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    Switching from Qwerty

    • Started byWarlord Xecc
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    • From:Sweden
    • Registered:04-Oct-2016
    • Posts:9

    So I've been using Qwerty for 14 years, started when I was five. I learned to touch type when I was eight and recently started doing type tests, my first one was 112 wpm but past 6 weeks I've improved that to a 142 wpm / 135 wpm average. (This was on 10ff, on typeracer my average is 110).
    Now I've never really had any problems using Qwerty, aches and what not that some are complaining about even tho I'm using the keyboard 8hours+ per day.
    My goal is to reach a whooping 200wpm, would it be worth it for me to go Colemak for this purpose or should I just keep on with Qwerty? I'm questioning if I really can reach it using Qwerty since my left hand is prolly doing about 65-70% of the work!

    Warlord Xecc @ Youtube

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    • From:Oslo, Norway
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    If your main goal is reaching 200 WPM, I suspect you can do it (or not) with pretty much any layout! Because at those speeds you're really not touch typing as much as playing every word in an optimized way. So, Sean Wrona uses QWERTY and didn't want to switch to Colemak because he's so fast and has trained so much with QWERTY already. Switching to Colemak would mean a lot of retraining for someone like him to internalize all the common words – although, I suspect he'd be up to 150+ WPM with Colemak in pretty much no time because most of your speed is general typing skill and not so layout dependent after all.

    I'd love to see you try this with Colemak! We have fast typists using it already, but it's awesome to get more.

    And in theory, having a layout that doesn't require you to fly all over should give a slight speed edge. I believe that to be true.

    May I recommend Colemak-CurlAngleWide? ;-)

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    • From:Sweden
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    Well I don't doubt that I can reach 200wpm but perhaps Colemak would improve my odds? Or atleast make it easier. As you said "slight speed edge" should indeed be there if the key pressings are more evened out on both hands instead of focusing on my left, also heard that It's alot more comfortable to be using Colemak and that sounds very nice concidering the amount of time I spend pressing keys.
    I'm not too afraid of retraining a new layout since I spend a minimum of 8 hours at the computer each day so lots of time to practice, I'm quite the quick learner aswell.
    However I would need some sort of Swedish Colemak for the Å Ä Ö keys if there is such a thing since copy pasting those letters wouldnt make Colemak practical at all.
    I'm not sure what a "Colemak-CurlAngleWide" is.

    Warlord Xecc @ Youtube

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    • From:Oslo, Norway
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    Colemak should have the potential to be very fast.

    If you check my signature topics, you'll find what I've been doing since 2007. I have a Swedish Colemak variant. Indeed, the ÄÖÅ letters need to be treated well.

    But in short, this is what my Norwegian Colemak-CurlAngleWide[eD] looks like, with some keys moved a little for comfort and new AltGr mappings:

        Cmk-ISO-eD-No-CurlAWide_90d_FShui.png

    Norwegian: Put ÆØÅ on the ]<[ keys (for Swedish, ÄÖÅ)
    Curl: Move DbgHk to avoid the common D and H being on somewhat awkward inwards stretches (I still consider it a Colemak mod, as no letters change fingers)
    Angle: Move ZXCVB(or D) one step left, to make the left wrist straight instead of crooked
    Wide: Move the ]<[=\ keys to the middle, for hand separation and right pinky load reduction and better AltGr/Enter/RShift/etc distance
    [eD] for edition DreymaR: Use US symbol mappings because the Norwegian ones are impractical, and add lots of good AltGr and dead key mappings
    Extend (not shown – see sig topics) for very elegant navigation/editing/+++!!!

    Last edited byDreymaR (04-Oct-2016 13:20:29)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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    Warlord Xecc said:

    So I've been using Qwerty for 14 years, started when I was five. I learned to touch type when I was eight and recently started doing type tests, my first one was 112 wpm but past 6 weeks I've improved that to a 142 wpm / 135 wpm average. (This was on 10ff, on typeracer my average is 110)....
    My goal is to reach a whooping 200wpm, would it be worth it for me to go Colemak for this purpose or should I just keep on with Qwerty? ...

    Let me start with Wow! Those speeds are impressive and definitely puts you in the 99.99% percentile. Switching layouts doesn't really have any scientific evidence of increasing your speed, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence. As an example, I currently type faster with Colemak than I ever did with Qwerty (though not by much), and you can find several other people on this site that have switched in the Experiences forum that have also shown improvement, some of them pretty dramatic. These same anecdotal speed increase experiences can also be read on people that have switched to Dvorak, the previous fastest typist in the world (Barbara Blackburne) used Dvorak. The distance metrics for dvorak and colemak differ depending on which metric is used but overall it seems like Colemak has the edge. 

