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I have exactly the same mindset, if you spend 10 hours a day typing on a keyboard then investing a few weeks and/or a few hundred bucks to marginally improve your speed and comfort is a very good investment indeed.

In particular I'm always amazed that, in my experience, the vast majority of the professional software programmers I encounter never bothered to learn how to touchtype proficiently. I personally use the dvorak layout but I can understand staying on QWERTY for convenience but not knowing how to touchtype is very hard for me to rationalize.

Regarding the Ergodox I have a question, do you really find that "matrix" key layout (or "ortholinear" as they call it on their website) is really an improvement? It never made a lot of sense to me and when I tried a similar keyboard a few years back (admittedly for a short amount of time) I really didn't like it. The website says:

> When you extend your finger, it doesn't go sideways, does it? So why are the keys on your keyboard not directly on top of each other?

But... They do go sideways when I have a keyboard in front of me, my hands are not perfectly straight and parallel on the keyboard lest my wrist or shoulders end up in a weird position. Now of course in this case with a split keyboard you can move and orient them any way you like but I always wondered if there was actual science behind that choice or if it's just "non-linear layout == old mechanical typewriter leftover == bad".

> But... They do go sideways when I have a keyboard in front of me, my hands are not perfectly straight and parallel on the keyboard lest my wrist or shoulders end up in a weird position.

I've been using an Atreus [1] at work for several months now, it's a 40% angled ortho keyboard. I find my wrists and arms are at a natural angle, similar to how the would be on a standard keyboard, with the advantage of the linear finger movements of an ortho. The chording definitely requires some extra brainpower at times, especially since I still use a standard laptop keyboard on the go. I guess it's good mental exercise. I'm debating trying a 60% Atreus or one of the split keyboards next.

(It's also a fun and pretty easy project to build your own keyboard, and a point of pride harkening back to when craftsmen would build their own tools.)

[1] https://atreus.technomancy.us/

Ah yeah, that makes more sense. The keyboard I tried was a typematrix[1] and I really found it rather awkward to use. Maybe if I had stuck with it for more than a few hours it would've clicked eventually.

[1] http://allthingsergo.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/tm-...

I've never used a flat matrix keyboard like the Ergodox or Typematrix, but I've been using a Kinesis Advantage2 for a few months which combines the rectilinear layout with cup-shaped "key wells" and a rather distinctive staggering of depth that keeps each key relatively closer to the fingers pressing them as compared with other designs. I'm not sure I'd want to use the key pattern with a flat board, because it's still not something I'm completely sold on, but I think it works well enough with the concave design. I really like the idea of symmetrical designs in general.

The weird part about (non-split) "ortholinear" keyboards is that they seem to be built for perfectly parallel arms/wrists sprouting out of the center of your chest.

Split keyboards like the Ergodox fix this by splitting and angling each hand's individual keyboard.

But... standard keyboards are already angled for your hands. The [U,J,M] column is a perfect mapping of the curl of your right index finger.

The real issue is that typing tutorials for some reason encourage left hand finger positions forming a curls that are completely orthogonal to the natural curl of your left finger / left wrist position.

QWERTY tutorials encourage [E,D,C], when you really should be using [E,D,X] or even [R,D,C].

I type (in Dvorak) using the columns [W,S,Z], [E,D,X], etc. and am completely happy with the columns of a normal keyboard.

Thank you for mentioning that, it turns out that I do the exact same thing. It's true that if you look at tutorials online the hand position for the left hand is pretty insane to me: https://skambo.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Touch-Typing....

Do people actually type like that? My hand ends up in a very awkward position if I try to hit X (in qwerty, Q in dvorak) with my ring finger while it's trivial with my middle finger. Actually it's pretty funny because in the illustration above it does look like the hands are sprouting from somebody's chest!

Yes, because the keys on the keyboard are offset just slightly to the left, so it's easier to hit them by curling your left hand inward, than reaching up and to the right. Nothing+ beats an angled ortholinear keyboard though.

+ Except specially-designed ergonomic keyboards of course, but if you need one you'll know.

Exactly, standard keyboards are pretty bad for your left hand because of the way the keys are typically offset, so even if you hit different keys to the "standard" with your left hand things are shaped poorly.

