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An Argument for Dvorak

By hjhornbeck in Science
Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 05:39:22 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

I use the Dvorak keyboard layout for my computer. I learnt about it by chance, through a Discover Magazine article I laid my eyes on. I did some more research, and the arguments in favour Dvorak were strong enough to cause me to switch.

I also turned up a few counter-claims, that QWERTY is a better layout than Dvorak. Most of those pointed to one or two studies that seemed to prove as much. Pro-Dvorak supporters would counter by pointing out flaws in those studies, and very quickly both sides would try to bury each other in scientific studies.

I think many of them miss the point.

The arguments in favour of Dvorak have a lot to do with human motion, and are simple enough to be evaluated on their own terms. Scientific studies are overkill; I think I can make a really good argument with only a short essay.

Most of my argument rests on the specifics of touch typing, so I'll take a paragraph to describe it. By default, all your fingers rest on what's known as the "home row", the middle row of letters on a keyboard. They will move the "upper row" above it, or the "lower row" below, as other keys need to be pressed. Your thumbs rest on the space-bar. You may have noticed that two letter keys have raised markers or dots on them; these are where your index fingers are supposed to sit. In the QWERTY layout, they are the F and J keys.

This has been studied heavily by several researchers, one of which was August Dvorak. He spent a good decade discovering the mechanics of touch typing, and used this work to design his keyboard layout. Some of his discoveries were:

  1. It takes less effort to press a key on the home row than on the upper row.
  2. It takes less effort to press a key on the upper row than on the lower row.
  3. The digits on your hand vary in strength.
  4. The strength of your digits roughly decreases from thumb to pinkie finger.
  5. It is easier if the hands alternate when typing as much as possible.

You do not need a full study to test these for yourself. It takes more force to curl your fingers than stretch them out, for instance, so reaching the upper row is easier than reaching the lower row. If your hands alternate when typing, one can move itself into position for the next keystroke while the other is typing, balancing the amount of work both hands have to do. It avoids long sequences of typing with just one hand, and overuse can lead to injury.

In addition to his keyboard studies, Dvorak also studied the English language to make sure that previously discovered statistics were still true. They were, and over half a century later they have changed little:

  1. The most common letters are E, T, O, A, I, and N, though the exact order of the last four can vary depending on the text measured. About 1/8th of all the letters typed in English will be E, and over 1/2 will be one of those six.
  2. Consonants and vowels are commonly found in pairs.

You can test these facts quite easily, though it may take some time unless you can get a computer to do all the tallying.

If you believe the above, we can make some predictions about what an ideal keyboard layout would look like. By combining facts #1, #2, and #6,you can deduce that an ideal layout would have those six letters on the home row. Facts #5 and #7 imply that the vowels are best grouped on one side of the keyboard, under one hand; this is the easiest way to get the alternation desired by #5. Adding on facts #3 and #4 suggest that E, T, O, and N should be under your index and middle fingers.

You should not be surprised that the Dvorak layout follows this very closely. Those six letters can be found on the home row. All vowelsare located on the home row, under the left hand, and Y is in the upper row by the left index finger. Curiously, the Dvorak layout places E and O under the middle and ring fingers respectively, not quite what we expected. Fortunately there's a reason for this difference; it is to take some load off the index finger, which controls twice as many letters as the others. T and N are under the right middle and ring fingers, for the same reason.

You should also have guessed that the QWERTY layout differs greatly from this. Only A is on the home row; E, T, O, and I are all on the upper row; and N is on the bottom. The vowels are spread across both hands. E and T are above the left middle and index fingers, while O is above the right ring finger, and N is below the right index.

Clearly, the Dvorak layout fits our ideal much closer than QWERTY. But is that because our facts are skewed?

It's possible, but they are pretty simple. You can test the first four easily if you have a keyboard in front of you. Fact #5 takes a bit more faith, but even if you ignore it my arguments are still quite strong. The last two are verified easily by an Internet search. So long as you accept the majority of these, Dvorak must be better than QWERTY for typing English text. No studies necessary.

Naturally, you don't have to take my word for it. Here are some references:

The Fable of the Keys, by SJ Liebowitz and Stephen E Margolis;
the most commonly cited article by Dvorak dissenters

The Curse Of QWERTY, by Jared Diamond;
the Discover Magazine article that inspired me

a listing of letter frequencies, including a bar graph

more letter frequency pages, courtesy of Google
(note that while few of them agree with my letter order, nonerank S,D,K, or L highly either)

(edited by arca)


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What keyboard layout do you use?
o QWERTY 70%
o Dvorak 17%
o I don't type in English! 8%
o D. None of the above 3%

Votes: 131
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o Dvorak keyboard layout
o The Fable of the Keys, by SJ Liebowitz and Stephen E Margolis
o The Curse Of QWERTY, by Jared Diamond
o a listing of letter frequencies
o more letter frequency pages
o Also by hjhornbeck

Display: Sort:
An Argument for Dvorak | 311 comments (259 topical, 52 editorial, 0 hidden)
Well (3.00 / 4) (#1)
by spooky wookie on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 09:15:50 PM EST

As far as I know there are several keyboard layouts obviously better than QWERTY, because QWERTY was designed to be far from ideal. It was required by old type writes to get slow input.

wrong (4.00 / 2) (#101)
by Sacrifice on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:17:06 PM EST

Qwerty was designed to mitigate jams from adjacent hammers being triggered consecutively.  That is, you could still type fast and only rarely experience jams.

Fully trained Qwerty typing speed is as fast as Dvorak, or at least within the error bars.

[ Parent ]

hmm, (5.00 / 1) (#108)
by spooky wookie on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:42:16 PM EST

As long as we agree that QWERTY was designed on purpose to avoid the adjacent hammers from being triggered consecutively.

Maybe they are equally fast, and both standards are good at their respective advantages but I believe that this is more an indicator that you can't gain much speed advantage on a relatively small area as a keyboard.

But it would make most sense if a standard designed without the limitation of QWERTY is faster, even if it can't really be measured.

[ Parent ]

I've always wondered... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
by anon 17753 on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 09:18:06 PM EST

how easy it is to switch back to Qwerty in those cases when you have to use another computer. How long have you been using Dvorak, and how well do you cope when forced to use Qwerty.

Qwerty. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
by bhearsum on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 09:22:37 PM EST

I've been typing on dvorak for almost a year now. Any time I have to use a qwerty keyboard that I can't easily switch to dvorak I can still achieve a speed of about 30-40wpm while looking at the keys. I haven't yet managed to be able to switch between the two layouts effectively ;).

[ Parent ]
Me (none / 0) (#83)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:12:41 PM EST

Been using Dvorak for ~2.5 years. I have no problems switching. At my workplace I frequently have to jump on other workstations and am forced to keep my QWERTY in practice. I also use public computer labs very often, and while I will bring my own keyboard if I know I will be working for many hours, for short visits I don't bother.

[ Parent ]
Touch type both? (2.50 / 2) (#193)
by Fen on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 05:30:55 AM EST

I do...works just fine.  I don't even have a dvorak keyboard.
[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#207)
by Politburo on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 12:34:45 PM EST

For some reason, I can type Dvorak fine on a keyboard without the proper labels until I glance down. Then it's over. I can type QWERTY fine on any keyboard, however.

[ Parent ]
I Have No Qwerty And I Must Scream (none / 0) (#102)
by Scrymarch on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:21:30 PM EST

Old k5 article on the topic.

[ Parent ]
my .02 (none / 0) (#188)
by RJNFC on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 12:50:08 AM EST

It's not hard to switch, but I also bring my dvorak if I will be typing for a while.

[ Parent ]
No problem at all. (none / 0) (#229)
by seebs on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 01:25:52 AM EST

About a month of learning curve, now I can type on anything.

[ Parent ]
See the Dvorak layout (4.80 / 5) (#4)
by anon 17753 on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 09:25:31 PM EST

Here is a diagram of the Dvorak layout.

As a programmer, I use non-alphanumeric keys very often, so I wanted to see the actual layout. While Dvorak has the underscore within easier reach, the colon and semicolon are in a more unfriendly place.

keys. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
by bhearsum on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 09:28:09 PM EST

Heh, as a python programmer I find the new placements of the underscore and semicolon quite convienent.

Besides, the semicolon on dvorak is much less out of the way than the underscore on qwerty.

[ Parent ]

other programming keys. (none / 0) (#187)
by juju2112 on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 12:47:24 AM EST

I also think that the period, comma, single quote, double quote, and brackets are in a much better place.

[ Parent ]
Diagram, programming (5.00 / 2) (#11)
by hjhornbeck on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 11:06:41 PM EST

Good catch. It might help to have an image of the Dvorak layout.

You're right about programming, too. But I don't think any layout designed for English text would be good for programming in. Curly braces and parentheses are uncommon in written English, but used all the time during programming. It also depends on the programming language; Lisp and Python would barely use any curly braces, while Basic and Perl cut back on parentheses.

The ideal would be a keyboard layout for your language of choice, not QWERTY or Dvorak.

HJ Hornbeck

[ Parent ]
Semi (none / 0) (#82)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:11:22 PM EST

I love where semi-colon is, but I'm left handed. I also use my left pinky for shifting.

[ Parent ]
I think (none / 0) (#176)
by damiam on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:32:30 PM EST

That you could always redefine the colon and semicolon back to their QWERTY locations if you felt the urge.

[ Parent ]
programmer's dvorak (none / 0) (#297)
by dimaq on Mon Oct 13, 2003 at 06:28:34 AM EST

google for it.

the parentethes/braces/hyphen/more than/etc. concern is what kept me from tryig out dvorak when I first learnt of it.

I would also consider certain special keys I use often in my favourite editor (escape and colon for me).

Perhaps a true geek's way is to devise his/her perfect keyboard layout?

[ Parent ]

The real problem with computer layout (3.60 / 5) (#6)
by debacle on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 10:05:43 PM EST

What dvorak doesn't consider is that all fingers are not of the same length. If you keep your pointer finger on the F and J keys, your middle fingers naturally rest between the E and R or I and O, respectively.

Not only that but the pinky is a very versatile finger, in that it does most of the shift work, though I myself never use the left shift key, because it's uncomfortable. Dvorak makes you move your fingers around in different ways that are not natural for your hands to move.

The reason it's harder to push a key on the lower row then the upper is because your entire hand has to move down, rather than up. It has nothing to do with your fingers, and if you do type with your hands in one place at all times I think you're a moron though it would be sort of funny to watch you type.

Finally, I'd like to point out that Qwerty does a better job taking care of a broader range of keys. It's no good to do a few things well and the rest shitty, as Dvorak does.

That is all.

It tastes sweet.

Unnatural movements? (5.00 / 1) (#20)
by hjhornbeck on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:14:20 AM EST

Typing is a pretty unnatural behaviour to begin with. Your fingers have a natural resting position. Moving them away from that requires muscular effort. A good keyboard design, then, would minimize the amount of movement away from this neutral position, to minimize the amount of work needed to type.

That Discover article gives some statistics on row usage; Dvorak's most heavily used row is the home row, with about 70% of all keystrokes, while QWERTY gives the top row 52%. In other words, Dvorak does a better job of keeping your fingers in one place, thus it keeps them closer to their natural resting position.

I don't know what to say about moving your hands, though. I can remember being told to keep my hands as stationary as possbile in typing class. I've watched myself type, and my hands stay just above the home row most of the time. Looks like we need a third opinion.

HJ Hornbeck

[ Parent ]
You might need a third opinion (3.50 / 2) (#24)
by debacle on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:29:33 AM EST

I'm a firm believer in free will, and I'm going to do whatever the hell I want, even if it's not standard or I can't type exactly 206 WPM.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
YMMV (none / 0) (#263)
by upsilon on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 05:40:38 PM EST

Well, if you're going to type in a non-standard way, then you should at least admit that while Dvorak may not be best for you, there is at least a good chance that it is better for the majority of the population.
Once, I was the King of Spain.
[ Parent ]
Question (none / 0) (#81)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:10:32 PM EST

Have you used Dvorak for any extended period of time? Your comments point to no, but I do not like to assume.

[ Parent ]
Strength of fingers (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by Blarney on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 10:11:11 PM EST

I'd say that this is something which can be acquired. With practice, you can get all your fingers to the level of strength and/or endurance required to put in a full day of typing without aching. The required muscles for finger movement are not in the hands, after all, but are located in the forearm. Ask any experienced guitarist to wiggle his left fingers and you'll see the muscles flexing - in his arm. Speaking of guitarists, I heard somewhere that the late great Stevie Ray Vaughn could do a full-tone bend on a guitar strung with .13's - with his pinky!

Why go to the mental trouble of learning a new layout, when you'll just physically adapt to the old one anyhow?

Odd (none / 0) (#79)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:08:52 PM EST

After typing on QWERTY for 14 years, my pain was fixed with 2 months of Dvorak. I guess I just didn't do enough training!

[ Parent ]
Woah. (none / 0) (#121)
by debillitatus on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:42:28 PM EST

That might have been the craziest post I've ever seen.

Damn you and your daily doubles, you brigand!
[ Parent ]

srv (none / 0) (#183)
by odaiwai on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 12:29:06 AM EST

SRV tuned his guitar down a tone (two frets) so that he could do big bends with heavier strings.  (Heavier strings give better tone than lighter ones.)

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]

DVORAK?QWERTY? (1.28 / 7) (#9)
by United Fools on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 10:48:15 PM EST

We are united, we are fools, and we are America!
What I'd like to see (4.66 / 3) (#10)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 11:04:38 PM EST

Hypothosis: people that learn Dvorak are faster at typing because they typically put more time and energy into typing properly than people who learn QWERTY.

Prediction: if the amount of time and energy put into learning to type with a particular system is the largest predictor of future typing speeds, then different groups of new typists that put equal effort into learning QWERTY and Dvorak will have similar typing rates after equal amounts of training.

Procedure: take two groups of people. Train one to use Dvorak and one to use QWERTY. Have each group train for equal spans of time. Offer equivalent rewards for achieving high speeds of touch typing. Measure typing speed for each group before and after training.

Question: if Dvorak is so much bettern than QWERTY, why hasn't a study such as this been done?

It has, sort of (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by hjhornbeck on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 11:33:41 PM EST

The US Navy did almost exactly that in 1944, and found that the cost of switching was paid back within 10.3 days. Actually doing this the way you suggest is almost impossible, given the sheer number of QWERTY keyboards out there. The Navy study did put some effort into adjusting for that problem, thankfully.

This study has been brought up a number of times by the anti-Dvorak crowd, and doesn't fit my article's theme, which is why I left it out. Here's a reference to it, on a pro-Dvorak page.

HJ Hornbeck

[ Parent ]
Slight difference (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by BadDoggie on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:39:03 AM EST

The Navy typists were using mechanical typewriters which require considerable physical effort, moreso for the military due to the use of two to four sheets of carbon paper between three to five sheets of paper. You really had to jam those keys down.

Keyboards now need almost no effort; you just need to move your fingers around efficiently, which can be done in almost any system. Dvorak loses a lot of its strongest arguments because finger strength is no longer a factor, nor has it been since the IBM Selectric® became popular and affordable, around the 1970s.


"Non videri sed esse." — Tycho Brahe "Not to be seen but to be."
[ Parent ]

That study isn't anything like I suggested (5.00 / 2) (#178)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:43:34 PM EST

The Navy study referenced took competent QWERTY typists, trained them in Dvorak and measured how long it took for the typists to become as quick (or quicker) than they had been.

We don't know what (if any) gains would have been made by the same people having additional training in QWERTY.

[ Parent ]

There are hints (4.00 / 1) (#225)
by hjhornbeck on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 10:20:15 PM EST

And from an unlikely place, too. The dissenting study by Dr. Strong gave training to both groups, and came up with some interesting statistics:

We do know that he gathered up 10 QWERTY typists and trained them in Dvorak four hours a day for 25 days. Typing experts agree that training for more than two hours a day is counterproductive. In spite of this, the Dvorak typists performed better than the QWERTY typists by the end of the study. Their speed increased by 27% and their error rate was reduced by 54% in a five minute test. In the same test, the QWERTY group increased their speed by 32%, but their error rate increased by 12%.


HJ Hornbeck

[ Parent ]
Excellent point! (none / 0) (#94)
by regeya on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:40:18 PM EST

I've noticed that people I know who use Dvorak aren't average Joes. I have to wonder if part of the reason people stop having RSI problems is due to better posture rather than a better keyboard layout.

