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Dvorak user pondering - punctuation placement(++)?

  • Started by DreymaR
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  • From: Bærum, Norway
  • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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As a Dvorak user, one thing I've really really REALLY come to love is the placement of the stop and comma keys. In fact, those two seem as ingenious to me as the Colemak idea of the CapsLock-to-Backspace switch.

The minus key also seems better placed on the Dvorak. But that issue is somewhat less important to me.

Any thoughts on how to make a slightly more "hardcore" Colemakoid layout? One that puts somewhat less emphasis on the transition from QWERTY (that I left behind long ago) and a bit more on finding the Holy Grail of keyboard layouts?

I'm leaning toward using the QWERTY keys ER for comma and stop, close to where Dvorak puts them (since I do agree somewhat with keeping the W in place). Some rarely used keys like J and... ummm... P(?) could be thrown to the lions down in the awkward "punctuation pit".

I can understand if such heretic thoughts cause consternation. It's not like we have too few "alternatives to the alternatives" floating around already, and every new "bright idea" may make it that much more difficult to win through to final near-unity eventually. But I feel bad about going back to those horrible punctuation placements from QWERTY.


One interesting issue is the comparison between what's optimal for the English language and for other languages. I found this:
http://www.bckelk.uklinux.net/words/etaoin.html
One observation to be made here is that the 11 most common keys in English (ETAOINSHRLD) are pretty much the same as for other big languages such as Italian, French, German and even Russian (transliterated, I suppose?). I see the same thing for my own language, Norwegian. Some interesting exceptions are that English makes more use of the letter H and less of the letter K.

Do you think that the letter H may be a bit "overrated" for international use since the Colemak is constructed for the English language? The frequency differences aren't big anyway. This shows that the Colemak or any other English-based layout should work almost as well for typing most non-English languages, which is reassuring.

Last edited by DreymaR (13-Dec-2006 23:30:03)
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  • Shai
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This is a matter of taste, but I like the comma and the dot in the bottom row. I don't think that moving them will make the layout any better. There could be perhaps some minor improvements from moving around the punctuation keys, but even if it will improve one aspect, it might make another aspect worse. Overall I estimate that the layout is pretty close to the theoretical maximums.

Colemak is designed for English, but I did take into account that H isn't commonly used in most other languages, therefore I've kept it in it's place in the home row, but didn't put it in the home position.

If you're happy with Dvorak, stick with it.

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If I end up making and using a "Dvoremak" just because I'm stubborn, I'll let you know how it feels.  :)

If I do, it looks like it would be best to keep Dvorak's placement of both dot, comma and W to keep that bit simple (for me!). Then move the J to where the QWERTY dot is, and the F needs to go somewhere so it'll end up right where Dvorak put it! Sounds like a barrel of laughs.

Hope it's okay with you if people play around. I don't mean to be disrespectful. Some people just have to try things out for themselves.

No, I'm not perfectly happy with Dvorak and I think I'd be willing to try something else. Especially the Norwegian Dvorak which has my left pinky straining to find the not uncommon Ø at the far left of the keyboard, has made me frustrated. But there are other issues that you've mentioned on your pages, too. Also, it'd be interesting to see how fast I can learn this layout and whether my speed picks up. After some months with Dvorak, my speed pretty much stabilized itself around the 60 WPM that I'd get on a good day with QWERTY before the switch - so I wasn't really impressed. The accuracy is better with Dvorak and it feels better though.

I noticed that the H isn't in the home position, so just forget I mentioned it. I do think that you can be more confident about non-English language compliance; it seems to be hardly any worse off for those languages... once you've put the special characters for each language in there. And users from various countries will be able to do that simply, mostly in accordance with their QWERTY national layouts.

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I have to agree, the placement of , and . was the only thing I liked about Dvorak.

I took myself the liberty of moving them one step to the left of where they are in Dvorak, so now I am experiencing with , and . on the QWERTY W and E.

This means I have done the following alterations:
, moved to Colemak W
. moved to Colemak F
Colemak W moved to .
Colemak F moved to Colemak P
Colemak P moved to ,

or rather:
bilde21nj5.th.png

F is more frequent used than P, which is why I moved it.

The reason for placing the W way off is because I think I know less than 5 words in Norwegian which includes a W. Of course this is a problem when I write English. In addition I never use the close window shortcut (command + W)

Of course I understand that from scratch this is harder to learn, but I don't see why I shouldn't swap things around a bit when I now have learnt Colemak.

However, it should be noted that to allow general Colemak acceptance amongst people, one standard is required, and that for sure should be the original Colemak layout.

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Of course, I'm talking about a nonstandard layout for personal use. And since I'd be moving from Dvorak my mileage would be varying from the people moving directly from QWERTY, for instance.

Now, for some random further thoughts:

I'm curious about the home row. Now that I've been thinking about it, the Dvorak home row isn't bad at all: It facilitates many nice rolls for the diphtongs and things like SH or TH, which I really like. However, it may be a good idea to reduce hand switching a bit. The Qwerak layout (by Fingerworks) tries to achieve this by switching the O and S on a Dvorak home row, which may work well for all I know. The Qwerak is described as "experimental". (On a side note, writing "say" on that layout looks hard!)

I don't think that moving a key between hands is as bad as Shai seems to think. It should be easy enough to learn nevertheless.

I understand that Shai moved the S to the middle finger from the ring finger. Is this just because the ring finger is weaker? Well, the R is an important letter too so it can't be just that.

As a pianist, I think that the ring fingers are strong enough, but not flexible and independent enough. So they may well be assigned common characters on their home row, but less so on particularly the lower row.