> QWERTY tutorials encourage [E,D,C], when you really should be using [E,D,X] or even [R,D,C].

I meant "[E,D,X] or even [R,D,X]" of course

"In particular I'm always amazed that, in my experience, the vast majority of the professional software programmers I encounter never bothered to learn how to touchtype proficiently. "

I can't remember a single programmer I've worked with who has had to look at their hands while typing except for special characters.

Interesting, maybe there's a cultural aspect to it, here in France it's frankly not that common in my experience. Maybe it's because of the way it's taught (or not taught) at school, maybe it's because AZERTY is a garbage layout, maybe my sample is heavily biased somehow...

I'm French, and touch typing my Bépo keyboard.

I have to concur. Many programmers don't know how to type. Possibly most. Also, whenever I bring the layout up, the most common objection is that it's impossible because they could be touching computers that aren't their own, as if every programmer would be a system administrator as well…

I have yet to be forced into Azerty or Qwerty… except when playing TellTale games. Apparently they have found the One True Layout, and it is Qwerty.

I'm french and did stop looking as much at my keyboard when I switched to QWERTY. Mainly because of non-alphanumeric characters in a programming context. the ` or [] or {} are terrible to access with AZERTY

There's a difference between typing without looking and proper touch-typing. The latter optimises for hitting most keys while moving your fingers the least distance from the home row. It's pretty much how a keyboard is designed to be used. I was able to type without looking long before I taught myself to touch-type and I can confidently say that proper touch-typing was a vast improvement over my ad-hoc learned finger placement.

I also have an ergodox, and I found it a massive improvement. Mostly because it has so many easily reachable shifty-buttons that I can write all kinds of useful macros for it. I write a lot of haskell, and having keybinds for <$>, >>=, <*>, <|>, ->, <-, => and so on made a noticeable difference to the feeling of flow when writing code.

I've wondered the same thing but haven't come to a conclusion about it. I'm skeptical of any improvements the ortholinear layout would bring to be honest. If you are using a keyboard enough, the particular locations of any given key will be firmly in your muscle memory. However, perhaps it makes sense ergonomically for a split keyboard like this, since your hands are pretty much exactly perpendicular to the horizontal direction of the keys, so finger extension direction would indicate an ortholinear layout being ideal.

I bit the bullet and bought a "Truly Ergonomic Computer Keyboard" a few years ago, as it was the most conventional-looking split ortholinear keyboard available. It's a much nicer typing experience and causes me less finger strain, which started becoming a problem for me ~4 years ago. I would recommend strongly against that particular keyboard, since it uses inferior "kahil" brand switches that have exhibited various mechanical issues over the years (doubled presses and missed presses), but the kind of layout is definitely worth for me. The company has been extremely avoidant and unresponsive when I brought those issues up. It might have been due to a bad batch of keyswitches, so I can't recommend against kahil switches specifically, but TECK is definitely not a well-supported or well-executed product.

Regarding Truly Ergonomic, it's almost infuriating how poorly they are running their operation. They started with a great idea and a decent-sized following (in the beginning). All things considered their first-gen product was not bad at all. If they had owned up to the ghosting issues and focused on ironing out the kinks in the 200 series (or even 300), they'd be in great shape. But instead they alienated their target demographic. And instead:


They went back to typewriter layout, and now claim that infrared keyswitches are the secret to ergonomics. Complete With Marketing Copy Capitalizing Every Word. It's so bad that I genuinely thought some fly-by-night Chinese manufacturer had stolen their domain and logo. But nope, it's still the same people.

WTF? Did they lost their plot? How could they call it comfortable when it's horizontally staggered?

So today I found out that I own a legacy TECK model. I have visited their site some time ago the last time I remapped the keys with the online utility, so I'm baffled they went back to the century old typewriter layout, it's somewhat like they abjured what they professed few years ago. Bah...

I suppose they expect to sell more units of this more conventional layout.

My TECK has Cherry MX brown switches, and still has the double and missed-press problems.

Also lots of mechanical keyboards from companies other than Truly Ergonomic work fine with Kailh switches.

So I think it's the crappy TE firmware and not the switches.

I like the layout though, so I persist with using it at work. I much prefer my Ergodox at home though.

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