I tried to learn Dvorak, and I liked it, sort of. I didn't see a huge advantage, though, and when I have to switch back and forth it's a huge pain. Plus, I use OS X at work and have to use Classic (no, not for Quark; it's an app that hasn't been ported yet). Also use X11 on that machine. I fought with the machine for a few minutes one day, gave up. It just wasn't worth it.

To help my problems, I just relied on those old piano lessons I took as a kid, and keep my wrists straight while I type. I look like a sissy when I'm at my desk, but it's better than the alternative.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Excellent point! (none / 0) (#160)
by gidds on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 07:45:06 PM EST

Plus, I use OS X at work

OS X makes it dead easy - System Preferences->International->Input Menu. Enable the 'Dvorak' option, and you'll get an extra menu on the menu bar which lets you switch between Dvorak and your current layout at any time. There's even a special setting with Dvorak letters but QWERTY control keys.

What I'm after now is a Dvorak setting for my Psion...

I just relied on those old piano lessons I took as a kid, and keep my wrists straight while I type.

Well, as a pianist/keyboardist/guitarist, I find the opposite - I did some experimentation, and found that I'm much more comfortable with my arms and wrists at an angle (i.e. elbows comfortably far apart, forearms angled inward, and wrists in line with frearms). If you modify your touch-typing style so that you use one finger for T/F/C &c and one for U/J/M &c, it works out very well. The only problem is letting them fight it out over Y and B!

[ Parent ]

hard to do that anymore... (none / 0) (#111)
by fae on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:46:27 PM EST

Almost everyone has learned 'keyboarding'

-- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
[ Parent ]
I don't think so. (none / 0) (#237)
by seebs on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 03:30:35 PM EST

Observation:  I use both keyboards.  I am faster on Dvorak.  I alternate frequently and everything, but Dvorak is a LOT easier on me, and I tend to type a little faster.

It's not really surprising at all for a design to produce some marginal improvement.  What would be interesting would be to see if we could do *better*, and I'm sure we could.

[ Parent ]

May I recommend... (4.70 / 10) (#15)
by shtock on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 11:44:28 PM EST

Any of the string quartets.

Absolutely gorgeous.

Actually, come to think of it, I haven't heard any chamber music that hasn't been at least extremely listenable.

If you prefer symphonic work, the Cello concerto is sublime.

Dvorák (nt) (none / 0) (#78)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:07:43 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Actually... (5.00 / 1) (#126)
by angus on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:53:14 PM EST


[ Parent ]
damn! (none / 0) (#129)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:58:41 PM EST

I knew there was another, but a quick web search didn't turn it up, and I was way too lazy to go past the first 10 results just to zing a guy. Alas, now I am zinged.

[ Parent ]
Yep. (none / 0) (#142)
by tkatchev on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 04:47:32 PM EST

It's something like "Dvorzak" when you expand the accent marks.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I've heard it both ways (none / 0) (#164)
by Battle Troll on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 08:28:24 PM EST

A close friend of mine speaks Czech at home, and his sounds more like "Dvorjzak," with the j sounding like Russian 'zh.' Maybe he has an Anglo accent, though.

It's even more confusing because the Polish 'rz' (as in Przemek) is somewhat different. Yuch!
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Yuch indeed. (5.00 / 1) (#196)
by tkatchev on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 08:29:28 AM EST

It always amazed me that somebody would want an ugly sound like that in their language.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

required today for backward compatibility (none / 0) (#211)
by Battle Troll on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 02:46:42 PM EST

Of course, everyone speaks some kind of English nowadays anyhow.
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Everybody. (5.00 / 1) (#217)
by tkatchev on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 07:34:02 PM EST

For sufficiently small values of "everybody", that is.

(Or unless you consider the U.S. to be on a separate planet...)

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Been there, done that (5.00 / 3) (#17)
by cbraga on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 11:49:41 PM EST


ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
QWERTY is better than DVORAK. . . (3.00 / 8) (#19)
by chluke on Thu Aug 28, 2003 at 11:58:12 PM EST

. . .because QWERTY is still around and is as strong as ever. If the innovations of the DVORAK layout made it more attractive than QWERTY, DVORAK would long ago have been adopted by every business and keyboard manufacturer. As it is, the increased typing speed conferred by DVORAK is not worth the trouble of learning it and replacing the QWERTY keyboards.

The free market has decided the winner and it is QWERTY.

Some theories (4.80 / 5) (#25)
by hjhornbeck on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:44:56 AM EST

There are many pet theories around that try to explain this. Here are a few of my own:

  • QWERTY had a 60 year head start on Dvorak, which is not easy to overcome.
  • Dvorak could percolate in by replacing QWERTY typewriters. Early typewriters were very well built, however, and could see decades of use. A slow turnover rate would slow the rate of adoption.
  • Professional typists would see the most benefit from switching. Yet converting takes at least a month, and forbids them from continuing to type normally. Quitting their job for an uncertain amount of time is too big a cost, even if it would have lead to great reward.
  • Casual typists don't care what layout they use, or aren't even aware of Dvorak.

HJ Hornbeck

[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#77)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:04:21 PM EST

If your argument is true, it just goes to show (again) that the free market method of choosing the best is flawed. The reason businesses have not changed to Dvorak is because they have not been considered liable for RSI type injuries. This goes the same for keyboard manufacturers. There is no business reason to switch your company to Dvorak if the change does not affect your bottom line. The main improvement in Dvorak is not speed, it's ergonomics.

Note: I am not advocating that manufacturers and businesses should be liable for RSI. I'm saying if they were, we would have seen much more Dvorak usage popping up.

[ Parent ]
An argument against Dvorak (4.09 / 11) (#23)
by Pac on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:29:02 AM EST


Evolution doesn't take prisoners

Ha (none / 0) (#76)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:59:48 AM EST

That argument holds no water. Betamax didn't succeed because the tapes were too short.

[ Parent ]
not the same (none / 0) (#212)
by guyjin on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 02:54:58 PM EST

Betamax died because commercial tapes were not being made availiable for the format.

Anyone can learn Dvorak and hook a dvorak keyboard to any computer, and use it.

They aren't even slightly alike.
-- 散弾銃でおうがいして ください
[ Parent ]

Dvorak (4.16 / 6) (#31)
by epepke on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:12:54 AM EST

Of course Dvorak is better. I'm surprised that you found articles claiming that it wasn't.

The trouble is that it isn't better enough. The world is full of things that are better. Carbon steel knives are better than stainless steel knives. The Kenwood mixer is better than Kitchen Aid. Laser discs are better than DVDs. Beta is better than VHS. The thing is that they're not better enough for most people to care. The mediocre but good enough product generally wins.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

Laser discs aren't better than DVDs. [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by cbraga on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:17:46 AM EST

ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
[ Parent ]
Yes they are (none / 0) (#43)
by squigly on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:14:25 AM EST

If you're very sensitive to compression artefacts, and don't like extra features or more than 2 audio channels.

[ Parent ]
I call BS (none / 0) (#66)
by The Amazing Idiot on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:20:22 AM EST

And I suppose you have golden ears along with those 'videophile' eyes, eh?

And if you're SOO sensitive to artifacts, go bitch'N'moan to the dvd authoring guys who crank up compression.

[ Parent ]

Hey, it doesn't worry me (none / 0) (#84)
by squigly on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:16:59 PM EST

But there is an advantage to LD over DVD.  Magnify the images on a typical movie by 16 times, and I'll tell you which is which.  Since I tend not to watch films on this setting, I don't really care, but overcompression is impossible on a laserdisc.

[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#75)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:57:43 AM EST

It's all about tradeoffs. Not many of the things you mention are a clearcut situation. Beta is better than VHS in quality, but the tapes were too short, making it worse it practicality. The other comparisons you mention are more expensive as well. Changing keyboards, on a personal level, costs nothing, except a bit of time. If you don't have much spare time, then there is an increased cost associated with switching to Dvorak.

[ Parent ]
How to try it for yourself (5.00 / 3) (#32)
by omegadan on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:17:40 AM EST

The minimum investment in dvorak is printing out a keyboard layout and simply switching the codepage for you keyboard from qwerty to dvorak.

If you *want* to spend a few bucks on a properly labeled keyboard you may do so as well.

I switched my home computers to dvorak a few years ago and find it *much* easier on my stubby italian fingers... However I find it very difficult to switch back and forth between the different layouts at work ...

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley

Or shuffle the keys on a spare keyboard (none / 0) (#224)
by mozmozmoz on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 09:17:16 PM EST

I've got a qwerty board somewhere, but after spending $US100 on a whizzy switchable keyboard that turned out to feel like crap to type one, I've decided to stick with buying reasonable feeling cheap keyboards and swapping the keycaps around. This works, if you can put up with a couple of keys being at dufferent heights o the rest (normally the [] ones).

There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
[ Parent ]

Other advantages of dvorak (5.00 / 5) (#34)
by Shibboleth on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:20:30 AM EST

You forgot to mention that commonly used key pairs are placed near to each other for easy use. For example, th, nt, sn, qu, and cr.

The biggest single advantage to a Dvorak keyboard layout: No-one, ever, touches my computer when I'm not there. :)

I've been using dvorak for over 6 years now, and would never go back. It's just so much faster, and you have much less 'typing fatigue'.

Phonotactics and language specificity (none / 0) (#131)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 03:32:07 PM EST

There is this topic in linguistics called "phonotactics", which concerns possible syllable types in languages: e.g. which consonant clusters are allowed in syllable initial and final positions. The biggest point to make about it: it's language variable, and e.g. "sn" is not necessarily a very common one, while very common ones in many other languages don't exist in English.

[ Parent ]

less fatigue (none / 0) (#35)
by slothman on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:37:03 AM EST

Are there any advantages other than "faster typing?" Does Dvorak lead to less fatigue, not that I get any? One reason I am wondering is because I don't type via the "asdf hjkl" method. I keep my finger off all the keys unless I am pressing them at that moment. It's slower but I like it. I don't use the "hunt and peck" method but I'm still not an orthodox typer.

Personal Reply (none / 0) (#74)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:46:20 AM EST

From my experince, yes, Dvorak leads to less fatigue, and less pain, if you already experience these symptoms.

[ Parent ]
-1 Too English-Centric (4.85 / 7) (#37)
by ph317 on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:29:11 AM EST

The layout, not your article :)

While I do spend a certain amount of my keyboard time typing english text (like this post), the vast majority of my keyboard time is spent directly interfacing with my computer.  In my case this mostly amounts to using standard unix commandline stuff (with lots of complex piping and grouping at times) in the bash shell, editing files in "vi", and writing code in perl, C, and C++.  I'm not really sure which of those tasks are more prevalant than the others in terms of keystrokes for me - but in any case I'm quite certain that my average keyboard usage over time doesn't fit the statistical model of english.  While many of the keywords in bash, perl and C are english words, the statistical distribution of the letters is probably markedly different.  On top of that, it's a fair bet that semicolons, parentheses, square and curly backets, etc... figure higher on my list than many of the english letters.

I could probably run a keygrabbing filter for a couple months and determine my own statistical pattern, and then re-lay my own keyboard layout to suit me.  However, there's probably 50+ variations on this theme (say, C# coders working in WinXP, probably have considerably different patterns than me) for various technical disciplines, and the whole point of a standard is to have one standard.  Since I think dvorak is probably not considerably closer to a custom ideal layout for me than qwerty, I don't bother with the matter.

pmk did something like this (none / 0) (#279)
by Nugget on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 07:37:49 AM EST

the results are quite interesting to read.

[ Parent ]
C-m gocbi e.krpat pcidy br,% (4.50 / 6) (#38)
by QuantumG on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 03:00:03 AM EST

Yd. x.oy ydcbi axrgy gocbi a eakrptaj t.fxrape nafrgy co yday frg jab yfl. jrmln.nyf jpflycj m.ooai.o ,dcjd br!rb. jab gbe.poyabev Xgy o.pcrgonfw yd. xcii.oy lprxn.m co yd. ycm. cy yat.o yr p.n.apbv

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
Xgy (3.00 / 2) (#45)
by gyan on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:36:38 AM EST

<df yd> <>cpe lgbjygaycrbz


[ Parent ]
Od.nn ojpcly (none / 0) (#267)
by piranha jpl on Wed Sep 03, 2003 at 05:15:47 AM EST

>k.pfrb.-o iryya hrcb yd. xabe,airbw mfo.nu cbjnge.ev

$ jay ekrpat[',.pyf

.q.j yp [[ \
    -\/?\=+-\--_wWvVlLfFuUiIjJpPnNzZ}]\\|aArR.>gGcCeEdDyYbBoO\[{sS'"hHtTqQxXmM,&l t;kK;:- \
    -\[{]}'",<.>pPyYfFgGcCrRlL\/?\=+\\|aAoOeEuUiIdDhHtTnNsS-\--_;:qQjJkKxXbBmM wWvVzZ-

Yday orgne x. a ocbin. ncb. xprt.b cbyr ydp.. lapyow ,cyd a -\- ay yd. .be ru yd. ucpoy y,r ncb.ov  O,cyjd yd. naoy y,r ncb.o (mcbecbi yd. ypacncbi -\-) yr jrbk.py yd. ryd.p ,afv

- J.P. Larocque
- Life's not fair, but the root password helps. -- BOFH

[ Parent ]
One thing to keep in mind re: DVORAK (none / 0) (#40)
by Spatula on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 03:45:22 AM EST

The most commonly used letters in the English language are, in order, ETAOIN SHRDLU. I've never really read about DVORAK or seen a keyboard, but now that I look at it, I'm going to have to give it a shot. I'm at about 70WPM with QWERTY, so maybe I can improve that with key change. The home row is what caught me, though. I'd probably save a whole fuckload of time typing if I switched.
someday I'll find something to put here.
Ah, bring on the Dvorak missionaries (3.40 / 5) (#41)
by xL on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 04:20:23 AM EST

Now and then I run into a Dvorak user. I am not a trained psychologist, but most of them seem to do it mostly just to appear special. Luckily it is not a highly annoying kind of behavior, it's just a social strategy people employ. It may not even be conscious. Less geeky personalities get a weird hobby for the same effect.

I am a fairly proficient piano player, so perhaps I'm biased when I cannot see what all the fuss with alternating keyboard layouts is all about. It's just hitting a couple of buttons in a co-ordinated effort in sequence. Once you know where the buttons are, it really doesn't matter. Modern computer keyboards do not even strain you 10% of the torture you get from a piano, so unless if you have particularily weak fingers it's really not a problem to do for longer stretches.

The amount of energy that can be saved by a more efficient layout can be neglected. The best you can achieve is that you make it easier to co-ordinate specific arbitrary sequences. However, if you have gained procifient experience typing under any layout, most common sequences become a part of your kinetic memory and really take no effort to recall.

So what Dvorak really does is offer a minor improvement in efficiency at the cost of unlearning proficiency gained in QWERTY, making it much harder to get things done when you are not sitting behind your own keyboard. Seems like a step backwards.

Not for all (none / 0) (#73)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:45:04 AM EST

I can say I did change to Dvorak in the beginning just to do something different. No real reason. I wanted to see if it was better, and if it was, by how much. The reason I stayed isn't speed. It's all about the ergonomics. When you can type all day and not feel the dull ache in your wrists, you know that you've made an improvement.

Also, I can go back to QWERTY at any time. I haven't forgotten it. I still use it when using another computer in the office/computer labs.

[ Parent ]
izzactly (none / 0) (#100)
by kesuari on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:06:22 PM EST

It's all about the ergonomics. When you can type all day and not feel the dull ache in your wrists, you know that you've made an improvement.

I can verify this. Going from qwerty to dvorak and I didn't notice a change, but if I happen to use dvorak these days, you notice how much further your fingers go. Dvorak is much more comftable.

[ Parent ]

wrist strength (4.00 / 1) (#191)
by Morally Inflexible on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 04:21:11 AM EST

buy a punching bag. Use it. It will hurt for the first couple of weeks, but you will both learn to keep your wrist straight, and add some wrist muscle. This practically eleminates keyboard strain.

[ Parent ]
hey! (4.00 / 1) (#254)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 03:52:09 AM EST

i *like* the torture of the piano. this is the reason i own a real piano instead of a keyboard (actually, i own one of those, too...) because you can get a near infinite amount of difference in a really simple, and easy - to - tell quantity : volume. so why not design a keyboard that has different *forces* for different letters? perhaps CTR-C alt-f Normal etc?
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
A few points... (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by yicky yacky on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 04:44:50 AM EST

Firstly: Facts 5 and 7 -

5. It is easier if the hands alternate when typing as much as possible.
7. Consonants and vowels are commonly found in pairs.

