltGr+qwerty is needed and expected to do other things.

Sym What does symbol have to do with mediakeys and F-buttons? Calculators are confusing to most people, and they differ between brands.

Pyra This name should be for super, for which there is no use in Xfce. In any event, having a button named after the system that isnt equal to a windowsbutton is confusing.

F-ing   is the only option where you dont have to employ non-standard modifier to input standard conventions.

If it does more than F-keys  i think puzzle is a good name, since you puzzle together commands with it.

Colours do a much better job of tying things together, it is the primary connection people make.

Also i had to vote for something in the second stage of the poll, should be possible to have no opinion.
 
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_wb_

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Also i had to vote for something in the second stage of the poll, should be possible to have no opinion.
If you consider none of those options acceptable, then don't vote yet, and propose something that you do consider acceptable.

After reflection not Pyra because a keyboard modifier isn't related to Pyra, Pyra is the whole device a button named Pyra should lead to something that have to do with the whole device like a menu.

Pyra as a modifier  makes no sense.
There's nothing that stops us from making the modifier key also act as a "main menu" key, if you just tap it instead of holding it down (I would only do this on the non-shoulder version of the key though, to avoid accidental menu openings). This is what e.g. Ubuntu's Unity does with the Super (Windows logo) key: if you press it and release it, you get the main menu; if you hold it in conjunction with other keys, it acts as a modifier.

I think it makes sense to make the modifier keys on the keyboard (not the shoulder buttons) do something when you just tap them (instead of holding them down together with other keys). That way, we "get back" some keys that are otherwise mostly useless. I propose the following default:

- Tapping keyboard Shift: sticky shift

- Tapping keyboard Alt (START): double left mouse click

- Tapping keyboard Ctrl (SELECT): middle mouse click

- Tapping keyboard PYRA: open main menu

- Tapping keyboard Super: open context menu
 

comradekingu

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Initiating mouseclicks where they arent expected nor intuitive sounds exactly like the hotkey layout in ubuntu unity.  For a while they had press both alts as a method of initiating reboot, im not making that up.

Tapping the modifier to get menu sounds harmless though. Will it possibly be a problem with fullscreen games or anything like it?

Edit: what is wrong with "puzzle"? it is unencumbered by previous use.  It is only a problem when you imply that the extra modifier doubles as something a standard modifier does.

It is like asking how to empty the bathwater after the baby was thrown out. It is a question out of context, brought into a context it doesn't belong.

The notion of what name sounds the best, is a far cry from answering what actually functions the best. Nor is there any explanation as to what sort of implications each suggestion brings.

The notion that buttons shouldnt say what they do, or be something nobody expects, is to me the opposite of good.

Why do we need a super button? It isnt used for anything in Xfce.

Why do we need to confuse people who know what a super button is, and misguide those that dont?

Why is colour not a part of the question, that and position on the key was what made it work on the pandora, not the confusion.
 
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_wb_

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Initiating mouseclicks where they arent expected nor intuitive sounds exactly like the hotkey layout in ubuntu unity.  For a while they had press both alts as a method of initiating reboot, im not making that up.

Tapping the modifier to get menu sounds harmless though. Will it possibly be a problem with fullscreen games or anything like it?

Edit: what is wrong with "puzzle"? it is unencumbered by previous use.  It is only a problem when you imply that the extra modifier doubles as something a standard modifier does.

It is like asking how to empty the bathwater after the baby was thrown out. It is a question out of context, brought into a context it doesn't belong.

The notion of what name sounds the best, is a far cry from answering what actually functions the best. Nor is there any explanation as to what sort of implications each suggestion brings.

The notion that buttons shouldnt say what they do, or be something nobody expects, is to me the opposite of good.

Why do we need a super button? It isnt used for anything in Xfce.

Why do we need to confuse people who know what a super button is, and misguide those that dont?

Why is colour not a part of the question, that and position on the key was what made it work on the pandora, not the confusion.
Fullscreen games may or may not behave well with a "main menu" key -- regardless of its position and activation mechanism. It's an orthogonal issue.

Do you propose the name "Puzzle"? I don't see how that name is supposed to get any support, but if I'm wrong (i.e. if someone other than comradekingu also likes that name), I'll add it to the poll.

Whether or not we need a super button is also an orthogonal issue. Xfce does not use it by default, but other desktop environments do. Having an extra modifier available for custom shortcuts is always nice.

What confusion/misguiding are you talking about?

Color is also an orthogonal issue. I think there's a consensus that the extra modifier should have some color different from the color of the main labels. It could be blue like on the Pandora, it could be orange-red like I propose, it could be deep purple like you propose. Maybe some people don't want it to have a different color. Different people will like different colors. We could make a poll about that if you want. I don't really see why that is relevant for this poll.
 

comradekingu

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Its just a less bad name for meta, hyper is another option that isnt as encumbered as meta is.

