As the firmware evolves, there are - and will be - APIs that we deprecate, and eventually remove. We are constantly adding new features and plugins too.

This document lists noteworthy new features for the current release, with examples of use. Another section provides a short guide for upgrading from deprecated APIs. For deprecations, their planned removal date is also listed.

If any of this does not make sense to you, or you have trouble updating your .ino sketch or custom plugins, do not hesitate to write us at, we can help you fix it.

Upgrade notes

As a matter of policy, we try hard to give you at least 60 days notice before we permanently remove or break any API we’ve included in a release. Typically, this means that any code that uses the old API will emit a warning when compiled with a newer version of Kaleidoscope. In all cases, this document should explain how to update your code to use the new API.

New features

New event handler

One more KeyEvent handler has been added: afterReportingState(const KeyEvent &event). This handler gets called after HID reports are sent for an event, providing a point for plugins to act after an event has been fully processed by Runtime.handleKeyEvent().

Event-driven main loop

Kaleidoscope’s main loop has been rewritten. It now responds to key toggle-on and toggle-off events, dealing with one event at a time (and possibly more than one in a given cycle). Instead of sending a keyboard HID report at the end of every scan cycle (and letting the HID module suppress duplicates), it now only sends HID reports in response to input events.

Furthermore, there are now two functions for initiating the processing of key events:

  • Runtime.handleKeyswitchEvent() is the starting point for events that represent physical keyswitches toggling on or off.

  • Runtime.handleKeyEvent() is the starting point for “artificial” key events. It is also called at the end of handleKeyswitchEvent(). In general, if a plugin needs to generate a key event, it should call handleKeyEvent(), not handleKeyswitchEvent().

Each of the above functions calls its own set of plugin event handlers. When those event handlers are all done, event processing continues as handleKeyEvent() prepares a new keyboard HID report, then sends it:

  • Runtime.prepareKeyboardReport() first clears the HID report, then populates it based on the contents of the live_keys[] array. Note that the HID report is not cleared until after the new plugin event handlers have been called.

  • Runtime.sendKeyboardReport() handles generating extra HID reports required for keys with keyboard modifier flags to avoid certain bugs, then calls a new plugin event handler before finally sending the new HID report. These functions should rarely, if ever, need to be called by plugins.

The KeyEvent data type

There is a new KeyEvent type that encapsulates all the data relevant to a new key event, and it is used as the parameter for the new event-handling functions.

  • event.addr contains the KeyAddr associated with the event.

  • event.state contains the state bitfield (uint8_t), which can be tested with keyToggledOn()/keyToggledOff().

  • event.key contains a Key value, usually looked up from the keymap.

  • contains a pseudo-unique ID number of type KeyEventId (an 8-bit integer), used by certain plugins (see onKeyswitchEvent() below).

New plugin event handlers

onKeyswitchEvent(KeyEvent &event)
onKeyEvent(KeyEvent &event)
onAddToReport(Key key)
beforeReportingState(const KeyEvent &event)

For end-users

Existing sketches should be mostly backwards-compatible, but some updates will be needed for sketches that use custom code. In particular, users of the Macros plugin are likely to need to make adjustments to the code in the user-defined macroAction() function, including that function’s signature, the new version of which takes a KeyEvent parameter instead of just an event state value. In most cases, this will make the resulting code more straightforward without any loss of functionality.

In addition to Macros, these changes might also affect user-defined code executed by the TapDance, Leader, and Syster plugins. Please see the documentation and examples for the affected plugins for details.

Keyboard State array

The keymap cache (Layer_::live_composite_keymap_[]) has been replaced by a keyboard state array (kaleidoscope::live_keys[]). The top-level functions that handle keyswitch events have been updated to treat this new array as a representation of the current state of the keyboard, with corresponding Key values for any keys that are active (physically held or activated by a plugin).

For end-users

There should be no user-visible changes for anyone who simply uses core plugins. A few functions have been deprecated (Layer.eventHandler() & Layer.updateLiveCompositeKeymap()), but there are straightforward replacements for both.

For developers

The major changes are to the handleKeyswitchEvent() function, which has been reorganized in order to update the new keyboard state array with correct values at the appropriate times. In addition to that, two new facilities are available:


This is a new return value available to plugin event handlers, which is similar to EVENT_CONSUMED in that it causes the calling hook function to return early (stopping any subsequent handlers from seeing the event), but is treated differently by handleKeyswitchEvent(). If a handler returns EVENT_CONSUMED, the keyboard state array will still be updated by handleKeyswitchEvent(), but if it returns ABORT, it will not. In both cases, no further event processing will be done by the built-in event handler.


This is the new facility for checking the value of an entry in the keyboard state array. It is indexed directly by KeyAddr values, without the need to convert them to integers first. For example, it could be used in a range-based for loop to check for values of interest:

for (KeyAddr key_addr : KeyAddr::all()) {
  Key key = live_keys[key_addr];
  if (key == Key_LeftShift || key == Key_RightShift) {
    // do something special...

Additionally, if the KeyAddr values are not needed, one can use the iterator from the new KeyMap class like so:

for (Key key : live_keys.all()) {
  if (key == Key_X) {
    // do something special...

The live_keys object’s subscript operator can also be used to set values in the keyboard state array:

live_keys[key_addr] = Key_X;

It also comes with several convenience functions which can be used to make the intention of the code clear:

// Set a value in the keyboard state array to a specified Key value:
live_keys.activate(key_addr, Key_X);

// Set a value to Key_Inactive, deactivating the key:

// Set all values in the array to Key_Inactive:

// Set a value to Key_Masked, masking the key until its next release event:

In most cases, it won’t be necessary for plugins or user sketches to call any of these functions directly, as the built-in event handler functions will manage the keyboard state array automatically.

New build system

In this release, we replace kaleidoscope-builder with a new Makefile based build system that uses arduino-cli instead of of the full Arduino IDE. This means that you can now check out development copies of Kaleidoscope into any directory, using the KALEIDOSCOPE_DIR environment variable to point to your installation.

New device API

We are introducing - or rather, replacing - the older hardware plugins, with a system that’s much more composable, more extensible, and will allow us to better support new devices, different MCUs, and so on.

For end-users

For end users, this doesn’t come with any breaking changes. A few things have been deprecated (ROWS, COLS, LED_COUNT, KeyboardHardware), but they still function for the time being.