Surely the logical conclusion to be lept to from these starting points is that it would be better to have half the vowels on one side of the keyboard and half on the other; ditto consonants. As presently constructed, the dvorak layout lends itself to an alternating double-tapping at opposite ends of the keyboard, with your fingers behaving like a spasmodic tap-dancer.

The second point is general. Having used the qwerty layout for getting towards twenty years now, there's a kind of pavlovian barrier preventing me from investigating other layouts. I've spent years training myself on a qwerty layout, to the point where it's possible to fly through reams of text / code as and when it is necessary (those last-minute college essays were a great trainer in this regard). I have concerns about switching layouts because I don't want to have to spend further years getting to the same speed-levels.

Thirdly: Having not been 'classically-taught' (if there is such a thing) I, and I suspect many here, type in a kind of bastardized freehand, whereby all the fingers are used, but not in any consistent fashion, with much of the 'weight' taken up by the thumb, index and middle fingers, with the ring and little finger saved for 'stretch' moves (backspace, shift, enter etc.). The position that my hands tend to adopt is therefore by no means a 'standard' one, and the benefits of the repositioned keys are, I imagine, diminished.

+1 when it gets to voting, anyway. It's exactly this sort of interesting, academic navel-gazing that's been missing around here of late.

yicky yacky
'The actual reasonable Britons are correct, you're being a cock.' - Hide The Hamster.
My experiences (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by illustir on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 04:43:54 PM EST

As presently constructed, the dvorak layout lends itself to an alternating double-tapping at opposite ends of the keyboard, with your fingers behaving like a spasmodic tap-dancer.

Strange. I type in dvorak myself and I get the same idea every time I see someone touch-type in qwerty. The movements seem unnatural and it seems to me as though their fingers are moving too much back and fro over the keyboard.

Re: your second and third points
Switching to dvorak would create the opportunity for you to relearn typing the right way (ten fingers used, all on certain keys).
Yes you would be set back a bit. But you should be up and running in a month and back at (and perhaps over) your old level within a year.

[ Parent ]

Splitting vowels is bad (none / 0) (#286)
by hjhornbeck on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 02:55:43 PM EST

The problem with your first point is that it assumes your hands are in random positions over the keyboard. Most people, even without training, will keep their left and right hands on the left and right side of the letter keys.

If I understand correctly, "tap-dancing" means moving around your fingers excessively while typing. That is minimized by moving the most common letters to the home row. Most of the letters typed will just involve press down with a finger; leaps to the top and bottom rows are reduced.

And in theory, Dvorak is easier to hunt and peck on. It just requires moving the keys or buying a special keyboard to move theory into practice.

HJ Hornbeck

[ Parent ]
I prefer these ones (5.00 / 2) (#44)
by squigly on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:32:57 AM EST

single handed dvorak

Extremely useful for those of us with only two hands who actually like using the mouse a lot.

heh (3.33 / 3) (#49)
by EMHMark3 on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 07:49:13 AM EST

Or those who need to do 'other things' with their other hand? :)

T H E   M A C H I N E   S T O P S
[ Parent ]

Now THAT I like (4.00 / 1) (#200)
by bafungu on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 08:55:42 AM EST

That's an example of an real solution to an actual problem.

I've argued against Dvorak in earlier postings, but if I were to lose one hand, I'd have my grubby mitts on a keyboard like that in a second. Er, I mean my grubby mitt.

[ Parent ]

Now let's see who's missing the point (4.16 / 6) (#47)
by arvindn on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 07:12:37 AM EST

Unless you're a stenographer (do any even exist in today's world?), its extremely unlikely that your typing speed is the bottleneck for communication. Think for a moment about how long you took to compose this article. What fraction of that time did you spend actually hitting keys? 5%? So the point is that as long as you're a touch typist, and don't have to take your eyes and your mind off what you're doing to "search" for your keys (like those OMG LOL WTF AOL 12 yr olds) your keyboard layout doesn't matter. I don't care if Dvorak is more efficient. I don't use it because the marginal gain in efficiency is easily offset by having to learn the new layout and having to switch keyboards constantly (you aren't going to force your school or your employer to change their keyboards are you?)

So you think your vocabulary's good?
Not only. (none / 0) (#50)
by bhearsum on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 08:59:14 AM EST

Not only is dvorak technically faster, it is also more ergonomic. Think about it, the less you have to reach, the more comfortable it is typing.

[ Parent ]
I disagree (5.00 / 2) (#51)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 09:42:13 AM EST

I do a lot of creative and essay writing. I find that there are times when I cannot get the thoughts down fast enough. I'll have a scene completely laid out; the dialog is perfect in my mind, now it's just a matter of getting it down, but alas! my fat fingers won't move fast enough, even at about 65 WPM. Bumping it up to 75 WPM may be the difference between remembering that perfect word or losing it in the fog of enthusiasm. And if I forget the word, I'll spend time recalling that perfect wording when in an otherwise more efficient circumstance it would already be recorded. It happens all the time, and it even happens when I write comments.

All things considered, I'd rather not have typing speed be an issue. But writing is a linear process: one word after another. Consequently speed is a factor.

Although you make an investment in time learning the Dvorak keyboard, the pay off comes when you need it. You might spend time getting up to speed, but the speed will be available when you need it. Insurance is a losing proposition for most of us, too, (well, not me lately) but we pay it so that it's available and not so that we can use it. In fact, most hope never to use their insurance, but they'll pay for its availability.

And it's not that big of a deal to bring in your own devices to work or school. Your boss doesn't have to supply your keyboard any more than he has to pay for a comfy neck pillow.

You do plateau in your typing speeds. If a simple equipment change can give you a performance boost, why be so negative?

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
Thoughts... (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by jmzero on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:47:13 AM EST

Learning Dvorak will make sense for very few people in terms of "total lifetime productivity" or whatever, and I think it's a little silly to pretend it would.

On the other hand, if you think you'd enjoy learning to type a new way then the economics are made much more positive.

In your case, where you're looking for utility, I recommend computer dictation.  It's not exactly going to beat the pants off 65 WPM, but somehow I find it easier to keep thoughts ordered in my head while speaking them than typing them.  Worth a try, maybe.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Recording... (none / 0) (#235)
by Znork on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 03:01:50 PM EST

"Bumping it up to 75 WPM may be the difference between remembering that perfect word or losing it in the fog of enthusiasm."

Have you considered getting a tape recorder, or a voice recognition program? Maybe that would be a more efficient solution...

[ Parent ]

I have one (4.00 / 1) (#240)
by SocratesGhost on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 07:04:16 PM EST

but it's only useful when you have it ready. I use my Ipaq PDA to record things when I'm on the road (a neat little feature, but it's only good for 15 seconds) and a tape recorder when I'm not.

But still, do you think I break these out for K5? No. I'm not trying for an audience here and perfection is not worth the effort of having to record something twice. But still, the same frustration appears.

(speaking of which, I have a full bottle of wine in my right now as I'm trying to work through two different scenes. Wine as well as a tape recorder is probably more useful than a tape recorder).

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
while such a thing may turn out to be a good idea (4.00 / 1) (#253)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 03:47:52 AM EST

for some people there would be a definite problem with it. i type on dvorak and i can type at *least* nearly as fast as i can think, if not completely as fast as i think. i have been honing my verbal communication skills lately thanks to my job, but before that, i would get lost after about one word in any sort of real conversation. i just can't keep up...ill get halfway through a sentance and suddenly forget where im going..i knew that i was going somewhere...but i would take on too much at once and arrive nowhere. what do i think? i think people with ad&d don't need ritalin, they just need a keyboard. ill never be able to live without mine, now that i know how my thoughts can actually be _written down_, and let loose into the outside world,..
as for a tape recorder? useless.
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Uh... (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by lb008d on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:15:49 AM EST

having to switch keyboards constantly (you aren't going to force your school or your employer to change their keyboards are you?)

If you touch-type, it doesn't matter what is printed on your keyboard.

If I use someone else's computer, it's a quick change in the control panel to go from qwerty to dvorak.

[ Parent ]

Touch-typing (none / 0) (#180)
by ZorbaTHut on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:16:24 PM EST

At one point about two years ago my keyboard died and I had to borrow one from a friend. My friend had been planning to learn dvorak, and had gotten a keyboard and rearranged all the keys to dvorak layout.

Guess which keyboard I got.

I, personally, did not have a problem with it. I've been touchtyping for years. But it was *hilarious* watching people who said they could touchtype grind to a halt on it. They'd get maybe three keys in and look at the keyboard to find the next key and just freeze. Sure, the keyboard *typed* like a qwerty keyboard - it just didn't *look* like one.

The worst key was B. See, M is the same spot on both qwerty and dvorak. B, which is just left of M, is shifted one space to the right on dvorak - normally it's BNM, but dvorak has XBM. Nobody would ever get B right the first try - it was just close enough to the memorized position that they would assume the key was the right one, but, obviously, it wasn't.

I really miss that keyboard. :P

[ Parent ]

Unless (5.00 / 1) (#233)
by Nurgled on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 01:48:39 PM EST

That's unless the owner of the computer has actively prevented you from making such settings. This is common in the "open access computer labs" in most universities due to the blanket "you must not change anything" policy, implications be damned.

[ Parent ]
Yes, I will (none / 0) (#85)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:18:31 PM EST

(you aren't going to force your school or your employer to change their keyboards are you?)

If it's better for my body, and from my personal experience, it is, then yes, I will force anyone who wants me to use a computer for extended periods to give me the ability to use Dvorak. I use Dvorak at work (on my machine only, when I have to move around, I use QWERTY), and used to bring my own keyboard to the labs if I was going to be coding or writing for many hours. It is very simple to change the physical keyboard, and then go change the setting in the OS. I do not know why some people make a huge fuss about it.

I keep a QWERTY keyboard at my work desk as well, so that if anyone needs to use my machine, they are still open to the choice of QWERTY. Again, it really only takes 30 seconds to change.

[ Parent ]
To each his own, BUT (none / 0) (#226)
by hjhornbeck on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 10:54:20 PM EST

I've never liked that argument. It's like saying you barely walk anywhere, so it doesn't matter if your shoelaces are tied together. That may legitimately be the case, but why do more work than you have to?

Casual typists are also in a good position to switch. You can take a month or more off for training much easier than a professional, because you don't depend on it to earn a living.

Still, you have a valid argument. If this really is the case, I don't see much harm in staying with QWERTY.

HJ Hornbeck

[ Parent ]
I like QWERTY (2.44 / 9) (#48)
by omghax on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 07:31:19 AM EST

Not only because I'm used to it, but because of the way I type. QWERTY has this soul that you can become One with and achieve a Zen in typing.

Verily, my brother! (4.33 / 3) (#56)
by CFK on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:52:28 AM EST

Whereupon I am given the glorious chance to type with a QWERTY keyboard, what do I hear but the angels singing?  Surely it is a thing of God.

Perhaps a Church of QWERTY should be created to honor Him and His finest creation: the QWERTY layout?

[ Parent ]

would americans then (3.66 / 3) (#117)
by davedean on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:09:08 PM EST

have to remove QWERTY keyboards from courtrooms? This could be a bad thing, leading to the introduction of DVORAK into the courts.

I say, we should worship QWERTY in quiet and solitude.

Dave Dean
Google loves me again! New Formula!
[ Parent ]

-1, annoying. (2.90 / 10) (#53)
by komet on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:33:36 AM EST

I thought that by now everyone had realised that all A vs. B arguments are stupid. vi vs. EMACS, Linux vs. Windows, Linux vs. FreeBSD, Linux vs. OpenBSD, FreeBSD vs. OpenBSD, Honda vs. BMW, QWERTY vs. Dvorak, it's all fucking annoying.

It's also well known that all articles matching /^(Hi\. |Hello\. )?I use (\w+).*(for|with|on my computer)?/ are stupid.

Synopsis: I hate you.
Any technology which is distinguishable from magic is not sufficiently advanced.

Regular expressions are so hard to read (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by the on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:19:56 PM EST

Can't you use globbing instead?

The Definite Article
[ Parent ]
1, This comment posted as topical not editorial (1.66 / 3) (#90)
by regeya on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:30:46 PM EST

learn how the comment system works, and please refrain from your mental diarhhea until you do.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

I know very well (5.00 / 1) (#130)
by komet on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 03:30:00 PM EST

how the system works, but you are clearly incapable of logical thought. Or perhaps you can explain what editorial content "Fuck off and die" has? No, my comment was entirely topical, in an off-topic, inflammatory way.
Any technology which is distinguishable from magic is not sufficiently advanced.
[ Parent ]
wow, i love moderation. (none / 0) (#165)
by rmg on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 08:43:17 PM EST

isn't it great the regeya flamed this guy for a triviality like topical vs. editorial? isn't it great that our moderation system gives him an avenue to reenforce his flaming in a tangible way?

god, i love scoop moderation. i think it's great that we can flame each other and mod each other down.

don't you?

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

You're soooooo right. (5.00 / 3) (#218)
by Russell Dovey on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 07:36:54 PM EST

That's why all X vs Y articles should be more wacky. Obsoive:

Honda vs Dvorak

Many people nowadays still use Honda, when they are unaware of the much more efficient Dvorak layout. A Honda can be modified easily to a Dvorak by simply prising out the various components (wheels, differential, muffler, timing chain, door handle, seat belt etc) to a new position, following this handy comparative layout diagram. A short period of adjustment, and many people will be typing at faster speeds while maintaining the handling and fuel economy that Honda claims to monopolise.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Studies (3.66 / 3) (#54)
by hjhornbeck on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:41:37 AM EST

Whenever a study is released for or against the Dvorak layout, both sides declare it to be flawed. The Fable of the Keys shoots down every major Dvorak study before it. They state the Navy study may not have chosen typists randomly, and point to Dvorak's involvement in the study.

The only major study against Dvorak, by Dr. Earl Strong, has been bashed heavily as well. Typists were put through an unusually heavy training course, and claims that all the experimental data was destroyed shortly after.

Even worse, there is very little interest in studying typing. You can pretty much count the number of studies on one hand, and all that I know of have been declared flawed by one side or the other.

That is why I don't cite many studies.

HJ Hornbeck

All Dvorak proponents miss the one crucial point. (2.40 / 5) (#57)
by HypoLuxa on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:53:33 AM EST

And that point would be, "How do you convert a billion QWERTY devices and a billion QWERTY users to Dvorak keyboards?"

Until that question is answered, which keyboard design is preferable is an entirely moot point.

I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen

I use a Qwerty labeled keyboard. (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by lb008d on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:13:11 AM EST

And I touch-type dvorak. I could use a blank keyboard if needed.

It's the system software that needs to support the layout, and most OS's let you switch very easily.

As for users, I agree there is no stopping inertia. The preponderence of RSI injuries in keyboard users should be a wake up call, however.

[ Parent ]

This only works in a vacuum. (3.00 / 1) (#96)
by HypoLuxa on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:43:42 PM EST

If you are the only person who uses all of your devices, then you should use the layout you find best. However, if you use any shared systems (you know like that big air conditioned room of stuff I have to deal with) then you can't remap keyboards at will. A conversion to Dvorak, and I do believe it has to be a conversion since I know no one who can switch back and forth between QWERTY and Dvorak without being seriously hampered on one of them, would require a conversion of many people.

I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]
You totally missed my point. (5.00 / 2) (#104)
by lb008d on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:34:19 PM EST

I use shared systems all the time. When I do, here is my procedure:
  1. Log in.
  2. Tell operating system to use Dvorak keyboard.
  3. Use computer.
  4. Tell operating system to revert to Qwerty.
  5. Log out.
Is it that hard?

I agree that for some devices, you can't switch easily. However, the above procedure shouldn't be a problem for anyone who uses Windows, MacOS or any modern Unix version (even at the console).

[ Parent ]

same here (5.00 / 1) (#106)
by fae on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:35:24 PM EST

I also have a qwerty keyboard, with the keycodes mapped to Dvorak values in the operating system. Switching between QWERTY and Dvorak is effortless, once you get used to them. I suppose it's a similar situation to becoming fluent in another spoken language.

-- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
[ Parent ]
This isn't a vacuum. (none / 0) (#277)
by thespeedbump on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 02:36:20 AM EST

Dvorak is not dominant, no.  But it's not completely unknown either.  People sell keyboards wired for Dvorak.  It is a standard, if not the defacto.

As for shared systems, the win2k PCs at school here are set to automatically reconfigure themselves on reboot, so that's all I have to to do reset everything to the way it was.  It takes me about 30 seconds to set them to use the Dvorak layout.

[ Parent ]

Bah, I think you're missing the point (4.66 / 3) (#64)
by cpatrick on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:18:34 AM EST

And that point would be, "How do you convert a billion QWERTY devices and a billion QWERTY users to Dvorak keyboards?"

