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Is Workman off its rocker?!?

  • Started by DreymaR
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So, I browsed around a little. And knowing that Workman has a bit of a standing and is implemented both here and there, I chanced upon its main page – the Workman layout blog.

Here, its author manages to say the following:

OJ Bucao said:

Workman has an SFU of 2.185% which means that for every 46 keystrokes, one of your 8 fingers does one double combo. Compare that to QWERTY which is at every 20 keystrokes. Colemak is at every 58 keystrokes. Workman, on average, has a higher SFU than Colemak… at +1%. Some people misunderstand and think that this somehow shows increased effort or discomfort. It doesn’t. Effort is the same, because no matter what, you’re still pressing the same number of keys. Comfort shouldn’t be a problem as long as the key is in a comfortable spot. The only thing that SFU might potentially and theoretically affect is speed because typing two letters with different fingers is a little faster than typing them with the same finger.

This fills me with wonder and horror. Ostensibly, Mr Bucao has never played a musical instrument. But it looks to me as if he has never typed properly either, to be able to say something like this?!

It should be very obvious that drumming your fingers one after the other is a lot more comfortable (and faster) than repeatedly drumming with one finger.

Why, then, does this layout get any attention still? I wonder what happened. Expert advertising?

Good thing that stevep99 fixed the DH issue using Colemak, then. No need for Mr. Workman and his weird typing attitudes any more! :-o

Last edited by DreymaR (20-Jun-2016 13:07:49)
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DreymaR said:
OJ Bucao said:

Workman has an SFU of 2.185% which means that for every 46 keystrokes, one of your 8 fingers does one double combo. Compare that to QWERTY which is at every 20 keystrokes. Colemak is at every 58 keystrokes. Workman, on average, has a higher SFU than Colemak… at +1%. Some people misunderstand and think that this somehow shows increased effort or discomfort. It doesn’t.

This fills me with wonder and horror. Ostensibly, Mr Bucao has never played a musical instrument. But it looks to me as if he has never typed properly either, to be able to say something like this?!

It is odd that he would say that. If one really thought SFU didn't matter, and that only key position did, then it would be better to pick Norman over Workman. Norman has high same-finger ratio but otherwise quite well-positioned keys, and has the benefit of being easier to learn (i.e. closer to Qwerty) than both Workman and Colemak.

To play devil's advocate, I would at least agree the same finger on some keys is not as bad as other keys. For example (qwerty) QZ would be worse than MN. But unfortunately, Workman's worst incidence of same-finger is PO, which is on a weaker finger (ring), so even that argument doesn't really hold up very well.

DreymaR said:

Why, then, does this layout get any attention still? I wonder what happened. Expert advertising?

I have heard Workman aficionados also complain about Colemak's L, and certainly Workman's L is in a better position than Colemak's. But it also has a worse D and F in addition to the same-finger problems already mentioned.

It's ironic really - the motivation was to fix Colemak's overuse of the center column - about which he also says this:

OJ Bucao said:

I tried to see if there’s anything that could be done to solve this. At first I ignorantly tried to replace ‘D’ and ‘H’ with other lower frequency letters and moved them elsewhere still expecting the same metrics...  Long story short, I got pretty crappy results. It soon dawned on me that just moving a few things around isn’t going to cut it.

Yet as it turned out, the DH mod does "just move a few things around" and the results are better than the much bigger change that is the Workman layout.

DreymaR said:

Good thing that stevep99 fixed the DH issue using Colemak, then. No need for Mr. Workman and his weird typing attitudes any more! :-o

To be fair, Workman came along before Mod DH. There is always some benefit to being first, and he did do us a favour I suppose by accurately identifying the centre-column issue.  However I agree there is no longer a compelling case for Workman.

Last edited by stevep99 (20-Jun-2016 17:24:12)

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

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stevep99 said:

For example (qwerty) QZ would be worse than MN. But unfortunately, Workman's worst incidence of same-finger is PO, which is on a weaker finger (ring), so even that argument doesn't really hold up very well.

Well spotted. Okay, certainly the QZ bigram is awful – good thing it's rare, eh? :-) But the QWERTY MN bigram, if done frequently, can easily be given the alternative-fingering treatment thus ceasing to be much of a problem.

Yes, same-finger bigrams are so bad that the typing experts devise ways to circumvent them even on good layouts. The Workman guy is indeed off his rocker.

