Which are the "layouts" that have been successfully used when making "alphabetic" keys on Qwerty used as cursor movement keys or as arrow keys?

Here are the two i know of:

  1. <h>: <Left>, <j>: <Down>, <k>: <Up>, <l>: <Right> -- used in Vim and some other text-based interfaces.

  2. <a>: <Left>, <s>: <Down>, <w>: <Up>, <d>: <Right> -- used in some video games (as far as i remember).

Has there been anything else? Has anybody used jkl; instead of hjkl?

  • 1
    jkl; works only for the English layout. You'd need jklö on a German and jklé on a (Swiss) French one. Key-groups that break with a different layout are bad.
    – MrLemon
    Mar 6 '15 at 17:01
  • hjkl also breaks in Turkish, Russian, or Dvorak :), but thanks for the explanation, i haven't thought of it.
    – Alexey
    Mar 6 '15 at 17:08
  • what about awsd? which languages does that break in?
    – Toni Leigh
    Mar 6 '15 at 19:24
  • Out of curiousity: is there a problem you are trying to solve here?
    – user31143
    Mar 7 '15 at 7:27
  • I am experimenting with a custom Vim normal mode layout, for personal use first of all. I am already more happy with what i've done so far than with the defaults (and i am learning the defaults this way), but i wonder if i should keep the hjkl cursor movements, or do jikl, or jkl;.
    – Alexey
    Mar 7 '15 at 11:16

Facebook, tumblr, soup.io and Gerrit and surely several other services use "j" and "k" keys for moving down / up.


For gaming it is very common to use the awsd layout. Gaming Keyboard even have some special caps for those keys.

For your question I see the difference in the way you can place your fingers: In awsd you are using only 3 fingers (ring-index) from the left hand. From this position a gamer can reach a lot of other important keys surrounded and use it’s right hand for mouse interactions. In the hjkl or jklö as someone else mentioned all the keys are in one line. That means I’m forced to use 4 fingers, since moving a finger sideways is really hard. That could be harder for some user to coordinate more fingers. On the other hand, the hand position is more like actual typing and a user can reach out for more keys.

Now for your question I would suggest to think about the user group who would use your solution first. Are they more text-interface users or game users? Second, should a user be able to reach other keys fast and easily? And third, determine how the hand should be placed? Since I’ve never used the hjkl layout I’m not sure if you use your right or left hand to operate these keys. But I assume you use the left hand and that means you don’t have any mouse interaction.

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