back to article How many keys can one keyboard have? Do I hear 200? 300? More?

Are you frustrated with Photoshop's hard-to-remember key commands? You're not alone, and an international group of professional photographers and designers has launched a Kickstarter campaign to do something about it. Romanian Sorin Neica says the group needs just $185,280 to begin production of Shortcut-S, a new computer …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. LarsG


      And when they go into production...

      Adobe will add another 30 short cut and function keys.......

    2. Barry Dingle

      The "S" is for stupid

      As a cheap tablet app this would make "S"ense.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: The "S" is for stupid

        >As a cheap tablet app this would make "S"ense.

        App might be cheap, but would really need a tablet such as the Lenovo N308 (19.5 inch) or one of the Ideacentre Horizon's...

        1. stucs201

          Re: The "S" is for stupid

          Why a tablet and app? Do you really need an input device containing a battery, processor and ram for this? Wouldn't just plugging a second touchscreen monitor into the computer make more sense?

        2. Tom 13

          Re: The "S" is for stupid

          No, they need a real tablet. I don't mean "tablet" the way Apple has redefined "tablet" with their iPad crap. I mean tablet like Wacom back when I was running Autocad on a venerable 386 with a 1280 paperwhite monitor on its dedicated and proprietary graphics card and a brand spanking new 640x480 VGA monitor. Define the grid on the tablet, more the mouse to the right icon to select the function, then back to the screen part of the tablet to work on the drawing.

          Still, I won't begrudge them trying to do it with a specialized keyboard. Who knows maybe it will work better than my solution. I just wouldn't bet on it. Not even a can of Coca-Cola.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A dedicated keyboard for a single app?

    If you use Photoshop all day you'll remember the shortcuts you typically use. If you use it only part of the time, you may have other apps you need shortcuts for.

    Seems like it would be a better idea to write a tablet app that makes the tablet appear as a Bluetooth auxiliary keyboard to the PC, and lets you create your own touchscreen "keyboard" containing whatever shortcuts you want - with some predefined ones for popular apps like Photoshop. Lay the tablet flat on its back near your actual keyboard and you can have the keyboard pictured (well, maybe not with THAT many keys on a typical 7" or 10" tablet...)

    But why do that when you make people pay a lot more for a single purpose device with a much narrower target audience?

    1. frank ly

      Re: A dedicated keyboard for a single app?

      If you're sitting at a desk, using Photoshop as a professional, or in any serious capacity, why not have two monitors and use one of them for your toolbars or even a custom toolpad graphic?

      1. Martin Budden

        Re: A dedicated keyboard for a single app?

        If all your toolbars are way over on another monitor you'll do a lot of mouse-miles.

        1. stucs201

          Re: If all your toolbars are way over on another monitor you'll do a lot of mouse-miles.

          Touchscreen monitor... Just poke it with a finger, same as you would with the specialised keyboard. I'm sure you can even find a monitor you can take off its stand and lie flat on the desk if you prefer not to have it vertical.

    2. Richard Crossley
      Thumb Up

      Re: A dedicated keyboard for a single app?

      You mean like this one from 198x

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: A dedicated keyboard for a single app?

        Re: A4-128 Keyboard

        Obviously came out before the Apricot and it's programmable function keys and LCD alpha display to help the user.

        But yes I can see a modern revamp of the A4-128 keyboard combining the best features of a fully soft keyboard and the durability of a mechanical keyboard. With full software programmability it would also be useful to expose all those Windows and Office shortcuts that became too numerous to fit on the crib strips MS supplied in the early days to sit just above the function keys.

    3. dssf

      Re: A dedicated keyboard for a single app? Until...

      You either spill something on the tablet, or use wet fingers, and the liquid's surface tension causes crazy/erratic inputs to make PS do crazy/erratic things to the drawing until a command requiring input stops the erratic craziness, hehehehe....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A dedicated keyboard for a single app?

      Recording studios have big desks too.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: A dedicated keyboard for a single app?

        >Recording studios have big desks too.

        Yeah , though for sliders and knobs. Not only is an array of sliders an input method, it also offers visual feedback on the current state, i.e, you can see the position of the slider at a glance.

        That said, the video colour ocrrecvtion suite 'DaVinci' has its own dedicated control surface:

        For Photoshop, placing the commands on a tablet makes more sense in my opinion. Not all commands are applicable in all circumstance, so it has to be dynamic.

        Also, the solution shown seems to give equal weight tyo all commands, whereas in reality some commands are very often used, and others rarely.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A dedicated keyboard for a single app?

