Colemak versus Dvorak

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Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Kirby54925 » Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:55 am UTC

(Mods, I made this new topic because the previous topic concerns QWERTY and Dvorak, but I want to see the differences between Colemak and Dvorak. Feel free to merge this if you want.)

I've seen a lot of discussion about QWERTY and Dvorak, but hardly any discussion about Colemak. I personally use Colemak (switched cold turkey about seven months ago), but I want to get everyone's opinion on it. What do you guys think about Colemak, and do you think it's better or worse than Dvorak?
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby EvanED » Tue Jul 01, 2008 6:03 am UTC

Kirby54925 wrote:(Mods, I made this new topic because the previous topic concerns QWERTY and Dvorak, but I want to see the differences between Colemak and Dvorak. Feel free to merge this if you want.)

I think what I'll do is the following. [Rest de-reded for decreased distraction.]

I'll leave this as a separate topic for a bit. Once discussion winds down (if it ever picks up; I'm not sure how many people will be able to speak to colemak's benefits or drawbacks ;-)) I'll merge it in. If it takes a long time to do so, then it probably deserves its own thread anyway. When I do merge it, I'll change the title of the other thread to keyboard layouts or something like that.

So if you see this thread go away, that's probably what happened to it.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby poohat » Sat Jul 05, 2008 4:07 pm UTC

Dvorak definitely; what did Coleman ever do thats comparable to his Cello Concerto?
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby scootwhoman » Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:24 pm UTC

I had never heard of the Colemak layout until today, while doing an Ubuntu install, where I saw it listed among the options for keyboard layout. I finally was able to look at the actual layout at the Colemak site, and compare it with the Dvorak. It does not appear significantly different from the QWERTY, which indicates to me that the layout is not based on an analysis of the factors involved.

Dvorak studied typing, typists, keyboards, and the English language intensively before creating his layout, which is why it is so different from the QWERTY, which was more or less randomly laid out, with the only criteria being avoiding two keystrokes from the same side of the keyboard in a row, because that made the keys more likely to jam. It was pure chance that that particular typewriter became so successful, and the keyboard was not even a factor. Reliability and ease of use were far more important.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Random832 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:51 pm UTC

scootwhoman wrote:I had never heard of the Colemak layout until today, while doing an Ubuntu install, where I saw it listed among the options for keyboard layout. I finally was able to look at the actual layout at the Colemak site, and compare it with the Dvorak. It does not appear significantly different from the QWERTY, which indicates to me that the layout is not based on an analysis of the factors involved.


Or it could mean that they considered a factor that Dvorak did not.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby scootwhoman » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:16 pm UTC

Perhaps that is why the Dvorak has been modified, so that there is a classic Dvorak and a USA Dvorak. But the changes were minor.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Random832 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:23 pm UTC

My point was, "similarity to QWERTY" does not necessarily mean that it wasn't done in a scientific manner; but it's something that might result from one of the desired features being that people who already touch-type on QWERTY can learn it quickly (something that I don't believe Dvorak took into account)

The modifications to dvorak you pointed out, on the other hand, are geared exclusively towards making it minimally possible to build a physical dvorak keyboard by rearranging the keytops of a U.S. QWERTY keyboard.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby EvanED » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:24 pm UTC

Random832 wrote:Or it could mean that they considered a factor that Dvorak did not.
My guess, and from the FAQ at colemak.com, that mainly this factor is how similar it is to QWERTY.

It lists some other benefits it has over Dvorak, but my guess is that a Dvoark proponent could come up with an equal and probably bigger list in favor of Dvorak, and he would dismiss the "similarity to QWERTY"/"ease to learn if you know QWERTY" metric as being unimportant.

Ninja'd. Oh well. ;-)
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Random832 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:27 pm UTC

EvanED wrote:
Random832 wrote:Or it could mean that they considered a factor that Dvorak did not.
My guess, and from the FAQ at colemak.com, that mainly this factor is how similar it is to QWERTY.

