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    Should I prefer to type strings of letters with one hand or two?

    • Started by squarology
    • 3 Replies:
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    • Registered: 27-May-2016
    • Posts: 4

    Hi, I′m redoing my layout, moving keys around, and I′m wondering: is it good when letters in a word alternate between the left and right hands?

    For example, to type “stars in my home”, I type “stars” entirely with my left hand and “in my home” entirely with my right. I believe this is called “rolling”, and those strings of letters, “rolls”. Are rolls a good thing?

    Another example. “Aerodynamic” has me switching hands save twice, in other words, a little rolling. Is this a good thing?

    Is one way better than the other ergonomically? If so, what′s the rationale? Thank you.

    Last edited by squarology (22-Feb-2021 17:50:48)
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    • Shai
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    • Registered: 11-Dec-2005
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    There's a certain balance to be had:
    - Too little hand alternation (e.g. QWERTY) can cause strain when typing certain words.
    - Too much hand alternation (e.g. Dvorak) can be slightly slower and more error prone.

    The bigger issue with Dvorak is that its design overemphasizes hand alternation, thus sacrificing other aspects of the layout design.

    I think Colemak strikes a good balance. If you go to extremes, it's better to have too much hand alternation than too little.

    See also the Hand Alternation page

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    I agree, balance is best. But also, it depends on what fingers. Bigrams like ST and EN are obviously great, and these are both faster and more comfortable than any possible alternation pair. Also UN, FT etc are easy bigrams on strong fingers. The ring-pinky ones like AR and IO are a lot less good though.

    The optimal IMO is to have:
    - plenty of common bigrams on index-middle pairs.
    - a good mix of rolls of and alternation overall.
    - avoiding long strings of same-hand.
    - avoiding excessive ring-pinky rolls.

    Colemak generally does a good job of achieving these.

    Last edited by stevep99 (23-Feb-2021 09:51:53)

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

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    squarology said:

    For example, to type “stars in my home”, I type “stars” entirely with my left hand and “in my home” entirely with my right. I believe this is called “rolling”, and those strings of letters, “rolls”. Are rolls a good thing?

    To clarify: In your example, the ST and ARS in 'stars' are simple inwards rolls on Colemak, making 'stars' a mixed roll or a composite of two rolls. Both these rolls are considered good, and the word is good to type on Colemak.

    As SteveP said, the strongest fingers perform much better and more effortlessly for rolling. Furthermore, inwards rolls towards the index fingers are considered a bit easier than outwards ones towards the pinkies, and these again are usually easier than mixed-direction rolls like 'rast' or 'ion'. The word 'you' on Colemak is a well-known example of a weak-finger mixed roll that bothers people with weak pinkies and codependent ring fingers.

    The whole string "in my home" isn't considered a roll just because it's on one hand, even if it contains the bigrams IN, MY, HO and ME that roll pretty well individually. Since the phrase consists of four separate bigrams, I at least would not call it a roll. A right-hand roll would be something like 'neon', which is a mixed-direction roll. When it gets punctuated by same-finger bigrams, more than one change of direction or anything else that breaks it up, I wouldn't call it a roll anymore. So I don't consider a word like 'lone' a roll: That's two bigrams, since it doesn't roll as one entity.

    You may then ask why I still considered 'stars' to be a roll? Well, I just felt that it rolls as one entity because it's all on the home row. But maybe others feel differently about that? The safest term for 'stars' may be a composite of two rolls.

    Last edited by DreymaR (23-Feb-2021 11:40:00)

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