Too bad that layout has had time to put down roots both in xkb and other places. What a waste.

Last edited by DreymaR (20-Jun-2016 19:43:49)
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Workman isn't entirely off it's rocker. Just... mostly?

I will give it credit for forcing us to re-evaluate the difficulty map for modern keyboards (instead of the manual typewriters Dvorak was using). Prioritizing keys that cause no hand motion is a valid goal. Maintaining L.Hand shortcuts, and some Qwerty familiarity, also good. The problem is that it comes at the expense of SFU. Which as we all know, is the single greatest typing bottleneck.

There is also the other problem I've always had with Workman. Why is the Qwerty V position higher rated than the C? C is where the index finger naturally falls with a straight wrist. Unless you are using a ortholinear keyboard. (likewise, x on middle, z on ring and pinkie on shift)


But what can you do? Workman is almost mainstream, even being an option on ChromeOS. Colemak DH? Not yet. (And probably won't be until it presents a single recommended variant across all keyboards. Personally, I think the xcdvz model has the best chance for widespread adoption. Not sure why it isn't offered widened.)

Last edited by cevgar (20-Jun-2016 20:49:49)
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Why do you think XCDVZ wins over XCVDZ in adoptability, Cev? It breaks up the Cut/Copy/Paste block and while I don't think the QWERTY V position is better than the QWERTY C position for the index finger, I don't feel that it's worse either. The index finger is agile enough to reach both those keys comfortably I think.

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Wait, XCVdZ is also on the table? No wait, nevermind. What I meant was that I feel the cycled lower left (XCdVZ) has a better chance of adoption than allowing users to pick from the multitude of ISO and ANSI specific angle options right up front, as is done on the website. Instead, take your best option for the greatest number of users, and sell the hell out of it.


As for Qwerty CV positions, I find the C moderately easier to hit. Also, just watching my fingers move -  if I keep the rest of the hand anchored to the home positions, F to C is a straight curl. F to V requires at least a little lateral movement. I can see the muscle shifting sideways, which probably means it is more stressful in the long run. This kind of motion only gets more pronounced on a laptop keyboard, which is usually more centered and closer to the typist, increasing inward arm angle and making the sideways reach more pronounced. (Of course, when floating the hand the opposite is true, as a slight inward shift of the arm for V is easier than a finger curl for C. *sigh*)

As for the cut/copy/paste block: That is an excellent point. I admittedly hadn't thought of that, mainly because XCVdZ wasn't listed as one of the options on the Mod-DH website. On the other hand, XCdVZ maintains the Qwerty V position. To quote Shai from the last time the Workman layout was brought up:

1. The layout doesn't maintain ZXCV in the same location. e.g. if you're working with different windows that have different keyboard layouts, it means you can't reliably copy and paste between windows. This also ignores the strong motor memory of these shortcuts. It makes it harder to learn, and more difficult if you're switching back and forth between layouts.

So, while a bit of a stretch, Qwerty V would at least maintain paste...? Also, Metrics. Plus 1 to Qwerty Positions!

Actually, this is where your Bag of Tricks shines, as it replaces CTRL ZXCV with Caps ZXCV. So the shift becomes a moot point.

... you know, now that I think about it, I think getting the BoT to be mainstream is far more important than Colemak-DH. No offense to the curl mod - it is an excellent tweak to an amazing layout - but in the end, it is just a layout. The BoT changes how we interact with the computer though, regardless of layout. It is almost like inventing the mouse all over again. DreymaR, you need some marketing people. (Yes, the irony of me telling you this, when I failed to properly market the Wide Mod does not escape me.)

*PS someday I'll finally post something once, and only once. No edits. ...though, not today apparently.

Last edited by cevgar (20-Jun-2016 23:40:12)
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The ZXCVD aka Colemak-Curl(DbgHk) is listed on the Mod-DH site, but not prominently. The ZXCDV aka Colemak-Curl(DvbgHm) variant is listed and implemented in my Big Bag, but less prominently. Stevep has his preferred variant and I have mine, and I think we understand each other's desire to not promote and implement both equally as that's both more confusing and more work. But we do shout-out each others' variant... for the attentive reader. ;-) And I've taken the extra work of implementing his variant, for the most part. For one, his variant is the one that works for unstaggered matrix boards (not that I like those in general...).