Until that question is answered, which keyboard design is preferable is an entirely moot point.

Why does it really matter what keyboard layout other people use? It's not as if by using a Dvorak keyboard you are suddenly unable to communicate with those as use Qwerty, or some such.

[ Parent ]

Ah, but you are. (none / 0) (#92)
by HypoLuxa on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:37:11 PM EST

Ever see your coworker who made the smart move to use Dvorak keyboards take 10 times longer to do anything in the server room because s/he has unlearned how to type on a QWERTY keyboard?

I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]
Awful (5.00 / 2) (#67)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:29:05 AM EST

Why is this kind of argument ever made? Should we never change anything even though we did it the wrong way in the first place? Even though the effects of the choice may afflict a whole generation with a painful disability?

[ Parent ]
The argument is made ... (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by HypoLuxa on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:40:42 PM EST

... because it is the only sane argument to be made. Before you ask the question "should we transition to a superior keyboard design" you have to know whether or not it is possible. And "afflict[ing] a whole generation with a painful disability" is the kind of stupid hyperbole which insures you will never be taken seriously.

I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]
True (none / 0) (#99)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:05:12 PM EST

I did get a little too zealous there, though I did use the word "may", so don't think I'm so blinded as to think it will happen no matter what. You cannot discount that people are beginning to use computers at very young ages now, and using computers more frequently. I began using one at 6, and by age 20 had pain in my wrists. Switching to Dvorak alleviated that. My personal experience is not the same as everyone else's, but if you look around you'll find similar stories from others who have switched.

To say that status quo is the only sane argument is crap. That's the main reason I replied in the first place. To simply shut out change because "it's too hard" is the wrong kind of thinking, in any situation.

Before you ask the question "should we transition to a superior keyboard design" you have to know whether or not it is possible.

I submit that it is possible. Will it take some money? Yes. Will it take some time? Yes, a lot. Will the change be overnight? No. Does that make it impossible? No. Does that mean we shouldn't do it? No.

[ Parent ]
Question? (5.00 / 1) (#123)
by debillitatus on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:48:35 PM EST

Will it take some money? Yes. Will it take some time? Yes, a lot. Will the change be overnight? No. Does that make it impossible? No. Does that mean we shouldn't do it? No.

Is it really fucking annoying to read a post which is full of rhetorical questions answered by the author? Yes.

Damn you and your daily doubles, you brigand!
[ Parent ]

lol (none / 0) (#125)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:50:31 PM EST

Fine with me if you don't want to answer the arguments. In fact, in both replies you have only attacked my style, and never the substance of my argument: status quo thinking is extremely stupid.

[ Parent ]
both? <n/t> (none / 0) (#127)
by debillitatus on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:53:21 PM EST

Damn you and your daily doubles, you brigand!
[ Parent ]

Arg (none / 0) (#128)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:56:06 PM EST

Should have done a little checking, as you were not the original person who replied. The rest of my argument stands, though doesn't make as much sense since it was based on the context of the whole thread.. oh well.

[ Parent ]
Except that it doesn't matter (none / 0) (#278)
by thespeedbump on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 02:44:57 AM EST

Whether or not Dvorak takes over the world is academic at best, and irrelevant in every way that matters.  Dvorak is something people suffering from RSIs should look at. (in addition to the usual things)  Whether they think the switch is worth trying, and whether anybody else wants to use it or not is up to them.

[ Parent ]
Here's the only proof I needed to switch. (5.00 / 3) (#59)
by lb008d on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:10:40 AM EST

Qwerty, Dvorak, Arensito comparison.

My arms have never felt better after switching to Dvorak.

Dvorak (4.75 / 4) (#65)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:20:06 AM EST

I've been a Dvorak user for about 2 and a half years now. I think the greatest improvement that Dvorak gives is not speed, as commonly claimed. Dvorak, for me, is so great because of the ergonomic benefits. After a day of work, going home to the computer and the web sites/IRC I liked was almost tedious because of the dull pain in my wrists. With Dvorak, I can pretty much type all day and not feel any problems.

As for learning Dvorak, it was a little more difficult for me than some sites claim. At first, I tried switching back and forth, but found that this caused me to basically use QWERTY 99% of the time. After typing a few words in Dvorak, I would get frustrated, hit the hotkey and go on my way. What finally forced me to be able to switch was turning off the hotkey, switching my key caps, and forcing myself to use Dvorak. It took 2-3 months to regain a speed which was comparable to my QWERTY speed. In fact, I can still type faster with QWERTY than Dvorak (~85 vs. ~70).

+1FP, I Want 2 type teh fastr. (1.38 / 13) (#68)
by rliegh on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:30:56 AM EST

This will get attached to your comments. Sigs are typically used for quotations or links.
me t00z0r (none / 0) (#282)
by Goggs on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 09:41:35 AM EST

aoeuidhtnsaoeuidhtns',.pyf w00tw00t! dv0r4k! r33t! Ahem.

-----== This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
[ Parent ]

If everyone who refused dvorak died... (4.00 / 5) (#80)
by Fen on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:10:26 PM EST

We'd have much less population, and those left would be on Mars in a few years.
or possibly... (4.66 / 3) (#186)
by RJNFC on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 12:46:32 AM EST

The human race would no longer breed, and it would be wiped out within a generation :)

Doesn't it ever occur to some people that having dissenting opinions and having alternate ways of doing things is a GOOD thing?

[ Parent ]

An argument against Dvorak (2.20 / 5) (#91)
by anaesthesis on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 12:36:35 PM EST

QWERTY works just fine.

Interesting thing I noticed: (none / 0) (#112)
by tkatchev on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:46:54 PM EST

QWERTY is damned uncomfortable when you use the PDA on-screen keyboard.

For some reason, when you use just one "finger" instead of the usual six or ten, QWERTY becomes almost unsupportable.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I type using two fingers. (none / 0) (#122)
by anaesthesis on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:48:29 PM EST

And I can type faster than any touch typist I've met.

[ Parent ]
Me too. (none / 0) (#138)
by tkatchev on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 04:35:10 PM EST

But when you have only one finger, QWERTY becomes a torture to use. (This is important on PDA's and really small keyboards.)

I wonder if there is a scientific reason for this, and if so, what can be done to fix the problem.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

No fingers at all (none / 0) (#146)
by omrib on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 05:51:24 PM EST

Speech recognition rulez!

[ Parent ]
No it doesn't. (5.00 / 1) (#150)
by tkatchev on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:36:06 PM EST

Can you imagine sitting in a crowded cubicle farm and mumbling the crap I post here into a microphone?

God forbid.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Don't mumble (none / 0) (#157)
by omrib on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 07:01:40 PM EST

You have to speak loudly and clearly into the microphone, otherwise it doesn't work...

[ Parent ]
How distopian. (none / 0) (#198)
by tkatchev on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 08:32:04 AM EST

Sounds like a good idea for "Matrix 3".

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

About the Dvorak... (none / 0) (#113)
by fae on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 01:48:20 PM EST

I've always wondered about this U and I thing. What possessed the designer to put them in the wrong places?!!?

-- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
Given that (1.25 / 4) (#119)
by gyan on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 02:22:46 PM EST

this article is a few decades too late to incite any meaninful discussion for a change, -1


While Dvorak is probably a better design, (3.25 / 4) (#132)
by Kasreyn on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 03:39:08 PM EST

the problem is that the QWERTY design (I'm sure that can't be the proper name for the layout) has such widespread, near-universal acceptance in english text keyboards, and people have invested such time and effort in training to touch-type on QWERTY keyboards, that to ask them to change over to Dvorak would be to expect human nature to suspend itself for your pleasure. Even if you could concretely promise people faster typing after an equivalent time spent training on Dvorak, they will mostly pay attention to the fact that they will have to spend time retraining, and during that time, their typing speed will suffer.

Finally, the most important drawback is business. Simply put, business is conservative by its very nature, and most people use their touch-typing skills to perform their jobs (like, say, a secretary or data entry tech). These people may very well buy Dvorak keyboards as a home-use hobby - but do you seriously imagine they would be able to convince their employers to suddenly switch all (or even some of) their keyboards to Dvorak, and ask their employees to retrain, with the added drawback of a much smaller resume pool of qualified Dvorak typists available?

If Dvorak is better, then in time it will supplant QWERTY. But I don't expect it to do so within my lifetime.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Non-argument (4.50 / 2) (#181)
by rpresser on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:37:24 PM EST

These people may very well buy Dvorak keyboards as a home-use hobby - but do you seriously imagine they would be able to convince their employers to suddenly switch all (or even some of) their keyboards to Dvorak, and ask their employees to retrain, with the added drawback of a much smaller resume pool of qualified Dvorak typists available?

As you well know, or probably should, it is trivial with modern software to use a standard QWERTY keyboard as if it were a Dvorak keyboard.  All that is required is a configuration setting or two.  If the keycaps bother you, a permanent marker can quickly block them all out; if you need to watch the keycaps while typing, you probably don't need Dvorak anyway.
"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
[ Parent ]

Dvorak is for uncultured slobs... (3.66 / 6) (#133)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 03:42:30 PM EST

...who only speak one language: English. Why should I care about an English-optimized keyboard if I regularly type in several other languages?

Even the reasonable-sounding statements here can become sketchy when looked in a proper linguistic perspective. E.g.: "Consonants and vowels are commonly found in pairs." There is a sense in which this is absolutely true--it's an approximation at a statement of a linguistic universal of syllable structure. The problem is that what counts as a "vowel" and what counts as a "consonant" in each language[*] is variable from one to the next; the Dvorak layout has "n" as a consonant, but in many languages nasal stops can be syllable nuclei. Designing a single keyboard for all languages is probably impossible. [*] Ok, the articulatory features by which the notions "vowel" and "consonant" are actually defined belies this. I'm using the term "vowel" loosely to mean a segment that can be a syllable nucleus, and "consonant" for the opposite.


Don't think so (2.00 / 2) (#136)
by muyuubyou on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 04:11:35 PM EST

  1. QWERTY isn't optimized for ANY language. QWERTY was actually designed to slow the typist down.
  2. DVORAK is optimized for English, but suits most western languages rather well (in its international variant). In any case it doesn't do worse than QWERTY and of course we're not counting different alphabets.
  3. There are DVORAK variants for other languages

4 Uncultured slobs oppose things before knowing shit about them.

- That said, I think I wouldn't use DVORAK anyway. Losing speed with the regular QWERTY layout would slow me down when I'm using other keyboards, which in my case happens often (I would prefer to show how fast and precise I can type when in a job interview or just when my boss is watching).

PS: try "Auto Format" next time. "Preview" doesn't hurt either.

[ Parent ]

one problem (none / 0) (#145)
by tetsuwan on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 05:31:30 PM EST

you don't want to switch keybord settings as often as you switch languages. Also: the QWERTY design is not meant to slow the typist down, but to keep the types in the mechanical typewriter from getting stuck much too often.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

try thinking (2.66 / 3) (#151)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:41:45 PM EST

QWERTY isn't optimized for ANY language. QWERTY was actually designed to slow the typist down.

This is a false counter to a claim I did not make.

DVORAK is optimized for English, but suits most western languages rather well (in its international variant).

Ma ten lingua na mundu ki ka Europea, ku algen ki ta papia-s.

There are DVORAK variants for other languages

Great. You'll do a great business by selling a little switching box so I can plug a keyboard for every language I speak simultaneously to my computer.

PS: try "Auto Format" next time. "Preview" doesn't hurt either.

Try fucking off instead of condescension next time.

[ Parent ]

Try this website: (5.00 / 2) (#156)
by lb008d on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:58:50 PM EST

Comparing Letter Layouts.

I used your phrase Ma ten lingua na mundu ki ka Europea, ku algen ki ta papia-s. and got the following data:


  • Distance: 0.685m
  • Home Row: 69.5%
  • Distance: 1.118m
  • Home Row: 41.30%
So Dvorak had less finger distance and more home row letters, both of which sound advantageous to me in an ergonomic sense.

[ Parent ]
dont make me drag out the Georgian dictionary [nt] (none / 0) (#169)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 09:13:44 PM EST

[ Parent ]

do it! do it! (none / 0) (#174)
by Battle Troll on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:03:02 PM EST

I wanna see Chechen, Bushman, and something I've never heard of before!
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
I don't follow (none / 0) (#175)
by kesuari on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:08:15 PM EST

How do you type a language that doesn't use the Roman alphabet on a Roman keyboard, dvorak, qwerty or otherwise?

[ Parent ]
non-Roman fonts /nt (none / 0) (#179)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:48:54 PM EST

[ Parent ]
ok (none / 0) (#139)
by the sixth replicant on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 04:36:08 PM EST

so you use an AZERTY keyboard

how much more great is this is for the typing other languages? all the extra stuff are where the numbers are anyway compared to a US QWERTY keyboard, so a dvorak still won't change that


[ Parent ]

-1 a few years too late (1.00 / 2) (#143)
by falloutboy on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 05:00:43 PM EST

This is an article about an 80-year-old keyboard layout... Is there really that much discussion here?

EMACS is why I won't switch (3.50 / 2) (#148)
by Carson523 on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:05:28 PM EST

I've gotten so used to C-this-C-that, that it would become nearly impossible for me to become productive at the same level with the Dvorak layout. Only if they would have chosen to go Dvorak a long time ago...

I read somewhere a long time ago that one of the reasons that the QWERTY layout was chosen was is because you can type typewriter with keys all on the top row. This supposedly made it easier for typewriter salesman to demonstrate the new device.

You can even read (4.00 / 1) (#170)
by iasius on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 09:32:47 PM EST

it in one of the linked articles.
For your convenience: "Remington engineers slightly modified Sholes?s almost-QWERTY design by transferring the common consonant R to the upper row, thereby enabling typewriter salesmen to show off their machine to prospective buyers by typing the word typewriter very quickly (all the letters were now in the same row)."

the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
[ Parent ]
Or vi (none / 0) (#194)
by Repton on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 06:44:17 AM EST

I shudder to imagine using vi on a Dvorak — the movement keys are now where??

(for the uninitiated, vi movement keys are h← j↓ k↑ l→)

(incidentally, my editor of choice is currently EMACS with vi emulation...)

They say that only an experienced wizard can do the tengu shuffle..
[ Parent ]

See (none / 0) (#234)
by lb008d on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 02:14:03 PM EST

here. Vim + remap works great.

[ Parent ]
Do not shudder, (none / 0) (#294)
by Alexey on Thu Sep 25, 2003 at 07:39:27 AM EST

Check before.

I use dvorak and vim. No problems; actually hjkl are slightly more convenient in dvorak/vim comparing to qwerty/vim as jk are for the left hand (where c and v are in qwerty) and hl are for the right hand (j and p of qwerty). It's more convenient to navigate if up/down and left/right use different hands.

[ Parent ]

I knew how to use a Dvorak keyboard (4.33 / 3) (#149)
by Mr.Surly on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:15:15 PM EST

I could at one point use either keyboard, and can probably still type (slowly) on a Dvorak layout. However, I didn't use the same computer all the time (occasionally having to type something into someone else's computer for them), so I needed to keep my QWERTY skills. In the end, it wasn't worth the effort to be proficient in both.

Besides, I do a lot of coding, so my typing is inherently slowed by all the punctuation I'm typing.

It's more about personal choice than anything (4.00 / 3) (#153)
by Quattri on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 06:49:54 PM EST

Unless you learned to type on Dvorak, the sheer amount of time needed to learn another layout far offsets the very slight gains you might make in speed and ergonomics. It's purely a matter of personal preference.

And, for people like me, I already type plenty fast enough. If I'm not distracted, I type at roughly 95wpm. This isn't a guess. I've clocked it with typing programs. If I push myself, I can break 100.

Now, here's the catch: I do nearly all my typing with my two index fingers. I only use my other fingers for keys such as the backspace, backslash, enter, tilde, and modifier keys (right fourth finger for backspace/backslash/enter, right fourth for ~, left pinky or thumb for modifiers). Sometimes I use my left thumb to hit the space bar, but more often than not, I use my right index finger. However, I do not look at the keyboard when typing.

I do this because I have completely memorised the QWERTY layout, over my years of typing. I am almost 19, and I can estimate that I have been using computers regularly since I was three years old.

I can type no other way. Other keyboard layouts, even minor ones, throw my typing off badly. I cannot use keyboards with reverse-L-shaped enter keys. ``Ergonomic'' keyboards are anything but. Multimedia keyboards are useless. CompUSA has keyboards with all kinds of screwy layouts (usually involving the arrow keys and the ins/del/home/end/pgup/pgdn block) I'm perfectly happy with my perfectly standard IBM Active Response keyboard.