I think that letter frequencies alone are less important than di- and maybe trigraphs. That's trickier to implement in an analysis maybe? It seems to be what Capewell's been getting at, although I'd like to see him finish his project before I pass further judgement there. To me, it looks like his weighting functions may still need a reworking.

From my eyeballs, the Colemak home row doesn't seem to roll common digraphs so much? Maybe it's just my eyes not seeing straight? Please enlighten me.

My current vision is something like this:
|Q|,|.|U|P|  |F|G|D|Y|;|
|A|S|E|I|L|  |R|H|T|N|O|'|
  |Z|X|C|V|B|  |K|M|W|J|-|

It'd be interesting to hear some criticism on this layout attempt! Preferably the constructive kind of course.

Not too sure about the O-S switch yet. It does have the appeal of QWERTY compliance and Ctrl-S compliance.

Other than that, the placements of U L R D Y were made as I thought best based on letter frequencies and some intuitive digraph considerations. There's room for discussion there.

In a way, it came about as an attempt firstly to keep the necessary QWERTY elements and not mess about with the ones that could be left alone, like Colemak and Capewell do. Then, to use the elements I like from Dvorak. Then, to look towards Colemak and a few others for further guidance while trying to think straight. I fully understand that my attempt is nowhere near as thoroughly researched as Shai's for instance. I hope y'all bear with me.

I haven't considered such things as same finger statistics. I can't manage to implement new layouts into the Java tester, unfortunately.

Some digraphs/words seem to roll well on this layout. There will always be some troublesome words on any layout - the question is how common they are I guess. I had to think again to get something that worked for LY for instance, and ended up with Colemak's placement of the Y where I first tried the QWERTY one.

The choice to keep the home row closer to Dvorak's came about when I considered rolls. Please prove me wrong with good arguments. Of course, bad things like the awkward placement of I and L (and in my opinion, R to some extent) in Dvorak had to be fixed.

This particular layout would be an easier switch for a Dvorak user I think. At the same time, it'd be easier than Dvorak for a QWERTY user and conserve the important hotkeys. Now, the big question is how well it'd perform eventually.

I'm not too sure about the standard performance tests. Dvorak probably believed too much in hand alternation, and there may have been too much focus on other good ideas such as single letter frequencies and the home row too. All good ideas, but the challenge is getting the mix right and the ideas properly weighted and implemented.

But having to teach each new layout attempt to a group of people and then monitor their long-term performance is grueling. So I guess we're back to thinking and using tests paired with good sense. If you guys don't make me see the error of my ways, I may give this layout a spin soon.

Last edited by DreymaR (15-Dec-2006 15:36:23)
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Having read the page on the ASSET layout, I learnt that the punctuation signs aren't really that common. Comma and stop are about as common as the letter B with their 1.2% frequency (albeit in a somewhat smallish material from the looks of it), which is to say not very common. So Dvorak and my intuition may have rated them too highly. Interesting.

Having thought things through a bit, I don't feel that my stab in the previous post would do so well.

Still scratching my head over the home row questions though - see my ASSET post if you're curious.

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DreymaR, if you're already experienced with Dvorak, I'm a bit curious why you want to switch to a new layout. It serves the need for speed well enough, doesn't it?

By the way, I'm starting to recommend Colemak over Asset even though still I think S ought to have stayed in place. Despite that, I'm learning Asset because probably if I don't (as the designer), no one will.

I wonder the best layout would look like under the constraints that:

- QWASZXCV must stay in place
- only two keys can switch hands compared to Qwerty
- any 3-5 other Qwerty letters must stay in place
- all punctuation stays in place except ;:

... The answer usually depends on the scoring system, I guess ...

The nice thing about 21st century layout design is that unlike Dvorak we have computers that can evaluate a thousand possibilities per second. All that's needed is somebody to write the algorithm.

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I don't do this mainly for speed or ergonomics, but mainly because I'm an enthusiast and a perfectionist. Some reasons include:
- The hotkey issue was still annoying me, even when I had gotten used to it (and hardly made the catastrophic Windows Ctrl-W/V blunder anymore).
- As a Norwegian Dvorak user, I found the placements of our special letters ÆØÅ disastrous: By adhering religiously to the left-hand-vowels maxime, they've managed to place two of these semi-common letters in the hard-to-reach bottom-row left pinky positions (we use a 102-key layout) where I'd keep missing them.
- I'm a curious type!
- I'm a type who can spend hours in the hundreds on something if it tickles my fancy. I've made two shirts of chain mail (40k rings between them), learnt rudimentary Esperanto (I read your other post - *waves*!), programmed a Quaternary clock for the Windows desktop (it's twice as cool as a binary clock and even has a binary mode too!) and folded loads of fancy origami (although I don't make designs myself). For example.
- I think this is a good cause that deserves support (see Esperanto!).
- I think the Colemak may be easier to "sell" to others, being an improvement that's easier to switch to and seems very thoroughly researched; it answers much of the valid criticism against Dvorak. I'm hoping that Shai will publish a compendium of his design principles and decisions soon, as it'll aid in convincing the sceptics. I'm still looking forward to breaking it to the Norwegian Dvorak community - some of them will get quite riled up, I foresee!
- So you thought Dvorak was geeky? Watch me out- geek it 10:1, muahahahahaaaaaaa!
- I was actually expecting a speed increase switching to Dvorak, but in truth it never manifested itself and I seemed to stabilize around 60 WPM as in my QWERTY days - albeit with better accuracy. I'm still curious as to what my Colemak speed can be - the initial speed has certainly been WAY better than it was when I learnt Dvorak!