For developers

For those wishing to port Kaleidoscope to devices it doesn’t support yet, the new API should make most things considerably easier. Please see the documentation in

The old symbols and APIs are no longer available.

New plugin API

For end-users

With the next version of Kaleidoscope, we are introducing a new plugin API. It’s more efficient, smaller, and uses less resources than the previous one, while being more extensible, and a lot easier to use as well. But all of this matters little when one’s not all that interested in writing plugins. However, the new plugin API comes with breaking changes, and one will need to update their own sketch too.

To achieve all of the above, we had to change how plugins are initialized. Instead of using Kaleidoscope.use() in the setup() method of one’s sketch, the plugins must now be initialized with KALEIDOSCOPE_INIT_PLUGINS(), outside of the setup() method. While use() was expecting pointers (&Plugin), _INIT_PLUGINS() expects references (Plugin).

The conversion should be simple, and all of the official plugins have been updated already to use the new API, so they’re safe to use this way. Some third-party plugins may still use the older API, they will need to be updated.

To make things clear, here’s an example of how to migrate from the old way to the new:

// Old way
void setup() {
// New way
void setup() {

One thing to keep in mind is that with the old interface, plugins were able to automatically pull in their dependencies. This is not possible with the new interface, and one is required to initialize dependencies manually. Please consult the documentation of the plugins you use, to discover their dependencies - if any - and add them to the list if need be. You only need to add each dependency once.

For developers

Developing plugins should be considerably simpler now, there is no need to register hooks, just implement the parts of the kaleidoscope::Plugin interface that make sense for a particular plugin.

In practice, this boils down to implementing one or more of the following hook points:

  • onSetup(): Called once during device bootup, at the end of the setup() method. It takes no arguments, and must return kaleidoscope::EventHandlerResult::OK.

  • beforeEachCycle(): Called once, at the beginning of each cycle of the main loop. This is similar to the old “loop hook” with its post_clear argument set to false. Takes no arguments, must return kaleidoscope::EventHandlerResult::OK.

  • onKeyswitchEvent: Called for every non-idle key event. This replaces the old “event handler hook”. It takes a key reference, a key address, and a key state. The key reference can be updated to change the key being processed, so that any plugin that processes it further, will see the updated key. Can return kaleidoscope::EventHandlerResult::OK to let other plugins process the event further, or kaleidoscope::EventHandlerResult::EVENT_CONSUMED to stop processing.

  • onFocusEvent: Used to implement bi-directional communication. This is called whenever the firmware receives a command from the host. The only argument is the command name. Can return kaleidoscope::EventHandlerResult::OK to let other plugins process the event further, or kaleidoscope::EventHandlerResult::EVENT_CONSUMED to stop processing.

  • onNameQuery: Used by the Focus plugin, when replying to a plugins command. Should either send the plugin name, or not be implemented at all, if the host knowing about the plugin isn’t important.

  • beforeReportingState: Called without arguments, just before sending the keyboard and mouse reports to the host. Must return kaleidoscope::EventHandlerResult::OK.

  • afterEachCycle: Called without arguments at the very end of each cycle. This is the replacement for the “loop hook” with its post_clear argument set.

Bidirectional communication for plugins

For end-users

Whereas one would have used Focus.addHook() to register a new focus command, with the new architecture, one needs to add the object implementing the command to their list of plugins in KALEIDOSCOPE_INIT_PLUGINS(). A number of plugins that used to provide optional Focus commands now provide them by default. Some still provide optional ones, and we must transition to the new way.

For example, where one would have written the following before:


…we need to add the appropriate object to the plugin list:


For developers

Upgrading from Focus to onFocusEvent and FocusSerial is a reasonably simple process, the interface is quite similar. Nevertheless, we present a step-by-step guide here, covering two use cases: one where we wish to always provide a Focus command when both our plugin and FocusSerial are enabled; and another where we only wish to provide the command when explicitly asked to do so.

The most trivial example

The biggest difference between Focus and onFocusEvent is that the former required explicit registering of hooks, while the latter does it automatically: every plugin that implements the onFocusEvent method will be part of the system. As a consequence, only plugins are able to supply new commands: there is no explicit registration, thus, no way to inject a command that isn’t part of a plugin. This also means that these functions now return kaleidoscope::EventHandlerResult instead of bool. Furthermore, with FocusSerial, all communication is expected to go through it, instead of using Serial directly. Lets see a trivial example!

bool exampleFocusHook(const char *command) {
  if (strcmp_P(command, PSTR("example")) != 0)
    return false;

  Serial.println(F("This is an example response. Hello world!"));

  return true;


void setup() {
  Focus.addHook(FOCUS_HOOK(exampleFocusHook, "example"));
namespace kaleidoscope {
class FocusExampleCommand : public Plugin {
  FocusExampleCommand() {}

  EventHandlerResult onNameQuery() {
    return ::Focus.sendName(F("FocusExampleCommand"));

  EventHandlerResult onFocusEvent(const char *input) {
    const char *cmd = PSTR("example");

    if (::Focus.inputMatchesHelp(input))
      return ::Focus.printHelp(cmd);

    if (!::Focus.inputMatchesCommand(input, cmd))
      return EventHandlerResult::OK;

    ::Focus.send(F("This is an example response. Hello world!"));
    return EventHandlerResult::EVENT_CONSUMED;

kaleidoscope::FocusExampleCommand FocusExampleCommand;

KALEIDOSCOPE_INIT_PLUGINS(Focus, FocusExampleCommand);

void setup() {

The new version is slightly more verbose for the trivial use case, because we have to wrap it up in an object. But other than that, the changes are minimal, and we don’t need to explicitly register it!

Observe that the return values changed: with Focus, if we wanted other hooks to have a chance at processing the same command, the hook returned false; if we wanted to stop processing, and consider it consumed, it returned true. With the new system, this is more descriptive with the EventHandlerResult::OK and EventHandlerResult::EVENT_CONSUMED return values.

