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    Colemak Mod-DH or MTGAP worth a try?

    • Started by Kenran_
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    • Registered: 16-Jun-2018
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    Hello,

    I recently (like 2 months ago) started becoming interested in alternative keyboard layouts and I'm the type of person who is always questioning his decisions over and over. I informed myself and decided on using Colemak. When I reached between 50 and 60 WPM, even though everything else felt great, I became upset about the TH/HE combinations and also thought I'd probably prefer hand alternation over rolls. Thus I switched to Dvorak which initially felt great, but again after 50 to 60 WPM, new questions arose and I discovered stuff I didn't like about it.

    After a bit of a break, here I am now looking through all the layouts and trying to decide on what to try next. I miss the Colemak rolls and stumbled over Colemak Mod-DH, which seems to fix the TH/HE problem. My first question would be: Is there a simpler Colemak modification I should also consider that does the same but with fewer changes to the layout?

    I also evaluated the carpalx layouts (specifically QGMLWB), but I'm still not very good at interpreting and comparing all the metrics, and different analyzers seem to produce very different results as well depending on the weighting. Since I now want to settle on something that prefers (inward) rolls over alternating hands, I thought MTGAP could be something for me. Has anyone of you tried it? I found an older post by someone who uses/used a modified version of it successfully. What I wonder the most here: Is this MTGAP version really the latest one, and how does it compare to Colemak roll-wise? The only comparison I was able to find was that on the patorjk keyboard analyzer website where it seems to beat Colemak (and Mod-DH), but I don't really know what exactly they measure there.

    Any tips/hints/insights on this matter are extremely welcome :-)

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    Hey there Kenran, welcome to the forum. Having used both DH and Vanilla, I don't think that DH changes enough to really be an issue with getting used to it. The biggest change is really the angle mod, but you will get used to it if you give it a shot. Alternately you can make your own DH without the angle mod. Are you typing on an ISO or ANSI?

    Can't speak for the Carplx layouts myself, sorry.

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    Kenran_ said:

    My first question would be: Is there a simpler Colemak modification I should also consider that does the same but with fewer changes to the layout?

    Mod-DH isn't a huge change from Colemak, especially when you consider that no keys change fingers. If you wanted to make it an even smaller change from standard Colemak, you could consider:
    - applying it to one side of the keyboard only (for example, if it's mainly HE bigram that bothers you, you use the right-hand mod only)
    - apply the D>P>G rotation. A slight improvement over vanilla Colemak but doesn't fix the angle-mod issue, and leaves the awkward B.

    Kenran_ said:

    also evaluated the carpalx layouts (specifically QGMLWB).
    Since I now want to settle on something that prefers (inward) rolls over alternating hands, I thought MTGAP could be something for me

    I haven't tried MTGAP or the carpalx layouts. According to my scoring system, MTGAP scores about equally with vanilla Colemak, but of course is much harder to learn. But I accept my model doesn't directly consider rolls though. I don't particularly trust the carpalx-qgmlwyfub layout, I think the model used to reach it is a little flawed. The patorjk analyser is often quoted, but the methodology it uses is not published.

    Ultimately all of these layouts are going to be pretty good overall, with certain minor advantages and disadvantages here and there. But a key benefit of staying with Colemak or a derived layout/mod, is you will be part of an active community.

    Last edited by stevep99 (16-Jun-2018 14:08:16)

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

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    I am of a similar opinion to NottNott. Mod-DH changes enough to be useful and doesn't mess with what isn't broken, on the whole.

    One thing you should take into account is that metrics, no matter how robust, are usually accounting for factors common to users as well as the personal views of what the individual behind the metric considers important. It's a good starting point, but not ideal because there is no effort to address a deeper issue - individual users adapting to the layout and their comfort levels with long-term usage, which may not always follow the data obtained. It's possible to study the human factor in depth, but not by designing keyboard metrics and having a computer give you the results without extensive human testing.