It lists some other benefits it has over Dvorak, but my guess is that a Dvoark proponent could come up with an equal and probably bigger list in favor of Dvorak, and he would dismiss the "similarity to QWERTY"/"ease to learn if you know QWERTY" metric as being unimportant.


The problem is that it's not objectively unimportant, so saying it "indicates to me that the layout is not based on an analysis of the factors involved" just comes off as arrogant, and it's flat-out wrong if there was an analysis that simply prioritized factors differently than Dvorak did.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby EvanED » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:29 pm UTC

Yes, agreed.

BTW, it seems that there's not a whole lot people have to say about this, so it'll be merged with the QWERTY/Dvorak thread and that thread retitled soon, unless this thread really surprises me.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby scootwhoman » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:45 pm UTC

Random832 wrote:My point was, "similarity to QWERTY" does not necessarily mean that it wasn't done in a scientific manner; but it's something that might result from one of the desired features being that people who already touch-type on QWERTY can learn it quickly (something that I don't believe Dvorak took into account)

The modifications to dvorak you pointed out, on the other hand, are geared exclusively towards making it minimally possible to build a physical dvorak keyboard by rearranging the keytops of a U.S. QWERTY keyboard.


I have watched other people learn the Dvorak in a matter of hours, to the point where they asked if I had switched the keyboard back. I have never taken typing, so I am not a good test case.

The biggest problem that I have run into in converting QWERTY keyboards to Dvorak is that the keycaps for the two home keys on the QWERTY keyboard are often keyed differently than all the rest of the keys. Also, many keyboards have varying degrees of tilt and depression as the board inclines upward. When rearranging the keycaps, this can result in very uneven key levels. I have an ancient IBM keyboard that works perfectly for Dvorak.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby EvanED » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:57 pm UTC

That's one reason why you don't change the keycaps. ;-)
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Xanthir » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:20 pm UTC

Indeed. You're touchtyping; why do you even care about the markings on the keycaps?

Plus, keeping them in QWERTY display makes for more fun when people try to use your compute. ^_^
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby EvanED » Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:48 pm UTC

There is one reason why you might look at your keyboard, and that's if you are typing a single letter. I can touch type at 70 or 80 wpm if I really put forth the effort, but a lot of the time if I have to hit a keyboard shortcut that I don't use very often I have to think about where it is. It would be nice if I could just look down and see.

But I would much rather have the freedom to switch back to QWERTY and use it, either for myself (I can't touch type on QWERTY) or others. One time I do this is when I'm playing Starcraft; my muscle memory got used to the locations of the shortcuts and Dvorak would just make that game unplayable.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Daemen » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:06 pm UTC

I use dvorak. I've never used colemak. However something I can see being a problem with colemak is the similarity between it and qwerty. Last year I was in France for three months. They use azerty there. Now what I found is that switching back and forth between qwerty and azerty was trickier than switching between qwerty and dvorak. The reason? They were similar. I'd be typing normal and then once in a while I'd subconsciously revert back to qwerty. That never happens to me with dvorak, the layouts are far too different for me to make that subconscious error. I fear that with colemak such a problem would also frequently occur.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby OOPMan » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:11 am UTC

There's was an interesting article from somewhere that I read a few weeks ago that went into detail explaining how the whole "Dvorak is Better" angle is/was basically just a load of marketing spiel by the inventor of said keyboard.

EDIT:
Found it: http://www.reason.com/news/show/29944.html
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby kriel » Wed Apr 01, 2009 9:23 pm UTC

Currently I'm a QWERTY typist. I can type 70-80 WPM if I try.

I was looking at Dvorak for quite awhile. I had my ubuntu set up so that capslock actually switched between the layouts. It was nice.

Then I came across this colemak thing. "Ooooh, CTRL+[zxcvaq] still works. And it looks abit more optimized. And it doesn't have the fucking L key up where it'll kill my pinky."

However, Colemak makes your capslock key a backspace key. I can deal with changing my layout-switching key, but... it's wierd.