A stateful example

Perhaps a better example that shows the quality of life improvements the new system brings is the case where the command needs access to either plugin state, or plugin methods. With the former system, the focus hooks needed to be static methods, and needed to be public. This is not necessarily the case now, because onFocusEvent is a non-static object method. It has full access to plugin internals!

namespace kaleidoscope {
class ExamplePlugin : public Plugin {

  static bool exampleToggle() {
    example_toggle_ = !example_toggle_;
    return example_toggle_;

  static bool focusHook(const char *command) {
    if (strcmp_P(command, PSTR("example.toggle")) != 0)
      return false;

    return true;

  static bool example_toggle_;

kaleidoscope::ExamplePlugin ExamplePlugin;


void setup() {

  Focus.addHook(FOCUS_HOOK(ExamplePlugin.focusHook, "example.toggle"));
namespace kaleidoscope {
class ExamplePlugin : public Plugin {

  EventHandlerResult onFocusEvent(const char *input) {
    if (!::Focus.inputMatchesCommand(input, PSTR("example.toggle")))
      return EventHandlerResult::OK;

    example_toggle_ = !example_toggle_;

    return EventHandlerResult::EVENT_CONSUMED;

  static bool example_toggle_;

kaleidoscope::ExamplePlugin ExamplePlugin;


void setup() {

It’s just another plugin, with just another event handler method implemented, nothing more. No need to explicitly register the focus hook, no need to provide access to private variables - we can just keep them private.

Optional commands

Optional commands are something that were perhaps easier with the Focus method: one just didn’t register them. With onFocusEvent, we need to do a bit more than that, and move the command to a separate plugin, if we do not wish to enable it in every case. This adds a bit of overhead, but still less than Focus did.

bool exampleOptionalHook(const char *command) {
  if (strcmp_P(command, PSTR("optional")) != 0)
    return false;

  Serial.println(Layer.getLayerState(), BIN);
  return true;


void setup() {

Do note that we do not register the exampleOptionalHook here! As such, because it is unused code, it will get optimized out during compilation. While this is a simplistic example, the optional hook might have been part of a class, that provides other hooks.

namespace kaleidoscope {
class ExampleOptionalCommand : public Plugin {
  ExampleOptionalCommand() {}

  EventHandlerResult onFocusEvent(const char *input) {
    if (!::Focus.inputMatchesCommand(input, PSTR("optional")))
      return EventHandlerResult::OK;

    return EventHandlerResult::EVENT_CONSUMED;


void setup() {

The trick here is to move optional commands out into a separate plugin. It’s a bit more boilerplate, but not by much.

Consistent timing

As an end-user, there’s nothing one needs to do. Consistent timing helpers are primarily for plugin use.

As a developer, one can continue using millis(), but migrating to Kaleidoscope.millisAtCycleStart() is recommended. The new method will return the same value for the duration of the main loop cycle, making time-based synchronization between plugins a lot easier.

Breaking changes

Sketch preprocssing system

We used to support the ability to amend all compiled sketches by adding code to src/kaleidoscope_internal/sketch_preprocessing/sketch_header.h and src/kaleidoscope_internal/sketch_preprocessing/sketch_footer.h. The functionality was never used by Kaleidoscope itself and frequently pulled the (empty) header files from the wrong copy of Kaleidoscope. If you need this functionality, please open a GitHub issue.


This is a guide to upgrading existing Macros code to use the new version of Kaleidoscope and the Macros plugin.

New macroAction() function

There is a new version of the macroAction() function, which is the entry point for user-defined Macros code. The old version takes two integer parameters, with the following call signature:

const macro_t* macroAction(uint8_t macro_id, uint8_t key_state)

If your sketch has this function, with a key_state bitfield parameter, it might still work as expected, but depending on the specifics of the code that gets called from it, your macros might not work as expected. Either way, you should update that function to the new version, which takes a KeyEvent reference as its second parameter:

const macro_t* macroAction(uint8_t macro_id, KeyEvent &event)

For simple macros, it is a simple matter of replacing key_state in the body of the macroAction() code with event.state. This covers most cases where all that’s done is a call to Macros.type(), or a MACRO() or MACRODOWN() sequence is returned.


The preprocessor macro MACRODOWN() has been deprecated, because the event handler for Macros is no longer called every cycle, but only when a key is either pressed or released. Instead of using return MACRODOWN(), you should test for a toggle-on event in macroAction() and use MACRO() instead. If you previously had something like the following in your macroAction() function:

switch(macro_id) {
case MY_MACRO:
  return MACRODOWN(T(X), T(Y), T(Z));

…you should replace that with:

switch(macro_id) {
case MY_MACRO:
  if (keyToggledOn(event.state))
    return MACRO(T(X), T(Y), T(Z));

…or, for a group of macros that should only fire on keypress:

if (keyToggledOn(event.state)) {
  switch(macro_id) {
  case MY_MACRO:
    return MACRO(T(X), T(Y), T(Z));
    return MACRO(T(A), T(B), T(C));

Releasing keys with Macros.release() or U()/Ur()/Uc()

Macros now operates by manipulating keys on a small supplemental virtual keyboard when using and Macros.release() (which are called by D() and U(), et al, respectively). This means that it has no built-in facility for releasing other keys that are held on the keyboard. For example, if you had a Macro that removed shift keycodes from the HID report in the past, it won’t work. For example:

  case KEY_COMMA:
    if (keyToggledOn(event.state)) {
      if (Kaleidoscope.hid().keyboard().wasModifierKeyActive(Key_LeftShift)) {
        return MACRO(U(LeftShift), T(Comma), D(LeftShift));
      } else {
        return MACRO(T(M));

In this case, holding a physical Key_LeftShift and pressing M(KEY_COMMA) will not cause the held shift to be released, and you’ll get a < instead of the intended , (depending on the OS keymap). To accomplish this, you’ll need a small plugin like the following in your sketch:

namespace kaleidoscope {
namespace plugin {

// When activated, this plugin will suppress any `shift` key (including modifier
// combos with `shift` a flag) before it's added to the HID report.
class ShiftBlocker : public Plugin {

  EventHandlerResult onAddToReport(Key key) {
    if (active_ && key.isKeyboardShift())
      return EventHandlerResult::ABORT;
    return EventHandlerResult::OK;

  void enable() {
    active_ = true;
  void disable() {
    active_ = false;

  bool active_{false};


} // namespace plugin
} // namespace kaleidoscope

kaleidoscope::plugin::ShiftBlocker ShiftBlocker;

You may also need to define a function to test for held shift keys:

bool isShiftKeyHeld() {
  for (Key key : kaleidoscope::live_keys.all()) {
    if (key.isKeyboardShift())
      return true;
  return false;

Then, in your macroAction() function:

  if (keyToggledOn(event.state)) {
    switch (macro_id) {
    case MY_MACRO:
      if (isShiftKeyHeld()) {
      } else {
      return MACRO_NONE;

In many simple cases, such as the above example, an even better solution is to use the CharShift plugin instead of Macros.