The only nonstandard keyboards I can use are laptop keyboards, and that's only because I've used them frequently over the years. And the fact that they're completely flat, which aids my typing. For me, flatness is better. I always pull back the support tabs on any keyboard I use, and IMO, the perfect keyboard would have a standard 104-key layout (QWERTY, of course) and be completely flat (like a laptop keyboard). AFAIK, that doesn't exist, but I can dream.

Switching to Dvorak would be nearly impossible for me. And even if I do learn the layout, it would be years before I could even come close to being as fast as I am now.

actually (5.00 / 1) (#185)
by RJNFC on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 12:41:55 AM EST

I believe you can get one of those laser keyboards and just project it onto any flat surface. Not sure if they are actually being sold yet, but it shouldn't be all that long. Let's see if I can link you...

Here you go:

[ Parent ]

This is false! :) (5.00 / 2) (#197)
by alexei on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 08:31:35 AM EST

I was an avid qwerty user until a year and a half / two years ago. I'm a touch typist with qwerty (learnt from school classes) and I forced myself to touch type with dvorak, too, when I learned it. The first few days were hell... couldn't talk to anyone, couldn't write anything, but I just kept at it. After an hour or so, you generally get the feel for it, but it takes a few days to master it, typing as much as I could. After a week, I was at the same speed as my qwerty typing, except I had tons of typos due to my brain wandering to qwerty every so often. :) After a month, or so, I lost all typos and I'm now fluent in two keyboard layouts, being able to touch type in both of them without looking at the keyboard.
All it takes to switch is effort and patience. Everyone that has typed with dvorak on my computer for a while (after complaining heavily) has generally got the gist of how to type ~15wpm after 20 mins without looking at the keyboard too much. It's like learning anything--it takes some work and dedication, but is generally pretty easy if you push yourself.
To me, though, switching keymaps is like switching languages in your head. I can either think in dvorak or think in qwerty, just like I think in English (and pretend to think in Swedish). :) Once you learn dvorak and go back and play with qwerty again, you are generally able to seperate them pretty easily and type equally well in both.

[ Parent ]
I think you're overstating your problem (4.00 / 1) (#201)
by p3d0 on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 09:20:31 AM EST

I can type no other way. Other keyboard layouts, even minor ones, throw my typing off badly. I cannot use keyboards with reverse-L-shaped enter keys. ``Ergonomic'' keyboards are anything but. Multimedia keyboards are useless.
Well, you had better get over yourself. One day you won't be able to use your beloved keyboard for whatever reason, and nobody is going to want to hear you whine about it.

For me, I had no problems with typing whatsoever until my Master's thesis, and after several months of 15-hour days of typing, I started to have problems with my forearms. After taking a few weeks off, I bought a Microsoft Natural Keyboard, and that helped my particular problem tremendously.

I currently have a MNK at home and work, but of course my laptop doesn't have one. I switch back and forth between the two, and you know what? It isn't that hard. You get used to it.

You seem like a smart enough person. I doubt you would really have that much trouble switching keyboards if you put your mind to it.
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]

Oh dear, the Kooks have come out (3.64 / 14) (#158)
by Urpo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 07:12:45 PM EST

Why does dvorak attract such kooks? Beats me. Perhaps because it attracts people who are naturally anti-establishment and convinced that They Know Better.

Regardless, any mindless dvorak advocate would probably be well served by having a read of The Fable of the Keys, a timeless demolition of the arguments dvorak fanboys endlessly spew - namely, the faster, better, easier arguments. In fact, in the only studies not funded or performed by acolytes with commercial interests in the success of dvorak, qwerty comes out ahead. The claims that Dvorak is faster seem to go back to studies performed by Dvorak himself - a man with a direct interest in the success of dvorak. Further, those studies have deep methodological flaws - they would compare professional typists with 3 weeks training on a dvorak keyboard and a high grade with raw high school students who had never seen a keyboard before. Nasty!

Another myth of the dvorak-lovers is that qwerty is "designed to be slow" because the typewriters of the day could not handle great speeds. What the origin of this myth is, I don't know, but the real fact is that in the late 19th century there was enormous competition between typewriter firms, each with their own layout. Public competitions were frequently held, each with a champ typing at a keyboard with a particular layout, where the manufacturers would show off the speed of their layout. It was this highly Darwinian environment that spawned QWERTY - it was genuinely the fastest layout found for typing on, under harsh market conditions!

Qwerty is an excellent keyboard layout for speed and ergonomics. Ergonomic studies have shown no clear advantage to dvorak. In qwerty, the most pressed keys are located above and below the central row. In short, ergonomicists contend that:

For optimal typing speed. keyboards should be designed so that:

A. The loads on the right and left hands are equalized.

B. The load on the home (middle) row is maximized.

C. The frequency of alternating hand sequences is maximized and the frequency of same-finger typing is minimized.

The reason for C is that during a keystroke, the idle hand is preparing for its next keystroke. Dvorak does fairly well at A and B, but shittily at C, while qwerty does well at A and C but reasonably at B. There is no clear advantage for dvorak at all ergonomically, if anything, quite the reverse.

There exist no studies showing dvorak to be superior ergonomically or in terms of raw speed, in fact, the advantage lies with qwerty for both. Dvorak has the additional difficulty of being, lets face it, utterly non-standard. The only people who like dvorak are the aforementioned anti-establishment types who are impressively gullible and wont to think they know better than everybody else because they take some stupid decision on the "rational" basis that "oh, all the most commonly pressed keys are on the home row, obviously it is better" and because they think themselves smarter than anyone they won't bother to look into their own prejudices and idiiocy. Yes that's right, I'm talking about g**ks, who are precisely the constituency fond of dvorak. Nobody else is.

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.

Not really (5.00 / 3) (#182)
by hjhornbeck on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 11:43:56 PM EST

That Discover article contains some very interesting statistics. QWERTY favours the left hand slightly, yet most people are right handed. 32% of all typing happens on the home row, 52% on the top row. Over 3000 words can be typed with only the left hand, and 300 with the right.

Dvorak, in comparsion, favours the right hand slightly. 70% of all typing is on the home row, 22% on the top. "I" and "A" are the only words that can be typed with one hand.

Clearly, QWERTY is worse than Dvorak on all three points you raise.

There are several studies that show Dvorak's superiority, but I only know one that claims the reverse. The Fable of the Keys mentions several, including . There is also the case of Barbara Blackburn, who held the world record for fastest typing for some years. She credits Dvorak for some of her success.

Ignoring the grandmother figure, you are probably correct that geeks are the biggest users of Dvorak. Who else would have taken the time to research typing, let alone show an interest in it?

If you do reply, could you please clarify something for me? Why are you so critical of concentrating on the home row in your last paragraph, yet use it to support your point in the previous pargraphs?

HJ Hornbeck

[ Parent ]
Left hand is good (5.00 / 1) (#232)
by Nurgled on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 01:40:48 PM EST

I use my dominant hand (right) for other things such as operating a mouse or writing. My left hand is the better choice for the majority of my typing because of this: I can multitask a lot more effectively.

As an experiment I typed this comment half with my left hand and half with my right while eating dinner with my other hand. I made far more typing mistakes typing with my right hand, which is probably because of QWERTY's bias, but I also found it harder to pick up and eat my food with my left hand. I now have the sauce from my chilli con carne all about my mouth. Sigh.

[ Parent ]
2 more... axe & ox ? (none / 0) (#252)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 03:20:18 AM EST

true premis, though
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Here's the problem (none / 0) (#264)
by Urpo on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 07:12:10 PM EST

It isn't clear that having a keyboard that doesn't favour one hand is any better than a keyboard that does not favour another. There are in fact few studies that can be said to favour dvorak, that did not have the input of dvorak himself. The most important studies of this century that determined the purchasing habits of many corporations - the US navy study - was however methodologically sound and unbiased and showed that there was no clear difference. All the arguments for dvorak - yours included - boil down to personal bias and not scientific fact, and make extraordinary claims, such as "the market has failed and chosen an inferior model" despite the simple fact that shows the market was, when these questions were open for debate, very much concerned with finding the best keyboard layout and that qwerty convincingly won. dvorak has never been shown to have any clear benefit.

As for the home row, I am critical of blindly using that single point to conclude that the keyboard is better across the board, when other factors - which qwerty may be better at - may be more important. I am critical of people who assume that the home row is the be all and end all of keyboard design.

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
[ Parent ]

Can I ask you something? (none / 0) (#199)
by partykidd on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 08:39:59 AM EST

Have you learned to type on both the QWERTY and Dvorak layouts or are you just talking out of your ass?

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle

[ Parent ]

What? (1.00 / 2) (#265)
by Urpo on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 07:13:58 PM EST

Have you ever murdered, or do you just thinks its bad through second hand experience and "thought"? Clearly you are talking through your ass when you say murder is bad!

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
[ Parent ]

Oh yeah (none / 0) (#272)
by alexei on Thu Sep 04, 2003 at 09:00:39 AM EST

Go and compare murder and changing keymaps.

Have you ever met Hitler?

[ Parent ]

Oh (none / 0) (#273)
by Urpo on Thu Sep 04, 2003 at 03:47:43 PM EST

Not heard of reductio ad absurdum have we? Its a common and perfectly valid line of argument, go and read about it.

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
[ Parent ]

Not according to what you've just typed (5.00 / 1) (#243)
by ihewson on Mon Sep 01, 2003 at 01:05:02 AM EST

The best place I've found to compare qwerty and dvorak layouts is this applet . I used it to compare the content of what Urpo typed in the post above. The results are pretty clear and speak for themselves. It only takes a few seconds to do your own comparison (go to the link above, paste in some text and press calculate).

[ Parent ]
applet url (none / 0) (#244)
by ihewson on Mon Sep 01, 2003 at 01:08:27 AM EST

I forgot to mention the url of the applet above is http://www.acm.vt.edu/~jmaxwell/dvorak/compare.html

[ Parent ]
OMG I'm a Kook! (none / 0) (#271)
by warped1 on Wed Sep 03, 2003 at 04:27:09 PM EST

Nice troll ... I'll bite ...

Studies or not, I don't get pain when I use the Dvorak layout. No other changes necessary.

Frankly, I don't give a shit if all studies say qwerty is superior. My *actual* experience (which other people have shared) is what counts to me, and is why I still use Dvorak whenever possible.

And it's not like it's terribly hard to switch to touch-typing qwerty when I have to.

[ Parent ]

Hack typing (3.50 / 4) (#159)
by UnConeD on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 07:18:15 PM EST

Another argument is that there are many people who don't use the 'correct' method of typing. I've been typing since I was about 6 (now 19, first was on an Apple II) and I developed my own method of typing.
It involves mostly my thumb, index and middle finger, though occasionally the ring finger will jump in to assist. Pinky is used for shifts/ctrl's only. My left hand seems to dominate my typing.

If you learn something at young age, it's nearly impossible to unlearn it. So if people who learnt to type at older age have massive troubles switching from **ERTY to Dvorak, imagine what people like me would have to go through.

Try it. (5.00 / 1) (#173)
by kesuari on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 09:57:09 PM EST

If you learn something at young age, it's nearly impossible to unlearn it. So if people who learnt to type at older age have massive troubles switching from **ERTY to Dvorak, imagine what people like me would have to go through.

I'm the same age as you. I've used computers about the same length of time as you. I converted last year.

[ Parent ]

Disagree (5.00 / 1) (#177)
by Politburo on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 10:42:15 PM EST

From my personal experience only:

I started on computers when I was 6. My typing was by no means proper, very similar to what you describe. However, I was able to both learn (mostly) proper typing, and Dvorak.

[ Parent ]
i did it (5.00 / 1) (#184)
by RJNFC on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 12:32:55 AM EST

I started on a commodore 64 when I was 2 and you can bet that by the time I saw my first typing class I was faster at my own brand of typing than any of the students were at "actual" typing. However, I switched to dvorak a couple years ago just fine.

[ Parent ]
i changed, too. (none / 0) (#204)
by werner on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 10:47:44 AM EST

i typed much the same way as you do, and as fast. a couple of years ago i forced myself to learn to touch-type.

the only problem was, i was so sloooow at first. it was hard not just to switch back for the speed.

now, i type much faster than ever before and don't have to look at the keyboard half as much.

i don't use dvorzak or qwerty, but a german qwertz keyboard. you cannot imagine something worse for programming. slashes, brackets and symbols are scattered utterly at random across the board to make room for the extra german characters. if i didn't need them so much i would switch.

does anyone know of a german keyboard which is any good for programming?

[ Parent ]

hey, i heard that random keyboard layouts... (3.00 / 1) (#166)
by rmg on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 08:53:09 PM EST

are not much worse than dvorak in terms of speed for most users after a period of adjustment...

let me see, where's the link...

well, here's what i was thinking of. it's from some wiki somewhere. here you are:

Donald Norman and David Rumelhart tested a number of alphabetically-organised keyboards and a random keyboard as well as the Sholes (QWERTY) and the Dvorak. They found that alphabetic keyboards were between 2 and 9% slower than Sholes, and Dvorak maybe 5% faster. They concluded that it is possible to make a bad layout, and Sholes is better than some of the others they tested. They argue that for optimal typing speed,

The loads on the right and left hands are equalised.
The load on the home (middle) row is maximised
The frequency of alternating hand sequences is maximised and the frequency of same finger typing is minimised.

The Dvorak keyboard does a good job [...], especially on 1 and 2; 67% of the typing is done on the home row and the left-right hand balance is 47-53%. Sholes fails on 1 and 2 (most typing is done on the top row and the hand balance is 57-43%) but the policy to put successively typed keys as far apart as possible favours factor 3, leading to relatively rapid typing.

For companies to re-equip the environment with Dvorak keyboards, then re-train all their users, does not therefore make much economic sense. The outlay would be many hours of lost work and the cost of re-labelling the keyboards or purchasing new ones, then reconfiguring the computer so the behaviour actually follows the legends. A small speed advantage, between 2 and 6%, is not worth it.

fascinating stuff, that.

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks

Who cares? (3.50 / 2) (#167)
by spooky wookie on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 08:58:08 PM EST

As long as the mouse wheel is functioning.

[ Parent ]
Spare me from the Dvorac fanatics (2.62 / 8) (#168)
by bafungu on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 09:11:28 PM EST

I have written vast mounds of long-forgotten software over the decades. My mother is a writer, and my wife is a translator. Ask any of us about productivity, and I promise that none of us will shake our heads in sadness and say "if only my keyboard was 4% faster, yes if only it had been 4% faster"...

When they start an official Olympic Competition for speed typing I'll take Dvorak seriously, but in real-life use speed is absolutely irrelevant: it's more important that the qwerty keyboard has become a ubiquitous, generic, input device that anybody can stumble onto and use without thinking.

The time for worrying about exactly how to arrange they letters is long past. Get over it. Accept the stupid, quirky qwerty, and get on with life.

Speed schmeed. (5.00 / 3) (#172)
by kesuari on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 09:52:46 PM EST

It's been said before and it'll be said again: Dvorak isn't about speed (any more). It's about comfort and ergonomics. When you get RSI and can hardly type anymore, consider a change to dvorak. Better still, consider the change now.

[ Parent ]
But I've been typing for 30 years now... (4.00 / 2) (#195)
by bafungu on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 08:09:43 AM EST

...and I don't have RSI. Neither does my mother, and we both type like crazed demons.

It's a matter of posture, taking breaks, and occasional hand exercise, just like it is with playing piano. If you don't do these things you'll get RSI with a Dvorak keyboard just as easily; don't fool yourself.

I type for a living. I'm a command-line guy. I started getting twinges in my hands until I remembered the lessons of my piano teacher, and I've been fine ever since. End of problem.

[ Parent ]

RSI (5.00 / 3) (#189)
by juju2112 on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 01:02:36 AM EST

I think you people are missing the point. For many Dvorak typers, it's not about speed. It's about alleviating pain. My wrists used to hurt all the time. By the end of the day, they'd be really sore. I'd always have to have my wife massage them. After switching to Dvorak, the problem has completely gone away. I'm only 27, so the fact that my wrists were hurting at the end of the day, every day, really worried me. With RSI at 27, what would my wrists have been like when I turned 50 if I had stuck with Qwerty? I didn't even want to think about it, so I sought a solution. If your wrists hurt at the end of the day, and proper ergonomics don't fix it, perhaps you should give Dvorak a try.