... Personal anecodes ftw?
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby McCaber » Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:56 am UTC

I use Colemak myself. You wouldn't believe what a difference just getting ; off the home row has on typing speeds. All the punctuation stays the same, which is what scared me about Dvorak. Also, I love the remapping of capslock to backspace. Convenience wins out on that one.

I managed to find a version that can switch between Colemak and QWERTY at will. It's useful for siblings who want to use my lappy. And for gaming.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby dustinechos » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

So I just switched to colemak this week. A friend switched to Dvorak today. :cry: So I thought I'd look into the differences. I went to this page:

http://patorjk.com/keyboard-layout-analyzer/

and pasted in the first five posts from this forum. Colemak wins! Dvorak requires 10% more finger movement, and uses the pinkies 1-2% more. Of course arsentio is much better, but that's too silly for me.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby qbg » Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:25 pm UTC

Dvorak is sufficiently good (the layout makes sense and does well considering its age), and has a wide enough install base, so Dvorak is a fine choice. I don't think there would be much reason for a Dvorak user to switch to Colemak.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Sonic » Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:37 pm UTC

I don't think there's a good enough reason for anyone who can touch type in one layout to switch to another. That said, I am trying to pick up Colemak, which I believe could be better. (Yes, I'm a hypocrite).
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby kriel » Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:31 pm UTC

Sonic wrote:I don't think there's a good enough reason for anyone who can touch type in one layout to switch to another.
I believe any layout that was designed for improving the typing (whether it be in performance, stress reduction, movement reduction, etc) is a better choice than qwerty. However, once you've gone from random keys to something that was intelligently designed, the differences between the intelligently designed layouts are slim. (dvorak vs colemak vs whatever else)

tl;dr: qwerty -> * is worth it, dvorak <-> colemak isn't.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Roĝer » Sat Nov 21, 2009 2:14 pm UTC

For me a more relevant statistic is whether a lay-out supports accented characters. The standard US dvorak doesn't support dead keys, only the swedish variant svorak does. In the end I have switched back after years of dvorak because my very, very specific needs of special characters were only supported by the Danish lay-out in KDE.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby qbg » Sat Nov 21, 2009 6:11 pm UTC

Roĝer wrote:For me a more relevant statistic is whether a lay-out supports accented characters. The standard US dvorak doesn't support dead keys, only the swedish variant svorak does. In the end I have switched back after years of dvorak because my very, very specific needs of special characters were only supported by the Danish lay-out in KDE.

Under X you could remap some keys you don't use to dead keys. (Disclaimer: my experience here is limited to creating a compose key; KDE had/has a GUI to do that)
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby ex-kgb » Sat Nov 21, 2009 6:45 pm UTC

I've been using colemak for about a year and a half now, and the biggest difference I can see is not typing speed. Sure, I type a bit faster on Colemak than I ever did on Qwerty, but the biggest difference is that my fingers really don't have to move as much. I've noticed that the change is more ergonomic than anything else.


I never had formal training on either keyboard but I did teach myself to touch-type on both.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Ultra H » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:29 am UTC

I was so disappointed when I found that this discussion was about keyboards and not composers. :| I wasn't sure who "Colemak" was, but I knew Dvorak would surely outdo him. I was going to comment on how great I think Dvorak's work is and how he is probably much better than Colemak. Furthermore, I was going to say that I think Dvorak's best is his Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World" (specifically and especially the 4th movement! :mrgreen: ). Ah! I'm in love all over again.

But no; someone has taken the name of this amazing composer and turned it into a name of a keyboard style. Now all techies alike can use it without having even the slightest thought towards music. It's a dark day---a very dark day indeed.

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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby enk » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:32 am UTC

Necro, but the issue isn't settled :P

I've been thinking about learning a new layout for a long time, and I'd rather regret doing it than not doing it! (The thing to potentially regret about doing it being decreased qwerty skills)

Colemak vs Dvorak (pro Colemak) is also discussed at the Colemak site. And even though I don't agree with all those reasons, Colemak does seem better than Dvorak. But I'm a huge vim user, and I'm a bit worried about all of hjkl being on one single finger (right hand's index) on Colemak. Not so much h and l as they're not used as much as the others, but especially j being on the qwerty y position is bad.