Its not about liking a name, its about making sense. For the people who know anything about keyboards several of the options are very bad. For the same reason, they are suboptimal for someone who knows nothing.

The worst thing about them is that they dont explain anything.

Normal use doesnt require F-keys, a key that says F-ing is at worst a key that isnt crucial. That is a nice and easy transition. Laying foreign and suboptimal solutions on everyone is not good. Not having a dedicated F-row is not a good reason to stop makinig sense.

Keyboards with 66keys exist, they implement F-keys in a clever way, they however dont try to be smart about reinventing keyboard conventions. That never works, because dvorak is right. People dont want to give up fully functional patterns for anything, not even things that make more sense.
 

Saber

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Another good poll. 

Voted for "Fn". I know it isn't a hardware modifier underneath but it's name is much more recognizable to past and future buyers. Although I like Sym, I've only ever noticed it on anything but Kindles and a few smartphones, and Meta as an exclusive punctuation modifier I've never ever seen. On the smartphone Comradekingu posted, they had the abbreviation "Chr" which I suppose is short for character. That's not bad either. 
 

_wb_

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Another good poll. 

Voted for "Fn". I know it isn't a hardware modifier underneath but it's name is much more recognizable to past and future buyers. Although I like Sym, I've only ever noticed it on anything but Kindles and a few smartphones, and Meta as an exclusive punctuation modifier I've never ever seen. On the smartphone Comradekingu posted, they had the abbreviation "Chr" which I suppose is short for character. That's not bad either. 
The problem I have with "Sym" and "Chr" and "AltGr" is that they refer specifically to characters / graphical symbols. This is fine for something like € or Æ, slightly less fine for punctuation, and just weird for F-keys or keys like Insert.

Fn is fine I guess, although it kind of implies the opposite: it's short for "Function", which is more or less ok for the F-keys, but it's mostly used for things like media keys and hardware functions like "hibernate", "video out", "display brightness", etc.
 

comradekingu

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The problem most people who use it dont have with AltGr is what altGr does. That is in my mind what AltGr is supposed to do. In my mind there isnt supposed to be anything meddling this fact, be it hyper, meta, or anything else.

What isnt weird for F-keys is dedicated F-keys. Second rate option is a button to invoke F-keys.  Adding that amount of confusion onto other things, like symbols, is bad practice and confused design.

Finding a name someone likes for a practice that is bad doesnt make the practice any better.

Edit:  Removing the part where modifiers arent decided upon, to instead pick a name, is circumstantial evidence supporting nothing else than the bias of posing a question as if it was settled.
 
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klapse

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As long as the Fn key is the same color as symbols it triggers on the keyboard, it should be clear what it does, whatever its name.

Important for me is to have it near a corner on the main keyboard - I don't want to reach into the middle of the console, where _wb_ has placed the "Pyra" button.
 

_wb_

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As long as the Fn key is the same color as symbols it triggers on the keyboard, it should be clear what it does, whatever its name.

Important for me is to have it near a corner on the main keyboard - I don't want to reach into the middle of the console, where _wb_ has placed the "Pyra" button.
I agree that the name is not very important, as long as the colors match.

Having it near a corner means you have to make it sticky (so it can't have an additional "tap" function), and it means you lose one key in the main block. As long as it is on a shoulder button, the shoulder button method should be the primary and most comfortable and efficient way to access the Fn/Meta/Pyra stuff anyway, so I don't really care much about where the keyboard modifier is located.
 

comradekingu

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Nor do i, as long as accidental presses are avoided and natural language input can be done in standard means.

Lets recoup, when is it asking for opinions fail, with design by comitee. To me this seems fairly similar.

An example would be to ask all the people on a hospital ward if they dont want their chicken cooked to death and with some amounts of salt rather than none. They would probably say yes. Are they aware that this greatly increases the chance of disaster and that other peoples lives are riding on it, maybe. They might even want it even though they are aware. Maybe if it isnt them.

What I also think happened here is questions were asked that were either intentionally or unintentionally biased. For the most part I think we should seek suggestions for the different conventions that have been produced.

It isn't all one pool. Some things make intrinsic sense, some things make sense overall, some not, but the selection is from mutually exclusive fields, the reasoning behind F-ing for example is why it is different.  It isnt an all purpose key, its only for hacks.

And for what its worth, "pyra" as a non-super button is by far the worst option in my view. I absolutely dislike the idea, because it is wrong on just about every level.

Inventing buttons that conflict with existing ideas, that answer only as many questions as it brings up new ones. When you need not bring about more ugliness nor stray from existing conventions of solving it.

