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I switched to Dvorak back in the summer of 2005 and I've never looked back. Colemak may have been a better choice for certain metrics on certain keyboards, but one that cannot be stated enough for Dvorak is the way your hands alternate keys so much more than they do on QWERTY. I'm not sure if that has been studied for Colemak.

Thoughts on changing keyboard layouts:

1) If you're gonna do it, I agree with this article, touch typing = #1 priority. You're not going to see a colemak keyboard, most likely.

2) QWERTY actually seems to work pretty well for big thumbs on a small screen. I don't use tablets, so I don't know the state of affairs on Android or iOS keyboard layouts. This has notably not been a problem for me, even though I was initially concerned about using BlackBerrys (oh 2005 me..)

3) IRC/Instant Messaging are a massive way to learn how to type because you'll prioritize learning words that you type often, and natural patterns for you.

4) Buy a better keyboard if you're gonna go to this effort for your hands. I swear by my Kinesis Advantage Pro.

This process is frustratingly slow, but after ~3 weeks of going cold turkey, I have not once switched back. I was even a sysadmin for 1000's of desktops in labs, and it took 2 seconds to switch them to dvorak and back.

Finally, while we're at it, if your company offers ergonomic consulting, DO IT! You'll be amazed how much more comfortable your typing is when you've fixed how you sit, your monitor height, and your keyboard tray.




> your hands alternate keys so much more than they do on QWERTY. I'm not sure if that has been studied for Colemak.

From TFA:

    The keys in Colemak are scientifically arranged with the following goals in mind:
    ...
    Typing should alternate between the hands for greater speed and comfort


Right, I saw that it was a goal, but when I clicked on the source it was just a link to the colemak advocacy wiki, which seems about as biased as I am towards Dvorak :)

I did find this page[1] on the wiki, and it appears that Colemak does way better than QWERTY, and worse than Dvorak. However, this was a test devised by a Dvorak advocate.. so it may be biased as well.

[1]: http://colemak.com/wiki/index.php?title=Hand_alternation


I switched to Dvorak (actually programmers Dvorak) about 8 months ago and I have to say that the jury is still out for me regarding the letter placements, but man o' man are the first layer symbols really nice (of course typing numbers is a pain in the butt now). There is actually a lot of interesting things you should consider that I doubt Dvorak actually thought of when designing his layout:

One thing people say is that Dvorak is supposed to reduce errors, but having all of the vowels right next to each other and all of the most common letters in the most common places actually means that it is fairly common for me to write a different real word than a clear misspelling, which plays havoc with auto-correct and spell checkers. And yes, Android can be set up with a Dvorak keyboard using Anysoft keyboard and the alternative us layout extension.

I will never get over the fact that 'ls' are both letters for your right pinky, very annoying for you Unixers.


> and your keyboard tray

i have an kinesis advantage pro too, hence i am wondering why you are using a keyboard tray and which one?

maybe you could answer two problems i can see with dvorak: a) home row changes. isn't this a big problem in vim, as in, you have to re-map basically every shortcut (otherwise you are basically de-dvoraking) b) wouldn't you need different dvorak layouts for different tasks? ruby needs different keys on the homerow than java, which is different to plain english which is then different to plain german etc

thank you


> i have an kinesis advantage pro too, hence i am wondering why you are using a keyboard tray and which one?

I don't remember which one, it's a huge flat thing that just looks like a big surfboard. I can try to find out later.

Why I use it is simple: when sitting with correct posture, the distance between my eyes and my resting hands is further than just using my desk allowed. The keyboard tray lowers the keyboard further without having to lower the entire desk and raising the monitor to a comical height.

> a) home row changes. isn't this a big problem in vim, as in, you have to re-map basically every shortcut (otherwise you are basically de-dvoraking)

I found an easy solution for this, see the bottom of my vimrc: https://github.com/codemac/config/blob/master/vimrc

    noremap d h
    noremap h j
    noremap t k
    noremap n l
    noremap k d
    noremap l n
    noremap j t
    noremap ^Wd ^Wh
    noremap ^Wh ^Wj
    noremap ^Wt ^Wk
    noremap ^Wn ^Wl
    inoremap ^] ^[A
    inoremap ð ^N
Keep in mind I mostly use emacs these days, which is an entirely different set of ergonomic challenges :) However, those changes seemed to have worked well for me.

> b) wouldn't you need different dvorak layouts for different tasks? ruby needs different keys on the homerow than java, which is different to plain english which is then different to plain german etc

You must answer the question for yourself: How much english vs. ruby vs. java do I type?

For me? most of my variables are English based, and all my symbols ()[]@$& etc.. are all in different places on a Kinesis keyboard anyways.

There may be a case for specialized layouts, but I think the amount of English that is keyed far outweighs any specialization.


I use vim and dvorak, and haven't remapped the keys. It's still usable since J and K are next to each other and H happens to be left of L.


Thanks for the great tips! I'll copy them over and quote you in the comments on the post.




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