Do we have any vim users with a Colemak vs Dvorak opinion?
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Griffin » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:16 am UTC

I'm a vim+colemak user, and I've never noticed much of an issue. Mind you, I haven't so much used Colemak lately - it messed me up when I have to switch back and forth, so now that I've got a generic non-dedicated work comp its easier just to use Qwerty for everything at the moment.

I personally like colemak a lot more than Dvorak. Having capslock as backspace was, I think, a damned fine idea.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby enk » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:40 pm UTC

Sounds good. Yeah, I also think Colemak looks a lot better than Dvorak. But I'm also one of those bastards who use the control key so much that I've moved it to caps lock :) I think I'll keep caps lock as control because I guess I use it as much as backspace, plus bending the left pinky to reach for control is less comfortable than stretching the right pinky to reach backspace.

Not only are the non-qwerties (<-- see what I did there?) fragmented, each non-qwerty is also fragmented. We will never take over the world like this. (Did I mention I'm Danish so I also have to create a localized Colemak to keep my æøå? :wink: (Luckily, it's pretty straightforward))
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby phrodod » Fri May 04, 2012 7:03 pm UTC

I've recently made the switch to Colemak after trying Dvorak. When Dvorak was first conceived, the only keyboards were typewriter keyboards. So computer users were obviously not considered. It you've used a computer for more than a short time, your fingers have learned the shortcut keys. So when you switch to Dvorak, the next time you want to cut some text, your fingers automatically go to the Ctrl-X shortcut (or at least mine did!) But on a Dvorak keyboard, that's Ctrl-Q (Quit). After I had that happen a few times, I gave up on Dvorak. When I finally discovered Colemak, I decided to try again, and I'm glad I did. To me, it's a much easier transition to Colemak than Dvorak ever was. When I need to type on a Qwerty keyboard, I can do it if I look at my fingers for a few minutes. But every time I do that, my Colemak speed drops dramatically.

Colemak does seem to deliver on the "more comfortable' typing claim for alternate keyboards. I'm less certain about the "more accurate" claims.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby phrodod » Sat May 05, 2012 6:21 am UTC

I *thought* I posted here this afternoon, but I can't find the post now. I first got interested in keyboard layouts when my iPad external keyboard somehow switched to Dvorak. I wondered what had happened, then learned about Dvorak. That got me interested enough to try switching. But one day soon after I had started, I tried moving some text. Cut - Ctrl-X, then... oh, crap! What just happened? Dvorak remaps the Z, X, C, V keys, and Ctrl-X becomes Ctrl-Q. So my application just quit. After a couple of times of doing this, I returned to Qwerty because my fingers seemed to know where to go. When I remembered seeing "Colemak" as another choice, I did further reading. By just moving the most common keys to better positions, it takes advantage of the learning you've already done on the less common keys, such as punctuation, M, V, X, Z, Q, and W. Keys that are tough to type on the keyboard get assigned to rare letters. So B stays where it was, but Y gets a better placement and J takes its place.

I decided about 2 weeks ago to take the plunge one more time. I can now type about 30 words/minute with few mistakes. But composing text as I type is STILL really slow, because I still have to think about my finger position as well. I also find it tiring. My mistakes with Colemak feel less catastrophic than they did with Dvorak, so I think Colemak's creator identified real problems with Dvorak and solved them in a better way. The key placements are better, and the common keyboard shortcuts have been preserved. I think I'll stick with the change to Colemak. But I'm also looking forward to having my fingers type what I'm thinking without first translating to the new keyboard.

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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Dason » Sat May 05, 2012 4:31 pm UTC

phrodod wrote:I *thought* I posted here this afternoon, but I can't find the post now.

