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    Colemak and Colemak mod-dh and Dvorak Experience

    • Started by LightenS
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    • Registered: 08-Jan-2019
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    Due to excessive ctrl c and ctrl v during a website revamp last year, my left wrist started hurting.  I have started my ergo journey by slowly replacing everything on my desk.  Starting from the Deathadder, Logitech 502, Mionix 7000, to the Anker vertical mouse. These mice claim to be ergo but my shoulders still hurting.  In the end, I ended up with Logitech trackball, Trackman marble to the left and M570 to the right.   Then,  I bought the split Kinesis Edge and that's when I learned about the other keyboard layout.

    Just like things was expensive, they come with quality.  And that's what I thought with Dvorak, the more keys rearranged, the "better" ergo they give. I was not convinced with Colemak at first.  And due to popularity, I have switched to Dvorak. Starting with online practice, I would able to get my speed to 30-40wpm with 5 minutes typing session.  Dvorak is fine in regular typing session, but not for me. My left pinky is in pain while coding.  LS, LS -a , all the brackets, and equal sign while writing programs are putting so much workload on my pinky.  Dvorak programmer is another solution.  However, since I used a lot of number as well and consider I have to learn the complete number row has disband the thought of using Dvorak after 2 months. 

    Then it comes Colemak,  the brother that's not far away from QWERTY but provides a bunch more benefit.  Switching to Colemak was not hard at all.  Giving my muscle memory in Dvorak is not mature and I have been using QWERTY for years.  Started from November last year to now, around March, I have been able to get my speed to 60wpm in 5 minutes typing session.  It is still far from my 80wpm in QWERTY, but I could feel the benefit already.  My hand did not have to move that much. I did not have to crack my left wrist anymore.  My right pinky is not overworked.  Overall, less fatigue.  Other than the Colemak Layout, I have used another extend layer for arrow and common shortcut and also implement the Angle Mod.  This result in my hands not leaving the home row at all and without the awkward inward bending to type the bottom left row, feel AWESOME.

    There was a super awkward period in learning Colemak.  I would not able to type in QWERTY...  My speed of QWERTY fell to around 30wpm and my Colemak was even slower, around 20wpm.  My mind was not functioning properly switching between these layout. This rendered me useless for about 2 weeks typing with bunch of typo. My boss and colleges knew about this and laughed.  This had given me more motivation to learn Colemak faster.  Poor QWERTY skill, piece by piece, the letter is leaving one by one.  I cannot type in QWERTY with 80wpm anymore, more like 30wpm now.  The muscle memory still here in quick reflex, where I type a bunch of errors mixing the 2/3 layouts.

    I have tried Mod DH on and off.  Don't like it. Even though, until now, I still make a lot of error typing G and D because of QWERTY (the main reason I wanted to tried mod dh). For my left hand mod d, I have to shift my whole hand to focus on the middle and bottom row to focus on typing D and G.  Stretching to type the number row and Function would take a lot more effort.  The right hand mod h does not feel much better either.  The H is definitely feel better. The M that stayed in Dvorak as well as QWERTY and Colemak is moved, this feel super awkward to the muscle memory.  With the problem of shifting the whole hand to focus on bottom row, same as left hand, I was not able to type the number row without stretching a lot more.

    In the end, due to some good placement of Dvorak punctuation and Colemak letter, I have stick with this Layout;
    1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 9 0 [  ]
      q w  f   p  g    j  l   u y ;  '  = 
       a   r  s   t   d   h  n  e  i  o -
        x   c  v  b  z  k  m  ,  ,  .  /

    I have brackets on the extend layer so it solves everything.

    COLEMAK is lovely. 
    Now let time heals my injured hands...

    Last edited by LightenS (26-Feb-2019 20:09:20)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    Grats on your journey!

    The DH mod is optional. I like it, but we'll keep providing Colemak both in vanilla and DH flavors. Good to see that you're using the Angle-Z mod though, as that is indeed a boon for your left wrist! I agree that using the Curl-DH mod makes the number row farther away. What I do is use the Extend2 NumPad layer when entering many numbers. It takes a little getting used to but I think it's better than the number row for numeric entry.

    For me, brackets in the middle through the Wide mod is good enough. But I don't code a lot these days, so it wouldn't be too straining no matter what.

    Any ideas on how to help others not to make your Dvorak mistake? I'm not saying that Dvorak is horrible but your misunderstanding that more difficult is automatically better seems to be a common one.

    Last edited by DreymaR (27-Feb-2019 09:33:17)

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

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    DreymaR said:

    Grats on your journey!

    Any ideas on how to help others not to make your Dvorak mistake? I'm not saying that Dvorak is horrible but your misunderstanding that more difficult is automatically better seems to be a common one.

    I believe until Colemak has enough users and able to rank number 2 instead,  that's when I will have the impression to try Colemak first.  Still, Dvorak is about 20 years ahead of Colemak and has a lot more documents to support it, including an official patented copy of the layout.  More articles are written about Dvorak as well and more Youtube Video talked about Dvorak as well.  Even though Dvorak doesn't have an official website, the point that it is included on most OS is also a bonus.

    Colemak still needs some time to catch up.

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    Yeah, I guess so. But I was thinking specifically about the misconception that "more expensive equals better".

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

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    Let's say that QWERTY is the worst, that's mean that there should be nothing that's worth saving.  Hence, a complete layout that's different might prove more ergo.