I think deciding esoteric matters isnt decisive, even best case. One needs to ask the basic questions to agree on what those are. To me thats effective functional clean layout that is as close to standard as possible.

There are very few ways of producing something that adheres to that, atleast its very hard to do so, so unless the different things arent juggled together precisely, there is no pleasing anyone. It will be a forever ending design-by-comitee.
 
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_wb_

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Maybe you should make a poll then about whether two extra modifiers (called e.g. AltGr and F-ing) are acceptable or not. I am more or less assuming that we will have only one extra modifier (the Pandora has only one, and it has less keys than the Pyra), but if you want to have two, you can select the "AltGr + F-ing" option in this poll.

And for what its worth, "pyra" as a non-super button is by far the worst option in my view. I absolutely dislike the idea, because it is wrong on just about every level.

Inventing buttons that conflict with existing ideas, that answer only as many questions as it brings up new ones. When you need not bring about more ugliness nor stray from existing conventions of solving it.
There is not really an existing convention. "AltGr" is a convention for things like AltGr+E = €, but nobody uses AltGr to input symbols like _ / % + ^ # = etc since those symbols are available as normal (or shifted) keys on keyboards that have an AltGr key.

"F-ing" certainly is not an existing convention.
 

elvissteinjr

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On my search for any official statements regarding the modifier keys, especially the bit that the additional will be a software one, I only found this bit: 
 

We were planning to NOT use any Fn key, as that was a mess driver wise. Linux has Meta keys (and strg, alt, shift, etc) which should be enough for that.

This certainly sounds like the plan is to not invent any new modifier key.  AltGr would make most sense then, but while it's possible to check for it individually it would also generate events for shift and ctrl at the same time afaik.
 

_wb_

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On my search for any official statements regarding the modifier keys, especially the bit that the additional will be a software one, I only found this bit: 

We were planning to NOT use any Fn key, as that was a mess driver wise. Linux has Meta keys (and strg, alt, shift, etc) which should be enough for that.



This certainly sounds like the plan is to not invent any new modifier key.  AltGr would make most sense then, but while it's possible to check for it individually it would also generate events for shift and ctrl at the same time afaik.
Yes, it is probably best to let the modifier be one of the existing ones, internally. That is AltGr, Meta, Super or Hyper. However, that does not mean we have to put a label on the key that is the same as its internal representation in software.

I wouldn't use AltGr because we already need two normal Alts (one is Start and one is a shoulder button), and lots of software assumes AltGr is the same as Right Alt, so that is asking for trouble.

I wouldn't use Super because that is a modifier which is used in Gnome and Unity and which can also be used in other environments to define shortcuts (e.g. KDE, OpenBox).

Meta or Hyper are fine. Probably Hyper is best, because it's not actually used by anything. "Meta" is used by Emacs and some other software (where it can mean Esc, Alt or Super), and there is some risk of confusion with Alt because some historical keyboards that have a Meta key don't have an Alt key.
 

comradekingu

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Maybe you should make a poll then about whether two extra modifiers (called e.g. AltGr and F-ing) are acceptable or not. I am more or less assuming that we will have only one extra modifier (the Pandora has only one, and it has less keys than the Pyra), but if you want to have two, you can select the "AltGr + F-ing" option in this poll.

And for what its worth, "pyra" as a non-super button is by far the worst option in my view. I absolutely dislike the idea, because it is wrong on just about every level.

Inventing buttons that conflict with existing ideas, that answer only as many questions as it brings up new ones. When you need not bring about more ugliness nor stray from existing conventions of solving it.
There is not really an existing convention. "AltGr" is a convention for things like AltGr+E = €, but nobody uses AltGr to input symbols like _ / % + ^ # = etc since those symbols are available as normal (or shifted) keys on keyboards that have an AltGr key.

"F-ing" certainly is not an existing convention
Germans use AltGr for @. $¥£{ }[ ] are other altGr combos, if you want effective typing of international letters, it is used to produce those letters directly, rather than string together a dead key combo.  þ ß and so on for Norwegian layout, it differs for every layout though.

"F-ing" is the convention used on Leopold FC660C  and other F-keyless  (no 6th row) keyboards.

Loading A-Z with symbols is something that is used on toys, and old blackberries. It is the choice of someone who doesn't have the better option.
 
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klapse

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Loading A-Z with symbols is something that is used on toys, and old blackberries. It is the choice of someone who doesn't have the better option.
Wait, don't all the keyboard layouts that were proposed have symbols on some of the A-Z letters?
 

Tenka

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I agree that the Pyra button should be used as super, and that the word puzzle sounds cool.  I like meta though.
 
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