I am currently a qwerty touch typist and am wondering if I should switch to Colemak or Dvorak. I don't care which is easer to learn, I only care about which allows you to type faster with less errors. I have all my keys off and am still deciding which layout to put them in. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Firstly I have to say – why would you ask this in Colemak forum?
But hey, I'm nice and I will give you my opinion on the two layouts, seeing I've used Dvorak for a little over 2 months before and Colemak for the last year. So here's what comes to my head right now. I'll try to keep it brief and keep in mind that these are only my thoughts and could be very different for anyone else:
- Dvorak is harder to learn. Like you I wouldn't care about that, but harder to learn means slower progress. So after a few months you're likely to be at lower speed than Colemak. After my first month with Colemak I had reached my two months Dvorak speed. Also the fact that Dvorak is so different from the familiar Qwerty makes it harder to type just very short things like 2-3 words. You have to position your fingers and all that stuff – again something I've experienced, not necessarily what anyone else does.
- Dvorak has more hand alternation. That really depends on the way you type and like to feel the keyboard but it's hard to say what you prefer if you hadn't tried both. I like Dvorak for its higher hand alternation. The hands feel much more free and the error rate is lower. The overall typing is more fluent.
- Dvorak has lower bottom row usage. That isn't mentioned much when comparing the layouts but when I was typing Dvorak my hands were slightly moved upward – closer to the numbers. That actually made the typing a bit easier then but isn't an issue with Colemak, because you can just learn to type properly and it isn't a problem :)
- Dvorak's keys are very awkwardly positioned for shortcuts because it keeps the vowels and punctuation signs right under your left hand. And the very common Z X C V W and so on are on the right side. Depending on how you use your computer and which programs you use that could be a problem. There are ways to customize the Windows and the program's shortcuts but it's a lot of time to and takes a while to get used to, obviously. There is also a way to use the Qwerty keys when you hold Ctrl, so you can basically use the "old" shortcuts but... I don't think a real Dvoraker would do that.
- Dvorak has the L letter on an arguably bad position. I personally haven't found it too troublesome but many people do.
- Dvorak may have a lot of users but undoubtedly the Colemak community is much more active on the net. You'll have bigger support and help if needed if you go with Colemak. Again that doesn't say that you shouldn't stay if you decide to use different layout than Colemak but still – this is a Colemak forum, and as far as I know it's the biggest of its kind (correct me if I'm wrong).
You can read a bit more on my thoughts in my experience thread (more or less what I've already said here)
One more time – all this is only my personal opinion on the matter, so... ;)
For touch typing, you don't look at the keyboard anyway, but you need the numbs on F and J to find your index finger's position. So you don't have to, and should not, change your keycaps if you cannot preserve these numbs.
Frankly, the speed on Qwerty/Dvorak/Colemak is usually the same. Since Dvorak/Colemak put all the common keys on the home row, Dvorak/Colemak speed is a bit faster than Qwerty, but not much.
Big Colemak gain is comfort, not speed. Your maximum speed is depending on your nerve reaction speed and your brain speed of interpreting what you see on the screen and translate it to which finger to move, not on the layout you use.
Last edited by Tony_VN (11-Feb-2012 08:36:31)
See my keyboard modding topic: There are several way the resourceful modder can get his homing nubs.
Changing layout in itself will actually improve your speed it seems: You have to work a bit of course to get there, but everyone I know who have switched will get a little faster. I improved my speed going from QWERTY to Dvorak (50 -> 55 WPM), and then some more going to Colemak (55 -> 60 WPM). I probably wouldn't bear practicing like that just to get better. But if you want blinding speed you'll just have to practice like mad and learn alternative fingering for lots of common words and then I don't think it matters much which layout you do it with.
But Colemak is sweet love for the fingers, and a solution for this millennium. ;)
Last edited by DreymaR (11-Feb-2012 20:02:09)
What kind of advice are you expecting from a Colemak forum?
Both Dvorak and Colemak have their stumbling blocks. While learning Dvorak your errors will be swapping letters for the most part; beginner Colemak typists seem to experience issues with placement of R and S.
