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    Begin with Colemak-DH or Colemak and switch later ? + questions

    • Started by Hexalyse
    • 5 Replies:
    • Reputation: 0
    • From: Tokyo, Japan / France
    • Registered: 07-May-2020
    • Posts: 3

    Hello,

    Just to give an idea of where I come from:

    I've known about alt layouts for years (started using a computer and getting into security 15 years ago), and have a few times hesitated to switch to what I heard about back then : Dvorak. But I never switched, because I already have a very good speed on AZERTY (French layout, very similar to QWERTY, which I also used for a few years to type code, and AZERTY for French text). I think my record was around 120 wpm on a mechanical keyboard.

    But other than speed, I think I should take into consideration comfort, and pain. Because I must admit, after long very of frantic typing, my finger joints can sometimes feel very sore. And I think it won't get better with time. So, it's time to think about comfort and efficiency of my typing, alongside the speed factor.

    But a few days ago I had a conversation with someone, talking about split keyboard and alt layouts, and I think I want to try a new layout. After days of searching and reading online, I was hesitating between Colemak and Workman, but the single-finger bigrams of Workman seems like an annoyance, so I will probably lean towards Colemak.


    After reading multiple posts on this forum and a few Reddit threads, I came up with a few questions I can't really find answers to:

    - 1. Would it be better to start learning on the regular Colemak layout, and see if I'm annoyed by the D/H keys being on the center column, and switch on Mod-DH then... or start learning on Mod-DH right away because it fixes some issues with Colemak ? (I don't think I'd be bothered by lateral index movement, for me it doesn't require a wrist movement, just a separation of fingers)

    - 1bis. About Mod-DH, I've read on a thread someone saying : "If you plan to use an ortholinear/matrix keyboard, use the regular Colemak, because Mod-DH aimed to fix something that ortholinear keyboards fix better". I don't really understand this, because ortholinear doesn't change the fact that D/H will require a lateral index movement. Is it true that Mod-DH is good mainly for staggered keyboards ?

    - 1ter. Same question about Mod-DH variants. Isn't the Angle-Mod useless on ortholinear ? Is it better to use a "non-Angle" DH layout on ortholinear keyboard ?


    - 2. While I'm talking about ortholinear keyboards, is it really a big plus ? What's better about them ? Is the advantage the same (or additive) to split-keyboards or ergonomic keyboards ? Is split-and-ortholinear the Holy Grail ?
    I think I will eventually buy a good keyboard at some point, even if I will still be typing directly on my staggered laptop keyboard if I'm not on my desktop computer.


    - 3. What are the best website/apps to learn to touch type ? I think I mainly touch type on AZERTY but my fingers do not really rest on the home row (middle and ring fingers rest on the top row, for me), and I think I don't use my pinky at all, I move my hand laterally. Despite this, I reach 100+wpm. But I guess I could win even more speed by touch-typing properly. And more than this, avoid strain and pain after long days of typing.I've seen https://thetypingcat.com/ which allows you to change the layout in the settings... but weirdly, the courses still begin by having you type "J and F" first, with a qwerty keyboard drawn. What's the point of indicating your layout in the configs then ? Shouldn't it begin with "T and N" for Colemak ?So my question is more : is there any website or app to learn to touch type COLEMAK easily and quickly, in the manner of these QWERTY methods ?


    - 4. About those methods, are they also good for Colemak-DH ? Shouldn't I switch the letters learned first accordingly ? What's the best way to begin ? Deep dive and try to type full Colemak (with image printed and visible next to my screen) for some time every day ? Follow courses available on https://www.learncolemak.com/ ?



    Thank you to anyone who read until here, and can answer any of my questions.
    As you can see, I often type a lot, so for me, speed, as well as comfort and avoiding pain in joints at the end of the day, are both important factors. Right now I'm fast, but it can be painful. If I can get a good balance, even loosing some speed at first, I think it's worth it in the long run.

    Last edited by Hexalyse (07-May-2020 09:50:08)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 4,825

    You identified the problem with Workman, grats. Don't touch it, it's inferior.  ᗜ( ಠ o ಠ) ¤=[====>

    1) Having all the cards on the table, if I were you I'd feel whether you prefer the inwards or downwards stretches (QWERTY G/H or C/M) and make the decision right away. I've had all sorts of fun learning every single mod one at a time as they were invented and tested, but you don't have to do all that! If you're truly not bothered at all by the inwards stretches, then use vanilla Colemak! It's as simple as that. But do keep in mind that Colemak-DH improves the important (T)HE n-gram(s) in the experience of most users.

    1.2) Lots and lots of ortho and manuform typists use the DH mod, so that's certainly no reason not to. They don't need Angle mods for it, obviously. I have no idea why people say such stupid things that they obviously know next to nothing about.

    1.3) Ortho/manuform users tend to choose the DHm variant, that puts M on the home row position instead of K. On a staggered board, the lower corner position is nearly as good as the new H position, but on ortho boards the lower corner is less optimally placed so it's probably better to leave K down there.

