Six weeks of Dvorak

This post is more than 16 years old.

Posted at 12:03 on 23 August 2007

I've now been typing in Dvorak for about six weeks, and it finally seems to have clicked. This is my fourth attempt, and this time it all slotted into place after about two weeks. Unlike my previous attempt, this time I have had no discomfort, probably because I am using my Kinesis keyboard almost exclusively now both at work and at home, and avoiding flat keyboards like the plague.

I wouldn't claim to be the world's fastest typist yet, but it has certainly improved my keyboard discipline. I am now at last able to touch type properly in a way that I was never able to do on qwerty, for starters, and this in turn means that I am finally getting the most out of my Kinesis contoured keyboard. It's also fun to see people's reactions when they try to use my keyboard and find that not only are they confused by the shape of the thing, it doesn't give them the letters that they expect. Hehe...

One thing I have found however is that while Dvorak is a definite improvement for text, the difference is smaller when you are programming, particularly in a curly-brackety language like C# or JavaScript, since you are making much more use of numbers and symbols. Having said that, a lot of what you have to do as a programmer involves writing text -- comments, specs and the like -- so it is still an improvement anyway.

I decided in the end not to bother with any of the other alternative layouts. I briefly tried Colemak, and while my initial impressions were favourable, I came to the conclusion in the end that its advantages over Dvorak are too small to be worth bothering with. It seemed to work relatively well on a flat laptop keyboard but for some reason I found it no easier to get to grips with on my Kinesis than Dvorak.

There are actually several qwerty derivatives knocking about, and the main thing that makes Colemak different from, say, Asset or Arensito is its small but noisy fanboy community. Its Wikipedia article was deleted back in November on the grounds of non-notability and has since been protected to prevent re-creation, much to the disgust of the fanboys. Yeah, there was the CapsOff million dollar competition, but it seems that was an obscure affair where it turns out that the prize money was entirely funded by donations. Given that the CapsOff website says that they would list all donations on the website, and I couldn't find any listed anywhere, it seems that Colemak won its designer a lot less than the touted million dollars by a very large margin. Sure, it may become more popular, but I've already put in enough effort switching to Dvorak, so I think I'll give it a miss for now.