    Another issue is the flawed nature of keyboard entry generally. It's actually pretty sub-optimal by nature when you think about it, with fingers being responsible for individual keys that are struck in a particular order at speed. As a result, there will always be at least a handful of combinations which "break" the efficiency or are not as comfortable as they could be, which is a necessary compromise under such a system. This particular issue of method is probably one of the reasons that, no matter how fluent the typist, you never seem to see typing scores that go very far beyond 212 WPM or so. Stenography and other chorded methods tackle this problem with a completely different paradigm and do achieve comfortable and fast results at the cost of approachablility. So what we really want in a keyboard layout is going to be maximal efficiency and comfort within the limits of the input method itself.

    If you do attempt Mod-DH, which is worth it for the comfort benefits in my view, make sure that you do so on a layout which affects the smallest number of common keys if possible. On an ISO layout in a Wide configuration, the only real hurdle I have encountered for non-letters in day-to-day typing is the relocation of slash/question mark. The ANSI layout does not have the benefit of an additional key off to the right on the home row that can be used for the apostrophe, so moving things around further is needed. The ISO layout is the more comfortable of the two in this regard, in the experience of several users.

    Finally, both rolls and alternation are addressing similar issues, and Colemak does employ both to achieve what it does. In fact, with alternation specifically, a case could be made that it does this a little better than Dvorak in giving the right hand only a little more to do, rather than favoring it more significantly. I appreciate alternation, but find that certain common sequences in a roll are quite essential for comfort once you have mastered them. Opinions vary widely on this point and I don't know that the advantage of rolls is as decisive as some people think, but they are ergonomic. Another point about Dvorak is, for all the flaws in its research, they did have the right idea in taking it straight into the "real world" of real people using it. This is the difference between efficacy and effectiveness as psychologists use the terms. A particular intervention or treatment may work well in a clinical setting (efficacy), but the results outside the lab are what everyone wants to see (effectiveness).

    Long story short, I think the typist ultimately determines what will be most efficient and comfortable for them, though there are common factors for all of us that must be considered first. This may serve to highlight why ergonomics fall as much in the field of psychology as they do the hard sciences, and in some cases are purely psychology's domain (the study of ergonomics actually is a lesser-known specialization in industrial/organizational psychology, for those wondering).

    Hopefully you found something useful in that lengthy exposition. Years of exposure and consideration have led to these conclusions, and I'm still learning.

    Last edited by azuvix (16-Jun-2018 15:02:40)
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    Thanks for all the great answers. I think I'll give Mod-DH a shot for now!

    The only downside is that I - I'm German by the way - used to only use ISO layouts up until one month ago, where I specifically bought an ANSI keyboard. I felt hitting the Return and LShift  buttons was straining my pinkies and was hoping for the ANSI layout to help with that (and it did). If only I had known then... ;-)

    Are there any tools for learning Colemak Mod-DH specifically, or a generic tool for alternative/customizable layouts? If not, I'll probably stick to the typical Colemak stuff and just accept the differences. I learned Colemak for 2-3 weeks, then switched to Dvorak, and it has been over 1.5 months that I have last typed Colemak. Hence all my progress is gone, naturally.

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    There isn't anything specific that I'm aware of (yet), but any typing game or practice you can use will work. I think you'll probably be able to focus on words rather than individual letter practice pretty quickly.

    And if you use a mechanical keyboard with QMK firmware and/or something from DreymaR's big bag of tricks, either of those would allow you to move Shift around anywhere you like if it bothers you. I find, though, that the Wide mod puts your pinkies closer to where they need to be anyway, so it hasn't been much of a problem. YMMV.

    Last edited by azuvix (16-Jun-2018 16:48:58)
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    Kenran_ said:

    Are there any tools for learning Colemak Mod-DH specifically, or a generic tool for alternative/customizable layouts? If not, I'll probably stick to the typical Colemak stuff and just accept the differences.

    Colemak Mod-DH use the same finger assignments as the regular Colemak, so the tools for learning Colemak works for both.

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    The best typing tool that I've found is Amphetype, it's layout agnostic, so it doesn't really care what your layout is, you import some text and write it, then it sees what words, bigrams and trigrams are the hardest for you, and it can also generate lessons based on what you're having problems with.