        Yes and these days they are computer controlled and many very rarely move, especially in "pop" music when they are all just shoved all the way up, the let the compression bring it back down.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. stucs201

    Much as I normally like physical keys and detest touchscreens...

    ...this seems not very future-proof. Do they expect you to buy another one every time a new version of photoshop adds a new feature and associated shortcut? It seems that a second, touchscreen monitor to dump a load of toolbars on would be a more sensible option.

    1. DaLo

      Re: Much as I normally like physical keys and detest touchscreens...

      They have customisable keys as well to add any important new ones.

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Much as I normally like physical keys and detest touchscreens...

      >...this seems not very future-proof.

      It's from Transylvania. It's probably immortal.

    3. Stevie

      Re: this seems not very future-proof...

      Not very cat-proof either, though that does open the door for a whole new class of Dadaist "found art".

  4. NP-Hardass

    I dream of

    Optimus Maximus... Now that was a keyboard!

  5. Mephistro

    Ho humm...

    You can do this on the cheap with one of these ancient digitizer tablets that were used for CAD back then when computers worked with coal and steam, plus a printed sheet with the 'keys'. With the right drivers, you could use the digitizer also as a faster and more precise mouse replacement. Or as DougS said, use a big fondleslab as a keyboard/input device.

    Seriously, it seems to me they're re-inventing the wheel. They'd be better off licensing the technology from a digitizer company and updating it with current drivers and USB connectivity.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Ho humm... @Mephistro

      I would be interested in knowing how much prototyping and test marketing the team has done.

      Because like you, either a simple soft key overlay on a digitizer tablet (eg. Wacom) or an android app would make excellent proof of concept and demand. The success of these would indicate that a market probably exists for a 'professional' dedicated unit like the DaVinci Resolve.

  6. Steve Knox


    Not sure about that pic -- looks shopped...

    1. dssf

      Re: Hmmmm.... Shopped, hahaha, and Pac'd

      MY first thoughts were of PacMan...

  7. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    That's progress!

    Now I can perform a random search on a "keyboard" for the tool I want instead of in the menus and palettes like I do now!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: That's progress!

      Have these people ever heard of labels?

      If you can't remember the shortcuts you need, how the hell are you going to remember what icons represent them?

      Clearly what Photoshop really needs is a little paperclip in the corner, which sees what you're doing and says "it looks like you're trying to use the clone tool to airbrush a member of the party that you've just had shot. Would you like help with that?

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: That's progress!

        If you can't remember the shortcuts you need, how the hell are you going to remember what icons represent them?

        Exactly. I find that I frequently click the wrong button on the Windows taskbar. Toad for Excel, Outlook for Explorer - the evidence suggests that selection by colour tends to override selection by image, which makes sense, given that colour perception is immediate, while image interpretation takes time.

        +1 for the Clippy paragraph.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: That's progress!

          I do it positionally. I have Excel and Word next to each other on my desktop, a row below Outlook, with the different browsers above that. Security tools at the top of the screen, admin stuff to the left, etc. I also have the labels turned on with icons wherever posisble, the Office ribbon, Firefox, GMail...

          It's one of my least favourite features of iOS and Metro, that the UI designers stupidly won't let you have gaps between groups of icons. Or even give you divdiders. The simplest way to make it clear what things are is denied to the users by fuckwits who seem to have no conception that different people use their tech in different ways. So I have my iOS icons split into groups of similar apps, spread out over many homescreens. Which works fine until it comes to something where I can't remember how I categorised it.

          Big old seas of icons are no more user-friendly than huge walls of text.

          I was trying to assemble some flat-pack furniture the other day. And to save money (i.e. translation costs), the instructions had no text whatsoever. It was all diagrams, with pretty pictures to tell you what to do. These were shit. Sometimes a picture may paint a thousand words. Other times, 5 words make far more sense than a thousand pictures drawn by total numpties on grey re-cycled paper, in light brown ink.

    2. BongoJoe

      Re: That's progress!

      Good point! Now can we have one for the Office Ribbon?

  8. Daniel Voyce


    What about if you need to.. you know.. type words and stuff?

  9. arkhangelsk

    It might be limited production and have a lot of keys, but it is a frigging keyboard. How does it justify a US$90 price tag?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >How does it justify a US$90 price tag?

      Specialist control surfaces often cost more. The price is determined by the unit cost (a function of quantity sold) and by how much people will pay (which is a function of how much time they think it will save them).

      My mouse had an RRP of £90, though I waited a few years to get it for half that in a sale. It's worth it for me.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Decent hardware costs decent money, because most people are happy with cheap hardware. My keyboard, a modern version of the model-m from unicomp, costs $99.