As in the Linux and other open-source worlds, we cannot quite agree on which one variant we should sell the hell out of. A little regrettable but that's how things are. Let the thousand flowers bloom...

You're thinking wrongly if you follow the curl from F to C, aren't you? That's the middle finger curl with the Angle mod. The index finger curl is from PB (with Curl-mod) to VD/DV depending on variant. [Ah, you mean QWERTY positions throughout...]

I don't see your point about laptop vs other keyboards. My technique and wrist (non-)angling is pretty much the same on my laptop as on my full keyboard.

My motor memory and aesthetic sense strongly prefers keeping XCV together. The original QWERTY V position becomes a moot point with the Angle mod in place, in my opinion.

Last edited by DreymaR (20-Jun-2016 23:50:30)
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When you say BoT, do you mean the Extend mod? The BBoT is everything in that topic, pretty much (well, maybe not the TextBlade but anyway).

Yes, I/we do need marketing people. :-)

Last edited by DreymaR (20-Jun-2016 23:54:58)
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As in the Linux and other open-source worlds, we cannot quite agree on which one variant we should sell the hell out of.

Oh Dear God, don't remind me. Just last week my linux box died, so I started browsing distrowatch again. Eventually just went back to Ubuntu. It is what the hell is being sold out of.

Yeah, I meant the Extend Mod. Because it is the only thing I remember from the thread. Not because the other things are bad, just the Extend Mod is so good!

Likewise, apologies on the ignorance on the various 'column mods'. I perused them, when they first appeared, but at the time they all seemed to use some form of 'move the L.Hand away from L.Shift' version of the angle mod (which you know my opinion of by now). That said, I appreciated the sentiment of reducing the inward reaches of Colemak. Revisiting the concept, I went to the 'official' Mod-DH site, and saw the XCDVZ version as the clear winner of those presented as it was the only one that could be applied to both ISO and ANSI without increasing L.Shift Distance.

Laptops vs Desktops. Desktop keyboards tend to be the full keyboard - numberpad affair, plus mouse. To counter this, many people shift the keyboard slightly to the left relative to the screen. This allows for a straighter left arm with a slightly crossbody right, which fits reasonably well with the keyboard's retarded left hand reverse tilt, and the Qwerty right hand key usage that rises from left to right (hnm iop Backspace). Desktop keyboards also tend to be placed more correctly height wise. Laptops on the other hand, have the keyboard tied directly to the monitor, usually centered around the B or H key (Qwerty). They are put on laps, on tables, counters, floors, whatever. That and the smaller screen size at (very) suboptimal height means that the laptop keyboard is often closer to the body when typing than its desktop counterpart. This pushes the elbows out, and with straight wrists, increases angle relative to keyboard. etc.

Leastwise, that has been my experience. ...well, except for when it is the opposite. Random laptop placement is funny like that. You know what, forget I said anything.


On an aesthetic level I have to agree. Keeping XCV together is beautiful. From a ergonomics standpoint though, Qwerty C is the better position. From a muscle memory standpoint, I could adapt pretty quickly either way.

Last edited by cevgar (21-Jun-2016 01:58:56)
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Errr, you're very very confusing Cevgar (as usual, lulz!). Both DH variants do the exact same thing to the LShift distance, which is to LOWER it by using the Angle mod. This is easiest on an ISO board, where the Angle mod is pretty much a given. On an ANSI board, I agree that Angle(Z) seems the easiest choice although I haven't tried it out.

Using an AngleWide mod, my hands are well separated and my wrists straight whether I type on laptop or full board. Luckily, I have good eyes so maybe I haven't experienced the distance problem you describe; I see how that could be annoying.

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(
Keyboards are pretty sucky.  Why on earth they can't just seperate both halves so that we can twist them into whichever way we fancy?  And sort out that left hand stagger weirdness.

I can't say that typing has gotten that much more comfortable for me over the years, the keyboard still feels like the weakest link.  Tweaked layouts make the best of a very poor situation.

Yours,

England's dreaming.
)

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Physicians deafen our ears with the Honorificabilitudinitatibus of their heavenly Panacaea, their sovereign Guiacum.

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Well, they can. There are plenty of more ergonomic keyboard solutions including fully split ones (TIE Fighter boards are cool). These cost money though, and I prefer to work with the stuff my workplace and laptop already have.