    There is also keybr.com, it's pretty good, but only works online.

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    I still think Colemak-DH is a much better name! (Or Curl, when it's a part of CAW/ⲔⲰ.) But yeah, Cmk-DH good, CarpalX crazy (but probably good, but not well supported and quite drastic etc etc).

    There is a Tarmak transition for Colemak-DH if you want to transition smoothly. For cold turkey, anything goes.

    Last edited by DreymaR (22-Jun-2018 14:50:46)

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    Pretty much anything that lets you type different samples with a good mix to avoid boredom is fine.

    I like 'keybr.com' or Amphetype. 'Typeracer.com' too. It's good to know what your speed is at a relaxed, average and frantic state.

    It's fun to type relaxed what you used to type frantically a while back.

    (I also fully endorse Colemak-DH over MTGAP. Totally biased, but here we have a support community where we can give feedback on what works, what doesn't and how we feel about the layout.

    Using MTGAP, you're in a foreign land with a keyboard no one helps you with, likely inferior to Colemak-DH.)

    Last edited by juice43 (30-Jun-2018 22:31:35)

    ColemakDH typist

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    DreymaR said:

    I still think Colemak-DH is a much better name!

    I completely agree to that, I actually started myself to use Colemak-DH as the layout name in forums, but mentioning it as Colemak Mod-DH looking to what others using as a name.

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    It's quite the conundrum that names can hold so much weight. It took me awhile to see that CAW and Mod-DH were not the same thing. Making the distinction is helpful if you understand both, but possibly unclear if you do not.

    It's also unfortunate that we're all over the place with the names we use. Ideally there would be consensus on one name for only one layout, but that would also carry a cost - giving it a name that doesn't contain "Colemak" is unhelpful, and calling it simply "Colemak" is disrespecting Shai, without whom no such mods would exist in the first place.

    A rose by any other name...

    Last edited by azuvix (03-Jul-2018 04:49:31)
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    Yeah, names are tricky things. I just can't bring myself to use "Mod-DH" because it doesn't work for me. Should I call the Wide mod "Mod-RightHand"? The Angle mod "Mod-ZXCVB"? Nah, I don't think so. Better to say Colemak-<modname(s)>. And "Colemak Mod-DH Wide" doesn't roll off my tongue at least.

    CAW is CurlAngleWide, so no, it's not the same thing as only Colemak-Curl(DH)Angle aka Colemak-DH. I want to keep using the "CAW" name because I like it so much. "Colemak-DH/AWide" or similar names just don't have that ring to them! And my current strategy is to offer vanilla and CAW on the "front page", and let people who want to cherry pick mods have to dig a little deeper for them. So I want a snappy name for the "fully modded" variant. It's the layout I use, too.

    Would be cool to use the name Colemak-ⲔⲰ with all the mystery! But I don't think I will, as it'd be too opaque and confusing for the uninitiated. Most people would be stumped about how to even pronounce it! "CAW" is mysterious enough as it is. :-)

    As you say: Yes it's important to emphasize that we consider Colemak-DH a Colemak mod and not another layout. And that it's an optional mod: Indeed it should be possible to choose it or not. So it should clearly contain the name "Colemak" and the mod name.

    The wish for only one variant isn't realistic. Some want more tweaking, some want it easier. Some want fancy Colemak[eD] Shift+AltGr magic, some don't care about typing anything else than standard English without special symbols. Some need their locale letters/accents. Some want a coding layer. Some have other preferences when it comes to the Extend layer or whether = goes between 5 and 6 or 6 and 7 in the Wide mod, etc etc. That's how it is, and I think that's more or less how it has to be. I want Colemak to be an exciting shop of possibilities, not an austere church that scares away people who want more or less.

    I've been pushing for harmonizing to keep the choice jungle from growing over our heads though. We've succeeded in having one Colemak-DH (mostly) where we had at least two, and we've succeeded in updating Tarmak with improvements instead of having three competing variants around. Not sure whether the Wide debate will settle eventually, because it does depend a bit on splits and ergonomic keyboards have different splits.