Check posture and mouse (none / 0) (#190)
by Anonymous 242 on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 01:07:12 AM EST

From what I've read, it is very rare for typing to cause any sort of RSI. When it does, it is most likely (but not always) due to wrist muscles being out of shape (i.e. not enough exercise in general) or to poor posture while sitting at the keyboard.

RSI is more commonly caused by use of the mouse.

[ Parent ]

Indeed (none / 0) (#231)
by Nurgled on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 01:29:16 PM EST

I'll go along with that. I only ever get a sore wrist on my mousing hand.

[ Parent ]
ergonomics. (none / 0) (#239)
by juju2112 on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 04:32:12 PM EST

Well, before I switched to Dvorak, I bought a split keyboard and moved my mouse so it was level with my keyboard and at a comfortable position. I tried it for a couple of months, and while it helped a little, but it really wasn't enough.

[ Parent ]
+1, IJnforrmative (3.00 / 2) (#192)
by Man With Extremely Fat Fingers on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 04:23:03 AM EST

I hasve beenmn sstruggling wiuth my QQWETRY keyboiard lately, amnd hjave beenm lookjking for alternatfives.

The Dvorak of Piano (4.50 / 8) (#202)
by bafungu on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 09:24:10 AM EST

is the Jankó Keyboard.

The normal piano layout is the way it is because it was originally intended as a compositional aid, not an instrument. You play it in the key of C and that's that. Only later did it start getting used as an actual performing instrument.

Transposing to other keys is ridiculous; you essentially have to re-learn how to play a scale twelve times over. With the Jankó, you need only learn one scale; the others are dont by simply shifting your hand position.

In addition, because of the added depth dimension your hand has a much greater reach, and harmonic progressions lay themselves out in a natural geometric fashion.

The Jankó keyboard has vast advantages over the regular layout, yet after 150 years it has still made little headway because despite its serious disadvantages, the regular keyboard has the overwhelming advantage of being ubiquitous. That's the stupid keyboard that I learned to play on, because that's what my piano teacher learned to play on, and that's the kind of piano we owned and he owned.

The dvorak keyboard faces similar problems.

Fortunately (none / 0) (#203)
by losthalo on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 10:28:11 AM EST

Replacing keyboards (or swapping keycaps around) is easier than replacing one's piano.


[ Parent ]
question (none / 0) (#241)
by omegadan on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 08:49:51 PM EST

Does the janko keyboard only work for some scales? Does someone make a MIDI controller of the janko keyboard? i'd love to have one in my studio. thanks :)

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley
[ Parent ]

I'd like one, too (none / 0) (#247)
by epepke on Mon Sep 01, 2003 at 01:35:57 AM EST

The Janko keyboard looks like it works the same for any scale you like. It's based on a 12-tone scale broken up into two groups of 6.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Standard 12 tone scale... (5.00 / 2) (#248)
by bafungu on Mon Sep 01, 2003 at 09:02:03 AM EST

If you follow the link in my original posting you'll see a picture of the keyboard layout. It's the standard 12-tone scale; it's just that the keyboard layout is different. It's got black keys and white keys just like a regular keyboard, but they're arranged to be key-neutral, unlike the regular keyboard which practically screams "play in the key of C". With the Janko, you use exactly the same fingering for all scales, hallelujah.

What might not be obvious from the picture or article is that there are three buttons for each individual note, but they are all actually just protrusions of the same physical key underneath. They move together when you press any one of them.

The idea is that for any given note, you have a choice of three buttons to use depending on what happens to be convenient fingering-wise.

[ Parent ]

Sounds neat, however (none / 0) (#299)
by lukme on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 02:37:04 PM EST

it is the type of thing that you really need to start with.

Several woodwind instruments have multiple fingerings for particular notes (ie the oboe and the recorder). Right now, I think that I am too old to learn a new keyboard layout to the piano - besides I don't think that it would make any difference in my playing ability even if I were to have started with that keyboard.

It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
Sample home row exercises (4.60 / 5) (#205)
by Eight Star on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 10:53:24 AM EST

I have tried using Dvorak, but I couldn't stick with it because it is non standard. But I knew it was better the first time I type the wrod the, because the is entirely on the home row, and it was fast to type, even after only a short time. It's very easy to just twitch your finger when they're already on the right buttons.

On QWERTY, from the home row, you can type things like:
had a sad dad
dads a fag; lads
hall ass; lass

And see how useful the semicolon is?
Now under Dvorak, from the home row (aeioudhtns):
the hound is not a sane dane
i had not seen it then
soon this stain is no dot
a sound to the south
ten tons hidden in the undies

Now to recap: the short common words you can type easily with QWERTY:
a as ass all had has ha ad

With dvorak:(aeioudhtns)
a I as is it in on an as all had has the then than at oh us ...

And onward depending on what you define as short and common. But clearly dvorak makes it much easier to type the most common words.

You can write a lot more than that (5.00 / 1) (#281)
by Goggs on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 09:32:53 AM EST

"sues son sees the hostesses anus at seans house"
More words on the home row also means more difficult words when doing a Dvorak tutorial...

Taken from ABCD A A Basic Course in Dvorak;
"The idea that nineteen studious Dadaists assisted Einstein is asinine"
"Nina and Dana hit the astonished attendee on the head in unison"

-----== This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
[ Parent ]

A moot point (3.66 / 3) (#206)
by JanneM on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 11:36:04 AM EST

I don't touch type. I do not sit according to established ergonomic practice - frequently (on the train, airport and so on), I cannot even sit straight ahed of the machine. Apart from the letter keys, I am a very frequent user of the touchpad and various punctuation and control-key combinations. Oh, and whatever letter frequency scheme you have is wrong for me, as I write in Swedish as well, which has different letter frequencies from those you quote, as well as three letters that do not exist on English keyboards.

So, Dvorak has the wrong key layout, missing letters, and will have a suboptimal layout even without the language factor as it assumes a mode of use that I do not - and frequently could not - utilize.

The single most important thing for efficiency for me is not what layout is used, but that it is the same layout everywhere I need it. If the best argument in favour of Dvorak is that it will work just as badly as the current layot, but will require me to learn and keep up to date two layot schemes rather than one, then I think I will pass.

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend.

Tools for learning DVORAK? (5.00 / 1) (#208)
by Merc on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 12:56:29 PM EST

I've wanted to learn DVORAK for a while, but the main problem has been how to learn the layout. I don't want to buy a keyboard, or even switch layouts temporarily. What I'd like is an application that:

  • is free, since I'm not interested enough to fork out $$$
  • runs on Linux or OS X (or ideally both)
  • contains good lessons that
    • introduce the home row keys
    • let you practice the keys
    • progressively introduce more keys
  • Doesn't require remapping the keyboard, it just interprets QWERTY keystrokes as their DVORAK equivalents (so I can flip between applications without having to keep flipping keyboards)

Now that's a pretty tall order, I know, but I have found one program that almost does what I want. Typist, a free Java application / applet lets me do most of this. The one area I found was weak was the lessons, but from what I could tell they were customizable. Strangely, the author is apparently an SCO employee. Who knew they actually did useful things too?

Anybody else have any good DVORAK learning tools or tips?

How I learned: (4.00 / 1) (#214)
by Nigga on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 03:27:06 PM EST

Switched my mapping and just put up with the frustration of going cold turkey with QWERTY. It took me about 2 weeks to get up to 40wpm. Two years to get to 80wpm. I've never been able to type as fast as i did under qwerty though (about 90 wpm).... but I didn't switch for speed, I switched for comfort... and it is a lot more comfortable.

I don't really recommend retaining your qwerty skills, it would take so much longer this way. And as for learning where the keys are, I just had used a printout of the key locations.

The fuck happened to Nigga?
[ Parent ]

How to switch to Dvorak (4.00 / 1) (#216)
by GuillaumeLeblanc on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 06:07:50 PM EST

Search the microsoft web site for their dvorak keyboard mapping picture. Print it out and paste it onto the monitor, and then use xmodmap or xkb to switch your keyboard, and don't look back. The one thing Microsoft can do is make pictures of keyboard mappings.
Codex gratia Codici.
[ Parent ]
Microsoft keyboard pictures. (none / 0) (#221)
by tkatchev on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 08:01:55 PM EST

That, and the fonts you are using to read this text.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

url (none / 0) (#291)
by tlhf on Mon Sep 15, 2003 at 11:35:37 AM EST


[ Parent ]
free tutorial (none / 0) (#255)
by lovedog on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 09:09:46 AM EST

Here is a great tutorial that comes with 31 excellent lessons and also allows you to specify your own text files for the lessons. This is how I learned the DVORAK layout. I never changed the layout on my querty keyboard, I simply don't look at it. I've been using DVORAK for 2 years now. When I have to use someone elses machine at work, I take the seconds necessary to switch their keymap to DVORAK and then switch it back to QUERTY when I'm done (if I'm feeling kind). I do the same thing in the labs at school. I find that it's totally worth it. But that's just one white man's opinion.

[ Parent ]
KDE comes with a Dvorak mapping (n/t) (none / 0) (#269)
by anno1602 on Wed Sep 03, 2003 at 11:18:55 AM EST

"Where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit." - Murphy
[ Parent ]
Any speed increase .... (5.00 / 2) (#209)
by jboy55 on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 01:17:10 PM EST

It is likely lost by the time it will take to replace your dvorak keyboard.

I agree that if the only place you work is at home, or on one keyboard and your job is data entry a Dvorak might have advantages with its 4-6% speed increase.

But lets face it, as I look around my office, there is NO dvorak keyboards around. In all the times I've gone to a customer, library, friends house or Kinkos I've never seen a Dvorak. I've never seen a Dvorak laptop (you can't readily replace the keys on that).  Basically, if you want to learn ONE keyboard layout, so that you can work most optimal in most programming jobs, you're best to learn qwerty.

As for ergonomic reasons, it is completly invalid to say that people with RSI who switched to dvorak can credit all their success to the layout. Most likely, you self-taught yourself qwerty, and picked up a tonne of bad habits. By FORCING yourself to learn a new layout, and learn it properly, you are better able avoid your old bad habits.

As from what I understand, RSI has more to do with the preasure you place on your wrists then on the movement of your fingers.  By learning a wholey new layout, you are also learning how to position your wrists correctly. Thus, yes, it is valid that  people have had much succes by switching, but that is because they switched, not because of what they switched to.

Keyboard, keymap (4.00 / 2) (#228)
by seebs on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 12:58:24 AM EST

Dvorak is a keymap, not a keyboard.  I have no "Dvorak keyboard" - I have several keyboards which have been mapped to work Dvorak.

BTW, my typing habits are just as bad on both keyboards; Dvorak is, however, much less stressful.

[ Parent ]

keyboard, keymap (none / 0) (#242)
by jboy55 on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 11:12:41 PM EST

I stand corrected. I have never seen a keyboard that has a dvorak keymapping. Nor have I've ever seen anybody popping keys off to make one.

I have no stress problems typing, so I guess I'm one of the lucky few.

[ Parent ]

Don't look at the keyboard (4.50 / 2) (#259)
by rujith on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 10:10:01 AM EST

Learn to touch-type. It'll make an amazing difference. Touch typing is not so much about pressing the right key with the right finger, as about NOT looking at the keyboard, so that you can look at the monitor, or the paper you're copying, or out of the window, if you prefer. If you touch-type, then every computer keyboard is a Dvorak keyboard, because it's easy to change the keymap.

Touch-typing is easy to learn: (1) print your chosen layout (Dvorak or QWERTY) on a piece of paper, and hang it at eye level near your monitor (2) paste little pieces of paper on each key, to get out of the habit of looking at the keys (3) optional, but recommended, learn the typical finger placements, which are mostly a matter of common sense.

- Rujith.

[ Parent ]

Great Advice ... (none / 0) (#261)
by jboy55 on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 01:42:09 PM EST

But i'm already a touch typist with QWERTY. Don't know my speed, but its pretty good. Actually took a class at HS (Qwerty only, on typewriters which aren't so easy to change).

Anyhow, my original point is that if you train yourself Dvorak your much more likely to revert to Qwerty when you need to use a computer outside your own home/cube.

I really don't think that QWERTY is pure evil compared to Dvorak Holyness as dvorak's evanglelists would have us believe.

Qwerty doesn't cause RSI by any design, its much more likely that a RSI sufferer switching to Dvorak was helped by the fact they're relearning typing with RSI in mind. The only test of Dvorak's RSI helpfullness would be to test Dvorak RSI suffers switching to QWERTY vrs QWERTY RSI sufferers switching to dvorak. Due to Dvorak's prescription as a cure to RSI,  thus a large % of dvorak typists being sensitive to RSI inducing habits, such a control group would be tough to find. Also, I belive it would be tough to find a large enough population of native dvorak users, who have never learnt QWERTY.

It reminds me of the myth that Lamb and Rice helps dogs with food alergies. In fact dogs prone to food alergies developed Chicken alergies because they were constantly fed chicken, thus they had to be swtiched to a 'Novel' protien. Towards the end of my days as a pet food seller (end of college) we started seeing a number of dogs come up with alergies to Lamb. Thus they had to be switched to chicken, or in most cases, Rabbit, Salmon or Venison.

Thus, it was the switch that was the cure, not what the cure was.

[ Parent ]

Keyboard vs. keymap for touch-typists (none / 1) (#262)
by rujith on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 01:51:13 PM EST

Hey jboy55, when you complained that there are no Dvorak keyboards around, did you mean keyboards where the physical keys are arranged in the Dvorak layout? If you're a touch-typist, why do you care about the physical keys? A touch-typist doesn't look at the keyboard. Just re-mapping the keymap should allow a touch-typist to use any keyboard as Dvorak. - Rujith.

[ Parent ]
ok... (none / 0) (#266)
by jboy55 on Wed Sep 03, 2003 at 01:02:54 AM EST

Good point, but I still think the trouble in switching over isn't worth it. Plus I would imagine it would be weird, esp someone who's learned QWERTY to see the QWERTY layout.

I really don't have any problems with my wrist, or my typing speed (often is faster then I can think) and I rarely copy things complete where the 5% extra speed would help. I think this goes for alot of people too.

If you need to switch to relearn typing to cure a bad habit fine. Like I said, that is because in doing the switch, your relearning. If you've managed to relearn all your same old bad habits and find the dvorak better, fine, whatever, have fun.

I think though, from what I've read, that the example of QWERTY being an wholey inferior design that was adapted and stays true because of tradition is a weak case. Maybe its inferior, but the degree at witch it is is very slight (compared to an alphabetical keyboard). I think its really a case of the 95% solution becoming standard because the 100% soltuion wasn't ready in time, not the 30% solution becoming standard.

[ Parent ]

No, no, no. (none / 1) (#292)
by seebs on Wed Sep 17, 2003 at 05:02:16 AM EST

Keycaps don't enter into it.  You can spraypaint a keyboard <a href="http://www.seebs.net/kinesis/index.html">rainbow colors</a> for all I care.

You don't move the keys; that wouldn't change anything.  It's 100% software.  You just select "Dvorak" from a pop-up menu, and boom, Dvorak typing.

[ Parent ]

Idea (4.00 / 1) (#210)
by mmsmatt on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 01:24:55 PM EST

Give accents like č and â their own darn keys.

You don't say... (5.00 / 1) (#220)
by tkatchev on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 07:58:47 PM EST

What a brilliant idea. You should try patenting it in France.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Depends on the language (none / 0) (#238)
by jaapweel on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 03:51:21 PM EST

Depending on which language you want to type, if you type it a lot, you may want to use the associated national keyboard. Sometimes, this is useless (Dutch, for example, where I think 99% of keyboards in The Netherlands are American), but in other it can be very useful (French, German) because these keyboards are designed to have all the common accents in place.

In some cases, there are even Dvorak-like keyboards designed for non-English languages.

[ Parent ]

Qwerty? Dvorak? (1.00 / 1) (#213)
by artis on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 03:20:23 PM EST

The Maltron layout is better anyway. But layout is not my problem, my problem is that almost every keyboard is arranged like a typwriter, not in vertical rows.
Can you know that you are omniscient?
Maltron? (none / 0) (#219)
by tkatchev on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 07:57:57 PM EST

Don't you mean Voltron?

(Now to find the prick responsible for violating my virgin childhood brain...)

