• You are not logged in.

    My Colemak Journey

    • Started by drujd3ka
    • 9 Replies:
    • Reputation: 3
    • Registered: 03-Jan-2018
    • Posts: 23

    Hello guys,

    I thought about sharing my experience when it comes to Colemak. Now, I'm more of an average (but proud =P) Colemak typist, which means I'm not into stuff like Colemak variant vs Colemak variant, Colemak vs Workman etc., but I try to use it wherever I am.

    1) What layout you've been using beforehand, and how long you've been typing with it?

    I was typing on QWERTY/QWERTZ for over 15 years prior to switching to Colemak, but only touch typed on it in the last 2-3 years—before it was just 3-4 finger typing while looking at the keyboard.

    I also learned to touch type on Dvorak which I used for about 4-5 months in total. It wasn't a great experience, but I don't regret it.

    2) How long you've been using Colemak for, and how many estimated hours per week you've typed with it?

    I started using Colemak in August 2014. I remember I was still in college at the time and I finished my BA thesis entirely on Colemak from the beginning to the end—I still hold it as a great accomplishment. Since my switch, I've been almost exlusively typing on Colemak. I started working recently where I luckily was allowed to use the PKL version of the layout, so my hours per week value is pretty high. If I think about it, the only time I use QWERTY is when I'm on someone else's computer and the stuff I do on it doesn't require me to use Colemak or when I'm entering my password on Windows. So in short, it's been almost non-stop Colemak ever since 2014.

    3) Mention the methods you used to learn the layout.

    I went in cold turkey. Strangely, I didn't hear of Tarmak until I was already about 2 weeks into learning Colemak, but then I thought, ‘I made it this far without any tutorials.’

    4) What operating system you're using.

    Unfortuntely, I don't have a choice, but to use Windows. However, I'll soon be looking to buy a laptop that will be running Linux only.

    5) If you mention typing speed, mention what way you used to measure it. Use one of the typing tests to measure it.

    I switched to Colemak-CAW [ED] variant a few days ago, so my WPM has suffered. But on standard Colemak I typed comfortably at ~85 WPM and on better days I could reach into the lower ranges of 90 WPM.

    To measure it, I've always used 10fastfingers.com and typeracer.com.

    6) Share any tips about learning the layout.

    Hmmm... learn Colemak with Tarmak way if that's your thing, otherwise just go cold turkey. And if possible, choose a Colemak mod/variant and learn that. (IMO Mod-DH is a must!)

    As I mentioned above I'm using DreymaR's Colemak-CAW [ED] variant with some changes to the ‘extended layer’ of the layout, because that works for me than anything else so far. Choose something that works for you.

    Last edited by drujd3ka (10-Jan-2018 10:22:57)
    Offline
    • 0
    • Reputation: 114
    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 4,742

    Nice writeup! And thanks for choosing and supporting Colemak-CAW[eD]! :-)

    It's sad that Tarmak isn't better profiled for newcomers. I blame Shai who hardly maintains the pages at all. And myself, for not making my own pages. ;-) However, as I recall it Shai made his own version of a step-by-step learning programme for Colemak and tried to promote that instead of Tarmak a little back (but at a point when Tarmak was rather well established). So maybe he doesn't want to link to Tarmak on his front page?

    I do keep an active presence in the forums and have Tarmak in my signature, so whoever reads the forums before switching will be aware. But quite often this isn't the case and I feel that cold-turkey switchers will protect their investment even one week after the switch – even if it's painful for them. So Tarmak will lose "customers" this way.

    Parts of my Extend layer are readily configurable, indeed. I only recommend keeping the modifiers and navigation/editing mostly as it is, because I've tested that a lot and it works very well. Other stuff like the mousing, special and duplicated keys is more of a matter of personal preference.

    Last edited by DreymaR (10-Jan-2018 10:16:28)

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

    Offline
    • 0
    • Reputation: 3
    • Registered: 03-Jan-2018
    • Posts: 23
    DreymaR said:

    Nice writeup! And thanks for choosing and supporting Colemak-CAW[eD]! :-)

    Haha, thanks and you're welcome.

    DreymaR said:

    But quite often this isn't the case and I feel that cold-turkey switchers will protect their investment even one week after the switch – even if it's painful for them.

    I felt the same about myself. I was thinking that I already switched the keys and I've been dabbling along fine, so why would I want go back half way now?

    DreymaR said:

    Parts of my Extend layer are readily configurable, indeed. I only recommend keeping the modifiers and navigation/editing mostly as it is, because I've tested that a lot and it works very well. Other stuff like the mousing, special and duplicated keys is more of a matter of personal preference.

