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Is Workman off its rocker?!?

  • Started by DreymaR
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  • From: Bærum, Norway
  • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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That's a looker, that is! Seems like a waste with all those wide arrow keys in the middle, to my personal tastes; I'd rather use an Extend layer for navigation keys anyway.

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That keyboard is excellent! Why can't that design be more mainstream???
Weird layout of letters though.

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

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Yes Steve, it is! It is one of those Japanese M-System keyboards, this one's by NEC. The split MuTron board is a spin off of that project, just as the one-piece Esrille keyboard.

The Japanese were not hold back by the Qwerty legacy, so for the Latin letters they also use Dvorak (these are '80s/'90s board, no Colemak back then). This looks like some strange "Engrish" take on Dvorak :-)  Input of Japanese characters goes by combinations of keystrokes, they have several systems for that, one of them being the "M-System".

Also, the Japanese language does not use the space like we do, so no need for a large space bar.

I am not sure what to think of the midde navigation keys, davkol (forumite here and on Deskthority) says they are comfortable.

I would buy this board in a heart beat (if it had a custom controller, so you could define your own keys).  It is ergonomical without being extreme. My mother could type on it (if in Qwerty).

But - no one makes or sells this anymore! My guess is that we have gotten too "stuck" in the Qwerty letter layout (fortunately this forum is working on that :- .  And too stuck in the "IBM AT / XT" keyboard layout which now is some standard....

I know of some "mainstream" split keyboards, like the Microsoft Ergo boards and the newer Matias split board. But no one sells a one-piece symmetrical board. I guess it is not commercially attractive? No supply= no demand = no supply, or something like that?

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Is Workman off its rocker?!?

Overreaction much? Of course not unexpected from fanatics who can't take criticism for their divine Colemak layout, apparently delivered by the gods themselves.

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.

It really depends on which fingers are involved. Pinky-ring rolls are extremely uncomfortable, much worse than double-tapping the strong fingers (index, middle, and ring.)

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.

Double-tap on ring fingers is actually not bad, very acceptable. What is unacceptable are double-pinky, where Colemak is 60% to 100% more common than Workman. That is a much more serious crime to discomfort and speed.

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.

Then why do you excuse Colemak, which has such high same-finger usage on the weakest finger? Colemak's double-pinky occurrence rate is as almost as high as Workman's double-index and way more than its double-ring. See here for comparisons of layouts.

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.

You really think putting ASET all on the same hand is a good idea? Not to mention Norman scores worse overall in prose and code.

Last edited by Shena'Fu (29-Sep-2016 07:35:27)
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Shena'Fu said:

Overreaction much? Of course not unexpected from fanatics who can't take criticism for their divine Colemak layout, apparently delivered by the gods themselves.

[...]

Pinky-ring rolls are extremely uncomfortable, much worse than double-tapping the strong fingers (index, middle, and ring.)

[...]

Double-tap on ring fingers is actually not bad, very acceptable. What is unacceptable are double-pinky, where Colemak is 60% to 100% more common than Workman. That is a much more serious crime to discomfort and speed. [...] Colemak's double-pinky occurrence rate is as almost as high as Workman's double-index and way more than its double-ring. See here for comparisons of layouts.

I would contest that you, Shena'Fu, are in fact the one overreacting here. I have "faith" in Colemak, true, but I have no particular gripes with other good layouts – just preferences (some of them personal).

I do stand by my strong reaction to the claim that same-finger is quite okay! And I do feel that neither Norman nor Workman are brilliant layouts; Workman being the better of them by far though. To a large extent they seem fueled by "middle-trench" worries that can now be resolved with Colemak (mod-DH) for a, in my opinion, superior result.

I have to disagree quite strongly with your claim that ring-finger or strong finger same-finger n-grams are in any way good. They're not. I do agree on pinky-ring and vice versa rolls being uncomfortable.

I agree that Colemak's right pinky same-finger frequency is a weak point. However, your figure of 60–100% fails with other syllabi than the pitifully inadequate 'Chapter 1 of Alice In Wonderland' (never test with that text alone; use something much longer!). Generally, Colemak is a little better off than Dvorak in this respect (using some syllabi I found) but not as good as one might wish for; Workman is a little better off and Norman not. That BEAKL Opted layout has a nice same-finger frequency I must say; I haven't checked it out so I don't know what else it has. ;-)

On a side note, I've actually typed through Alice Through The Looking Glass using Amphetype and standard Colemak(AngleWide), a text very much similar to Alice In Wonderland I should think. I think I know part of the reason why the right pinky gets such a same-finger overload in analysis: In that book there's a lot of quoting! Typing ' or " → Enter or period (or other combos) has to drive up that statistic. I skirted the Enter problem using Extend in which the Enter key is on Space, and for period I recommend alternative fingering if the problem is encountered frequently such as in that text. So the high same-finger frequency of the right pinky can be alleviated in some ways, at least. Of course, this doesn't touch on the differences between Workman and Colemak as they both have the standard positions for the quote and other symbol keys.

Last edited by DreymaR (29-Sep-2016 10:28:07)
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Shena'Fu said:

Overreaction much? Of course not unexpected from fanatics who can't take criticism for their divine Colemak layout, apparently delivered by the gods themselves.

That's hardly true - there are some valid criticisms of Colemak to be made. The fact that Mod DH exists at all is a recognition of, and response to, some of those criticisms. I can think of other minor criticisms too, but I'd say on balance there are fewer things to complain about with Colemak than the other competing layouts. I think everyone accepts no layout is perfect, and may depend on personal taste to some extent.

Shena'Fu said:

Double-tap on ring fingers is actually not bad, very acceptable. What is unacceptable are double-pinky, where Colemak is 60% to 100% more common than Workman. That is a much more serious crime to discomfort and speed.

This seems to be a genuine difference in opinion regarding ring fingers - Workman obviously considers the ring finger strong - in addition to the right-hand PO, the left hand also has D on the ring finger. That D was one of the things that ruled out Workman for me. I consider ring fingers to significantly worse than index and middle fingers, but that's just my personal view.

I am genuinely interested to know where this high double-pinky stat for Colemak comes from, as it would be quite a flaw if true. Is it simply O plus apostrophe? National layouts differ somewhat with their placement of some of those right-pinky keys (e.g. UK keyboard has double-quote on shift-2 so <O"> wouldn't be a same-finger-bigram for me. Surely Workman (and other layouts that keep punctuation symbols unchanged) would also suffer this 'problem'. And it should also be fairly easily rectifiable by the use of a symbol layer if desired.

Last edited by stevep99 (29-Sep-2016 11:03:57)

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

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stevep99 said:

I consider ring fingers to significantly worse than index and middle fingers, but that's just my personal view.

Unless my piano teacher lied to me (and I doubt that!), it's not just your personal view but reality for most people. Maybe the Workman creator has uncommonly strong and fit ring fingers? Who knows. I think that learning to play the piano has helped the strength and independence of both my ring and little fingers, but I still have no love for the ring finger positions when typing.

If O→'/'→O bigrams  are indeed a problem for Colemak typing, then it's very easily solvable with alternative fingering. That one's so obvious I do it without thinking. This is of course a weakness with analysis software – I've yet to see one that picks up on the subtler points of typing! :-)

Something must be afoot other than symbol placements, as mentioned, since Colemak does score consistently poorer than, say, Workman, on right pinky same-finger.

In actual Colemak typing, I can't say I've reacted to any right pinky awkwardness. But it's easy to get used to whatever you're doing so I don't put too much stock in that.

Last edited by DreymaR (29-Sep-2016 12:02:34)
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Have anybody noticed that www.workmanlayout.com is gone?

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