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    Introducing QWERFJ

    • Started by laurlur
    • 13 Replies:
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    • From: Denmark
    • Registered: 04-Nov-2012
    • Posts: 4

    Hi.

    I have years ago tried to covert to dvorak, however the massive brain rewiring gave me headaches. In my opinion the popularity of qwerty is still high because it overall is quite good.
    One can always try to improve under constraints such as:
    * maximize the middle row use and non-consecutive finger (dvorak),
    * maximize the middle row, minimize pinky use and easy transition from QWERTY (colemak)
    * minimize translation and optimize favorite finger use (workman)
    but I don’t think it is realistic any of these will ever be popular, simply because of the hundreds of hours it takes for the brain to rewire from QWERTY.

    Based on all of your great ideas I have played with the idea of creating a keyboard with super easy transition from QWERTY, which in my view is the most important constraint. Now consider the “workman key score” on QWERTY and the Wikipedia list of the most used english letters: “etaoin shrdlu cmfwyp vbgkjq xz”. I noticed only a few letters which didn’t really fit the grade:
    Most used: T (4), N (3), H (3), R(3)
    Least used: J (1), K (1), F (1)
    The easy solution to these few problems are remapping of: T F, N J, H K. So only six keys are moved – no keys shifts hand – only H-K shifts finger.
    A minor tweak could be D R, but as they are used almost equally it wouldn’t gain much reduced finger distance and it is at the cost of shifting finger. Another tweak I found neat is shifting of Y with J, because it is used much more. Note that the keys don’t change finger.

    I therefore propose QWERFJ, which is heavily based on QWERTY so an easy transition is possible.
    T F
    H K
    N -> J -> Y -> (QWERTY N).
    Only seven keys are moved – no keys shifts hand – only H-K shifts finger. The whole map looks like:
    Q W E R F J U I O P
    A S D T G K N H L ;
      Z X C V B Y M , .

    I’m currently using it and I’m impressed with how easy it is (my speed is currently about half after only a couple of hours). I planning to write my thesis using it in the near future.

    So what do you think about it?

    Last edited by laurlur (04-Nov-2012 16:15:42)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    Since yours is a "minimal" layout change, have you studied the Minimak layout? You and Ted might find something to talk about it seems. :)

    Most layouts move the E key to the home row. It may not be so important after all I think, as long as your middle fingers rest in a position equally comfortable with the upper and middle rows! I think good QWERTY typists do that and it seems natural to me. This does of course mean that nothing too common should reside on the bottom row, but I think you have that covered?

    Single-letter frequencies is only so important. The real acid test comes with di- and trigraphs. I at least, hate same-finger digraphs with a vengeance. But there's much more of course, not all of which is easily parametricized.

    Last edited by DreymaR (04-Nov-2012 15:57:20)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
    *** Check out my Big Bag of Keyboard Tricks for Win/Linux/TMK... ***

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    • From: Sofia, Bulgaria
    • Registered: 05-Mar-2011
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    What's under your right pinky? I wouldn't do "reducing pinky usage" as far as not having anything on the home row hah.

    On a slightly more serious note I think the point about reducing the load on the pinkies is very subjective. In my opinion in general it's better to put more load on the stronger fingers, but it needs to be balanced. I'd much rather distribute the load more evenly than using my pinkies only 5% of the time...
    But that's the same as many of the other factors. Everyone has different priorities. As long as one's happy with what he's got – that's great.

    Last edited by pafkata90 (04-Nov-2012 14:37:33)
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    • From: Denmark
    • Registered: 04-Nov-2012
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    Hi pafkata90

    I noticed that you come from Denmark too, so you will understand problems of including the Danish letters and symbol positions. I've developed it using the Danish QWERTY template so my layout is actually:
    QWERFJUIOPŨ
    ASDTGKNHLÆØ'
    <ZXCVBYM,.-

    I've updated the post to make it easier for the non-Danish user to understand the layout.

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    • From: Sofia, Bulgaria
    • Registered: 05-Mar-2011
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    Right, I see now.

    Btw, I'm only studying here, not permanently living, but I see what you mean. My mother language alphabet (cyrillic) has 30 letters so I'm familiar with similar problems ;)

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    • From: Tampa, FL, USA
    • Registered: 24-Aug-2012
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    I think you make some excellent observations there.  It's a definite improvement from QWERTY.  There's a few things I say are obviously wrong with QWERTY:

    a) E and T belong in the home position and should be on the middle finger
    b) J and K have no business being in the home position
    c) getting the high-frequency keys within reach of the middle and ring fingers (workman)
    d) avoiding same finger repetition

    QWERFJ scores on b, not so much on the rest, but that's the thing about a minimal layout.  You've got to choose your highest priority and focus on that alone.

    I think you should give some consideration to finger movement distance.  I have some quibbles but I mostly agree with the workman position ratings (I used the idea in Minimak).  However, what you need to realize that those weights are multiplied by the key frequency.  So moving E from a 2 position to a 1 position blows away moving Z from a 5 to a 1 because E is used far more than 4 times that of Z.