If you want to dream very sweetly indeed, dream of a pair of DataHands.

Last edited by DreymaR (21-Jun-2016 11:26:30)
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No matter how you look at it, this (↓)
mod_dh_keyb_ansi_alt.png
increases left shift distance.


Also, Tie Fighter boards? Are you talking about vertical keyboards like SafeType and YogiType, or just angled keyboards like the Freestyle Ascent? Because they both have their own slew of problems.

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cevgar said:

As for Qwerty CV positions, I find the C moderately easier to hit. Also, just watching my fingers move -  if I keep the rest of the hand anchored to the home positions, F to C is a straight curl. F to V requires at least a little lateral movement. I can see the muscle shifting sideways, which probably means it is more stressful in the long run.

Yes, this!  DreymaR and I disagree a little here, but I think my version of the mod is significantly better, whether on matrix or traditional boards, for exactly this reason. The point about maintaining XCV is legitimate, but in all honesty, applying the angle mod at all causes these keys to change. Sure, the same finger is used, but there is a still disruption to familiar learned motion of, say, Ctrl-C after applying the angle mod.

Therefore I don't buy that XCVDZ is as good as XCDVZ. If you are willing to apply the angle mod at all (which although is worth it, I can understand why some people wouldn't want to, especially if they are ANSI users), then you might as well go for XCDVZ over XCVDZ, especially as the former keeps V exactly in place, and you end up with a more comfortable D, which is easily the most common of those five keys.

If however you have already applied and gotten used to the angle mod on default Colemak first, then I can see the attraction of XCVDZ, as it seems like a smaller change from what you're used to. I'm sure that's why DreymaR prefers his variant. For those not already using an angle mod variant, I don't see any benefit to XCVDZ at all.

I don't think there is any prospect of getting unified agreement on DH mods here, especially since relying on the angle mod already introduces a difficulty for ANSI users. There are plenty of options of ANSI alone. But actually I'm not very concerned about that. I would rather concentrate on promoting Colemak to make that as mainstream as possible, and then have the add-on mods available for those who want them and/or have the centre-column problem.

So far as arguments over distance to L.Shift is concerned, I am increasingly of the opinion that the standard position of the shift keys is so terrible that it is better to use a different key (a thumb) for Shift. If I was an ANSI user, I think the best bet is to define Z on L.Shift, then use one of the Alt keys as Shift. Perhaps that's a change too far for most though. That option currently isn't even shown on the Mod-DH page, I'll have to add it.

Last edited by stevep99 (21-Jun-2016 13:48:36)

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

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Okay, Cevgar, you're confusing things again. That's the A-Wing mod you've got there. It's not the most common Angle mod. And it's not a DH mod in itself, although on that image it's shown with the DvbgHm mod (Steve's mod). Yes, the A-Wing mod increases LShift distance. The other suggested Angle mods do not.

Steve: Be nice. I'm nice, so you be nice too. ;-)

Last edited by DreymaR (23-Jun-2016 16:09:58)
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DreymaR said:

Steve: Be nice. I'm nice, so you be nice too. ;-)

Did my last post come across as a crazed rant? Sorry, it wasn't intended to. Although I remain highly sceptical about the XCVD pattern for the bottom row personally, I do think it's good to have options and I respect others' right to choose.  Also, in fairness I do think your DH mod "lite" version for the right hand does has a decent case for it - the frequency difference of H vs M is less severe than D vs V, and there is some benefit to not moving M from the Qwerty/Colemak position.

Anyway, with so many mods and possible configurations around, having "one layout to rule them all" is not feasible. So better to accept and enjoy the many options that are available. What we really need is to make it as easy as possible for people to change things to their own preference - and that means better keyboard design (programmable!), easier software configuration, or even for those usb remappers to become readily available.

I also got around to creating a illustration of the ANSI option with Z on left shift, which I think is a potential winner for ANSI, but only if people can be weaned of the (terrible) default shift keys!!
mod_dh_keyb_ansi_shiftz.png

Last edited by stevep99 (24-Jun-2016 13:41:42)

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

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First off, While I loathe modern keyboard design, I realize that hardware keyboard will cease to exist before the problem is fixed.