Code that calls handleKeyswitchEvent() or pressKey()

It is very likely that if you have custom code that calls handleKeyswitchEvent() or pressKey() directly, it will no longer function properly after upgrading. To adapt this code to the new KeyEvent system requires a deeper understanding of the changes to Kaleidoscope, but likely results in much simpler Macros code.

The first thing that is important to understand is that the macroAction() function will now only be called when a Macros Key toggles on or off, not once per cycle while the key is held. This is because the new event handling code in Kaleidoscope only calls plugin handlers in those cases, dealing with one event at a time, in a single pass through the plugin event handlers (rather than one pass per active key)–and only sends a keyboard HID report in response to those events, not once per scan cycle.

This means that any Macros code that is meant to keep keycodes in the keyboard HID report while the Macros key is held needs to be changed. For example, if a macro contained the following code:

if (keyIsPressed(key_state)) {

…that wouldn’t work quite as expected, because as soon as the next key is pressed, a new report would be generated without ever calling macroAction(), and therefore that change to the HID report would not take place, effectively turning off the shift modifier immediately before sending the report with the keycode that it was intended to modify.

Furthermore, that shift modifier would never even get sent in the first place, because the HID report no longer gets cleared at the beginning of every cycle. Now it doesn’t get cleared until after the plugin event handlers get called (in the case of Macros, that’s onKeyEvent(), which calls the user-defined macroAction() function), so any changes made to the HID report from that function will be discarded before it’s sent.

Instead of the above, there are two new mechanisms for keeping keys active while a Macros key is pressed:

Alter the event.key value

If your macro only needs to keep a single Key value active after running some code, and doesn’t need to run any custom code when the key is released, the simplest thing to do is to override the event’s Key value:

if (keyToggledOn(event.state)) {
  // do some macro action(s)
  event.key = Key_LeftShift;

This will (temporarily) replace the Macros key with the value assigned (in this case, Key_LeftShift), starting immediately after the macroAction() function returns, and lasting until the key is released. This key value can include modifier flags, or it can be a layer-shift, or any other valid Key value (though it won’t get processed by plugins that are initialized before Macros in KALEIDOSCOPE_INIT_PLUGINS(), and Macros itself won’t act on the value, if it gets replaced by a different Macros key).

Use the supplemental Macros Key array

The Macros plugin now contains a small array of Key values that will be included when building HID reports triggered by subsequent, non-Macros events. To use it, just call one (or more) of the following methods:;

Each one of these functions generates a new artificial key event, and processes it (including sending a HID report, if necessary). For press() and release(), it also stores the specified key’s value in the Macros supplemental Key array. In the case of the tap() function, it generates matching press and release events, but skips storing them, assuming that no plugin will generate an intervening event. All of the events generated by these functions will be marked INJECTED, which will cause Macros itself (and many other plugins) to ignore them.

This will allow you to keep multiple Key values active while a Macros key is held, while leaving the Macros key itself active, enabling more custom code to be called on its release. Note that whenever a Macros key is released, the supplemental key array is cleared to minimize the chances of keycodes getting “stuck”. It is still possible to write a macro that will cause values to persist in this array, however, by combining both a sequence that uses key presses without matched releases and replacing event.key (see above) in the same macro.

Code that calls sendReport()

Calling sendReport() directly from a macro is now almost always unnecessary. Instead, a call to Runtime.handleKeyEvent() will result in a keyboard HID report being sent in response to the generated event without needing to make it explicit.

Code that uses Macros.key_addr

This variable is deprecated. Instead, using the new macroAction(id, event) function, the address of the Macros key is available via the event.addr variable.

Working with other plugins

Plugin-specific Key values

When the the Macros plugin generates events, it marks the event state as INJECTED in order to prevent unbounded recursion (Macros ignores injected events). This causes most other plugins to ignore the event, as well. Therefore, including a plugin-specific key (e.g. a OneShot modifier such as OSM(LeftAlt)) will most likely be ignored by the target plugin, and will therefore not have the desired effect. This applies to any calls to (including returning MACRO() from macroAction()), Macros.tap(),, and Macros.release().

Physical event plugins

Macros cannot usefully produce events handled by plugins that implement the onKeyswitchEvent() handler, such as Qukeys, TapDance, and Leader. To make those plugins work with Macros, it’s necessary to have the other plugin produce a Macros key, not the other way around. A macroAction() function must not call Runtime.handleKeyswitchEvent().


This is one plugin that you might specifically want to use with a macro, generally at the end of a sequence. For example, a macro for ending one sentence and beginning the next one might print a period followed by a space (. ), then a OneShot shift key tap, so that the next character will be automatically capitalized. The problem, as mentioned before is that the following won’t work:

MACRO(Tc(Period), Tc(Spacebar), Tr(OSM(LeftShift)))

…because OneShot will ignore the INJECTED event. One solution is to change the value of event.key, turning the pressed Macros key into a OneShot modifier. This will only work if Macros is registered before OneShot in KALEIDOSCOPE_INIT_PLUGINS():

const macro_t* macroNewSentence(KeyEvent &event) {
  if (keyToggledOn(event.state)) {
    event.key = OSM(LeftShift);
    return MACRO(Tc(Period), Tc(Spacebar));
  return MACRO_NONE;

A more robust solution is to explicitly call Runtime.handleKeyEvent(), but this is more complex, because you’ll need to prevent the Macros key from clobbering the OneShot key in the live_keys[] array:

void macroNewSentence(KeyEvent &event) {
  if (keyToggledOn(event.state)) {
    event.key = OSM(LeftShift);
    // Last, we invalidate the current event's key address to prevent the Macros
    // key value from clobbering the OneShot shift.
    event.key = Key_NoKey;

Removed kaleidoscope-builder

kaleidoscope-builder has been removed.

We replaced it with a new Makefile based build system that uses arduino-cli instead of of the full Arduino IDE. This means that you can now check out development copies of Kaleidoscope into any directory, using the KALEIDOSCOPE_DIR environment variable to point to your installation.