Since you still have 0 posts (by the way posts in Religious Wars don't count toward your post total) all of your posts have to be approved by a mod so they'll take a little while to show up.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby lalop » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:25 pm UTC

I'm at about 40+ wpm colemak in about a week. The problem with such immersion is that I think it's completely displaced qwerty in my muscle memory. My qwerty is absolutely pitiful now, with fingers trying to press the close-by button that's not there.

I think I would've found dvorak more comfortable: for all Shai's claims about its increased movement and whatnot, its alternating rhythm felt very good. The dealbreaker, however, was that many of the common keyboard shortcuts were no longer one-handed, for which I could only find ad hoc fixes like temporary remapping upon ctrl. If a dvorak user has a good solution to this, I may be compelled to switch again!

I'm slightly concerned about Colemak's relative obscurity (though that impression is a few years old and may be outdated; are there any stats on layout usage anywhere)? Nevertheless, it does appear to have found itself in linux and several android keyboards, so I'm hopeful.


---


Follow-up edit (8/5/14): after a lot more experience/analysis of keyboard layouts, I no longer agree about finding Dvorak comfortable. It has some quirks that I think I would have had serious problems with:

  • High upper-row pinkie usage: " ' (0.48%) and the infamous L (3.22%), compared to Colemak's Q (0.11%) and ;: (0.29%)
  • Placement of F (1.71%) on the annoying QWERTY Y position - I can no longer abide having any remotely common letter there. By contrast, Colemak assigns it to the very rare J (0.13%).

Because I'm still slightly curious about alternating layouts, I've designed and am moonlighting with my own widely alternating alternative to Dvorak. However, though it's free to use, it should be considered more a personal research project than a layout in circulation.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby lorb » Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:47 pm UTC

Cool kids use a keyboard layout that has a cool name: Neo (being in a german speaking country it's an even better choice to me)
Also every layout that does not place "e" at an index finger is clearly broken.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby Роберт » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:10 pm UTC

Old thread. I looked on the Colemak site and saw this:
If you're generally happy with Dvorak, you should probably stick with it.

So I guess there's no reason for me to worry.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby lalop » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:26 pm UTC

3 weeks on: I can get 70-80wpm with 98% accuracy. Some rolls are becoming easier, while others are still prone to error. This may be partially due to bad keyboard.

Of note: in addition to the preserved keyboard shortcuts, several shortcuts are actually easier in colemak. In particular ctrl+f (e in qwerty), t (f), r (s). Having remapped caps lock -> ctrl, I end up barely having to move at all. This has helped me to use shortcuts much more extensively.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby JapanYoshiTheGamer » Thu May 02, 2013 12:38 am UTC

Oh hi. I'm a new user at the age of 14 and a Dvorak user for about a year now. I type 60 WPM on Dvorak, but (because of the natural needs) I type decently on QWERTY: quick, 3-fingered hunt-and-peck at about 1/3 my Dvorak speed.

There are some things about Dvorak and not about Colemak that I like.
First, I like the placement of the punctuation keys. For example, more words end in a consonant than in a vowel. Most consonants are typed with the right hand, and the three keys ' , . are on the left hand. That way, it is practically guaranteed that hand alternation is present.

Another reason is the hyphen and the slash. Personally, I use hyphens and underscores all the time for file names. Some people who prefer Colemak over Dvorak mention the letter L and how it "kills their pinky". But what about the hyphen? It is much easier to reach on Dvorak -- simply move your right pinky one space to the right. And in Colemak? I think that kills my pinky.

Finally, I feel that, with all the vowels in one place, I can type like I talk. I personally picture the word subconsciously as I talk (I spell really well) and so my hands adapt better to Dvorak. Colemak has the vowels scattered (all in the edges, yes, but still looks scattered to me).

Some more nitpicking information coming through. I'm Japanese. Probably you picked that up from my username. Since I type in Japanese a lot of times, I use the software called "DvorakJ". It allows me to use Dvorak in Japanese, which is not supported in Windows. (Kotoeri you can just change it from Preferences.) And since it has the ability to use two Japanese deadkeys next to the spacebar for custom shortcuts and letters, I also use it when I type in Spanish. Move my left thumb to the left a bit and press A, and I get "á". That kind of thing.