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Additional argument in favor of dvorak: (4.46 / 13) (#215)
by Nigga on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 04:04:56 PM EST

Check at how much better dvorak crapflooding is:


henasuhe tuashecurshacduiatdiesauhtehautnbeihtha eudean uthea udehaiehuthihduasicued idegiasheoutda,iha-hetudsiahte-ntuah tjaid ensahut dsuahedahtedus aednsuaehuditnsehatunsedaichauetahut edus ehotaude asdiheushac.u abueha uidshpdsatheadisade niatheuhadi-atnhue di -aeheutda-ithtat eaudahtt ne d uantohitade uh-antd eusthnaedideou heodsuaheyacgdkol aedsihgsca yidktenshihudtoahesaudehidsre ueadleasrnhisadintahu ehisbn-oashduaoi n-thaeus hdisadei hsdeusc,.divmjbkathsid a-hetuasoed iatoad-inc.ahtunet uatedi-/ra,ndtsoenahtiesant uda-hiteasdi-aehtuheanistd anuhetid -atnuheadi nsahteait-eoatuheasnthoseanid snhtsnthoensthtnshaoeuntashoaeuontashuaoeueoau hnsoahoesuhsoaheunshtn sheuhoeadshtnhsathdeaonshut easoditn-ehtaud.rac,htuwbmu teiad/rcehuatnh hid/-arnteah jadoic/eahutnseah idsatuheasridtadxune-ahwth eiadei-;ntoeuahr,c.huatnh enshtnseh aitesa udesatuhsn


djs;aflk dfal;jdk ;ajkghl ;asjf;lsahg ;lkjaf; ldkhflk;ajd kf;hdkl;gjksl;fhkgaj;kljf; ldjsahglkjdafl;k da;kj fllg;kjsfo;weijfack; vuhgoaiwje khagkldaj'k;ohgiuo;jkaf dahg;oieja;kldhf jk;ajgko;dajfi dhag;kjdaf;jdha;kgja;fjd akjhgdf;akjfeo;waihvcmka ng;oaiejao;iejf dgh48hfdsfjl;adi fa;wgh;sajfe;ioahg;lksajfdlk ahgioawejgkd ahgjk; asfhdio;agh ds;afjklsd; aghjkodf;sajkfld;ajgkhdf;fajdkl;ahgio;ejzkjfad;l gjkl;hdf;lskagj; ldshdflksja gh;dlsajfdklsagh lskajfdl;kgajhsdfagfldjafdkjfgdhga;kjfkdjgkjhzfo;iwaheg;jdhfdshagoijdo;i fjdoa eodhaga;kejf odiahgeroajd;kahgoidhf k sah;d shag;h fd;h gkjahfd ;sahghlsaf kdj;safhdalkfhdaig;jh fliahdf

cmon, now you tell me which crapflooding os more plseant to view... that dvorak shit's just superior!

The fuck happened to Nigga?

Could be mistaken for 'Nesian (5.00 / 2) (#223)
by pin0cchio on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 08:32:02 PM EST

That Dvorak layout crapflooding looks almost like a 'Nesian language.
[ Parent ]
Yet another post. (none / 1) (#222)
by Vesperto on Sat Aug 30, 2003 at 08:26:27 PM EST

This whole QWERTY vs Dvo?ák is amuzing, but they're meant for english keyboards. Granted, i'm using a slightly modified qwerty.

Why do people call it DVORAK? C'mon, is PYFGCR that hard to pronounce? :)

As far as i can tell, the best Dvo?ák would have to offer would be a helthier typing, preventing RSI. I might try it someday but my first priority would be acquiring a better typing position, by means of maybe buying one of those flat screens, maybe a better chair, etc. Donations anyeone?

If you disagree post, don't moderate.

For the Unix users, (none / 0) (#227)
by hjhornbeck on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 12:47:30 AM EST

I was just playing around with grep, looking for words that can be typed with only one hand, in both Dvorak and QWERTY. These break the left/right hand alternation that allows efficient typing, so these words should be kept to a minimum. Without further ado:

[hjhornbeck@localhost hjhornbeck]$ wc /usr/share/dict/words
45425 45425 409286 /usr/share/dict/words
[hjhornbeck@localhost hjhornbeck]$ egrep '^[asdfgqwertzxcvb]+$' /usr/share/dict/words | wc
1302 1302 8941
[hjhornbeck@localhost hjhornbeck]$ egrep '^[yuiopjklnm]+$' /usr/share/dict/words | wc
112 112 580
[hjhornbeck@localhost hjhornbeck]$ egrep '^[pqkjxyaoeui]+$' /usr/share/dict/words | wc
53 53 247
[hjhornbeck@localhost hjhornbeck]$ egrep '^[fgcrlhtnsbmwvz]+$' /usr/share/dict/words | wc
0 0 0
[hjhornbeck@localhost hjhornbeck]$ egrep '^[pqkjxyaoeui]{6,}$' /usr/share/dict/words
[hjhornbeck@localhost hjhornbeck]$ egrep '^[asdfgqwertzxcvb]{6,}$' /usr/share/dict/words | wc
748 748 5984
[hjhornbeck@localhost hjhornbeck]$

HJ Hornbeck

Alternating hands (5.00 / 2) (#230)
by Znork on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 01:56:04 AM EST

Actually, while alternating hands may indeed cause a speed up in typing I tend to find that syncronization issues kill the performance improvement.

My own without comparison most common typing mistakes occur on the most common words like grep that becomes grpe, while that becomes hwile or ls that becomes sl. Very often the error occurs because the right hand reacts slightly faster than the left hand, and the right hand letter gets typed before the left hand letter that should have been first.

It may just be me, but that makes me a bit dubious about the claim that alternating hands is automatically faster.

[ Parent ]

Not necessarily speed, but efficiency (none / 0) (#285)
by hjhornbeck on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 02:46:19 PM EST

Some Dvorak users never get beyond their QWERTY speeds. I think I am one of those, though I never bother to do any before and after measurements.

There are two things that make alternating hands a good idea. One hand can move to the proper position while the other is pressing a key, and lots of alternations means fewer times that one hand does a lot of consecutive letters.

Letting one hand get ahead of the other is a problem with almost every keyboard layout, however, because very rarely does one hand do all the work. It is more of a sign that you are typing too fast for you brain to keep up. Drop your speed a bit and those errors should disappear.

HJ Hornbeck

[ Parent ]
Location (and existence) of numeric keypad (none / 0) (#236)
by MrBoombastic on Sun Aug 31, 2003 at 03:12:49 PM EST

Never mind the layout of the keys, why not think about the layout of the keyboard itself? Ever since I'm using a mouse I've been wondering where to put it. If I'm right behind the keyboard (so my centerline is right between 'B' and 'N') the numeric keypad sticks out to the right, to such an extent that putting the mouse next to that results in major neckpain. But moving the whole KB a couple of inches to the left (to make room for the mouse) makes typing very unpleasant. How do you cope with this, and why have I still not bought a keyboard sans numeric part...

This (none / 0) (#251)
by losthalo on Mon Sep 01, 2003 at 06:21:27 PM EST

in part of why I bought a Happy Hacking Keyboard and am still quite happy with it. A reduced-key keyboard makes desktop space for the mouse muc larger, and you can keep the mouse in a comfortable position. Unless you de a <lot> of numeric typing the loss of the numeric pad won't be a problem..


[ Parent ]
Re: Location (and existence) of numeric keypad (none / 0) (#274)
by data64 on Thu Sep 04, 2003 at 11:55:40 PM EST

The ergo specialist my company had in brought told us to start using the mouse with the left hand and move it to the other side of the keyboard for this very reason.

I have not done that yet, because using my contoured 4-button logitech mouse in my left hand does not feel very comfortable :) Maybe if I find a 6+ button mouse contoured to fit in my left hand.

I think what would be even more interesting would be to have a trackpoint like they have on laptops right on the keyboard. That would mean hands never leave keyboard. Talk about effieciency gains. :)

[ Parent ]

HappyHacking (none / 0) (#276)
by mitch0 on Fri Sep 05, 2003 at 05:32:43 PM EST

Try a Happy Hacking keyboard. small, no numpad and the Control key is at the correct place, too.

[ Parent ]
I second this! (none / 0) (#289)
by iso on Tue Sep 09, 2003 at 01:11:16 PM EST

I bought a Happy Hacker keyboard (USB Lite2) for my home computer a few years ago. I picked up one for work earlier this year. It's great in so many ways, and allows me to put the mouse nearby.

FWIW I also picked up a FingerWorks iGesture NumPad that serves as a replacement for the number pad but also acts as a mouse.

As for Dvorak I tried, but it just doesn't work for me. I need vi, programming in it was just too much of a pain, and my laptop can't interchange keys so I'd be stuck with a QWERTY layout that writes Dvorak.

[ Parent ]
laptop keyboard (none / 0) (#298)
by dimaq on Mon Oct 13, 2003 at 06:35:54 AM EST

is quite alright too in this respect. I had to :imap <F1> <Esc> on mine though cause I often mishit it.

[ Parent ]
Another rule (none / 0) (#245)
by hobbified on Mon Sep 01, 2003 at 01:18:18 AM EST

besides the fact that it's better to alternate hands (in other words, if we're talking about optimization functions, there should be a penalty for using the same hand twice in a row), an even worse thing to have to do is to use the same finger to type two different letters in a row (e.g. "ed" or "un" in QWERTY). The worst is to have to go from the bottom row to the top (or vice-versa).

Speaking of optimization functions -- (5.00 / 1) (#246)
by hobbified on Mon Sep 01, 2003 at 01:23:00 AM EST

It would be instructive to use these rules to construct one, and then ask a genetic algorithm to construct an "optimal" keyboard. Care would have to be taken when selecting the training corpus -- the optimal keyboard for shakespeare would be quite different from the one for the linux kernel (or better, xfree86) source tree. Hrm... what about... the perl hackers' keyboard, trained on cpan. With $, %, and @ in the home row, of course ;)

[ Parent ]
Like this? (5.00 / 2) (#290)
by Daelin on Mon Sep 15, 2003 at 03:25:29 AM EST


[ Parent ]
Some of the keys I find hard (none / 0) (#295)
by p00ya on Sun Oct 12, 2003 at 01:30:44 PM EST

I took up dvorak a couple of weeks ago (for my holidays), and it didn't take long to pick up (I'm typing at about 50wpm atm). There are a small set of common combos under dvorak that really hit you hard. Here's the ones I found:

This was fscking annoying. For me it is one of the most commonly used commands (I prefer it to bash tab-listings for its colour when aliased with --color=auto). What's more, it uses my right hand pinky, probably my weakest finger.

Well, this is just me under windows getting the address bar in ie and explorer. Works quite well under qwerty with left thumb taking alt and normal finger on D.

C-x, C-c, C-v
Commonly used for cut, copy and paste operations respectively, this is damn annoying since they are so convenient on qwerty. Under X and windows I have a toggle key just so that I can change quickly to do these operations.

Under vim, such qwerty specific combos are all to common (to say nothing of the hjkl navigation keys). Although the above combos may not look to comfortable under qwerty, if you slide your left hand just a little so your outermost finger gets the shift key and the next two get Z and Q respectively this is quite convenient. qwerty, dvorak
Neither of these are particulaly easy to type with dvorak.

Although it's not much worse than qwerty, the extra reach to get these keys which are all too common in C detracts from the 'perfectly optimised' thing.

[ Parent ]

I used dvorak for a while (3.50 / 2) (#249)
by applespank on Mon Sep 01, 2003 at 03:13:50 PM EST

I switched a few years ago.  After about a year, I switched back.  I never got speedier, never noticed and better comfort, and things like programming and using EMACS were more difficult.  Plus I still had to use qwerty when going to the computer lab or use someone else's computer.  About the only advantage was the thrill of watching someone as they sat down to my keyboard, looked at the keys, and realized that their entire world had crumbled beneath them.  I only wish I hadn't switched the keys, so I could see the looks on their faces as they typed gibberish on the screen.

Honestly (none / 0) (#288)
by epepke on Mon Sep 08, 2003 at 03:43:36 AM EST

You're only going to see comfort improvement if you've already experienced repetitive stress injuries using a QWERTY keyboard. If you have RSI and you change anything, it will improve.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Same Boat Here (none / 0) (#300)
by Lemmeoutada Collective on Wed Oct 29, 2003 at 05:18:56 PM EST

I tried it for 18 months, and even with an hour of practice a day I was unable to reach my prior speed on the QWERTY layout. The problems I ran into involved the work I do, which is at most 50% typing and the other 50% writing or mousing. Most of the time, the Dvorak layout slowed me down because it is almost entirely geared for two hands. Most of the time my right hand is working the mouse or other peripherals. I tried some of the one hand layouts, but they hindered me when I was typing two handed. Just my experience.

[ Parent ]
I thought for changing to dvorak when I first... (3.66 / 3) (#250)
by jforan on Mon Sep 01, 2003 at 04:52:09 PM EST

heard about it and then figured that the most common buttons I press are probably:
open paren
close paren
open curly
close curly

I don't think dvorak will help.


I hops to be barley workin'.

Really (none / 0) (#280)
by Goggs on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 09:15:20 AM EST

Well, I don't think they design a keyboard for r33t, but you could modify a Dvorak one easily.

You're seriously telling me you type more 'symbols' than alphanumerics?

-----== This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
[ Parent ]

It's called C (none / 0) (#301)
by psetzer on Sun Nov 16, 2003 at 02:50:50 PM EST

Unless you program in COBOL, then there isn't much help for programmers who want to type quickly. If I'm using C, the code will look along the lines of a = (a != b): c ? d; Dvorak doesn't really help in that respect, and I have to use more than one computer, many of which are for general use by many students. I'm not going to learn a second style of typing for my personal computer, and I doubt that I really can learn a second style, considering the fact that most of my touch typing is reflexive. My muscles move my fingers to a position, where I 'know' that there is a key labeled exactly what I want. Learning new reflexes requires unlearning old reflexes, and I don't feel that it would be good sense for me to do so.

[ Parent ]
Reduces movement of fingers (none / 0) (#256)
by rujith on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 09:46:26 AM EST

I use the Dvorak layout, primarily because it reduces the amount my hands and fingers move. I read somewhere that Dvorak reduces finger movement by a factor of 20 (sorry, can't find the source). In fact, many people, not knowing about my use of Dvorak, ask how my hands move so little while typing. There seem to be lots of inconclusive typing speed comparison studies; how about some studies on hand movement instead?

By the way, are there any Dvorak keyboards sold? Just swapping the keys doesn't work because (1) on many keyboards, the keys on each row are slightly differently inclined (2) the "home" keys, with the little nubs on them, can't be swapped.

- Rujith.

Don't look at the keyboard (5.00 / 3) (#257)
by rujith on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 10:01:31 AM EST

Learn to touch-type. It'll make an amazing difference. It's easy to do: (1) print your chosen layout (Dvorak or QWERTY) on a piece of paper, and hang it at eye level near your monitor (2) paste little blank pieces of paper on each key, to get out of the habit of looking at the keys (3) optional, but recommended, learn the typical finger placements, which are mostly a matter of common sense. - Rujith.

Oops, wrong reply (none / 0) (#258)
by rujith on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 10:04:38 AM EST

Sorry, this was meant to be a reply to this: http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2003/8/28/21547/2069?pid=228#242. - Rujith.

[ Parent ]
keyboard design beyond character location (none / 0) (#260)
by mjtobler on Tue Sep 02, 2003 at 11:18:51 AM EST

One area of "keyboard layout" I havent seen commented on is the physical design of a keyboard, beyond the location of letters and so on ... I'm referring to the difference of the, what I call, "linear" layout versus "natural" (or split) layout. My first exposure to typing text was the use of a teletype machine during my four-year stint in the Navy as a Radioman (we also used computer/ keyboards) to compose messages). After leaving the Navy, my next immediate typing exposure was to a computer keyboard as a programmer (to this day, although I'm more of a consultant now). I compose a lot of documents (beyond writing code) during my daily activities and I've also written a couple of [computer] books - I spend a LOT of time in front of the keyboard. I've tried the Dvorak keyboard and what I find as a negative is the difficulty in switching layouts when at a client's office or in the lab. Carrying around a Dvorak keyboard would be a nuisance at best. Although I think the Dvorak layout is superior, what I find a better alternative to the standard QWERTY keyboard is the "natural" (or split) keyboard. The MOST UNCOMFORTABLE hand position is to have to force your hands to twist inward to compensate for a linear layout (all keys on the same linear plane). Do this: sit at your keyboard and place your hands on the home-row keys. Now, examine the angle of your arms [from the elbow] and your hands. Notice how your hands must turn inward (at the wrist) so that your digits can rest on the home-row keys. A more "natural" solution is to use a split keyboard, which allows your hands/digits to rest on the keys, without your hands having to twist to rest on the keys. Michael J. Tobler

Hand positon (none / 0) (#284)
by brianscott on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 12:34:03 PM EST

You know, for some reason, this has never been a problem for me. Seems like our hands and wrists have different comfertable positions. This is actually kind of similar to the reason I like the GameCube controller, but my friend doesn't. His hands have to twist inward to accomodate it, and mine don't, or at least not so much so that it become's uncomfortable.