OneShot meta keys

The special OneShot keys OneShot_MetaStickyKey & OneShot_ActiveStickyKey are no longer handled by the OneShot plugin directly, but instead by a separate OneShotMetaKeys plugin. If you use these keys in your sketch, you will need to add the new plugin, and register it after OneShot in KALEIDOSCOPE_INIT_PLUGINS() for those keys to work properly.

Repository rearchitecture

To improve build times and to better highlight Kaleidoscope’s many plugins, plugins have been move into directories inside the Kaleidoscope directory.

The “breaking change” part of this is that git checkouts of Kaleidoscope are no longer directly compatible with the Arduino IDE, since plugins aren’t in a directory the IDE looks in. They are, of course, visible to tools using our commandline build infrastructure / Makefiles.

When we build releases, those plugins are moved into directories inside the arduino platform packages for each architecture to make them visible to the Arduino IDE.

Layer system switched to activation order

The layer system used to be index-ordered, meaning that we’d look keys up on layers based on the index of active layers. Kaleidoscope now uses activation order, which looks up keys based on the order of layer activation.

The following functions have been removed as of 2021-01-01:

  •, which used to return the topmost layer index. Use Layer.mostRecent() instead, which returns the most recently activated layer. Until removed, the old function will return the most recent layer.

  • Layer.deactivateTop(), which used to return the topmost layer index. Use Layer.deactivateMostRecent() instead. The old function will deactivate the most recent layer.

  • Layer.getLayerState(), which used to return a bitmap of the active layers. With activation-order, a simple bitmap is not enough. For now, we still return the bitmap, but without the ordering, it is almost useless. Use Layer.forEachActiveLayer() to walk the active layers in order (from least recent to most).

For end-users

This is a breaking change only if your code accesses the member raw of type Key directly, for instance in a construct like

Key k;
k.raw = Key_A.raw;

This can easily be fixed by replacing read access to Key::raw with Key::getRaw() and write access with Key::setRaw(...).

Key k;

Moreover, the compiler will still emit warnings in places of the code where members keyCode and flags of the original type Key are used, like e.g.

Key k;
k.keyCode = Key_A.keyCode;
k.flags = Key_A.flags;

These warnings can be also resolved by using the appropriate accessor methods Key::getKeyCode()/Key::setKeyCode() and Key::getFlags()/Key::setKlags() instead.

Key k;

The RxCy macros and peeking into the keyswitch state

The RxCy macros changed from being indexes into a per-hand bitmap to being an index across the whole keyboard. This means they can no longer be or-ed together to check against the keyswitch state of a given hand. Instead, the kaleidoscope::hid::getKeyswitchStateAtPosition() method can be used to check the state of a keyswitch at a given row and column; or at a given index.


Prior versions of HostOS used to include a way to auto-detect the host operating system. This code was brittle, unreliable, and rather big too. For these reasons, this functionality was removed. Furthermore, HostOS now depends on Kaleidoscope-EEPROM-Settings, that plugin should be initialized first.


To make MagicCombo more portable, and easier to use, we had to break the API previously provided, there was no way to maintain backwards compatibility. This document is an attempt at guiding you through the process of migrating from the earlier API to the current one.

Migration should be a straightforward process, but if you get stuck, please feel free to open an issue, or start a thread on the forums, and we’ll help you with it.

The old API

void magicComboActions(uint8_t combo_index, uint32_t left_hand, uint32_t right_hand) {
  switch (combo_index) {
  case 0:
    Macros.type(PSTR("It's a kind of magic!"));

static const kaleidoscope::MagicCombo::combo_t magic_combos[] PROGMEM = {
    R3C6,  // left palm key
    R3C9   // right palm key
  {0, 0}

void setup() {

  MagicCombo.magic_combos = magic_combos;

Previously, we used a global, overrideable function (magicComboActions) to run the actions of all magic combos, similar to how macros are set up to work. Unlike macros, magic combos can’t be defined in the keymap, due to technical reasons, so we had to use a separate list - magic_combos in our example. We also needed to tell MagicCombo to use this list, which is what we’ve done in setup().

The new API

void kindOfMagic(uint8_t combo_index) {
  Macros.type(PSTR("It's a kind of magic!"));

  .action = kindOfMagic,
  .keys = {R3C6, R3C9} // Left Fn + Right Fn

The new API is much shorter, and is inspired by the way the Leader plugin works: instead of having a list, and a dispatching function like magicComboActions, we include the action method in the list too!

We also don’t make a difference between left- and right-hand anymore, you can just list keys for either in the same list. This will be very handy for non-split keyboards.


First of all, we’ll need to split up magicComboActions into separate functions. Each function should have a unique name, but their shape is always the same:

void someFunction(uint8_t combo_index) {
 // Do some action here

Copy the body of each case statement of magicComboActions, and copy them one by one into appropriately named functions of the above shape. You can name your functions anything you want, the only constraint is that they need to be valid C++ function names. The plugin itself does nothing with the name, we’ll reference them later in the USE_MAGIC_COMBOS helper macro.

Once magicComboActions is split up, we need to migrate the magic_combos list to the new format. That list had to be terminated by a {0, 0} entry, the new method does not require such a sentinel at the end.

For each entry in magic_combos, add an entry to USE_MAGIC_COMBOS, with the following structure:

{.action = theActionFunction,
 .keys = { /* list of keys */ }}

The list of keys are the same RxCy constants you used for magic_combos, with the left- and right hands combined. The action, theActionFunction, is the function you extracted the magic combo action to. It’s the function that has the same body as the case statement in magicComboActions had.

And this is all there is to it.

If your actions made use of the left_hand or right_hand arguments of magicComboActions, the same information is still available. But that’s a bit more involved to get to, out of scope for this simple migration guide. Please open an issue, or ask for help on the forums, and we’ll help you.


Older versions of the plugin were based on Key values; OneShot is now based on KeyAddr coordinates instead, in order to improve reliability and functionality.


Older versions of the plugin used row and col indexing for defining Qukey objects. This has since been replaced with a single KeyAddr parameter in the constructor.

Older versions of the plugin used a single timeout, configured via a setTimeout() method. For clarity, that method has been renamed to setHoldTimeout().