In the process of dragging myself slowly into a full acceptance of the Colemak as my new layout of choice, as you can see I've even made a few layout attempts myself, and spent a lot of spare time pondering. The last barrier to go was the S placement that you're still against. But having actually used Colemak a little now, I think ARST is the better option all things considered. Shai has mentioned several valid - if individually minor - reasons, but I'll add/repeat a few:
- The RS digraph rolls better, and it's a fairly common one. The common ST/TS are probably a bit better off as well?
- Ctrl-S is just as easy to reach still, and motor memory will find it a case of "close enough" in my experience.
- Shai says there will be awkward ring finger stretches and same-finger trouble using ASRT instead of ARST. I believe him.
- After all, he himself started out with and subsequently abandoned an ASE... setup. The little I've come to know him, he likely had a bunch of good reasons for that counterintuitive choice.

Actually trying it out - well, it works just fine for me at least! I have to preach it - this layout feels marvelous with the rolling/switching goodness going on ALL THE TIME! (pardon the evangelistic shouting, hehe). The only snags I can think of right now, apart from the Dvorak-Colemak transition being harder because Dvorak had me changing hands for many keys, are the somewhat less comfortable positions of G and H. They're both perfectly acceptable though, and I'm getting rapidly used to them.

The problem with your design challenge is agreeing with your constraints. Some of them don't seem important enough to me to warrant the necessary hits to efficiency and comfort. YMMV of course.

I think Shai is right: As the Colemak stands now, you'd be hard pressed indeed to find even 2 keys to move that wouldn't mess up something else enough to ruin the benefit. It seems that solid.

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Your reasons for learning Dvorak were an interesting read. It's good that you're so driven. Some days I don't feel like doing anything....

>I think Shai is right: As the Colemak stands now, you'd be hard pressed indeed to find even 2 keys to move that wouldn't mess up something else enough to ruin the benefit. It seems that solid.

Oh, at this point I agree. Within constraints, I don't think Colemak could be improved by moving two, three, or even four keys. If S is to stay put, the current efficiency of Colemak could not be attained without a substantial overhaul of the layout, because key placements are highly interrelated. That's why I suggested an algorithm would be needed to search for it.

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I am impressed by the ingenuity expressed on this topic. I tried Dvorak in the past. But as much as I enjoyed it, there are too many instances where I must use a qwerty layout. And I can't maintain good speed in different layouts because I remember letter patterns as much as letter positions. But I do advocate keyboard optimization, even if I doubt it will come while the keyboard is still in use. So, I'll toss in my two cents.

Replace the Space Bar with Shift and QWERTY F and J with space bars.

Assuming this would help, what would the optimal positions be for the remaining positions (disregarding QWERTY compatibility) favoring international compatibility?

I was thinking something like this:
  ` 1 2 3 4 5   6 7 8 9 0 - =
(tab)f w g p t    j n u l y q ; \
(ent)a r s( )d    h( )e i o '(ent)
     ([)z x c v b    k m , . /(])
              (Shift Bar)

DreymaR, I'd especially like to gain your insight into my question because you seem to have thought much about optimization.

"Things will get better despite our efforts to improve them" - Will Rogers
"...even the dog doesn't think I'm a monster." - Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

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Thank you, sorenk, for your vote of confidence - but as far as I can see Shai has given the matter at least 10 times as much thought as I ever did. And that's a conservative estimate!

Furthermore, I think he got it right. You're doing what I did and throwing out your thoughts in layout form which is good fun for us keyboard "nerds" and may lead to valuable insights on our parts. But I came to the final conclusion that even considering my own private needs I couldn't come anywhere near the optimization level of the Colemak. Hence I'm a Colemak advocate and user now. And a satisfied one I might add, especially as the Dvorak quirks are fading somewhat from my active motor memory.  :)

Shai may take the time to highlight some problems with your layout attempt, as he so patiently did for me. In the meantime, I'll throw out a few thoughts:
- Why thumb Shift at all, really? It makes no sense to me to take Space (used for every word) away from the impossible-to-miss key of the strong thumbs, in favor of the much less frequently used Shift.
- The Enter key is somewhat of a point since it's a long stretch in its current position, and fairly often used. But is it worth it?
- Also, you cannot remap Shift/Enter at the layout system software level. A minor point since Colemak already moves an unmappable key (Backspace).
- Speaking of which: You seem to lose the backspace remapping with your double Enter setup. It's really handy to have on the home row - even more so when learning a new layout!
- Then you have to make way for your dual space keys and in the process hurt other keys' efficiencies. In particular, the very common t and n (# 2 and 6 in English) are now on stretches. That's almost as bad as what QWERTY does! And although the f is fairly uncommon it deserves better than the left pinky stretch position. You'll end up with undesirable AF and FA pinky digraphs there, too (I don't know their frequencies but I suspect they're not uncommon).
- You also end up farther from the QWERTY thus hurting acceptance. Putting the t back may seem to help, except that as mentioned it really deserves a home row position. You move the Ctrl-Q shortcut which will annoy some users. (Yes, you said to disregard compatibility but I'll urge you to reconsider as it is important to many and a genuine advantage to almost all.)
- International compatibility would be about as good as on the Colemak as far as I can see, disregarding the unfortunate key placements mentioned.
- The brackets look neat. I'd put the parenteses there and the square brackets on the shifted keys instead (and then the curly brackets on the AltGr mappings). Fun. The reason Shai hasn't been messing around with punctuation much is that they're rarely used signs and moving them would confuse people without helping efficiency noticeably.

Hope that's helpful. Always nice to meet an enthusiast!