    Well, I actually moved the whole thing around. I uploaded a screenshot of it that I created in MS Excel. Also, here's why I chose those key positions that I chose:

    Legend:

    Spoiler:
    Sc Up - Mouse scroll up
    Sc Dn - Mouse scroll down
    ↑ - Cursor up
    Br Bck - ‘Browser’ back (basically navigating back across pages)
    Br Fw - ‘Browser’ forward (basically navigating forward across pages)
    M Up - Moves mouse pointer up
    M Dn - Moves mouse pointer down
    M L - Moves mouse point to the left
    M R - Moves mouse pointer to the right
    ^Y - Redo (same as Ctrl+Y)
    Menu - Basically a right click
    -----
    ← - Cursor to the left
    → - Cursor to the right
    BckSp - BackSpace
    Del
    -----
    ^X - Cut (same as Ctrl+X)
    ^C - Copy (same as Ctrl+C)
    LMB - Left mouse button
    ^V - Paste (same as Ctrl+V)
    RMB - Right mouse button
    MMB - Middle mouse button
    Fav - Bookmarks
    Sc L - Mouse scroll to the left
    Sc R - Mouse scroll to the right

    The reasons why I chose these key positions:
    * The main idea was to move the navigation (or arrow) keys to the left hand side and place additional keys around them. This is because I like keeping my left hand on the keyboard while I navigate around with the mouse in my right hand. I want to be able to perform basic movements (moving the cursor around, scrolling up and down, jumping to the beginning or the end of a line and navigating back and forth) while still being able to move the mouse and perform additional actions with it.

    * I moved other text editing keys (most notably ‘backspace’ and ‘del’) to under the strongest fingers on the right hand, because I realised I was having soreness in my pinky—mainly not because of simply pressing Caps Lock+O to delete stuff, but because I frequently type in Hungarian where I need to use the acute accent dead key AND delete stuff; this put a lot of pressure on my right pinky and placing ‘backspace’ to under my index finger definitely helped.

    * ‘Del’ is right next to ‘backspace’ in case I need to delete stuff from the front and to make it easily accessible.

    * ‘Alt’ and ‘Shift’ are not super important to me, but it's nice to have them. Especially ‘Shift’ when I need to select some text—in which case I stay in ‘extend’ mode move around with the arrow keys under my left hand and hold down ‘Shift’ with my right pinky.

    * ‘Pg Up’ and ‘Pg Dn’ are not super important either, but it's nice to have them nearby. I rarely use them, I prefer slowly scroll down, especially if I'm going through a book, a document or a webpage.

    * ‘Ins’ and ’Ctrl’ are not important at all—to the middle with them!

    * ‘^X-^Z’ are in a good place, left them where they are now. Together with the ‘F1-8’ keys, but got rid of ‘F9-12’—I'll think about what to do with them later.

    * Mouse buttons are again not super important, but it's nice to have them nearby.

    * I rarely scroll side ways and I mostly only do it if I'm in full text editor mode (both of my hands are on the keyboard), so it's convenient to have them nearby.

    * I moved the keys responsible for the mouse pointer movement are placed above ‘backspace’, ‘del’, ‘Shift’ ‘Ctrl’ to be able to quickly make mouse pointer corrections (e.g. to take it out of my view/the text I'm looking at) when I'm in full text editor mode—saves times to remove my right hand from the keyboard and toss the mouse away.

    Image for DreymaR:
    8VKMxhh.png

    Last edited by drujd3ka (10-Jan-2018 17:56:54)
    Attachments:
    Offline
    • 0
    • Reputation: 62
    • From: UK
    • Registered: 14-Apr-2014
    • Posts: 710

    Nice report. Interesting Extend mapping too!

    I seem to remember others have discussed moving the arrows to the left as well. I think this was previously discussed on the forum in relation to making right-alt/AltGr the Extend key. I can see the attraction of having single-handed navigation, but isn't it a bit of an awkward stretch if you are using CapsLock as your Extend key? I have remapped left-alt to be my Extend key, which does make it a bit easier to simultaneously access the Extend mappings on the left-hand side (obviously at a cost of having to remap Alt elsewhere).

    The beauty of having Control and Shift in your Extend layer is that you can use these *in combination* with the arrow keys to select characters/words. I think the true power of this is not always obvious to new Extend users, but once you get used to it, you can't live without it.

    If you want to compare notes, my Extend layer is like this, it's somewhat more similar to DreymaR's original:
    extend_layer_dh.png?raw=true

    Last edited by stevep99 (10-Jan-2018 15:00:06)

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

    Offline
    • 0
    • Reputation: 114
    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 4,742

    I actually made a left-handed navigation block for my second Extend layer! So I can use that for two purposes: NumPad entry with navigation, or pure left-handed nav/edit. The big question is of course what key or key combo makes for the best Extend2 key then.

    What SteveP said, totally: A nav block without home row modifiers is just another nav block in a sea of HHKB-style nav blocks. It's the modifiers that unlock super duper Extend mode!!!

    In this context, Ctrl is totally important! This is where many Extend n00bs fail, in my experience. The power of the ability to skip or select the previous word, or the rest of the text, or the next paragraph, becomes clear with time and usage.

    PgUp/PgDn are totally important too, since I use them ever so much to switch and move browser tabs. Just to mention one thing.

    Again: It's the combos that create true Extend power. Check them out in my Extend topic, even though it's a long read due to all the power it describes. ;-)

    I've stressed and re-stressed this point in my Extend topic, so I don't know why it's lost on so many...?