Older versions of the plugin used a configurable “release delay” value to give the user control over how Qukeys determined which value to assign to a qukey involved in rollover, via the setReleaseDelay() method. That release delay has been replaced with a better “overlap percentage” strategy, which makes the decision based on the percentage of the subsequent keypress’s duration overlaps with the qukey’s press. The configuration method is now setOverlapThreshold(), which accepts a value between 0 and 100 (interpreted as a percentage). User who used higher values for setReleaseDelay() will want a lower values for setOverlapThreshold().

These functions have been removed as of 2020-12-31:

  • Qukeys.setTimeout(millis)

  • Qukeys.setReleaseDelay(millis)

  • Qukey(layer, row, col, alternate_key)


Older versions of the plugin used to provide EEPROM storage for the settings only optionally, when it was explicitly enabled via the TypingBreaks.enableEEPROM() method. Similarly, the Focus hooks were optional too.

Storing the settable settings in EEPROM makes it depend on Kaleidoscope-EEPROM-Settings, which should be initialized before this plugin is.


Older versions of the plugin required one to set up Key_Redial manually, and let the plugin know about it via Redial.key. This is no longer required, as the plugin sets up the redial key itself. As such, Redial.key was removed, and Key_Redial is defined by the plugin itself. To upgrade, simply remove your definition of Key_Redial and the Redial.key assignment from your sketch.

Key masking has been removed

Key masking was a band-aid introduced to avoid accidentally sending unintended keys when key mapping changes between a key being pressed and released. Since the introduction of keymap caching, this is no longer necessary, as long as we can keep the mapping consistent. Users of key masking are encouraged to find ways to use the caching mechanism instead.

As an example, if you had a key event handler that in some cases masked a key, it should now map it to Key_NoKey instead, until released.

The masking API has been removed on 2021-01-01

Deprecated APIs and their replacements

Leader plugin

The Leader.inject() function is deprecated. Please call Runtime.handleKeyEvent() directly instead.

Direct access to the Leader.time_out configuration variable is deprecated. Please use the Leader.setTimeout(ms) function instead.

Source code and namespace rearrangement

With the move towards a monorepo-based source, some headers have moved to a new location, and plenty of plugins moved to a new namespace (kaleidoscope::plugin). This means that the old headers, and some old names are deprecated. The old names no longer work.

The following headers and names have changed:

  • layers.h, key_defs_keymaps.h and macro_helpers.h are obsolete, and should not be included in the first place, as Kaleidoscope.h will pull them in. In the rare case that one needs them, prefixing them with kaleidoscope/ is the way to go. Of the various headers provided under the kaleidoscope/ space, only kaleidoscope/macro_helpers.h should be included directly, and only by hardware plugins that can’t pull Kaleidoscope.h in due to circular dependencies.

  • LED-Off.h, provided by LEDControl is obsolete, the LEDOff LED mode is automatically provided by Kaleidoscope-LEDControl.h. The LED-Off.h includes can be safely removed.

  • LEDUtils.h is automatically pulled in by Kaleiodscope-LEDControl.h, too, and there’s no need to directly include it anymore.

  • Plugins that implement LED modes should subclass kaleidoscope::plugin::LEDMode instead of kaleidoscope::LEDMode.

  • GhostInTheFirmware had the kaleidoscope::GhostInTheFirmware::GhostKey type replaced by kaleidoscope::plugin::GhostInTheFirmware::GhostKey.

  • HostOS no longer provides the Kaleidoscope/HostOS-select.h header, and there is no backwards compatibility header either.

  • Leader had the kaleidoscope::Leader::dictionary_t type replaced by kaleidoscope::plugin::Leader::dictionary_t.

  • LED-AlphaSquare used to provide extra symbol graphics in the kaleidoscope::alpha_square::symbols namespace. This is now replaced by kaleidoscope::plugin::alpha_square::symbols.

  • LEDEffect-SolidColor replaced the base class - kaleidoscope::LEDSolidColor - with kaleidoscope::plugin::LEDSolidColor.

  • Qukeys had the kaleidoscope::Qukey type replaced by kaleidoscope::plugin::Qukey.

  • ShapeShifter had the kaleidoscope::ShapeShifter::dictionary_t type replaced by kaleidoscope::plugin::ShapeShifter::dictionary_t.

  • SpaceCadet had the kaleidoscope::SpaceCadet::KeyBinding type replaced by kaleidoscope::plugin::SpaceCadet::KeyBinding.

  • Syster had the kaleidoscope::Syster::action_t type replaced by kaleidoscope::plugin::Syster::action_t.

  • TapDance had the kaleidoscope::TapDance::ActionType type replaced by kaleidoscope::plugin::TapDance::ActionType.

Removed APIs

Removed on 2023-11-13


The brightness functionality of this API lives on in the LEDBrightnessConfig plugin.

Removed on 2022-03-03

Pre-KeyEvent event handler hooks

The old event handler onKeyswitchEvent(Key &key, KeyAddr addr, uint8_t state) was removed on 2022-03-03. It has been replaced with the new onKeyEvent(KeyEvent &event) handler (and, in some special cases the onKeyswitchEvent(KeyEvent &event) handler). Plugins using the deprecated handler will need to be rewritten to use the new one(s).

The old event handler beforeReportingState() was removed on 2022-03-03. It has been replaced with the new beforeReportingState(KeyEvent &event) handler. However, the new handler will be called only when a report is being sent (generally in response to a key event), not every cycle, like the old one. It was common practice in the past for plugins to rely on beforeReportingState() being called every cycle, so when adapting to the KeyEvent API, it’s important to check for code that should be moved to afterEachCycle() instead.

::handleKeyswitchEvent(Key key, KeyAddr key_addr, uint8_t state)

The old master function for processing key “events” was removed on 2022-03-03. Functions that were calling this function should be rewritten to call kaleidoscope::Runtime.handleKeyEvent(KeyEvent event) instead.

Keyboard::pressKey(Key key, bool toggled_on)

This deprecated function was removed on 2022-03-03. Its purpose was to handle rollover events for keys that include modifier flags, and that handling is now done elsewhere. Any code that called it should now simply call Keyboard::pressKey(Key key) instead, dropping the second argument.

Old layer key event handler functions

The deprecated Layer.handleKeymapKeyswitchEvent() function was removed on 2022-03-03. Any code that called it should now call Layer.handleLayerKeyEvent() instead, with event.addr set to the appropriate KeyAddr value if possible, and KeyAddr::none() otherwise.