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DreymaR, I think you've nailed down all the issues.

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From DreymaR's first post:
>But I feel bad about going back to those horrible punctuation placements from QWERTY.

I wonder if you would be more comfortable with Qwerty's placement of , and . if the bottom row was shifted a bit to the left. I believe keyboard makers should shift the bottom row left by 1/4 the size of a key. That way the keys would be more aligned with your fingers when you move them down from the home row. Some have suggested completely aligning the keys vertically (here's such a keyboard: http://www.typematrix.com/ezr2030/), but I think that a smaller degree of change would make the transition painless for all typists.

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I agree that the old row shift outlived its usefulness sometime during the 80s when the keys weren't mechanically linked to the hammers with big fat rods anymore. However, I think that the main problem with that occurs at the bottom and top left positions. The right-hand stretches must be helped a bit by the key shift as far as I can see, since I at least hold my hands at a slight angle.

Paradoxically, if one were to make an ergonomic keyboard merely by hinging the keyboard halves those particular right-hand stretches would then be made slightly worse. The Microsoft Natural for instance, seems to change the shapes of several keys to fit a 6 degree "natural" angle but they're still too chicken about the row shifts so it doesn't look perfect to my eye.

So I think one should rather pretty much keep the shift at the right-hand side, but reverse it at the left-hand side! That would mean using an angle as well to make it work, like the MS Natural does. That keyboard also fits a nifty wheel into the gap thus presenting itself at the bottom row, which I find cute. Myself, I'd go the whole nine yards and make it a trackball.

About the punctuation: The things I miss the most from Dvorak are the colon and semicolon that on the Norwegian layout would be on Shift plus dot/comma, respectively. This is because having those back in the "pit" means I can now no longer roll smileys or enter time points such as "09:10" easily using the NumPad. (I even tried mapping the colon to AltGr+DecimalPoint, but WinXP wouldn't take it.) These worries are mostly specific for my non-US layouts anyway.

The dot and comma themselves were probably overrated by my intuition. It was you who presented the frequency statistics to convince me otherwise.

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DreymaR said:

Thank you, sorenk, for your vote of confidence - but as far as I can see Shai has given the matter at least 10 times as much thought as I ever did. And that's a conservative estimate!

Furthermore, I think he got it right. You're doing what I did and throwing out your thoughts in layout form which is good fun for us keyboard "nerds" and may lead to valuable insights on our parts. But I came to the final conclusion that even considering my own private needs I couldn't come anywhere near the optimization level of the Colemak. Hence I'm a Colemak advocate and user now. And a satisfied one I might add, especially as the Dvorak quirks are fading somewhat from my active motor memory.  :)

Thank you, I think your assessment was astute. Especially regarding the cost of removing two keys from the home row. I was just thinking that typing would be faster if spaces could be entered more efficiently and that maybe index fingers can enter data faster than thumbs. And that thumbs could be better for shifts because it's easier to move your hand around with a thumb held down. But even if the index finguers are faster my idea is still quite impractical. Still,I have been working on alternating my thumbs depending on what key starts the next word. I think it helps a bit.

I also corresponded with Michael Capewell who's doing some impressive work on keyboard optimization too. And he had much the same conclusion. He added that most people would end up using just one of the keys for space and the other key would lose functionality (wasted home row key bad).

I think some one did research on using a foot pedal for a space bar, giving a 15% increase to typing speed. But given the standard keyboard, every key on the home row necessary. I just need faster thumbs. The shift key's lack of mappablity is another good point (I didn't know they posed a challenge for remapping).

At the moment I'm still with QWERTY. Over the past few months I raised my speed from just bellow 40 to just below 60 WPM. A long time ago I tried Dvorak and I liked it because it was comfortable. But I couldn't escape QWERTY. Also I had difficulty difficulty making up for lost combinations, as in typing F-A-C-T instead of FACT. Even though the CT is an awkward reach (on QWERTY) just having a memorized pattern of laying down a set four keys helps. But I came across a tutor, by Capwell, that drills common key combinations, or "cords" as Capewell coins them ( http://www.geocities.com/smozoma/progra … rogram.zip ).

The existence of this tutor provides some incentive for me to learn an alternate layout again. My memory of the comfort of typing Dvorak is another incentive. On the other hand, given my current progress, I think I can achieve close to 100 WPM in QWERTY given another year or two of intensive practice (about 10 hours per week). The advantage to sticking with QWERTY is that (I feel) I've over come 99.99% of my Dvorak motor functions (I still have some occasional error with "comma" and "period" which I attribute to the Dvorak moving the punctuation to the left hand without transposing their order. Dvorak coded "period" to my left ring finger so on QWERTY I end up with a comma using the same finger. This experience gives me reason to side with Colemak theories about relearning a layout.

If I go with Colemak, I'll leave Caps-Lock where it is because I try to avoid the back space as much as possible in mush the way an alcoholic maintains sobriety. I think maybe I should rig a electric-shock pad to the key. My experience is that convenient correction yields convenient mistakes.

I'm still thinking of waiting for Capewell's final layout. So far he's come up with:

     .YWDF JPLUQ
     AERSG BTNIO
     XZCV; KWH,'

But it's still a work in progress. Capewell is trying to keeps some concessions toward QWERTY conversion but with a far more aggressive bent towards optimization. The really interesting bit of his research is analyzing key combinations so that many letter sequences can be entered with a roll of the fingers.

Of course the longer I wait the more I'll have to relearn if I do make the switch. And if I lean to type very fast in QWERTY I'll be able to type fast anywhere at any computer.