[ Parent ]
Dvorak (1.00 / 3) (#268)
by Big Dogs Cock on Wed Sep 03, 2003 at 09:27:06 AM EST

The New World Symphony makes me think of bread.
People say that anal sex is unhealthy. Well it cured my hiccups.
DVORAK? QWERTY? Screw that. (1.00 / 2) (#270)
by Zerotime on Wed Sep 03, 2003 at 12:30:34 PM EST

DHIATENSOR is the obviously superior keyboard layout.

"You don't even have to drink it. You just rub it on your hips and it eats its way through to your liver."
My Dvorak Experience (5.00 / 1) (#275)
by cgp314 on Fri Sep 05, 2003 at 08:00:42 AM EST

I switched to Dvorak this summer. It always hurt for me to type at my keyboard for an extended period of time. I heard that Dvorak was better, so I gave it a try. I'm never going back. I type at about the same speed as I did before, but it is much more comfortable and it doesn't hurt anymore.

As for learning the new layout, I was surprised at how little time it took. I printed out a picture of the layout and taped it to the top of my screen. After about a month, I was as good on Dvorak as Qwerty.

-- American Weblog in London
Common myths about Dvorak (5.00 / 3) (#283)
by Goggs on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 10:14:09 AM EST

Firstly, I'm a Dvorak typist. Like many of you, I'm a bit of a 'net wh0r', ie IRC, ICQ, & forum windows open for a large portion of my computer time, ie I do a lot of conversational typing. While I use Linux at home, I use windows computers thoughout the day at college. Anyway;

*) Coding
Dvorak is good for coding. I do Java programming regularly.
*) Cost
I havn't payed a damn thing for Dvorak- Those who think you need a new keyboard need to go get a clue. Most new Dvorak'ists end up moving the keys around on their existing keyboard, and thats fine (/me hugs his Model M :))
*) Adjusting
Just like learning anything major all over again, it takes time. For the first 2 weeks, I needed to tell my colleagues not to expect an immediate reply to their messages so they didn't think I went idle. You'll get over it. Like many of you, I grew up with qwerty, and had habits to get rid of. But I got over them. Don't be a pussy :)
*) Using qwerty
Qwerty is (unfortuanatelly, many would say) here to stay. I do a reasonable bit of tech support, and usually I don't have a choice whether I use qwerty or not. But heres the thing- Most keyboards are in qwerty. When typing in qwerty, I look at the keyboard, when typing in Dvorak, I generally touchtype (or look when I need an infrequently used character).
*) Availability
Dvorak should be supported in most new OS's, although it seems more % of Linux users use Dvorak than windows users. Dvorak in Linux isn't a problem- 1 line of console code changes it. In windows it easy as well- its in regional settings, so if you can change between 'English (US)' and 'English (your_country_here)', you'll be right. I have Dvorak input settings on my windows profile at college, and it 'follows me around'.

Things that suck-

*) Old windows games
Old windows games use qwerty. When it says 'press f to continue', you need to press 'u' on the Dvorak keyboard. Apart from old games, most games thesedays adjust the controls for the keyboard. Battlefield: 1942, for instance. 'wasd'=',aoe'.
*) Qwerty-orientated programs
Vi, for instance. I was an enthusiastic vim'er in qwerty, and while I can still use it, I ended up moving to Emacs (glad I did though :)), because 'hjkl' got annoying. Although C-x is harder to 'hit' in Emacs (theres probably a fix somewhere), I find Dvorak works well with Emacs' keys (C-f & C-b are 'opposites'- take a look).

If you have 1 or 2 weeks to spare, consider changing to Dvorak. If you just turn on your computer soley to play CS or whatever, then don't bother. But if you do a lot of typing through the day or want a better keyboard, seriously consider it. I'm glad I changed.

-----== This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.

Minor nit-picking correction (none / 0) (#307)
by Morimoto Masaharu on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:04:36 PM EST

It would be, in a "Press F to continue", a better idea to hit the Y key in qwerty, because the U key is G.
«This is Mr. Yoshida on your favorite vegetables.»
[ Parent ]
Hunt and Peck (none / 1) (#287)
by hjhornbeck on Sun Sep 07, 2003 at 03:15:09 PM EST

Most people use the "Hunt and Peck" method when they type. They search for the key they want to press, then peck at it with the index/middle finger of one hand.

Some would argue that Dvorak wouldn't do well here, since it was designed for touch typing. I disagree.

Most of your time in the Hunt and Peck method is spent hunting. You can minimize this by trying to memorize the keyboard layout, but if you've managed that you are probably better served by touch typing.

So instead, it would be handy if there was a pattern to the keyboard layout. Anything that made it easier to find a key would reduce hunting, and speed your typing up.

QWERTY places about half your keypresses on the top row, so if you look there first you'll be more likely to find the key than on any other row. That is about as far as you could go, though.

Dvorak, in comparison, places almost three-quarters of all keypresses on the home row; if you looked there first, you'd be more likely to find the right key than QWERTY's top row. In addition, if the key you're looking for is a vowel, you can just search the left of the home row; one of those five keys will be right over 90% of the time.

That's the theory, anyway. In practise, you need to look at the keyboard for Hunt and Peck. Since your keyboard is almost certainly laid out as per QWERTY, you couldn't use Dvorak. You need to physically switch your keys around, use felts or stickers, or buy a Dvorak keyboard to make use of Dvorak.

HJ Hornbeck

Letter frequencies? You need KEY frequencies. (none / 1) (#293)
by Rot 26 on Sun Sep 21, 2003 at 03:07:28 AM EST

Yeah, frequency use of letters hasn't changed much. but I setup a keylogger once to find out exactly which keys I pressed the most and my results were interested. Basically, upon looking at the log the most common keypresses were BY FAR the backspace key and the arrow keys.
2: A website affiliate program that doesn't suck!
Umm (none / 0) (#306)
by Morimoto Masaharu on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:00:13 PM EST

If the most common keys pressed were backspace and arrow keys, then chances are you're just a very inaccurate typist.

Keep in mind also that keyloggers log uses of keys when one isn't typing, like for navigating menus and such.
«This is Mr. Yoshida on your favorite vegetables.»
[ Parent ]
Korean keyboard layout (none / 0) (#296)
by dimaq on Mon Oct 13, 2003 at 06:24:59 AM EST

is quite like dvorak - most common wovels are the right half of the middle row, most common consonants are left halves of top and middle row.

p.s. I may not be too good at Korean yet to judge though.

How could you Qwerty users be so unprogressive...? (none / 0) (#302)
by SirDvorak on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 10:35:27 PM EST

I love turning my choice to change to Dvorak into a melodramatic battle against the bonds of conservatism, so if I start sounding too fervent, remember that it is probably in a joking manner.

Anyway, I don't see a reason not to switch to Dvorak, provided one has the time to learn it and is typing in English.  I have converted, and I type much faster (not a simple 4-6% difference... more like 10%), am a much more skilled touch-typer, and can type for hours on end without experiencing any sort of cramping.  

Compatibility is an issue for a Dvorak user, but I can easily switch between the two layouts if it is necessary, I can still type just about as fast as I could in Qwerty when it was my primary.  Now, though, when I use Qwerty, I may type the same speed but my hands feel significantly more tense after I have been using it for a while.  Being that I use my computer with great frequency, this kind of tension can only be destructive.

With all the benefits that Dvorak provides, the people that don't switch can only be labeled as conservative, change-resistant, and unwilling to progress when given the opportunity to do so with minimal effort.  But, that is the kind of person one finds all too often in the English-speaking world...

If you intentionally use something that is inferior, then how can you decry that which is superior?  Qwerty is a shitty standard, and should therefore be eradicated in favor of a more useful layout.  Join the Dvorak Revolution with me, rally to our grand cause!

A major oversight, in my eyes, is... (none / 0) (#303)
by haesslich on Mon Dec 08, 2003 at 01:11:48 PM EST

that in most conversations/arguments about keyboard layout, the physical layout of the keys to begin with is rarely/never brought up. QWERTY/Dvorak/etc are basically different key mappings for the same dime-a-dozen standard 101-110 key keyboards we're all used to.

There are several things that always struck me as odd about the standard keyboard:

1) Why are the keys on each row of a standard keyboard slightly offset from the other? While a mere small feat for human dexterity, this constant side-to-side motion can be, as we now know, disastrous for anyone who spends their life typing. Six million years in primate evolution has left us with hands that are, for the most part, designed for simply grasping things. The fingers on the human hand have a natural tendency to migrate towards eachother as the hand is closed. This is partially due to the shifting of the metacarpals (the long bones in your hand between the carpus (wrist), and the phalanges (fingers)). The fact that your fingers spread out when your hand is open and come together when your hand is closed is natural because of this. If one makes these motions when the metacarpals do not shift, it ceases to be a natural motion. Almost anyone who has an open hand and repeatedly spreads their fingers and brings them back together again can feel that this is NOT entirely natural. Just because you are capable of a motion, does not make it natural. I don't know how this got overlooked for so long.

2) I understand that most keyboards are flat for one simple reason, production costs. Though some keyboards like the Microsoft split and contoured keyboard attempt to adress the issue, they still neglect the fact that your fingers are _not_ the same length. For the average person, if they hold their fingers out straight, the profile slightly resembles a bell curve. When you naturally coil your fingers downward as if to type, this profile remains.

3) The dexterity of the human thumb is grossly underestimated. As any piano player might know, the thumb is a valueable resource. Relegating the thumb to space-bar duty seems like a waste of resources, particularly since both thumbs are assigned the same task.

4) Various brackets, meta-keys, arrow keys, and the like are ignored as if not important. I understand that, brackets, ticks, tocks, and slashes aren't important to most people, but even the most basic of computer users still need to access arrow keys, pg up/down, home/end, delete, and most importantly backspace (heh).

In the end, all of these short-comings in the standard keyboard are no big deal for the average computer user. But for those of use who spend most hours of the day in front of the computer, and particularly for those of us who code, these seem like major oversights.

About 3 years ago I was introduced to a line of keyboards made by a company called Kinesis (kinesis.com or specifically http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/advantage.htm). They attempt to address all of the issues I have been wondering about for years and years. Though a pretty penny, I found it to be a great investment. It has paid off countless times over in increased productivity and decreased strain. The models which are listed in the link I have provided are particuarly expensive, I purchased "The Essential" for about half the price several years back. The keys are laid out in a linear fashion so you fingers go up and down, not up and slightly left/right each time. The keys follow a concave surface which closely mimics the natural shape of your curled hand. And the most commonly used control keys are easily accessed by your thumbs.

I've always been a quick learner in regards to "muscle memory", particularly concerning my fingers (A month after learning qwerty at 13 I could easily hit 100-130wpm, I can "remember" a piano piece after playing it only once or twice). I'm not sure how/if that plays into my success using this form of keyboard.

It took me a good week of fumbling around to get the hang of it, and in the end it ended up not being truly optimal for a programmer. However, it is fully re-programmable so you can change around any key maps you don't agree with. After a bit of experimenting I truly love this keyboard. No more cold stiff hands.

Of course, I don't mean to say these are for everyone... after all, the darn things are very pricey for keyboards.

But for anyone who has tried many different setups as I had and said "Oh man, this just isn't right, this won't do." I highly recommend looking into one of these.

Switching costs (none / 0) (#304)
by jrew on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 12:54:23 AM EST

Yes, we all know that Dvorak is much more efficient. It's born out of efficiency and research, as shown in the article. BUT, there are two main reasons why it will never become prevalent:
  • The switching costs associated with switching to the Dvorak layout are too huge
  • A huge network of users are already locked in to the QWERTY layout

A company would never train their typists in the Dvorak keyboard. No matter how much you argue the efficiencies of the layout, the switch is just not worth it. For each person that is a QWERTY user, the stronger and more standard the QWERTY layout is. This is somewhat like the network effect seen with goods and services. It's already too late, we are locked in to the QWERTY system as a society just as much as we are locked into the VHS standard for tapes (as opposed to the failed Beta).

No one is going to champion Dvorak. Yes, you may be able to convert yourself, but you will never convert everyone else.

Switching cost for touch-typist on modern OS (none / 0) (#305)
by cburke on Mon Jan 12, 2004 at 02:16:21 PM EST

...  is basically the month it takes to re-aquire the same speed of typing on Dvorak that you used to have on Qwerty.

First, unless you are using a typewriter, the fact that QWERTY is standard is meaningless.  All modern desktop OSs allow you to remap the keyboard on a per-user basis, and outside of video games I haven't encountered a situation where this led to incompatability of any kind.  For a touch-typist, there is no need to have a special keyboard with the keys labeled in Dvorak.  In fact, for those times where QWERTY is necessary (at login, before my preferences take effect), having a QWERTY-printed keyboard is a boon.  So there is no physical costs associated with a switch to Dvorak.

The usage of QWERTY is nothing like the network effect.  You using QWERTY has zero effect on me using Dvorak.  Other QWERTY users get no benefit from you using it.  Other than that keyboards are all printed in QWERTY, but as I said that's no obstacle to the usage of Dvorak.

For someone who can already touch-type, learning Dvorak can be done on their existing keyboard as they do their other work.  It took me about a week to get comfortable with the layout, and about a month to get to the same speed as I was with QWERTY.  A formal training program would cost more (than nothing) but would be faster, I would think.

So outside of about a month of slightly decreased typing productivity, the cost of a switch to Dvorak is basically zero.  The only reason not to is inertia.

[ Parent ]

Down with Qwerty. (none / 1) (#308)
by Morimoto Masaharu on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:07:52 PM EST

I don't see how anyone could doubt Dvorak's amazing grooviness. I'm not sure where the notion came that qwerty is here to stay, because a shift in standards could actually be applied fairly quickly, if many people are willing to take the initiative. I don't know enough about business and economics to continue expanding upon the idea, though. I think one would have to start with keyboard manufacturers, get them to start selling dvorak models at the same price (they don't cost any more to make...) and then get computer manufacturers to sell systems with the option of dvorak keyboard, making it well-known that dvorak is much less... of a health hazard.
«This is Mr. Yoshida on your favorite vegetables.»
History (none / 0) (#309)
by BOOZy on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 02:12:39 PM EST

One thing seems to be lacking from your post;
Why QWERTY? How did it come into existance?
If I recall correctly, the QWERTY keyboard was originally designed for typewriters.
The layout has been chosen to have the least chance of a collision (remember, these things used the be pure mechanical).

Life is hard...but so is the wall *ouch*
I use both QWERTY and DVORAK (none / 1) (#310)
by codeboy on Tue Mar 02, 2004 at 12:44:56 PM EST

Learning Dvorak in the beginning was naturally quite painful and I felt like a cripple especially since my QWERTY speed was quite fast (90-100 wpm).

Interestingly, once you've mastered Dvorak, retraining back to QWERTY is not that difficult and like the other people I know who have tried, switching between the two even in the middle of typing is easy.

Dvorak is indeed noticeably less stressful on the fingers (part of the reason I considered it imperative to switch was I was experiencing some wristaches).  However, I've noticed that this mostly applies only when typing out english sentences.  When coding or when working on a command line, dvorak seems to yield little benefit over QWERTY and in fact makes certain things confusing (like when using vi).  Your fingers can eventually learn the dvorak mapping for these keys but I find that it offers little benefit in these situations.

So now I generally switch to Dvorak only when typing stuff like email and forum replies and use QWERTY when doing technical stuff.

I don't regret learning Dvorak though, and believe the fact that the world record for typing speed is held by a Dvorak user really is proof that this layout has its advantages over QWERTY.

Almost Dvorak (none / 0) (#311)
by asetnil on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 12:28:27 AM EST

The principle advantage of the Dvorak is number 1 on hjhornbeck's list, the most common letters rest on the home keys. The problem is that learning Dvorak puts one in such deep water. I have corresponded with three former Dvorak users who loved the layout but gave it up in frustration, it is afterall a qwerty world out there. On a qwerty layout about 26% of text is typed from the home keys, for a Dvorak it is almost 60%. Simply swapping etni with dfjk would allow more than 55% of text to be typed without lifting a finger. After a couple of weeks and perhaps a couple thousand words, I have found this keyboard modification to be comfortable and fast. The msklc (keyboard layout creator) and net.framework are available from microsoft. A far easier approach is to use KeyTweak, which is available from PC magazines website as well as other freeware providers.

An Argument for Dvorak | 311 comments (259 topical, 52 editorial, 0 hidden)
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