The deprecated Layer.eventHandler(key, addr, state) function was removed on 2022-03-03. Any code that refers to it should now call call handleLayerKeyEvent(KeyEvent(addr, state, key)) instead.

Keymap cache functions

The deprecated Layer.updateLiveCompositeKeymap() function was removed on 2022-03-03. Plugin and user code probably shouldn’t have been calling this directly, so there’s no direct replacement for it. If a plugin needs to make changes to the live_keys structure (equivalent in some circumstances to the old “live composite keymap”), it can call live_keys.activate(addr, key), but there are probably better ways to accomplish this goal (e.g. simply changing the value of event.key from an onKeyEvent(event) handler).

The deprecated Layer.lookup(addr) function was removed on 2022-03-03. Please use Runtime.lookupKey(addr) instead in most circumstances. Alternatively, if you need information about the current state of the keymap regardless of any currently active keys (which may have values that override the keymap), use Layer.lookupOnActiveLayer(addr) instead.

LEDControl.syncDelay configuration variable

Direct access to this configuration variable was removed on 2022-03-03. Please use LEDControl.setInterval() to set the interval between LED updates instead.

Obsolete active macros array removed

The deprecated Macros.active_macro_count variable was removed on 2022-03-03. Any references to it are obsolete, and can simply be removed.

The deprecated Macros.active_macros[] array was removed on 2022-03-03. Any references to it are obsolete, and can simply be removed.

The deprecated Macros.addActiveMacroKey() function was removed on 2022-03-03. Any references to it are obsolete, and can simply be removed.

Pre-KeyEvent Macros API

This is a brief summary of specific elements that were removed. There is a more comprehensive guide to upgrading existing Macros user code in the Breaking Changes section, under Macros.

Support for deprecated form of the macroAction(uint8_t macro_id, uint8_t key_state) function was removed on 2022-03-03. This old form must be replaced with the new macroAction(uint8_t macro_id, KeyEvent &event) for macros to continue working.

The Macros.key_addr public variable was removed on 2022-03-03. To get access to the key address of a Macros key event, simply refer to event.addr from within the new macroAction(macro_id, event) function.

The deprecated MACRODOWN() preprocessor macro was removed on 2022-03-03. Since most macros are meant to be triggered only by keypress events (not key release), and because macroAction() does not get called every cycle for held keys, it’s better to simply do one test for keyToggledOn(event.state) first, then use MACRO() instead.

ActiveModColor public variables

The following deprecated ActiveModColorEffect public variables were removed on 2022-03-03. Please use the following methods instead:

  • For ActiveModColor.highlight_color, use ActiveModColor.setHighlightColor(color)

  • For ActiveModColor.oneshot_color, use ActiveModColor.setOneShotColor(color)

  • For ActiveModColor.sticky_color, use ActiveModColor.setStickyColor(color)

OneShot public variables

The following deprecated OneShot public variables were removed on 2022-03-03. Please use the following methods instead:

  • For OneShot.time_out, use OneShot.setTimeout(ms)

  • For OneShot.hold_time_out, use OneShot.setHoldTimeout(ms)

  • For OneShot.double_tap_time_out, use OneShot.setDoubleTapTimeout(ms)

Deprecated OneShot API functions

OneShot was completely rewritten in early 2021, and now is based on KeyAddr values (as if it keeps physical keys pressed) rather than Key values (with no corresponding physical key location). This allows it to operate on any Key value, not just modifiers and layer shifts.

The deprecated OneShot.inject(key, key_state) function was removed on 2022-03-03. Its use was very strongly discouraged, and is now unavailable. See below for alternatives.

The deprecated OneShot.isActive(key) function was removed on 2022-03-03. There is a somewhat equivalent OneShot.isActive(KeyAddr addr) function to use when the address of a key that might be currently held active by OneShot is known. Any code that needs information about active keys is better served by not querying OneShot specifically.

The deprecated OneShot.isSticky(key) function was removed on 2022-03-03. There is a somewhat equivalent OneShot.isStick(KeyAddr addr) function to use when the address of a key that may be in the one-shot sticky state is known.

The deprecated OneShot.isPressed() function was removed on 2022-03-03. It was already devoid of functionality, and references to it can be safely removed.

The deprecated OneShot.isModifierActive(key) function was removed on 2022-03-03. OneShot modifiers are now indistinguishable from other modifier keys, so it is better for client code to do a more general search of live_keys or to use another mechanism for tracking this state.


This deprecated function was removed on 2022-03-03. The firmware now supports wakeup by default, so any references to it can be safely removed.

EEPROMSettings.version(uint8_t version)

This deprecated function was removed on 2022-03-03. The information stored is not longer intended for user code to set, but instead is used internally.

Model01-TestMode plugin

This deprecated plugin was removed on 2022-03-03. Please use the more generic HardwareTestMode plugin instead.

Removed on 2020-10-10

Deprecation of the HID facade

With the new Device APIs it became possible to replace the HID facade (the kaleidoscope::hid family of functions) with a driver. As such, the old APIs are deprecated, and was removed on 2020-10-10. Please use Kaleidoscope.hid() instead.

Implementation of type Key internally changed from C++ union to class

The deprecated functions were removed on 2020-10-10.

Removed on 2020-06-16

The old device API

After the introduction of the new device API, the old APIs (ROWS, COLS, LED_COUNT, KeyboardHardware, the old Hardware base class, etc) were removed on 2020-06-16.


Since March of 2019, this method has been deprecated, and turned into a no-op. While no removal date was posted at the time, after more than a year of deprecation, it has been removed on 2020-06-16.


Wherever we used LEDControl.paused, we’ll need to use one of LEDControl.disable(), LEDControl.enable(), or LEDControl.isEnabled() instead. LEDControl.paused has been removed on 2020-06-16.

Keep in mind that .enable() and .disable() do more than what paused did: they will refresh and turn off LEDs too, respectively.

A few examples to show how to transition to the new APIs follow, old use first, new second.

if (someCondition) {
  LEDControl.set_all_leds_to({0, 0, 0});
  LEDControl.paused = true;
} else if (someOtherCondition) {
  LEDControl.paused = false;

if (LEDControl.paused) {
 // do things...
if (someCondition) {
} else if (someOtherCondition) {
if (!LEDControl.isEnabled()) {
  // do things...

