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    A speedtyping enthusiast's opinion

    • Started by Soner
    • 5 Replies:
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    • Registered: 04-Dec-2018
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    Hello everybody,

    I started learning Colemak in December 2018 after a strong mastery of both Qwerty and Dvorak.
    You may refer to my first post to learn about my background and motivation: https://forum.colemak.com/topic/2482-fr … o-colemak/

    So, a considerable amount of time has passed and I've pretty much tapped out my full potential on Colemak. As I explained in my first post, my main motivation to learn Colemak was to advance further in my typing speed after having attained my full Dvorak potential. What's more, I just enjoy the learning process, I am curious and typing for the sake of typing is my passion.

    My experience is personal and I cannot speak for everybody and I don't think there is this one perfect layout for every person, so I strictly refuse bashing different keyboard layouts. Ergonomic typing, typing speed and accuracy is a result of your specific technique and the layout. Even Qwerty can be the ideal keyboard if you have the the right way of typing for this layout, which is surely not the homerow method taught at school or in any courses. Sean Wrona, best known speedtypists, seems to be perfectly adapted to Qwerty, circumventing all shortcomings of Qwerty that apply to me.

    Colemak fell short of expectation as I was not able to equal or even surpass my Dvorak speed. In terms of typing speed, Colemak for me is about 20 wpm slower than Dvorak, but still beats Qwerty by 5 wpm. On Typeracer, for example, my average speed speed with Colemak was 113-117, whereas with Dvorak I could achieve an average of 133-140 on a good day. I cannot pinpoint the exact reasons why dvorak wins by such a margin. It seems to be that Dvorak allows me to type more accurately at high speeds. On Colemak, I seem to make tons of mistakes as soon as I try to type at my maximum speed. Additionally, I was younger back in 2012 when I started learning Dvorak. I can just speculate whether that played a role. As to the ergonomic factor, I think Colemak did indeed feel comfortable, especially on my laptop. I think Colemak can match Dvorak in that area.

    I switched back to Dvorak after totally not using it for a year and my old abilities came back in a couple of days. That proves to me again that learning a new layout does not eradicate existing layout skills, provided you mastered it properly before switching. While I don't think there is a guarantee that a new layout will endow you with a much higher speed, I am strong proponent of learning and trying new things and a proponent of not putting to much credit in alternative-layout-naysayers. The fact that two alternative layouts that I've learnt were more superior than Qwerty might hint to a considerable chance of gaining more speed. I don't believe that the speed gain on both layouts was just coincidence.

    At the moment, I am even learning a fourth layout, namely the NEO 2 keyboard layout, which is optimized for the German language. Its layout is closer to Dvorak's, so I am really interested to see how it will perform.

    My learning method is as follows: I open a window where the layout is shown and another window next to it with a typing site. I don't go about it by using sticky keys, since I think that looking at the keyboard should be avoided from the get-go. Having the keys shown on the screen is more effective in my experience. I don't start with advancing from row to row but use all keys from the beginning by trying to type random words that can contain any letter. I am no strict homerow typist, so I avoid starting to learn the homerow first which is the way to do in many touch typing applications. However, I think that its helpful to begin with more frequently used and shorter words when you begin learning a new keyboard. There is not much more to it in my case. I am a very ardent typing enthusiast who can enjoy the process, so the initial slowness is no burden for me,

    Last edited by Soner (14-Feb-2020 09:30:29)
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    Interesting report, it seems you have some natural speed-typing ability regardless of layout.

    Some other factors to bear in mind:

    - To reach the maximum speed might take a long time, perhaps years of dedication to a single layout - so you might not have yet reached your full potential with Colemak.

    - With each new layout you learn, it might be become increasingly difficult to reach the same peak speed. For example, I wonder if you'd done Colemak first then Dvorak subsequently, whether you'd get the same result? Obviously it's impossible to tell but it's a thought. The age factor you mentioned could also be relevant too.

    - Perhaps the alternation-vs-rolls features of Dvorak and Colemak is significant and does make Dvorak genuinely slightly faster, although I'm willing to bet Colemak would still win Comfort-wise (accepted I don't have personal experience with Dvorak).

    - I wonder if the middle column (DH) issue could be a factor in slowing down Colemak slightly, as it requires a lateral hand movement which takes longer than the downward index finger movement. I guess asking you to try Colemak-DH for comparison might be a bit cheeky at this point.

    Last edited by stevep99 (14-Feb-2020 15:13:57)

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

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    Your assumptions are pretty ungrounded. That goes for both of you.  ¯\(º_o)/¯

    Colemak emphatically cannot be assumed to be any slower than Dvorak. If anything, you can drumroll your fingers faster than you can alternate hands. But the only proof of concept we need is to look at how fast people actually can type using the different layouts! Luckily we now have super fast typists using QWERTY, Colemak and Dvorak, and even some speedy typists having tried both Dvorak and Colemak in addition to QWERTY. And they're all fast! Viper's 227 WPM using Colemak is in the ballpark of champion Sean Wrona's QWERTY speeds and we all know there are fast Dvorak users too. What we don't have is any data or reason to conclude that either of the layouts is de facto slower. Even QWERTY cannot be assumed to be slow given the usage of special techniques like Sean uses, although it can certainly be concluded to be uncomfortable for most of us. So don't be an overassumer.

    If you ask Viper and Katja (the other 200+ WPM Colemak user on the Discord) about potential, they'll tell you that you too could type 200+ WPM using Colemak (or another optimized layout, most likely) given enough and proper training. So SteveP, you're absolutely right: There's more potential to unlock. For all of us, pretty much. It may take over a year, but not necessarily many years given enough dedication and training. Of course, most of us don't want to do that as it's tiresome and time-consuming.

    Last edited by DreymaR (14-Feb-2020 15:58:15)

    *** 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 don't think I was making any assumptions, my post was just a list of talking points. I don't think there is any fundamental reason why Colemak should be necessarily slower than any other given layout, but everyone is different so the different factors at play might effect people's max speed differently.

    Last edited by stevep99 (15-Feb-2020 12:48:29)

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

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    Yes, but in daily talk a question bears an element of a claim in it. There's no such thing as "just asking", really.  ( ͡~  ͜ʖ ͡°)

    In saying that everyone's different we still need to remember your good point that hardly anybody have realized their potential yet either. So we must also keep in mind the potential for improvement. Maybe someone finds rolls harder than alternation at their level but with more training realize how powerful rolls can be. Viper has hinted on this, he seems to find rolls more efficient but also more skill-demanding overall.

    *** 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:

    Yes, but in daily talk a question bears an element of a claim in it. There's no such thing as "just asking", really.  ( ͡~  ͜ʖ ͡°)

    In saying that everyone's different we still need to remember your good point that hardly anybody have realized their potential yet either. So we must also keep in mind the potential for improvement. Maybe someone finds rolls harder than alternation at their level but with more training realize how powerful rolls can be. Viper has hinted on this, he seems to find rolls more efficient but also more skill-demanding overall.

    I have known Dvorak aficionados to claim the greater alternation in that layout makes it faster. I am highly skeptical of that claim - I think rolls are the way to go also - but don't have the experience necessary with Dvorak to refute it, so AFAIK it *could* be true for some people at least. But what I was trying to get was, even if it were true, rolls indisputably win on comfort.

    Perhaps Soner will devote more time to Colemak mastery to give us more data.

    Last edited by stevep99 (17-Feb-2020 15:42:46)

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

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