On the down side I'll never be able to type as long, as comfortably or as safely as I can with an alternate layout. My stint with Dvorak taught me that much.

Does any one here know the fastest speed achieved on Colemak by a QWERTY convert and what their speed was before the shift?

I've read a couple of reports of people getting close to their original qwerty speed within a matter of weeks, but I haven't come across any reports of passing the original qwerty speed (except for one mention of reaching 85wpm on the tutorial, but that's not the same as free typing).

But this sounded promising.

slyguy said:

Just when I was achieving native speed, you come with a new system.  Damn you! ;)

Well if you're curious my experience learning Asetion has been a little different than advertised.  When I started learning in early September I had a QWERTY speed of 75 words/min with 97% accuracy.  Now I've worked my way up to 65 w/m with Asetion (still improving) with ths* same accuracy.  I've also completely lost my QWERTY skills (I finger peck on public terminals).  Obviously other people's results will differ.

One improvement I noticed immediately was just how ergonomic Asetion was.  Typing feels easier on the hand, even now when I'm almost back up to my old speed.  I hope this remains the same with Colemak (I'll let you know how it goes).

*(e is the right-home-row-middle finger on Colemak and s is the left-home-row-middle fingure which is just bellow qwerty e (left-top-row-middle finger on QWERTY).

Specifically I'd like to know if anyone who typed 60WPM+ in QWERTY achieved near 100WPM with in a couple years. (I know the world record holder started out in QWERTY, but I don't know what her speed was before transition or how long it took her too exceed 100WPM). Regardless, I'll be happy with +90 WPM. I don't expect to be the next Barbra Blackburn.

On a side, regarding the atavistic type-bar row shift. I like David Piepgrass' idea to encourage manufacturers to restore the rows a quarter key at a time. And one company, Maltron, has already designed a keyboard with straight rows. You can have one now for only a few hundred pounds. I think their "Executive keyboard is rather sexy ( http://www.maltron.com/maltron-kbd-flat.html ), but I'm not about to shell out 600 Pounds. Besides if I learned to type on a straight keyboard I'd feel queer using my laptop.

WARNING, MIND FART IN PROGRESS:

MAWHAWHAWHAW!!! I know what to do with the Caps-Lock key, map it to BackSpace and replace it with "the" key and clobber all the other English layouts for "Total keys."

The father, the mother and their Heather gathered thither the theater.

QWERTY 70, Colemak 70, Dvorak 70. THEmak ***50***

BWAHAWHAW!!!

"Things will get better despite our efforts to improve them" - Will Rogers
"...even the dog doesn't think I'm a monster." - Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

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It's such a pity that both English and my own language (Norwegian) managed to go forth and lose our "th" letters (þ and ð for the aspirated and voiced versions, respectively). A "sh" letter would also be great, and I'd like a "kj"/"chi" letter (palatal fricative I think?) as well since the youngsters in my country are increasingly confusing "sh" with "kj" these days.

Ðe faðer, ðe moðer and ðeir Heaþer gaðered ðiðer ðe þeater.  ;)

Did you know that the "Y" in "Ye Olde..." is really a misreading of the old "Th" letter, so it shouldn't really be pronounced with a "y" at all?

Regarding speed: My countryman "Padde" did well on the Colemak, reaching 130% his QWERTY speed in only 2 months: https://forum.colemak.com/viewtopic.php?id=51

If you've got Mr. Capewell's ear then please convince him to put all the lessons into his typing program, but more importantly to include a comparison with Colemak on his page since he has already included so many others. I thought he wasn't doing anything keyboard-related these days.

Last edited by DreymaR (10-Jan-2007 14:15:15)
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DreymaR said:

It's such a pity that both English and my own language (Norwegian) managed to go forth and lose our "th" letters (þ and ð for the aspirated and voiced versions, respectively). A "sh" letter would also be great, and I'd like a "kj"/"chi" letter (palatal fricative I think?) as well since the youngsters in my country are increasingly confusing "sh" with "kj" these days.

Ðe faðer, ðe moðer and ðeir Heaþer gaðered ðiðer ðe þeater.  ;)

Did you know that the "Y" in "Ye Olde..." is really a misreading of the old "Th" letter, so it shouldn't really be pronounced with a "y" at all?

Of course ye can also mean you depending on how one pronounces the y(j or TH). I think symbols such as þ and ð on retain their sound only because we've forgotten how to mispronounce them.  "Day yough I warg thoun yeh fally av theaD I fir know ofaul"
I think phonetic representations have a place in dictionaries and stenography. But written language is better from a historical standpoint if it expresses meaning independent of sound because it can remain stable across dialects. I think traditional Chinese writing is a perfect example. Many of their written words are used in languages like Japanese that are no closer than Italian and Russian. But the Chinese and Japanese literate can both comprehend the meaning of the same written word.

I think it would be neat to design a phonetic keyboard layout (not like a corded: too imprecise) but a system that you can use to precisely represent any word in your head. I think one advantage to this would be not getting your motor reflexes jumbled between layouts (but then I haven't tried it, so it's just a guess for the guy who thought of the "shift bar" in exchange for the two most prominent keys on the home row: be weary of practicing another man's idle thoughts). You'd have more basic symbols to deal with, but you could take advantage of the similarity between voiced and unvoiced consonants (place both on the same key and use shift as in shift-ð for þ because þ is seldom used). Though I don't think I'd use this system myself (I'm modifying a system of Gregg to suit the same purpose, mostly by using annotation so that I have the choice of writing fast or accurately), I think it's a good idea all the same. A major advantage of writing phonetically is that you don't get slowed down by an unfamiliar word. sn..f.l..p..g..s (ASCII phonetics) is sn..f.l..p..g..s regardless of spelling.