    2) Find what works for you. I'd not want an ortho plank, I don't see why they should be so great. Split manuform looks great, but I want to type on my laptop so I've gone for the BigBag of tricks to play on standard hardware (although as mentioned most of the tricks work well on non-row-staggered boards too!).

    3) Many choices! See the Amphetype topic in the BigBag for tips and links. On the Colemak Discord there are many people who will also advise you.

    4) If you can do is, switching "cold turkey" seems to be the quickest way to success but it's hard work at first. You can take it as a game/challenge. Many have chosen a softer but longer path and used the Tarmak layouts to transition to Colemak without losing much productivity at any point. I didn't have that option (since I invented Tarmak after I had learnt Colemak!) but I used typing games a lot – again, see the BigBag. Find what suits you.

    Finally: Take a little time and study the options in the BigBag! In particular, do look closely at Extend! It's the bee's knees, honestly. You have to use EPKL for Windows and my files for Linux/XKB to get it, but it's so very addictive.  ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    Last edited by DreymaR (07-May-2020 09:53:21)

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

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    • From: Tokyo, Japan / France
    • Registered: 07-May-2020
    • Posts: 3
    DreymaR said:

    You identified the problem with Workman, grats. Don't touch it, it's inferior.

    Haha, I wouldn't expect less from a Colemak afficionado :)

    To answer in order :

    1) Well, being on a AZERTY layout, there is no letter on the qwerty "M" key for me (it's a coma, on azerty). And I've just tried right now, and noticed that with my weird "hand-moving touch typing" method I've acquired naturally with time, I use the middle finger to reach this key (qwerty M) and not the index finger like I "should". I, however, use my index when typing a full stop, because I press left-shift and "," (qwerty M) with the left hand only.
    Thus, because of my weird habit of typing, and doing lots of lateral hand motion (I do not use pinky for letters, only for modifying keys), I can't really know in advance if the outward-curling motion would be easier for me than the lateral movement...

    Sorry if it's complicated, but I literaly just realized now how my "touch-typing" differs from what it should ideally be. Maybe that's why people have been telling me when I type fast, my hands look like spiders on the keyboard.

    1.2) Ok, good. I'm reassured :)

    1.3) Makes sense. Would switching between minor variations like this require a lot of work to get used to, or it's much easier than learning Colemak from QWERTY (AZERTY for me, mainly).

    2) Yes same, I was surprised to see this "Planck" everyone is talking about, is not a split or ergonomic keyboard. TBH, it even looks less comfortable than a regular staggered keyboard with hand-rest etc. !?
    I will definitely go take a look at this "Big Bag of tricks"

    3) Oh, there is also a Discord. Good ! Active community, I see.

    4) Yes, learning a new layout would also be a "funny challenge", I think. Also, I kinda like the nerdy "look, I type of a weird layout nobody knows" aspect, that will surely rise questions.
    Honestly, I'm not sure about Tarmak. It seems to me that it could be like having to go through different new steps of "learning a new layout", and adding complexity, or at least time to the learning process, in the end. I don't think I will use it, except if lots of people confirm it's a great way to switch. For sure I'll keep typing on AZERTY anyway when I need speed, while learning Colemak, or I will go crazy.


    Finally, "Extend" is just a new layer added on top of Colemak, right ? So... I can disregard it for now, and learn it later without having to change anything I've learn ?

    Last edited by Hexalyse (07-May-2020 11:13:53)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    Yes, Extend is on top of everything else. You can use it with QWERTY or AZERTY if you like. Therefore, since it's so extremely good and easy to learn I'd recommend doing it right away instead of working hard with Colemak first and then adding it! You'll benefit a lot immediately, unlike learning Colemak which will benefit you only after a lot of trouble learning it.  /(⁎≧∇≦)\

    Learning mods isn't hard, no. As I said, I've learnt a bunch of them and it only takes a few days before you're settled again in my experience. You'll have a few misfires after that, but it isn't so bad. But of course, if you can learn the best way for you immediately then do so.

    Last edited by DreymaR (07-May-2020 11:46:38)

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

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    • From: Tokyo, Japan / France
    • Registered: 07-May-2020
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    Hmm... after some skimming through your Tarmak thread, I must say the fact that learning each step seems easy and without loosing to much productivity (except that I will have to mentally switch back to qwerty from azerty) sounds really interesting.
    Maybe, after all, it would lead to a "smoother" transition, compared to a somewhat frustrating beginning.

    And I see that you have Tarmak for Colemak-DH, so it's perfect because I think I'd go for DH variation.

    And yes, I haven't read all the benefits of Extend yet today (I think I've already read enough things for today and should consider a little pause, I've been reading about it for 5 hours at least), but it looks very interesting !

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    With Tarmak, the sailing is smoother but the hard way may be less work in total and it's faster. So it's up to your preferences. I like the idea of learning a little at a time.

    Sure, take a break. You've earned it!  (=^・ω・^=)丿

    Last edited by DreymaR (07-May-2020 13:42:59)

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

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