- Reputation: 18
- Registered: 06-Jul-2018
- Posts: 17
There were a few claims about alternative layouts and typing ergonomics that kept bothering me. What bothered me even more was not having any data to respond with! I don't consider expert opinions, even if they are mine, to be adequate enough evidence; however, expert opinions can be a good starting point for investigation, and if they are backed with hard data, they shouldn't be ignored. And so, I spent quite some time and effort making a thorough machine analysis of layouts.
The analysis uses 3 corpora, each of roughly 1.8 million words, and SteveP's fork of the Patorjk analyzer. The corpora vary drastically by language complexity; one is made from kids' books, one is from average books, and one is from Lovecraft and philosophical works. The conclusions are that language complexity has no impact on column stagger keyboards with thumbshift while a higher language complexity results in higher scores on ANSI keyboards (as to why this is the case, I can only speculate, but it's likely caused by the longer sentences resulting in less capitalised letters, which require awkward pinkie movement to shift on ANSI). The two highest scoring layouts for ANSI and column stagger are Colemak-DH and MTGAP. Column stagger improved the layouts' scores by 7 points on average. That's a massively significant difference! Nonetheless, QWERTY on column stagger was still much worse than the worst alternative layout on ANSI. The presence of punctuation does not cause the alternative layouts to suddenly become inefficient.
Keep in mind that I'm only a single person without a lot of incentive to analyse this further as this is very demanding and complex work, and I'm not paid for it nor do I gain anything from it (heh, at least this gets rid of bias!). You can download the source files here; the corpora, layout files for SteveP's analyzer, and the result screens with distances and SFBs. I encourage the use of the corpora for further analyses or error-checking of the results.