    I am using a programmable keyboard. I don't really care about the position of  zxcvb.  So putting that into one of the main argument does not really persuade.
    Saying it is easier to change from QWERTY to Colemak does not really persuade me either because I started from cold turkey.  In fact, it is giving me a hard time because of similarity in QWERTY,  more typing error from muscle memory.  I could remain using Dvorak and QWERTY without problem but that's a different story for Colemak.

    We need to give QWERTY some values and show WHY it is good to keep the 34 - 17 = 17 remain unchanged positions. 

    Just like how I like the punctuation of Dvorak, it gave me a feeling that August changed those for a reason, and I really like it.  So why Colemak kept those in the same place?  Just because it needs to be similar to QWERTY,  but QWERTY is already bad?

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    Interesting points. I'll discuss them giving my impressions. I don't have sources for them ready.

    Already a misconception there. QWERTY isn't the worst possible layout by a very long shot! The alphabetic layout is much worse for instance, and people have made even worse ones for the fun of it. So automatically assuming that because something is in QWERTY it must be bad, is just silly.

    I know that some have a gripe with ZXCV. Others like keeping them in place for the shortcuts. My impression is that it leads to something nearly but not fully optimal, giving V a slightly too good position and maybe C a slightly too bad one. But using Colemak-Curl(DH)Angle, everything should be as fine as makes no difference even to those who want to be nitpicky.

    One should bear in mind that for the most part the quality differences between optimized layouts such as Colemak and Dvorak are going to be minuscule and largely unprovable.

    The muscle memory issues you describe are transitional, and will sort themselves with some experience. Therefore I don't think they should be given too much weight.

    The reason you like the punctuation placements in Dvorak is that those positions are very good. But according to character frequencies those two positions are in fact too good for the period and comma, and should be used for more common letters as they are in Colemak and even QWERTY. I believe August made a little mistake there. Again, QWERTY isn't bad by necessity! We must look at what's what and not make such unwarranted assumptions.

    Last edited by DreymaR (15-Mar-2019 01:09:08)

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

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    I understand that QWERTY is not all bad, but until people go to carpalx and do a lot more study then they will not know.

    I am not talking about , . and /
    It is the - ' and =

    Since I have moved the bracket to another layout.  I have been able to use those bracket in the home keys with much more comfort.  This is the idea I got from the Colemak forum.

    The downside of Dvorak though, given that there is no other layout, given my right pinkey to type L (4.24%) and S(6.11%) is just ridiculous.  The O(7.70%) is still a lot but I don't need to move my finger up and down.  % grabbing from google website character frequency.  One pinky and has to handle 12 keys is already a burden (wide layout - another idea from the Colemak community, how niche), and Dvorak put the two keys on the pinky...Why it wouldn't break my finger...  Also, there are a lot of words use double l and double o.    Given this reason is enough for me to put Dvorak in the grave yard. 
    Programmer layout is "out of this world" in css where I have to mess with number. I have to type a lot of number frequently as well for data input.  This is another problem because I will be using more shift where I have to say goodbye to my pinky.

    Dvorak is not bad. It is bad until I tried out and found out it is not suitable for me.

    I did a lot of trying here and there to find what is suitable for me.  This takes a lot of times and dedication.  Not a lot of people will have this. 

    However, given that the Colemak community is much more alive than Dvorak (thanks to this forum), I believe we will become number 2 soon.

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    I agree, the hyphen-minus is well placed in Dvorak! Shai just made the decision to leave punctuation out of Colemak, so arguably Colemak doesn't address it at all and therefore any layout with Colemak's letter placements is Colemak and you're free to change punctuation as you please. But of course, that doesn't help the newcomer who doesn't want to tweak layouts.... My solution would be to put the hyphen-minus in another layer. With the Wide mod it's easy to use AltGr.

    Yes, the LS issues are often mentioned by people who have tried and disliked Dvorak. I don't remember from my own Dvorak days how they worked for me but they aren't optimal.

    It'll be interesting for sure to see how things go. One issue is that Colemak doesn't come with Windows. The Dvorak people were dedicated and clever enough to get ANSI certification for their layout, and at the time Microsoft considered that enough reason to add it. I think some people seriously believed that Dvorak could gain a largish following, and I'm sure several MS employees used it too. Today it's more messy, with several variants competing in the field. MS can't add them all for sure, unlike Linux!

    I'm hoping that Colemak will make its way into Windows at some point in the not too far future. But even then, It won't be my layout since I use Colemak-CAW[eD] with multi-Extend!

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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    There is no real need to move the punctuation and symbol keys from their Qwerty positions. They are not extremely common keys and so it makes sense to give frequently typed letters the best spots.

    Also, for many people, leaving as many things as possible unchanged - especially when they are relatively minor- makes the transition easier. Since the world already uses Qwerty, it makes sense to use that as a starting point, and just fix the (many) things that are broken with it. The few things that Qwerty does get right, or at least *not wrong*, Colemak is wise to leave those be. That's one of the reasons that Colemak is more attractive than Dvorak to those newcomers who compare both.

    If you want improved better symbol/punctuation keys, your best bet is to define your own custom layer. That's what I do for the most common characters like dash, brackets, underscore, etc.

    Last edited by stevep99 (15-Mar-2019 19:12:39)

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

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