    When you look at the key frequency ratings (mtgap has a good diagram, I haven't put one up on my site yet), you see that E and T outweigh the bottom 14 keys put together, they so outstrip everything else.  You really have to address them before anything else when you start looking at what effect they have on all of the metrics.  That's why they're the 4-key layout for Minimak.

    You might approach it with the D-E and T-R swaps.  Try it and see what you think.  They're reasonable swaps to make.

    I found patorjk's keyboard layout analyzer extremely useful in evaluating alternatives.

    Last edited by lilleyt (04-Nov-2012 19:03:54)

    Minimak - Better typing without losing QWERTY
    http://www.minimak.org/

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    ...except as I said, I think the upper-row middle finger positions may be more or less as good as the home row ones since the middle fingers are long. The same likely applies to the ring fingers as well. I were to model, I'd only give the home row the slightest advantage for those positions.

    Therefore I think your E, I and O placements may be okay even though those are common letters.

    If I were you I wouldn't move the H though. I don't think it necessary.

    Last edited by DreymaR (05-Nov-2012 09:39:27)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
    *** Check out my Big Bag of Keyboard Tricks for Win/Linux/TMK... ***

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    • From: Denmark
    • Registered: 04-Nov-2012
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    Good points.

    I do also believe that dreymar is right about the middle and the ring finger can operate the upper-row. If you put your hands relaxed on a flat surface, you will see that a straight line can be drawn from the pinky to the middle finger tips. This line do not intersect with the index finger, and to force them on a straight line you need to curl the middle and ring fingers quite a lot. Therefore, I don't think that the home row is optimal. So maybe the home row can be redefined to (QWERTY:) ASEF JIL; ?

    By the way a D-E swap could be fairly easy to learn, because that is only a same finger swap.

    I have used the layout for a couple of days now and the hardest to learn is the "h-k" swap, because the letters move finger. So now I have updated the my layout without this swap - I will post my results soon.

    Ted: Do you have experience with how hard it is learn the "e" left-to-right-hand swap?

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    My point isn't that the WF/UY keys are "the new home row" but that they are nearly as much the home row as the RS/EI keys are to me. I often hit RS/EI slightly above the center of the key and WF/UY slightly below the center, so I don't really have to curl the fingers much.

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
    *** Check out my Big Bag of Keyboard Tricks for Win/Linux/TMK... ***

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    • From: Poland, birthday 8 №v 2004
    • Registered: 02-May-2015
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    Compare to QWERF and don't confuse: http://www.michaelcapewell.com/projects … ERF_Layout

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    • From: Denmark
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    Thanks for the comments!

    I have used my QWERFJ layout (without the h-k swap) on my computer at work since my first post. I must say that I took me quite long time (like ½-1 years) to be able to adapt to using both the QWERFJ and QWERTY seamlessly.

    So now after about three years of using QWERFJ on my primary work computer (2-8 hours a day) and QWERTY layout on secondary and private computers (1-3 hours a day), my conclusion is that when writing more than a a couple of lines I really prefer to be able to write using QWERFJ. It feels much more relaxed and efficient. And I don't think I ever want to go back to QWERTY full time.

    A funny thing I noticed is that I write mostly in English language at work and using QWERFJ, and when I have to write using my mother tongue (Danish) I sometimes prefer the QWERTY over QWERFJ. So the brain is highly used to really specific patterns when typewriting.

    I took a look on PiotrGrochowski's layout and noticed that a part from the name, the layout is not really forged from the same mindset. What I (as the creator) believe is the key selling point of my QWERFJ is the very few and easy changes (short learning time = low level of frustration).

    Just to repeat how the current QWERFJ design looks:
      Q W E R F J U I O P
       A S D T G H N K L ;
         Z X C V B Y M , .

    I'm would really like to receive even more comments on my design if any of you more active users have some new ones based on your current knowledge?

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    As a very minimal-change layout, it seems quite nice. The most obvious thing is that it doesn't relocate E. But actually maybe that's not so bad, since the Qwerty E isn't terrible - certainly T is a worse key than E.  The other notable point is that keys don't change fingers - which perhaps makes it easier to learn, but means same finger ratio does not improve. DE still being on the same finger might be a bit annoying and cause users to want to go a further step?

    Last edited by stevep99 (09-Jun-2015 18:35:16)

    Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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    I agree with Steve, very nice minimal-change layout. You might also consider taking the semi-colon off the home row (which is the stupidest part of the QWERTY layout, in my humble opinion). I simple swap with the P (or a loop of O-P-;) might be a good addition.

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    • From: Poland, birthday 8 №v 2004
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    laurlur said:

    By the way a D-E swap could be fairly easy to learn, because that is only a same finger swap.

    In that case Capewell warns against potential discomfort while typing ER/RE digraph. See the note: http://www.michaelcapewell.com/projects … ERF_Layout

    Last edited by PiotrGrochowski (10-Jun-2015 16:55:46)
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