    Lol, I just made my Extend layer output the string Colemak-ⲔⲰ when I press Ext+Home. I'm silly. Notepad++ couldn't even handle the "ⲔⲰ". ^_^

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

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    On the "official" site, it has always been called "Colemak Mod-DH", which although is a long name, does accurately alert you to the 3 key things you need to know:
    (i) it's based on Colemak
    (ii) it's a mod
    (iii) the D and H keys are the main keys moved.

    For example:

    Yes it's important to emphasize that we consider Colemak-DH a Colemak mod

    There you go, the terms "Colemak", "DH", and "mod" used in the same sentence!

    I don't have a problem with calling it either Colemak-DH or Mod-DH for short, they're both logical enough and close enough to the full name to not cause confusion IMO.

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

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    I wish you'd be as eager as me to compromise, and settle for Colemak-DH. It is the better name among the imperfect alternatives, and it is the common ground.

    Would you call Cmk-CAW a "Colemak Mod-DH Mod-Wide" then? Or "Colemak Mod-DH-Wide"? Because you can't call it "Colemak Mod-DH-RightHand" to focus on the moved keys, that'd be ludicrous.

    I've stopped calling the Tarmak sequence "Tarmak3(ETR)" etc on the "front page" now, as I think the key focus is overmuch. I just call them Tarmak 1–4 for the newcomers. KISS.

    I have nothing against calling it "the DH mod" (or as I'd say it, "the Curl(DH) mod"); it's "Mod-DH" that grates me for some reason. I think I could even live with "Colemak, DH-modded" but not easily that one.

    Last edited by DreymaR (03-Jul-2018 21:39:15)

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    I should clarify a bit, what I meant by saying that a unified layout would be "ideal" was that it would be quickly understood without any ambiguity by those seeing it for the first time. Modular changes like those described are indeed something I would say is essential. If there is no getting around it, there is no getting around it.

    Regardless, I would say that, if you've done as I have and have a number of customizations, it's best to resist the urge to call it something different. This would only add to an already confusing situation. I had in mind to call my lil' variant "Colemak-תּ" since it it is oriented toward a "typist's" workflow, and Typist-Angle-Wide would be "TAW", one possible English approximation of the Hebrew letter "Tav".

    But then no one would have a clue what I was talking about, anywhere. :P

    Last edited by azuvix (03-Jul-2018 13:55:46)
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    IMO, moving D and H from the home row is the most important feature of this mod that differentiate it from Colemak, which was built with idea of putting most frequent letters in the home row. DH must appear in the mod name.

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    Also, regarding a separate name for Angle, Wide, Extend, moving 6 around, and so on. I think there are secondary things. For instance, in the world of custom keyboards, everybody use their own layout for modifiers and additional layers, but they are still considered just qwerty if qwerty is used for letters.

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    azuvix said:

    I had in mind to call my lil' variant "Colemak-תּ" since it it is oriented toward a "typist's" workflow, and Typist-Angle-Wide would be "TAW", one possible English approximation of the Hebrew letter "Tav".

    But then no one would have a clue what I was talking about, anywhere. :P

    That, right there, is so wonderful. <3

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    The name or refraining from using it? XD

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    The unadulterated ecletic esotericism! ^_^

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    DreymaR said:

    I wish you'd be as eager as me to compromise, and settle for Colemak-DH. It is the better name among the imperfect alternatives, and it is the common ground.

    The trouble with naming is it's subjective, and I'm not keen on the effort of renaming it based on subjective feelings when the original name has been around for four years already. In the spirit of compromise though, I'll put something prominent on the main page about it being commonly known as "Colemak-DH".

    Last edited by stevep99 (04-Jul-2018 11:17:13)

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

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    Thanks. That's what I'm doing, replacing many of my "Curl(DH)" with "Colemak-DH" in the documentation. I'm reworking some forum posts today.

    I do see your point. I love the "Curl" name, and you love yours. I say potato... ^_^

    Last edited by DreymaR (04-Jul-2018 11:57:33)

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    Yum, Toten's Opphøggde Potteter!

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