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Why you should try an alternative keyboard layout

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  • Why you should try an alternative keyboard layout

    Source : Cnet Original Author : Jakobsson Purewal Post Date : May 27,2015 Link in Cnet :

    The standard QWERTY keyboard layout may not actually be your friend.According to popular legend, the QWERTY keyboard was created in the 1860s by a man named Christopher Latham Sholes in response to a very specific problem: Early typewriters jammed up when they were used too quickly, and so a special inefficient keyboard layout had to be designed. In other words, QWERTY is designed to make you a slower, clumsier typist.

    Of course, this story may just be a legend, just like the supposed superiority of certain alternative keyboard layouts may be a myth. But even if QWERTY wasn't designed to slow you down, let's take a look at the facts: the fastest English typist on record, Barbara Blackburn, didn't use QWERTY to set her world record of 212 wpm. So maybe you shouldn't use it, either.

    Looking to up your typing game? Here are a couple of English keyboard layout alternatives you can get started with right now:


    The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, which was patented in 1936 by August Dvorak and William Dealey, is probably the most popular alternative keyboard layout -- in fact, it's what Blackburn used to set her world record. The Dvorak keyboard is designed to reduce finger movement by moving popular letters, such as vowels, to the home row. With Dvorak, you don't have to move your fingers as frequently to type out common words -- 70 percent of your typing is done on the home row (only 32 percent of typing is done on QWERTY's home row).

    You can switch to Dvorak right now, if you want -- all major operating systems come with the Dvorak layout built in, you'll just need to activate it. But it's not incredibly easy to switch, since the layout is completely different (in the original version of Dvorak, even the number keys were laid out differently).


    If switching to Dvorak is too daunting, you may want to check out Colemak, an alternative keyboard layout that's more efficient but closer to QWERTY. The Colemak keyboard shares some keys with QWERTY (including 'Q,' 'W,' 'C,' and 'B,'), but puts more common letters on the home row (including four of the five vowels). Colemak is a good choice for people who frequently use keyboard shortcuts, because 'Z,' 'X,' 'C,' and 'V,' are in the same place as they are in QWERTY.

    Colemak is supported on Mac OS X and Linux (as well as iOS and Android), but Windows users will need to download it separately.

    Dvorak one-handed

    OK, so a one-handed keyboard is unlikely to make you more efficient overall. But for people who appreciate the convenience of having a hand free (or who have only one hand), Dvorak comes in one-handed versions for both the left and right hand. As you might expect, in the one-handed Dvorak keyboards, the letters are more condensed toward the middle of the board, utilizing all four rows (including the number row), while numbers and punctuation are relegated toward the edge of the keyboard.

    What's nice about the one-handed Dvorak layout is that you don't actually need a special one-handed keyboard -- it's designed for your regular, full-size two-handed keyboard. You can find both the left-handed (LH) and right-handed (RH) Dvorak keyboard layouts in Windows.

  • #2
    Aah, a topic that I've dwelt on for a while. I've attempted switching to Colemak from Qwerty (I've memorized the layout and all). The things that I've noticed are:

    0) Colemak rearranges only a few keys, so it's relatively easier to learn.
    1) It is indeed more comfy compared to QWERTY, but I still could type faster in the latter.
    2) It's possible to use both but it takes an hour or two to switch between them during which you'll make typoes and generally be slower than usual.
    3) The rest of the world mostly uses QWERTY, so unless you're someone who spends most of your time on your computer typing a lot, you're gonna need to switch frequently.
    4) I think it's only worth it if you have to type a lot of literature, otherwise it's not worth the effort involved in switching so much.


    • #3
      Im learning Dvorak. im easing myself in by using it on my phone and tablet first before making the full switch on my PC.


      • #4
        There are some cool projects in other languages out there.
        Neo – Ergonomisches Tastaturlayout for german
        Disposition de clavier francophone et ergonomique bépo for french

        I can talk for the german neo layout. Especially the layers 3 and 4 are very usefull. for example the home row for me is \/{}*?()-:@ on the third layer. so {} would be at qwerty d and f and () at qwerty j and k. a smiley is just rolling ;lk on the 3rd layer.

        the numbers are on the 4th layer just under the fingers of the right hand. 456 are the home row and 789 the top row and 123 the bottom row. for arrow keys and some other usefull keys like backspace, return etc. you can use the left hand on the 4th layer.

        If you actually want to learn a new layout for a smart phone, I suggest messagease. Page Redirection
        I hardly used any other layout on a smart phone though.