The Fitaly Keyboard for the Palm Organizer

The Palm Fitaly - Version 2.0

The Fitaly keyboard for the Palm Organizer is an ergonomic replacement for the standard on-screen Qwerty keyboard

The patented Fitaly key arrangement is optimized for pen entry: the letters ital ne dors and the space – together representing 73% of the keys used for normal text – are placed in a very tight central area.

Adding the letters ch and um brings this frequency to 84%. Remaining keys are never more than two keys away from the central area and each key is placed near the keys most likely to follow it in English text.

The effect is to minimize pen travel. In addition, the layout practically eliminates hand movement when typing text. This means that you can type with your hand rested on the lower area, moving only the fingers holding the pen.

The Fitaly keyboard is started with a tap on abc in the Graffiti area and appears as shown on the left.

Unlike the Qwerty keyboard, the Fitaly floats over the current application. This means that you can enter all fields of an address without having to close/reopen it for each field. The Fitaly will move to uncover the current field and you can also move it by dragging the move key:

The Fitaly is the only keyboard giving access to all 220 characters of the Iso/Ansi Latin1 character set. Moreover, most of these characters can be entered with only two taps.


Getting all possible characters is achieved by using several toggles that are described below. The first and most obvious is shifting with the Shift or Caps lock key. As expected, this produces upper case letters. In addition, it provides alternate keys in the punctuation panel, on the right of the main letter panel:

We can also switch to numbers by a tap on the 123 key.

The Right Panel and the 123/abc Toggle:

The right panel includes the 123/abc toggle to alternate between letters and numbers as shown below. A tap on 123 brings up the number pad and a tap on abc brings the letters back.

While on the subject of numbers, they are shown here configured as on a phone pad but if you prefer to have them as on a calculator, you can set the proper option. Note also that the number panel also shows the other characters most likely to be used in conjunction with numbers: Currency symbols such as $ ’ £ ₯ €, the degree ° and mathematical symbols. The punctuation panel on the right of numbers conveniently shows symbols such as – ( ) which you need to enter phone numbers.

Shifting the numbers displays other more rarely used symbols such as ½, ‰, superscripts Ή ² ³, the non-breaking space (n.b.) and the ellipsis…

You may not use these symbols every day, but if you need them, they are on the Fitaly. Actually, the Fitaly is the way to enter these characters on a Palm Organizer.

The Left Panel and the Side Bar:

The Left Panel – the one with the Tab and Cap keys – appears initially with the arrow keys: Fast Left, Left, Fast Right, and Right. The fast versions move by line or from one field to the next.

There is another variation of this panel that includes four accent keys: acute, grave, umlaut, and circumflex. Switching between the two is done with the key at the bottom of the side bar:

A tap on the key on the side bar displays accent keys on the Left Panel.
A tap on the double arrow key brings back the direction keys.

Later we will review the other buttons of the side bar but for the moment we will concentrate on what we can achieve with the four accent keys.

International Variations and Symbols
We can conjugate the letter and punctuation panels with the four possible accent keys. So a tap on any of the four accent key modifies the letters and produces accented keys and other keys of the Latin1 character set. For example, tapping the accent ˆ followed by e produces ê. This means that each accented key can be produced with only two taps. We now review the four accent variations, along with their effect on the punctuation panel.

Acute Accent:

The acute accent changes the vowels to vowels with acute accents. It also changes c into ç and C into Ç (in shifted form). The punctuation panel shows all currency and legal symbols.

Grave Accent:

The grave accent changes the vowels a e i o u to forms with the grave accent. It also changes the letters d t into the Icelandic ð and þ. Similarly, D P are changed into Ð Þ. The Punctuation Panel includes the Danish å æ and ø, the French œ, and the n-dash – and m-dash —.

Circumflex Accent:

The circumflex accent changes the vowels as expected. But see also how it changes the letter s and S into š and Š. The Punctuation Panel offers two-tap access to any of the brackets.

Umlaut Key:

The umlaut key changes all vowels to vowels with umlauts. In addition, the letters m n s become ΅ ñ ß and N becomes Ñ. The Punctuation Panel includes useful keys such as @ and the bullet •.

Another variation of the umlaut punctuation panel includes the card suits - essential the next time you want to record a bridge hand:

More on the Side Bar

So far we have mentioned the arrow/accent button, which toggles between accents and direction keys. Let's review the other keys:
The close key is to close the Fitaly. Alternatively, you can also close it by another tap on abc in the Graffiti area.
The command key is used for menu command equivalents: a tap of the command key followed by a letter activates the corresponding menu command. For example, tap this key followed by u for undo.
The shortcut key is used for Graffiti shortcuts. To type any of the shortcuts, tap this key either before or after those of the shortcut. For example, tap this key either before or after ds for the Date stamp entry.
A tap on the information key opens the information menu, which includes several options:
  • Increase size - Decrease size.
    Toggles between the two keyboard sizes: either a 66 pixel height or 56 pixel height.
  • Show shifting - Don't show shifting.
    Decides whether shifting is reflected on the letter panel.
  • Use dodging - Use scrolling.
    Decides whether Fitaly moves automatically to dodge the cursor or scroll the application.
  • Start by abc tap - Start by 123 tap.
    Decides whether Fitaly is started by a tap on abc, in the Graffiti area, or by a tap on 123.
  • Set side bar left - Set side bar right.
  • Set calculator pad - Set phone pad.
    Changes the number layout of the Letter Panel.
  • Set 12-34-56-78-90 - Set 12345-67890.
    Controls the layout of digits obtained by sliding keys of the Punctuation Panel.
  • Set card suits - Set symbols.
    Sets the layout of the umlaut punctuation panel.
As shown by the side bar option, its position can be customized and you can choose to have it on the right as shown below:

Type Even Faster with Sliding...

The sole purpose of Fitaly is to allow fast typing on a palm device and most characters can be entered with one or two taps. But in situations in which upper case letters are frequent - as in addresses - repeated shifting can be cumbersome. Similarly, there are situations where letters and digits are intermixed as in product codes and... Canadian postal codes. Then having to toggle the abc/123 key repeatedly can become inconvenient.

This is why Fitaly 2.0 offers sliding: Sliding happens when you tap on a key and then move the pen sufficiently far before releasing it. When you tap a letter, you see it appear at key down. If you slide, a backspace is emitted followed by the revised letter at key up.

Sliding to Get Capitals:

Sliding any letter capitalizes it, regardless of the direction of the slide (up, down, left or right, or diagonal). Most likely, you will want to slide down from the top rows or up from the bottom rows.

If All Caps is on, sliding gives a lower case letter.

Sliding for Occasional Digits:

Sliding any of the punctuation keys produces a digit. The direction of the slide does not matter. The effect is as shown below and depends on whether you select a row arrangement 12-34-56-78-90 or a column arragement 12345-67890:

Sliding Space to Backspace

Sometimes you want to correct the last letter you just entered and the backspace key may feel a bit far. Then slide any of the space keys and this backspaces.

Sliding to Delete

When you enter text, you tend to use backspaces for corrections. But when you edit text, you would often prefer to have a delete key. In Fitaly 2.0 you can get the effect of delete by sliding the backspace key.

Dodging or Scrolling

As we said in the introduction, Fitaly floats over the current application, unlike the Qwerty keyboard. This means that you can enter all fields of an address without having to close it and reopen it for each field. You can actually move the Fitaly by dragging the move key:

If you use the Dodging option, Fitaly will move automatically to dodge the cursor so that you can always see what you type.

The other option is to use Scrolling in which case Fitaly will not move but will scroll the application as needed.

    Essentially, when you are in Scrolling mode, Fitaly repositions the application to take all the remaining screen space and the application is scrolled as needed. The relocation affects the whole application so that even its title is relocated.

The effect is as if you were lifting a slide projector and the image projected were lifted, the upper part being off-screen

Note that the Move key is marked differently to indicate this scrolling mode. You can still use it to move the Fitaly and you can also position it at the top or anywhere in-between.


Toggling between dodging and scrolling is done by a menu option or by a double-tap on the move key. Dodging works very well with applications that have many fields,for example, Datebook. On the other hand, scrolling is the preferred mode for MemoPad and for heavy text entry.

Concluding this Quick Tour of Fitaly 2.0

We have now finished reviewing the metamorphoses of the Fitaly keyboard to produce all 220 characters of the Ansi/Iso Latin1 character set. But covering the full character set is but one of its benefits:

Error-Free 100% Accuracy:

You will find that you do very few errors when using the Fitaly. This comes directly from having eliminated hand movement: pen taps that do not require moving the hand are much more precise - See the section describing the logic behind the One-Finger Keyboard.

So doing tasks that require accurate text becomes very comfortable on a Palm Organizer: Writing adresses and appointments, preparing faxes, answering email...

50 Words Per Minute On Your Palm:

This is confirmed by hundreds of Fitaly users who use it to type long memos on their Palm Organizer. Actually, we said 50 wpm but several participants in the recent Dom Perignon II Speed Contest  were over 60 or 70 wpm!

The significance of these speeds is that they are in the range achieved by many average typists on the full 10-finger keyboard of a PC. So the speed achievable with the Fitaly combined with the convenience of the ubiquitous PalmPilot offers a realistic solution for normal text entry.

The dominant direction for HotSync will definitely become from the Palm to the PC. And there is a good reason for that: after all, it is the Palm Organizer that is always there with you!

Your Comments on the Palm Fitaly

The definition of this version 2.0 has taken advantage of excellent suggestions made on the Forum for the PalmPilot Fitaly. If you have suggestions for later versions or want to share experiences with the PalmPilot Fitaly, join the discussion on the forum.

Download Fitaly 2.0
Instant Text Home
The Fitaly Keyboard for the Palm Organizer
Copyright © 1999 Textware Solutions.
Last modified 19 November 1999.