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A Decade With Dvorak (k20e.com)
7 points by mdelaurentis on Aug 11, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments

The question always comes up: what do you do about vi?

I leave it alone. I see lots of people eager to come along and show off a vim config file to remap the key bindings. Given more than a moment of consideration, you'll start to realize some of the drawbacks.

Besides, what's the point of remapping anyway? Save for HJKL[1], for which bindings did the physical placement of the keys play a role in the decision about which keys to use? I'll speculate that it's none (or close to it). So you're not really giving something up, except for muscle memory. If you're using Dvorak, you've (apparently) already decided that that isn't a petrifying side effect.

1. I've said it before, even the HJKL thing isn't so bad. On Dvorak J and K stay next to each other, but they move to the left hand (and down a row). H moves over a key and L moves up. One of the signatures of typing with Dvorak is the near-alternation of left hand/right hand. (The article even makes note of it.) That up and down end up on one hand and left and right on the other is pretty serendipitous, if you ask me.

A good question that I was going to address, although I am a long time Emacs user so my experiences are different. A similar question on a much simpler key mapping task is what do you do about cut/copy/paste?

I found that if I had learned the key bindings when I learned to touch type, they were easily translated to another keyboard. Once I disconnected where my fingers were going with what action I was trying to perform, it didn't matter if the keys were in "logical" spots on the keyboard layout-wise.

That being said, vi style keybindings probably don't transfer very well from a comfortability or convenience standpoint. I know that navigation in elm and Gmail is always awkward for me on the Dvorak keyboard.

The Dvorak keyboard can also totally confuse some FPS type games that rely on W, A, S, D for movement.

> A similar question on a much simpler key mapping task is what do you do about cut/copy/paste?

I take the same approach as above: nothing.

For me, luckily, I started using dvorak not that long after I started using vim. (I'd been using vim on and off for a while, but not seriously).

This meant that all the muscle memory that comes with being a vim user was learnt using the dvorak key bindings. The downside is that I'm hopeless with vim on anybody elses computer.

I created a small Javascript bookmarklet that lets you type Dvorak in any textbox on the web, for when you can't change the computer's layout for whatever reason. It's helped me a ton when I'm on public computers: http://fferen.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/javascript-qwerty-to-... (apologies for the lack of draggable link)


I've been using Dvorak for about 4 years now (with Vim as well - no issues here) and I love it. Heard good things about Colemak though...

I tried Dvorak, but switched back to Qwerty.

The reasons being: Dvorak is optimized for English and not for my native language, many standard app shortcuts (e.g. Emacs) are optimized for Qwerty and I type at ~ 100 WPM; I could probably type faster with Dvorak, but not that much faster as to be worth it. I also don't feel pain in my wrists - I used to feel when learning to touch-type, but since then my hands got used to it.

Qwerty is much like C - it's an industry standard and it's good enough.

What's your native language? For German, for example, there are the neo layouts. And other languages also have optimized layouts.

Dvorak isn't much faster than qwerty, but it's more comfortable.

I've seen many different reports comparing advantages (and disadvantages of dvorak vs qwerty, and (mostly) debunking the "dvorak is faster" myth.

Personally though any supposed speed advantages/disadvantages aside, dvorak is simply more comfortable to type with and doesn't leave me with sore arms/hands at the end of the day.

And, just as importantly . . . after 15 years of using qwerty, I was a pretty mediocre touch typist. After about 6 months of using dvorak (where no keyboard ever had the right key caps) my touch typing is out of necessity, pretty much perfect =)

G ps.d ktrglu gl H.soav sl X<DOKT vdtnsaoh patsfk; cf;k ks md;; ,gkj rdsrpd;q jdah;e

Man, look at all those ";". Home row, seriously? That key alone is what caused me to learn Dvorak.

I love me some Dvorak. (Although I have a similar problem: it's really hard to pair program with 1 QWERTY use and 1 Dvorak user.)

Just get two keyboards. I now have a guest keyboard on my computer.

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