I considered Colemak, but there were some sequences which felt awkward, especially on my IBM Model M keyboard. DreymaR, however, has got my same keyboard, but is enjoying his Colemak choice.
If you are after blazing speed improvements, you'll face disappointment. Your speed is likely to improve because of less hurdles, but unless you currently are a lousy typist, it is not going to grow twofold.
Whichever layout you choose, you'll set yourself up for a life of more comfortable typing. Sometimes, while I'm typing, I realize how effortless an ergonomic layout feels, and pity Qwerty typist who will never see the light ;-)
Dvorak typist here. Please take my comments with a grain of salt.
There was an interesting post about alternative layouts at GH recently, with fascinating ideas and a few good references.
That said, I'm a happy Colemak user on a Kinesis keyboard and can recommend both. Like spremino said though, switching layouts for speed/less errors seems a little bit misguided, even though you might eventually achieve that (anecdotal evidence: I did). You're much more likely to achieve more comfortable typing first.
Last edited by boli (20-Feb-2012 09:09:58)
You can check this Alternative Layout review by a geekhacker who have tried both Dvorak and Colemak with speed around ~100wpm
Adding to the previous:
In my experience at least, you're going to have to use QWERTY keyboards now and then. The damn things are everywhere! And then it's easier if you're using Colemak than Dvorak because the differences are less (17 keys difference for Colemak vs 31 for Dvorak). Trust me, I've done both! Going back and forth between QWERTY and Colemak is a lot less painful even though I've lost my ability to blind-type in QWERTY because I didn't bother to keep it. ;)
That's so very true. I wouldn't take anything the guy in the review, posted form Tony, says for pure "tuth" because in several places he is actually wrong when talking about pros and cons of the layouts. All this is very subjective, obviously, so just keep an open mind when reading things like that and know everyone's experience is different, so his advices and opinion may or may not apply to you.
Last edited by pafkata90 (21-Feb-2012 23:58:27)
>All this is very subjective, obviously...
Thats sums it up.
As someone that flirted with the idea of picking up one of the two, I found it a difficult choice. I picked Dvorak as at the time it was a more accessible layout.
I use Dvorak daily, but I have dabbled in a little Colemak. It is therefore difficult and unfair for me to compare. I can however remark on Dvorak.
Dvorak loads the right hand more so than the left. Vowels being on the left hand ensures good alternation. And helps you remember the layout. One plus is that on a non-ergonomic keyboard, you have to worry less about the awkward left stagger.
On the left hand Dvorak's P (Qwerty R) is slightly odd, perhaps due to the stagger. Alternative fingering or a 'wide mod' could help with that.
Speed gains for me were slow as I had to get used to new fingering patterns (probably the same for other layouts.) I was never a 'proper' touch typist with Qwerty so perhaps that is why I struggled with the fingering (using all my fingers).
L and S are on the right pinky (Qwerty P) under Dvorak. Basically the right pinky gets more of a workout with Dvorak (I think I'd only ever used my pinky for semi-colon in the past). Very different if you are currently versed in Qwerty. It feels additionally worse, because the pinky gets the added strain of Backspace, Enter and some punctuation. If you don't like typing with your pinkies you probably won't like Dvorak. It took me time to get used to it, and I now enjoy typing the 'ould' quadgram! At the same time I could happily give up typing with either pinky, but I may be just doing it wrong.
I never thought I had issue with Dvorak's F (Qwerty Y), but think its placement could be insidious. I tend to move the hand, rather than stretch my finger. But it has a little 'number 6' feel about it. Note Colemak's B and G (Qwerty B and T), are also a reach.
People seem to love the Qwerty one handed shortcuts, but I'm not so sure that one handed shortcuts that require multiple finger presses are a good idea anyway. I could easily contort my wrist trying to do so.
Dvorak is more portable. Not much of an issue if you mainly use one computer that you can customise to your hearts content.
As such take some of the remarks in the Colemak FAQ about Dvorak with a pinch of salt.
Last edited by pinkyache (25-Nov-2014 15:14:25)
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