  10. Christian Berger

    Or you could...

    just buy any of those many programmable keyboard with inserts for the keys.

  11. dssf

    For some, this will be lurve at furst...

    Byte... Or, will that be "BITE" (and, not built-in-test-equipment)? Or CRC (and, not cyclical redundancy check).

    Well, as long as Drac is not alive and waiting for them at Transylvania.... Better find Jeff Goldblum* before the top donor heads out, hahahaha, or CRC might mean "Circulatory/Respirator Curtailment".

    (*Transylvania 6-5000... Whoaaa.. Way back to 1984/1986)

    1. Steve Renouf

      Jeff Goldblum?

      Shirly you mean Peter Cushing!

  12. Khaptain

    Cheat Sheet

    Dont forget to print out a cheat sheet which shows where all of the keys are placed.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
  14. DaLo

    This is kickstarter

    "although customers can preorder them for as little as $89."

    You can't pre-order anything on kickstarter. You pledge money to help make the project successful, you are a backer with no rights or shares just goodwill. If you pledge a certain amount they might send you a gift for your support, if the goal is reached, then again they might not.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quite useful

    $100-$200 is actually not a bad deal for a tool that could conceivably double productivity in a busy prepress environment.

    In computer to plate prepress work there are a lot of repetitive actions but too many to assign to something like a tablet sized touchscreen and too complex or variable to develop macros.

    It's a niche of a niche but I could definitely see this being popular with staff in our print shop.

  16. MR J

    Kickstarter is just the new tool to get fools to part with their money.

    Nearly $190k to build some keyboards, pfft..

    I am sure the cost producing this is so low that if they could sell just one, it would be worth it, so asking others to stump up $190k is a bit overkill. he also seems to imply that he has a lot of staff, but it is just something that a user could make for hackaday for a bit of a laugh.

    This sort of project might be good, but it's small enough and simple enough that it shouldn't need people to "kick fund" it.

  17. David Pollard

    Programmable touch screen anyone?

    If someone were to write software that puts graphic buttons onto a cheapish touch screen and provide it with a range of get-you-started templates to suit different programs this might go down rather well. But don't Wacom tablets do something similar already?

  18. Hellcat

    Reminds me of my dedicated Counterstrike keyboard I had about 15 years ago...

    Ripped out every un-used key to avoid them annoying Win key instead of crouch moments. For only £185k I'm willing to dig out the prototype from the loft and start production.

  19. Manta Bloke
    Black Helicopters

    ARMA 3

    Keyboard like this for ARMA 3 would be cool - that has more controls that photoshop :)

    Not sure I want to pay that price though.

  20. Pete 31

    Or you could just have 2

    2 keys are plenty - I hacked together this mini mechanical keyboard using an adafruit trinket and some cherry MX keys bought off ebay:

    1. DropBear

      Re: Or you could just have 2

      What a waste - TWO keys? What for?!? You only need the one - as I'm sure Mr. Morse would agree. Of course, you might need to invent / learn a few proprietary extended codes beside the standard set of letters. Unless you want to key in asynchronous 8N1 directly, of course...

  21. Billa Bong

    Close look at the video...

    The "it takes a long time" video seems to waste a bit of time - I noticed especially at the start that some time was spent zooming and positioning the lady just right, whereas on the short side that entire operation was skipped, leaving the lady smaller in the frame and with a blokes elbow sticking into it (before the next overlay was added).

    How about a comparison of someone using this keyboard vs. myself. I used PS for about a week before I gave up and resumed my very trivial editing work on PSP. I'm sure that a comparison like that would make them look even better.

  22. CatW

    A better idea...

    ...Instead of going to the cost and one-app-centric design, why not just do what all music software does these days:

    Use an iPad!

  23. MooseNC

    Check out the "speed test" video on their Kickstarter. The people are working on the same picture, but the guy on the left actually does several more things to it than the guy on the right.

    Fake comparison; fake product?

  24. InteraX

    What about full chinese keyboards

    Whilst this may seem unnecessary to most of us, hasn't anyone seen the full size Chinese keyboards?

    Whilst the second one seems excessive, I think they were prototypes or something.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: What about full chinese keyboards

      That's no keyboard. That's a moon drumkit!

  25. Old Handle
    Paris Hilton

    I'm often critical of the trend to "simplify" interfaces to the point where all the controls are hidden... well I think someone finally figured out how to go too far the other way. Looking at that thing makes my head hurt.

  26. Stevie


    Sweet carpal tunnel on a stick! That's intense!

    Now for my own contribution: the twenty-seven button mouse!

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