    Drujdeka: Can't you use BBCODE img tags for the image? Attaching and downloading seems so clunky.

    Last edited by DreymaR (10-Jan-2018 15:35:03)

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

    Offline
    • 0
    • Reputation: 3
    • Registered: 03-Jan-2018
    • Posts: 23
    stevep99 said:

    Nice report. Interesting Extend mapping too!

    Thank you!

    stevep99 said:

    [...] but isn't it a bit of an awkward stretch if you are using CapsLock as your Extend key?

    To be honest, I was thinking about that it may be awkward to some people who might choose to use my Extend mapping or something similar. But to me, personally, it's not awkward and comes natural. It's most probably because of my ‘gamer past’. I used to play a lot of FPS games (classic Quake 3, Wolfenstein, Call of Duty and all that) and I always bound the movement keys to (QWERTY) E, S, D, F and all the weapons around these keys. My pinky got used to the streching to ‘Ctrl’, ‘Shift’, and ‘Tab’. So stretching my pinky out to Caps Lock and doing my own thing with the rest of the fingers comes naturally easy. Also, playing the guitar for the past 6-7 years definitely helped with the stretching. On Colemak (CAW) I can easily reach out with my pinky to Caps Lock and my index finger on ‘[’ and ‘]’—it's not something I do commonly though. :)

    stevep99 said:

    The beauty of having Control and Shift in your Extend layer is that you can use these *in combination* with the arrow keys to select characters/words.

    Now as I read this, it just hit me... I switched the place of ‘Alt’ and ‘Ctrl’ immediately as I got home. And yes, it's golden! I've no idea why I didn't think of this. I guess I didn't have to do much text selecting today at work. :)

    DreymaR said:

    In this context, Ctrl is totally important! This is where many Extend n00bs fail, in my experience. The power of the ability to skip or select the previous word, or the rest of the text, or the next paragraph, becomes clear with time and usage.

    Yup, I, too, fell into this trap. It's now fixed though. I made ‘Alt’ and ‘Ctrl’ switch places.

    DreymaR said:

    PgUp/PgDn are totally important too, since I use them ever so much to switch and move browser tabs. Just to mention one thing.

    Well, yeah, this makes me think. I'm thinking of moving these keys to a better place.

    DreymaR said:

    Drujdeka: Can't you use BBCODE img tags for the image? Attaching and downloading seems so clunky.

    Fixed. :)

    Offline
    • 0
    • Reputation: 114
    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 4,742

    Well done, Padawan. ;-)

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

    Offline
    • 0
    • Reputation: 3
    • Registered: 03-Jan-2018
    • Posts: 23

    Update:

    I've been making a lot of progress regarding gaining back my WPM performance that I had on standard Colemak (~85-93 WPM) since I've switched to Colemak-CAW—I'm now up to the higher ranges of 70 WPM.

    The biggest gain I've discovered so far: The slight pain/soreness in my right wrist has gone completely! I used to experience some soreness and discomfort in my right wrist and occasionally in my palm after long hours of typing on standard Colemak, but it's gone completely on Colemak-CAW. I'm very happy for this. However, the fingers on my right hand in general feel like they are all over the place—they move a lot but not as much as on Dvorak. =P I'm OK with this though.

    The issues I mainly had with making the transition from standard Colemak to Colemak-CAW: Confusing M with H and vice versa, plus trying to hit C in its old position. Then getting my middle finger to hit C with the tip of my finger and not curl it in that much that actually my nail would push the key—this felt really awkward. Interestingly, getting used to placing my hands wider and the new positions of the K, B, G and D keys came rather natural.

    I think I'm in love with this Colemak variant.

    Offline
    • 0
    • Reputation: 114
    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 4,742

    That's interesting. The M-H confusion is to be expected but it'll subside quickly enough in my experience. But I had some lingering qualms with rare letters that move to worse positions – mostly B. It's my feeling that the most common letters that move to better positions give the least overall trouble, and indeed both D and H felt nice to me immediately while I had more trouble with VM and the rest.

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

    Offline
    • 0
    • Reputation: 3
    • Registered: 03-Jan-2018
    • Posts: 23
    DreymaR said:

    That's interesting. The M-H confusion is to be expected but it'll subside quickly enough in my experience. But I had some lingering qualms with rare letters that move to worse positions – mostly B. It's my feeling that the most common letters that move to better positions give the least overall trouble, and indeed both D and H felt nice to me immediately while I had more trouble with VM and the rest.

    I'm sorry for the late reply, I've been too busy with practicing typing to eliminate every remaining quirk. :)

    Yes, you're right. I don't confuse M and H anymore and strangely adopting to the new position of B came easily to me, although sometimes I used to look for it in the lower row, especially when I would to the Ctrl+B (to bold text) shortcut. And yes, the new position of D definitely feels a lot more comfortable.

    Last edited by drujd3ka (06-Feb-2018 08:08:15)
    Offline
    • 0