DreymaR said:

Regarding speed: My countryman "Padde" did well on the Colemak, reaching 130% his QWERTY speed in only 2 months: https://forum.colemak.com/viewtopic.php?id=51

Thank you that helps me, especially as his qwerty speed was about where I'm at.

DreymaR said:

If you've got Mr. Capewell's ear then please convince him to put all the lessons into his typing program, but more importantly to include a comparison with Colemak on his page since he has already included so many others. I thought he wasn't doing anything keyboard-related these days.

I already asked about the lessons and he said he hasn't created more and doesn't plan to (not his top priority) but it's a start (10 most used letters at least for english). But that doesn't stop us from making more. I've been trying to find an ordered list of letters that make up English syllables but most of everything I've come across is junk. I think such a list would help with making lessons. But then I'm probably to lazy and impatient to make lessons anyway. A similar technique that I used before is just too type poetry syllable by syllable (I came across this technique as a way of studying poems while practicing typing but it does pretty much the same thing as Capewell's tutor.

As for asking Capewell to add Colemak to his site (he already has eight layouts and would have to drop a layout or further modify the program to accommodate it). I'd be more curious to know why the person who installed the script on this site only posted three (they used the same source code created by Maxwell and modified by Capewell, except the Colemak version leaves keymaps 4 through 8 as "/* unused */").

The script is fairly easy to modify with cut and paste (it helps that there's a built in batch for compiling). My greatest difficulties were figuring out where my java directory was and how to actually run the script (I kept thinking the "comparepage.html" was just some random info link).

Note: I'll be happy to email my cut and paste version of the script to anyone who wants it.

According to my comparison. Colemak does a good job on or above the home row (but not as good as Klausser. And Dvorak seems to follow Klausser as the second contender for avoiding the bottom row...unless your Chaucer, then Colemak beats Dvorak but not Klausser.)  And Capewell clobbers Colemak for avoiding using one finger twice in a row (Colemak does well here but Capewell does much more better). For evening finger load only Arensito and Dvorak seem to do anything about relieving the right index finger. I think Arensito is by far the best for programmers and mathematicians because it provides easy access to AltGr. And contains a shifted layout for full access to special characters and numbers.

Right now I don't know which to choose, an annoying dilemma because I just received my new keyboard (the TypeMatrix EZR-2030 Unlabeled xD thanks  Qwertie). And  I LOVE it (haven't even typed on it yet). But it's truly unlabeled , no logos on the front. It's like the perfect faceless watch. Sorry, Childhood trauma: Once when  I wash young... ... ... I saw a silver handed annalog watch with three symmetrical markings (a line for noon/midnight and a dot for 4 and 8) on a lovely blue solar cell. And that dream of a watch, it would of been perfect if NOT for fat thucking logo smack across it's  otherwise immaculate face of perfect form and function. (Ok, I lied, I never was young, but you know what I mean).

Anyway,  my dilemma is that  I'm itching to test how if facilitates learning a new layout (I think the slight shift of keys will aid reconditioning my motor memory). But I can't decide on a layout. If I was going to learn a new layout for a type bar shifted keyboard I'd go with  Colemack if for  no other reason than  not having to relearn the upper right punctuation ( - = { } and \ ) But since I must relearn the positions anyway I figure I may as well go with an entirely new layout. That and it bugs me that Colemak chose not to include Klausser, Arensito and Capewll on their comparison chart. (See were much better than the other layouts designed a centry ago!)

I'm even considering Dvorak with ',' and '.' transposed ( ' . , instead of ' , . inplace of qwe) because Dvorak does a very good job of figure balancing.

Last edited by sorenk (13-Jan-2007 23:18:04)

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Shai probably showed only the two well established layouts vs. his own for the sake of clarity; a plethora of them all at once looks fairly hairy. But, yeah, there should've been a full duke-it-out page with the Colemak and lots of contenders in addition for the especially interested. A brief look at the code convinced me that one could make the comparison app work just as well with 9 (3x3) or more layouts? But one has to draw the line somewhere between serious contenders and wannabes. (No, I never got around to compiling anything, by the way.)

Capewell's main problem as I see it, is that he lost interest before wrapping up his work. That doesn't inspire confidence - if I don't figure out how to make the Colemak work with Vista or something I know there's a helpful and very friendly community out there working on it. The Capewell layouts are truly legio and even if one manages to navigate through the jungle to find the best evolved of them he still says that it isn't a final one. Hmmm...

What Capewell layout are you referring to? Which finger is it good at avoiding? Does the right index finger need relieving, being the strongest and most independent of the lot on a population level? That paragraph in your post seems a bit unclear here and there.

As for the Arensito, it seems made for Hallingstad's own uses and also for his Kinesis hardware (which I must admit looks a bit cool) and not much else. The Qwerty implementation he suggests looks like a mess in my opinion, even for me who actually use the æøå characters. There's also far too much remapping for comfort going on there - the thing would take me far longer to learn than Dvorak did I'm sure, would require registry remappings making it impossible for me to just put my fave layout onto some friend/relative's (or work!) computer that I'd be borrowing for some hours' writing and would lead to a rougher sailing when forced to use QWERTY anyway I fear. And the convenient shortcuts would be gone again - I hated that when using Dvorak.

AltGr and the use of special characters isn't much of an issue to me. I put them where the hell I want them, basically - but since they're fairly rarely used it doesn't matter much where they are as long as I can conjure them up. My own keyboard has a Norwegian Colemak layout but all the Greek letters (plus þðßſœ) on AltGr and heaps of other chars on dead keys. That's not important for typing speed or comfort though. Basically, if you want some special char somewhere then go ahead and slap it on but the important thing is the frequently used bits.

