FrameMaker and the Kinesis Advantage Keyboard

Because of RSI, I use a Kinesis Advantage keyboard. I used the Microsoft ergonomic keyboards for a while, but I’d burn one out every year, and the membrane keys are a bit mushy. I went whole-hog and spent the money on the Kinesis, which I don’t regret at all, except for one thing: the function keys. The F-keys and Esc are little rubber chicklet keys reminiscent – I’m dating myself here – of the Atari 400. And when you’re in FrameMaker and doing some heavy formatting, those keys are essential.

You can remap keys in the Kinesis at the keyboard level, but I switch between Windows and Mac machines through a KVM switch, so I wanted to avoid that. Instead, I use AutoHotkey, a nifty little free Windows utility that enables you to easily remap keys at the OS level.

Head over to https://autohotkey.com/ and grab a copy. My AutoHotkey.ahk has the following entries for FrameMaker:

Home & 5::Send, {F8}
Home & 6::Send, {F9}
End::Send, {Esc}

I don’t use the Home and End keys much, so I stole them for my own use. On the Kinesis, they are in my left thumb cluster, and great for frequently-used combo keystrokes. So I map:

  • Home-5 to F8. That opens the character designer.
  • Home-6 to F9. That opens the paragraph designer.
  • End to Esc. I use Esc constantly for Frame shortcuts, most notable Esc-j-j to repeat a paragraph assign, and Esc-c-c to repeat a character assign.

AHK can do a lot more stuff, like assigning keys to modify and paste the clipboard, run macros from DLLs, and more. If you have a highly repetitive text massage job you can’t tackle in a script, check out the advanced options. But it’s easy to use for a few quick remaps.