Class/global instance Kaleidoscope_/Kaleidoscope renamed to kaleidoscope::Runtime_/kaleidoscope::Runtime

After the renaming, Kaleidoscope core should be using kaleidoscope::Runtime. The former Kaleidoscope global symbol is to be used by sketches only - and only to not diverge too much from the Arduino naming style.

The deprecated Kaleidoscope_ class has been removed on 2020-06-16.

Transition to linear indexing

Row/col based indexing was replaced by linear indexing throughout the whole firmware. A compatibility layer of functions was introduced that allows the firmware to remain backwards compatible, however, these functions are deprecated and will be removed in future versions of the firmware.

Also a new version of the onKeyswitchEvent-handler has been introduced.

The deprecated row/col based indexing APIs have been removed on 2020-06-16.

Removed on 2020-01-06

EEPROMKeymap mode

The EEPROM-Keymap plugin had its setup() method changed, the formerly optional method argument is now obsolete and unused. It can be safely removed.

keymaps array and KEYMAPS and KEYMAPS_STACKED macros

The keymaps array has been replaced with a keymaps_linear array. This new array treats each layer as a simple one dimensional array of keys, rather than a two dimensional array of arrays of rows. At the same time, the KEYMAPS and KEYMAPS_STACKED macros that were previously defined in each hardware implmentation class have been replaced with PER_KEY_DATA and PER_KEY_DATA_STACKED macros in each hardware class. This change should be invisible to users, but will require changes by any plugin that accessed the ‘keymaps’ variable directly.

Code like key.raw = pgm_read_word(&(keymaps[layer][row][col])); return key; should be changed to look like this: return keyFromKeymap(layer, row, col);

Removed on 2019-01-18

Removal of Layer.defaultLayer

The Layer.defaultLayer() method has been deprecated, because it wasn’t widely used, nor tested well, and needlessly complicated the layering logic. If one wants to set a default layer, which the keyboard switches to when booting up, EEPROMSettings.default_layer() may be of use.

Layer.defaultLayer has since been removed.

More clarity in Layer method names

A number of methods on the Layer object have been renamed, to make their intent clearer:

  • Layer.on() and became Layer.activate() and Layer.decativate(), repsectively.

  • and Layer.previous() became Layer.activateNext() and Layer.deactivateTop().

  • Layer.isOn became Layer.isActive().

The goal was to have a method name that is a verb, because these are actions we do. The old names have since been removed.

Removed on 2019-01-17

Compat headers following the source code and namespace rearrangement

With the move towards a monorepo-based source, some headers have moved to a new location, and plenty of plugins moved to a new namespace (kaleidoscope::plugin). This means that the old headers, and some old names are deprecated. The old names no longer work.


The autoDetect() method has been formerly deprecated, and is now removed.

The old MagicCombo API

We’ve changed the API of the MagicCombo plugin, and while it provided a helpful error message for a while when trying to use the old API, it no longer does so, the error message has been removed.


TypingBreaks.enableEEPROM() has been previously deprecated, and turned into a no-op, and is now removed.

OneShot.double_tap_sticky and OneShot.double_tap_layer_sticky

These were deprecated in favour of a better, finer grained API, and are now removed.

Removed on 2018-08-20

We aim at making a new release by mid-July, and APIs we deprecate now, will be removed shortly after the major release, before the next point release. We may deprecate further APIs during the next month (until mid-June), and those deprecations will share the same removal date. We will try our best to minimize deprecations, and do them as soon as possible, to give everyone at least a month to prepare and update.


Deprecated in May 2018, this method is part of the old plugin API, replaced by KALEIDOSCOPE_INIT_PLUGINS. To upgrade, you need to modify your .ino sketch file, and replace the text Kaleidoscope.use with KALEIDOSCOPE_INIT_PLUGINS, then remove the & from all of the plugins inside it, and finally, move it outside of setup().

If your current sketch looks like this:

void setup() {
  Kaleidoscope.use(&Plugin1, &Plugin2);

You should change it so that it looks like this instead:


void setup() {

The old-style (v1) plugin API

This includes using KaleidoscopePlugin, Kaleidoscope.useEventHandlerHook, Kaleidoscope.replaceEventHandlerHook, Kaleidoscope.appendEventHandlerHook, Kaleidoscope.useLoopHook, Kaleidoscope.replaceLoopHook, Kaleidoscope.appendLoopHook. They were deprecated in May 2017.

Their replacement is the new plugin API:

namespace kaleidoscope {

enum class EventHandlerResult {

class Plugin {
  EventHandlerResult onSetup();
  EventHandlerResult beforeEachCycle();
  EventHandlerResult onKeyswitchEvent(Key &mapped_key, KeyAddr key_addr, uint8_t key_state);
  EventHandlerResult beforeReportingState();
  EventHandlerResult afterEachCycle();


Plugins are supposed to implement this new API, and then be initialised via KALEIDOSCOPE_INIT_PLUGINS.


A key with a typo in its name, which was left in place after fixing the typo, so as to not break any code that may be using it already, however unlikely.

Removed on 2018-06-10 (originally scheduled for 2018-05-27)

These APIs and functions have been deprecated for a long time, and as far as we can tell, aren’t used by any third party or user code anymore. They were removed as of the June 10th, 2018.


The Kaleidoscope.setup() method is still around, and is not deprecated, but the variant of it that takes a keymap size is, and has been since October 2017.

Instead, one should use the argument-less Kaleidoscope.setup(), and the new KEYMAP() macros to define a keymap.

event_handler_hook_use, loop_hook_use, and USE_PLUGINS

Deprecated in October 2017, these are old aliases that should no longer be in use. They were replaced by Kaleidoscope.useEventHandlerHook, Kaleidoscope.useLoopHook, and Kaleidoscope.use, respectively.

The replacements themselves are also deprecated - see below -, but their removal will come at a later date.


Deprecated in October 2017, replaced by LAYER_SHIFT_OFFSET.

This symbol was meant to be used by plugins, not user code, and as far as we know, no third party plugin ever used it.

key_was_pressed, key_is_pressed, key_toggled_on, key_toggled_off

Deprecated in July 2017, replaced by keyWasPressed, keyIsPressed, keyToggledOn, and keyToggledOff, respectively.