Next off, I dislike the L.Alt-Shift concept. Windows doesn't allow for that kind of key swap, the tucked thumb is awkward (especially for Qwerty T/B positions), left shift isn't as bad as Qwerty B/Y positions, removing L.Alt messes up R.Mouse L.Keyboard usage, you need the second Alt to allow for AltGr: take your pick. If you have to do it within the constraints of current hardware, I'd prefer flipped keyboard - with the function keys under the thumbs - or using a +2 widemod and R.Alt.

I think the better option would be to increase availability and VISIBILITY of thumbshift keyboards. Force it into the mainstream. I propose a petition to Google, that all future Chromebooks be built with thumbshift keyboards. After that, we can work on ortholinear layouts. Maybe before the keyboard becomes completely obsolete we will even see the ergodox becoming the default keyboard!

Ha! Still... what a beautiful dream.

Last edited by cevgar (06-Aug-2016 00:01:28)
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cevgar said:

I think the better option would be to increase availability and VISIBILITY of thumbshift keyboards. Force it into the mainstream. I propose a petition to Google, that all future Chromebooks be built with thumbshift keyboards. After that, we can work on ortholinear layouts. Maybe before the keyboard becomes completely obsolete we will even see the ergodox becoming the default keyboard!

Ha! Still... what a beautiful dream.

Well, although you can't switch LAlt or other modifier keys with default windows apps, it's pretty easy to do with SharpKeys. And as far as I know that only does a registry change, so I guess you could apply it with just a reg file even.

The LAlt position is not perfect, and I agree I would rather see thumbshift keyboards become mainstream. But I still think that LAlt is better than both the default Shift key, and even Caps Lock. So if you are limiting yourself to traditional keyboards, and you don't mind switching things around a little (which, if you decided to learn an alternative keyboard layout, you probably are such a person), it's an idea worthy of consideration at least.

I actually use my LAlt all the time (except mine is Extend). Admittedly my main keyboard is the Matias Ergo Pro, which has very nicely positioned and comfortable Alt keys. But even when I am using my laptop, with it's standard key positions, the LAlt is still just about satisfactory.

Alternatively, ANSI users could use Right Alt for shift, which, if using in combination with the wide mod, should be very comfortable indeed!  I don't see the point of having two Alt keys (presumably US ANSI users don't need AltGr).

If Google, or even Apple, started producing keyboards with thumbs (either extra keys between Alt and Space, or a split-spacebar) that would be brilliant! It would look sufficiently normal not to scare away "normal" people, but I could imagine such designs becoming mainstream very quickly once people realized the advantages. Yeah, just a dream though.

Last edited by stevep99 (06-Aug-2016 17:06:52)

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

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I am planning to build my first keyboard, just because I cannot buy it. All I want is a board that is portable and moderately ergonomical:

Portable:
- one piece
- more or less rectangular
- max 65 keys

Ergo:
- symmetrical stagger
- lots of thumb keys
- completely user programmable
- sufficient hand separation
- mechanical keys

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I'd be tempted to make it in two pieces, myself. There are good projects out there.

Using an AtMega compatible controller, TMK takes good care of the programmability.

Last edited by DreymaR (07-Sep-2016 10:15:31)
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Here's a one piece I just sketched, Colemak DH !
White = alfas + punctuation
Blue, Black, Red: modifiers and stuff. Think Space, Backspace, Shift, Del, Alt, Ctrl, FN and so
The Black Keys (heh heh) are large, high keys. The two red keys have a low profile.

4CXTyQM.png

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This is close to a perfect keyboard.

I think I'd still have an extra column on the far left/right so that you can have TAB etc in the normal place.
And I'd split it down the middle so that your central row of blue keys is divided into two.

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

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Looks much like my dream board from years back. I had a trackpoint on the middle key of the home row (the "Middle Trench", as we DH-modders call it), and two mouse buttons below that. :-)

Using a quarter-key stagger throughout, I guess Steve's DH-mod would be the better option. Depending on hand separation, maybe a 1/3-key stagger might be better? 1/2-key as is the case today seems overmuch.

Last edited by DreymaR (07-Sep-2016 11:56:19)
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Good suggestions. I am seriously considering building this one - will be my first

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Here they use 1/3 sym stagger. Great keyboard - not mine :(

NEC_M-shiki_keyboard_NEC_PC98_1992-s.jpg

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