Don't underestimate ease of learning. The hassle of moving all those keys around in my QWERTY -> Dvorak transition was bad. The transition to Colemak has been a lot smoother, even with my fingers now remembering a lot of "wrong" mappings from Dvorak. The more positions you'll be trying to relearn at once, the more stress and slowness will result. Simply going TypeMatrix doesn't in itself constitute a blank slate relearning. More of a minor adjustment from the looks of it and judging from reviews.

You will of course keep your new keyboard unlabeled like I do mine? Too bad it doesn't come in black (and preferably hinged) or I'd probably buy me one. I want my keyboards "labeled in black on a black background". My idea of a "me" clock face is http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/lights/59e0/ ... or rather, a quaternary 3x3 one because that's symmetric as well.

Last edited by DreymaR (14-Jan-2007 00:43:27)
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I'm surprised only a paragraph was confusing. I babble a bit much when I try to figure stuff out.

You made a good point about the clarity of the Colemak comparison. But I hope Shai adds a link for more complete comparisons.

Regarding the confusion I created: I think Capewell is still working on his layouts. It is the lessons for the Typing Tutor he designed as an aside that he's not working on.

The main difficulty I've had with finding a layout is finger loading. I don't like to use even my index finger too much (over 16%). Dvorak does the best job in this respect. I also like to avoid using the same finger twice in a row for different keys (such as lo and um on qwerty). Dvorak does better than qwerty here, but not as good as Colemak. And Capewell seams to do the best at avoiding "same finger." Capewell also does well finger balance. But it doesn't use the home row enough.

Colemak does a good job with the home row, but keeping the quote key in place does hurt it a bit (according my own writing Colemak only gives me 67.7 percent on the home row but that includes 1.9% numbers and symbols). Colemak also uses the bottom row a bit much (Capewell is the worst regarding the bottom row with 16%) and places a lot of work on the right index finger (20% with what I write).

So I decided to design my own optimum layout.

Why try to find the best keyboard when tomorrow there will be a better one. Because it's the best I can do now. And to me, that's worth something. The question is comparable to why try to find the best way to educate my child if tomorrow there will be a better way. Just beat the kid with a rod, he'll learn, it's worked for centuries!

Along the way I think I found the best technique for optimizing keyboard with current technology: make it an online game. Each player starts with an identical board. And the players take turns moving keys (like chess pieces) to achieve a certain goal of optimization. After each round the computer evaluates the board. The first player to reach the goal wins. Or if it a draw (both players decide to pass or have moved every key on the board once) the player with the highest stat wins. Then the board is stored in a data base. In addition the game could ask contestants what keyboard layout they use and then record key timings as they speak to establish optimal board positions.

In short I realised human intuition can do a good job choosing keys. And, unlike Dvorak, I had the advantage of seeing what keys go well together basted on computer optimizations (comparing the maps of different optimized boards) and I could test them by running them through a program (the java comparison applet, I'd have preferred to use Kiwi but I couldn't get it to work...Kiwi kept saying it couldn't save a file).

Anyway, I'm happy with what I developed so, I most likely wont type much for a while.

DreymaR said:

You will of course keep your new keyboard unlabeled like I do mine? Too bad it doesn't come in black (and preferably hinged) or I'd probably buy me one. I want my keyboards "labeled in black on a black background". My idea of a "me" clock face is http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/lights/59e0/ ... or rather, a quaternary 3x3 one because that's symmetric as well.

I intend to cover if it with a labeled skin until I teach myself all the shortcuts. But once I know it yes. I don't know about the black model (they make black skins) or the hinge. But I talked to a customer rep who said they're working on adding a customizable on-board map for their next model.

So here what I came up with.

~123 45 67 890{}
KCD MF VW U>J_+
OST NH LR EAIY
"GP BZ X: <Q?

I tried to avoid moving pairs of keys a cross hand to opposit loactions without transposing them (as in <> on Dvorak which is one combo that really messed with me, I think it would have been better if Devorak did ><). But mostly I just went full tilt towards optimization. I'm very happy with the result. I couldn't have done it with out the Arensito, Klausler (two layouts), Capwell (three layouts), Colemak and Dvorak layouts to guide me.

I also used Capewells java tool for analyzing text and red through the list untill I got to Q (you'd be amazed how many combinations of characters come before Q and even before k). That helped me know which keys I'd want to be able to hit easily together.

The results are (in order of Dvorak, Ostn Reai and Colemak):
Total keys: 92093 (same for all, I couldn't work the "the" key into the compairison script ;)
Finger used (left to right):
08  08  14  14  -  -  16  12  12  11
08  10  13  17  -  -  13  15  10  10
08  08  10  16  -  -  20  15  11  09

Same finger (this can verry a lot from content such as Chausser versus Mark Twain:
2.390%
1.399%
1.865%

Home Row, Top Row, Bottom Row:
65.31%   23.48%   9.477% 
70.04%   21.53%   6.697% 
67.68%   17.25%   13.13%

Same Hand:
22.06%
34.21%
32.52%

Wants a version of the Maxwell's comparison applet modified by Capewell that compares Dvorak, Qwerty, Ostn Raei, Colemak, Klausler and three versions of Capewell, let me know and I'll e-mail a zip.

And if you have any suggestions for further improvement please let me know.

Well Qwerty, I'm going to miss you. And I won't be typing much anytime soon. I'm sooo glad there's always pen and paper.