    The question for you though is do these speed gains happen when you are near the top of the typing world? For that question the data is even more rare. Only a handful of people are capable of typing that fast in the first place, no matter the layout.  We have a couple of fast typists in that range I'm sure, but I think the best one that you can read about here is Ryan Heise, and his blog. He is currently typing at 130wpm on hi-games.net, speeds are roughly equivalent to typeracer, up from his Qwerty speeds of ~100+ wpm. Side note, Sean Wrona, mentioned by Dreymar, is probably the fastest typist in the world-- he averaged 174 wpm over 50 minutes on hi-games and has done 220wpm on 10fastfingers.

    At these enormous speeds though from what I can tell is that everyone uses "tricks" of some sort to support that speed. As in not leaving your hands on the home row and not using the same fingers for same finger keys, like typing the first 4 letters of "December"(in qwerty) with pointer finger, middle finger, pointer finger, middle finger. Once people start incorporating these "tricks" I'm sure the distance metrics that often are cited as part of the potential speed improvements of different layouts don't matter as much. I even do these things in colemak, and I only do 100+wpm on 10fastfingers, eg I type words that end in "lk" in colemak with middle finger, pointer finger. My personal opinion is that switching to a layout like Colemak will probably get you some percentage increase in wpm, but that will have to be honed by customizing tricks and extensive practice to reach speeds of 150+wpm. If someone put a gun to my head and said you need to be able to type 150wpm in one year or you're toasted, I would choose Colemak over qwerty and hope that my poor fingers didn't break down with all the practice I would be doing.

    As for reaching 200+wpm... Well just know that the "fastest" typist in the world averages ~170 wpm over time. Sean has hit 256 on typeracer and 220 on 10fastfingers, but these are short brief time periods. So if you want to hit these speeds, just know that it will have to be over a short time period. Anyway, whatever you choose you have a lot of hard work in front of you to reach even rarer heights.

    So good luck! and if you do choose Colemak, or don't ;), please keep us updated here!


    Also, if you really only care about speed and don't mind carrying around a keyboard, you might want to consider stenography (like plover). I would love to learn but unfortunately I need to mobile work from my laptop, and laptops don't support it.

    Last edited byjsmithy (04-Oct-2016 23:45:10)
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    Ah, yes – one important point: All the practice you'll be doing! This, in my opinion, strongly suggests using Colemak. Because one thing that's above mere anecdote is how much more comfortable typing with Colemak is over QWERTY. And so, all those practice sessions will be much more pleasant using Colemak, with less risk of injury.

    Since you know your QWERTY so well, maybe you want to learn Colemak using Tarmak? That'll ease you into the new layout while keeping your typing speed acceptable. If you're very dedicated to learning, you may skip a step or two and accelerate progress (but do stick to 97%+ accuracy for each new step, is my suggestion).

    Everyone I know of have gotten faster with Colemak than they were with QWERTY; I think I may have heard of a single exception but he probably trained too little or something. The problem as a layout fan is to determine whether that's because of the layout's superiority per se or the increased training that follows a layout switch. But one thing I've thought about is that when you learn a new layout you'll probably learn it well. You'll have had your QWERTY with you all your typing life and while that has made you optimize some things you may also have picked up a bad habit or two that you're hardly aware of. Starting anew may lead you to use a better technique in the end. But that's just a hypothesis of mine.

    Last edited byDreymaR (05-Oct-2016 10:31:36)

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    the fastest typists in the world use qwerty, but qwerty is also the most popular. likely those typists just stuck with what they already knew. i'd like to think that colemak has the potential to be faster because it's better, but that has yet to be proven.

    if you're shooting for 200 wpm, i feel the layout won't matter as much as you might think. because at those speeds you're going to have a custom style anyway. for example sean wrona has said that he doesn't always use the same finger to hit the same key. it's a matter of what's closer or faster at the time depending on the word he happens to be typing

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    Thanks for all the info folks.
    I have not tried out Colemak yet (sorry). But I decided that I shouldnt be typing on my 13 inch laptop keyboard so I got myself a "Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate MX Blue" and my record is now 150, 140 average. Bit of an improvement.
    As for this "Special style" I can relate, I also use different fingers for different keys sometimes.
    I don't use Homerow Keys either. I can feel which key is which no matter where my hands are on the keyboard. I didn't know what Homerow was before a few months back, nobody really taught me how to use a Keyboard.
    So maybe switching layouts now is just putting sticks in the wheel?

    Warlord Xecc @ Youtube

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    It depends on your dedication I think. If you really want to improve and work for it, I think that you could shine with Colemak. Anyway, you could try it a little. Or just try a Tarmak step or two to see what you feel about changing things and getting keys in better positions in general. Just don't imagine that you'll become super good with even Tarmak1 in no time, because obviously that isn't how things work.

    Last edited byDreymaR (18-Nov-2016 10:33:41)

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    In six months after switching, you will probably get back to the Qwerty speed. From then on, it requires a lot of exercise in your new layout for optimization.

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    Some have reported a much faster reclaiming of their QWERTY speed than that! And some have taken even longer. But for a dedicated typist who trains daily, I'd expect the old QWERTY speed back in much less than six months.

    Last edited byDreymaR (16-Dec-2016 13:27:50)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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