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    Full Transition or Incremental?

    • Started by asetniop
    • 9 Replies:
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    • Registered: 24-Apr-2012
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    Hi folks!  I'm the designer of a chorded keyboard system (ASETNIOP is the primary layout, but there's a variation that uses the Colemak home keys) and was thinking about putting together a version for traditional keyboards - it would basically be identical to the QWERTY layout but would use home keys of ASET and NIOP (with direct switches from the original ASDF and JKL; keys, so D and E would switch, F and T, etc.).  It's a relatively simple change with a HUGE upside; in QWERTY about 20% of keystrokes are home keys, this would bring that up to about 45%.

    Since it's such a limited amount of new things for users to learn, I am trying to decide whether it's worth developing a series of incremental "trainer" versions that switch only a single pair of keys at a time.  So the first version would only switch the J and N keys (this is the most practical switch to begin with), the second would have the J/N and K/I switched, and so on.

    My question is: has anyone here tried learning Colemak on an incremental basis?  I'm trying to decide whether it would be easier for users to learn things on an incremental basis, or to make the switch all at once.

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    • From: Belgium
    • Registered: 26-Feb-2008
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    Yes, checkout the Tarmac transitional layouts developed by our one and only DreymaR!  A number of forum users have learned Colemak in steps this way.

    Basic Qwerty "row swap" layouts have been discussed a few times as well on this forum, for example here.  Basically, they are better than Qwerty (obviously), but not by sufficient margin to justify the learning effort, better go with a smarter optimized layout.

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    Well this sent me down a pretty facinating rabbit hole. Thanks!

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    Over at the Colemak Discord server, few people see the point. I think it may be because those folks are dedicated adopters/optimizers, willing to take an initial hit to productivity in order to get to the end point fast and efficiently. Tarmak is mainly for the ones who cannot go all in but are patient.

    Not sure how cutting-edge people view ASETNIOP to be vs Colemak but I'd wager it's considered far more avantgarde? So by the above logic, if anyone brave enough to try their hand at it is nearly always also brave and foolhardy enough to dive right in – then there won't be a market for a set of transition layouts.

    At any rate, I'd think you shouldn't make more than, say, 4–5 steps. Many don't want even that many, and people tend not to understand intuitively that you can just skip a step whenever you feel like it.

    Last edited by DreymaR (19-Jul-2019 10:56:00)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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    • Registered: 15-Apr-2014
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    I went without Tarmak, but once I had learned the whole layout, I switched to full-time Colemak in one context (home) while keeping on QWERTY in another (work).

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    DreymaR said:

    At any rate, I'd think you shouldn't make more than, say, 4–5 steps. Many don't want even that many, and people tend not to understand intuitively that you can just skip a step whenever you feel like it.

    There's only six key changes total!  :)  So maybe two intermediates with a pair of changes each.

    I need to run it through the CarpalX software to see how well it does - I'm very curious.

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    I ran it through the analyzer put together by patorjk to see how it would do. 

    Not too shabby, actually!  Here's a link to the results. 

    http://patorjk.com/keyboard-layout-anal … d/Wn0ZLfck

    It's obviously a step down from Colemak and Dvorak, but it's a major step UP from traditional QWERTY, at a pretty minor investment in terms of the learning process.

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    • From: UK
    • Registered: 14-Apr-2014
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    People often seem to put a lot of faith in the patorjk analyser, despite it being unclear how its scores are calculated.

    When I first got interested in alternative layouts, I was keen to explore minimal-change layouts on the basis that a few smaller changes can make a big difference, and ASETNIOP would be in that category. I know you are trying to avoid finger swaps, but one change I would do is switch P with R. That single switch gives you a common letter on the home row, eliminates the RT, RG, FR same-finger bigrams, and improves hand balance.

    With all these approaches, I think the problem tends to be once you start off deviating from the standard, it becomes a rabbit hole where you are likely to always be unsatisfied until you reach a fully optimized layout. But in fairness anything that encourages people to think about keyboard design and efficiency, so that they consider using something other than Qwerty, has to be a good thing.

    Last edited by stevep99 (23-Jul-2019 14:26:46)

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

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    I'm sure I could find plenty of things to object to in patorjk's design - in particular putting any emphasis on the balance of keys on the left hand vs. right hand.  I don't think people properly account for usage of the space bar when that's considered; if balance is really important you can make up the difference by using the opposite hand from the last key in the word (i.e. words ends with "s", press space bar with right thumb; word ends with "n", press space bar with right hand.  Given that spaces are almost 20% of keystrokes, it's probably the biggest factor of all in terms of building a typing rhythm.  But it's definitely helpful to have a tool like that available.

    That said, I use my right thumb exclusively for hitting the space bar.

    And yeah, it's like you said - once you go down the road of swapping fingers (P to R is certainly practical; basically a rearrangement of the familiar ARENSITO concept), why not swap one or two more?  And then there's the question of whether you *want* a major key handled by the the weak, easily fatigued pinky...many, many side tunnels in this rabbit warren.

    In any case, all of this is purely theoretical until I give ASETGHNIOP a try, which I intend to do over the next few weeks.

    Last edited by asetniop (23-Jul-2019 18:54:21)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    Pinky fu! Pinky fu! Fear my pinky fu!  ☆*:.。. o(⁎≧▽≦)o .。.:*☆

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

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