Gone are the days when the silent flutter of butterfly keyboards is appreciated. Now, the tactile click, clack, or “thoc” of mechanical keyboards is preferred.
These mechanical keyboards also come in trendy colours and are open to customisation, making them all the more attractive.
In fact, many have picked up mechanical keyboard modification as a hobby, and you’ll find countless YouTube videos on the topic.
For newbies getting into the hobby, switches, stabilisers, Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT) keycaps, and all the other fancy terms used in the community can be alienating.
When he was a newcomer to the Malaysian mechanical keyboard community, Nik Amir Haikal (also called Amir, and he’s now 23) turned to Facebook to dive deeper into his newfound interest. He was looking to get suggestions from the community on what kind of keyboard he should purchase.
Without pre-existing knowledge, Amir wasn’t sure if the replies he was getting to his published questions were genuine or not.
As he began acquiring his own knowledge about mechanical keyboards over the next few years, he decided that he wanted to help others in the same situation as him before.
Thus, he developed a simple website for mechanical keyboard novices to get started on creating their own keyboard build.
Enter: Keybs Finder
Keybs Finder is a rather barebones website at the moment, but its existence is to help people get price ranges for various keyboard components, from switches to keycaps.
Amir shared that the importance of this is due to the misinformation about keyboard pricing that may be floating around online, along with the trust issues that come with group buys.
“Therefore, I think a platform where users can navigate and see most of all the keyboard market should exist,” Amir told Vulcan Post. “At least they can get an idea on what kind of keyboards [are available] in the world.”
Keybs Finder was developed in just two days. Already a full stack developer by profession, Amir had his own framework.
“For example, if I wanted to make another website then I can just use my own framework and develop it probably finished in a week or two,” he elaborated.
The information found on Keybs Finder is acquired from data sources, using an API Amir created himself.
API is an acronym that stands for “application programming interface,” allowing apps to send information to each other. While there are numerous protocols and technologies involved, the underlying purpose of APIs is always the same: to let one piece of software communicate with another.
Breaking down how he did it, Amir shared, “The process is simple. First, I just need to grab all the keyboard information such as keyboard brand, name, price, shop link, and product images from Shopee or their official websites.”
“Then, I use the collection to bulk insert to Keybs Finder’s database.”
Amir disclaimed that Keybs Finder is still in its early version, so data sources on the site are limited as datasets are still small. However, he plans to update the site from time to time and bring it live when it’s ready.
In a future update, Amir teased that there will be a “quick search” feature where users can look up keyboards in the market. Users can also filter their searches based on the keyboard layout size, material, brand, and price.
Amir imagines that Keybs Finder will also have a section where users can view helpful YouTube channels to learn more about keyboards independently.
For now, Keybs Finder’s main target market is those just getting into the rabbit hole of custom mechanical keyboards.
To grow, the site’s resources would need to scale for it to be applicable to more markets, and there is a possibility of it becoming a marketplace for keyboards, and eventually monetising.
But when probed, Amir clarified that he doesn’t have any intentions to scale Keybs Finder into anything larger than what it is currently planned to be. Nor does he intend to create a marketplace for keyboard components.
He remains set on building Keybs Finder into a helpful resource for custom mechanical keyboard hobbyists, particularly as an introductory platform.
“As a member of the custom keyboard community, I think that it is my responsibility to contribute to the community. If I’m capable of developing something that helps newcomers reduce the difficulties of the hobby then I think I should execute it,” he shared.
As someone who’s also just getting into the world of custom mechanical keyboards, Keybs Finder is a great tool to start with as an introduction to the options out there.
Personally, I had to pick up most of my mechanical keyboard knowledge from talking to other enthusiasts (who just so happen to be my colleagues), as well as through YouTube content.
The learning curve can be steep, and the investment cost of the hobby is steeper. Hence, I don’t think Amir’s efforts will go unappreciated, as Keybs Finder has the chops to address the knowledge gap for newbies.
Featured Image Credit: Keybs Finder