Note: The "Ostn Reai Keymap" is registered as Public Domain with Creative Commons.
<!--Creative Commons License--><a rel="license" href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/"><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width: 0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/publicdomain/88x31.png"/></a><br/>This work is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/">Creative Commons Public Domain License</a>.<!--/Creative Commons License--><!-- <rdf:RDF xmlns="http://web.resource.org/cc/" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#" xmlns:rdfs="http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#">
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Last edited by sorenk (15-Jan-2007 06:44:51)

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I made a dll for windows based on the US International Layout using MKLC (the positions of the vowels and the way many voiced and unvoiced consonants are grouped together makes the AltGr combinations easy to find and use). I will send the file on request.  ( Soren.Kyale /at/ gmail /dot/ com ).

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~ 1 2 3 4 5   6 7 8 9 0 { } 
  K C D M F   V W U > J _ + 
  O S T N H   L R E A I Y 
  " G P B Z   X : < Q ?

Heh. Fascinating boardie. Wonder what Shai has to comment on that one, apart from the obvious (it'll be hell and hell revisited to learn and doesn't have any shortcut keys conserved)?

- I'd call it "OstnReai" if I were you. A space in there is unsexy (looks like a foreigner's name?), and drawn together it's more chic. Like the Macintosh fad, if you wish. Or OSTNREAI, all-caps style like several others choose.
- The placement of <> must be considering programming? I first thought they were on one finger, but it actually looks nice.
- Where does the "/" go, still considering the coding thing? Could have one on the extra key of the 102-key boards (bottom left)?
- (Put a "</" digraph on AltGr+"<", and people may cheer!)
- Grats on beating Capewell at the "stat game"!
- However: Did you run a sufficiently representative and comprehensive syllabus through it?
- It's interesting to see how the contestants fared. To my eye, they all did "well enough" and the differences were small.
- Seems you managed to underwork your right index finger though! Are you playing those crazy clicking games like Insaniquarium; is that why your mouse finger is so tired?  :)  Actually a point there somewhere - that finger gets a lot of mouse workout.
- You have a "the" key from what I gather. If you only use your layout - ever - that'll be great. But it may be frustrating to do without it when you're roaming!

In sum, looks like a right solid and pretty impressive piece of figgering if you're hell-bent on moving absolutely everything around. I know I'm not. Learning Dvorak took me far too long which was frustrating; I firmly believe that he moved far too many keys.

It's been good to see that learning Colemak is faster because I can capitalize on already knowing so many of the keys from QWERTY. As I said it when thinking about layouts myself: "If QWERTY got it right (enough), don't fix it!" The extra minor benefits you may eventually reap at the other end of a protracted and grueling relearning process (according to my fear) could be worth it to you, but I'm not convinced.

Last edited by DreymaR (15-Jan-2007 21:42:49)
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~ 1 2 3 4 5   6 7 8 9 0 { } 
  K C D M F   V W U > J _ + 
  O S T N H   L R E A I Y 
  " G P B Z   X : < Q ?

It's funny you mentioned the right index. I no happy that to, changed board little. Voice (td nm kg pb fv wu rl jy) help recal & look good. I think good too for japanese with roman character write.

Must train. This first message. Here new layout: 

` 1 2 3 4 5   6 7 8 9 0 [ ]
  k c d f b   v w u j x - =
  o s t n h   l r e a i y
  ' g m p z   ; . , q / \

~ ! @ # $ %   ^ & * ( ) { }
  K C D F B   V W U J X _ + 
  O S T N H   L R E A I Y
  " G M P Z   : > < Q ? |

Board more even. Best for Twain. Good stats for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley & Chaucer too.

"Things will get better despite our efforts to improve them" - Will Rogers
"...even the dog doesn't think I'm a monster." - Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

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You don't create a layout for one specific text. You first make a big corpus (minimum 8MB) of text from many different sources.
Colemak moves the following: FPGJLUY;:RSTDNEIOK
Your layout moves: []{}KCDFBVWUJX-_=+OTNHLREAIY'"GMPZ;:.,<>
In fact it moves even more keys than Dvorak.

I think that the index finger is not overloaded on Colemak. It is the strongest and the fastest finger, and therefore it can do a lot more work in comparison to other fingers, although you might disagree.

I also don't like the KO/OK digraph on the little finger nor the CS/SC digraph on the ring finger. I also don't think it makes sense to put the ;: on the strongest finger.

Also, it's a bit strange to have the Q stuck there between punctuation symbols.

Overall, it's not a bad keyboard layout, but it's not easy to learn, ZXCV aren't there, and it isn't ergonomically better than Colemak IMO.

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Hello World!

Wow, this board trips even me out. And I designed it. I keep feeling that the keys under my right hand can't possibly be as far

to the left as they are. So, I miss time after time by one column while staring dead at my mip...er mip...arrrg...map (thit's

at...ugh...I mean it). I left two punctuation keys in place (by accident) the period and comma (at thit...er thit...ugg...that).

And one letter key on the right. Please just try to guess which en...one. I was inspired by X-FU. And the result, this divine

liyout...layout for the English tonguo heh-heh (the laugh rolls perfectly off the fangers). I thank thee Lux, daughter of Loki

and Athena, for thine subtle gift of delightful insight. May you bless all who type upon your V:UKboard much sanity and good

fortune.

"Things will get better despite our efforts to improve them" - Will Rogers
"...even the dog doesn't think I'm a monster." - Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

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It seems I've been uninformed as to the full extent of my favourite god Loki's offspring. Søren, you're hilarious. Keep it up!  :D

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