Also, I'd like to address the "Shortcut Key Problem". Since I didn't touch-type in QWERTY, I feel the transition from one-hand shortcuts (Ctrl-ZXCV) to two-hand shortcuts. I know subconsciously the key with my right middle finger moving up is "C", and I don't want to move my hands so much from the home position. In my opinion, I think shortcut keys on Dvorak are even superior to QWERTY's. (Hyperbole? Maybe...)

So, send me a very long reply and I'll read it every sentence till the end. See you later!
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby lalop » Fri May 03, 2013 7:48 am UTC

JapanYoshiTheGamer wrote:Another reason is the hyphen and the slash. Personally, I use hyphens and underscores all the time for file names. Some people who prefer Colemak over Dvorak mention the letter L and how it "kills their pinky". But what about the hyphen? It is much easier to reach on Dvorak -- simply move your right pinky one space to the right. And in Colemak? I think that kills my pinky.


Personally, I use the ring finger for all of the top keys (it feels like a less awkward stretch, probably because the pinkie is so short).

JapanYoshiTheGamer wrote:it has the ability to use two Japanese deadkeys next to the spacebar for custom shortcuts and letters, I also use it when I type in Spanish. Move my left thumb to the left a bit and press A, and I get "á". That kind of thing.


Unfortunatly, AltGr is quite far to the right in american keyboards, which led me to adopt a "wide layout" (shifting the hand-hand home row to the right by one) in order to more easily reach it. I'm assuming you're using a keyboard with sensible space bar like this one, where it's not needed. This doesn't have anything to do with dvorak/colemak per se; the japanese keyboard just makes more sense. Given good modifier keys, any layout can be made to take advantage of them.



JapanYoshiTheGamer wrote:I'd like to address the "Shortcut Key Problem". Since I didn't touch-type in QWERTY, I feel the transition from one-hand shortcuts (Ctrl-ZXCV) to two-hand shortcuts. I know subconsciously the key with my right middle finger moving up is "C", and I don't want to move my hands so much from the home position. In my opinion, I think shortcut keys on Dvorak are even superior to QWERTY's.

Okay, this I don't see. Once ctrl has been moved to the caps lock position, you barely have to move at all to hit ctrl+[anything on the left-side], where colemak's shortcut density is almost 100% (even better than QWERTY's). I do not see how dvorak is purportedly superior to either in this regard.

Follow-up edit: viewtopic.php?p=3355273#p3355273
Last edited by lalop on Thu May 08, 2014 8:03 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Sun May 12, 2013 3:57 am UTC

Not strictly Colemak vs. Dvorak, but should I try picking up Colemak or Workman? They're pretty similar.
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Re: Colemak versus Dvorak

Postby getajob92 » Mon May 13, 2013 7:43 pm UTC

Colemak user here. Switched from QWERTY about a year ago. I'm obsessed with efficiency. Seriously. To the point where the gains in efficiency I get have long been surpassed by my time spent optimizing things.

I have, for the most part, loved Colemak. Still, I've toyed with the idea of learning Dvorak, if only to be able to compare the two. However, I'll need to wait until vacation before I start destroying and rebuilding the speed at which I can type my college essays.

Here's how I see the contest between Colemak and Dvorak:

Availability
Dvorak slightly edges out Colemak, but not by much anymore. A year ago Dvorak won hands down, as it had already been included in many operating systems for a while. On the flip side I had to download and install Colemak on each lab computer before I began using it. Not anymore. New Mac OSX and Ubuntu distributions (and presumably other Linux distros) have Colemak pre-installed. Still waiting on Windows, but probably not for long.

Similarity to QWERTY
This can be a pro or a con. I would have to say, though, that Dvorak probably wins.

Colemak's argument seems to be that it's easier to transition from QWERTY to Colemak due to the similarities, which were admittedly nice at first. However, the fact is that when you're learning a new key layout you're going to be slow no matter what, and you're going to need some training. I don't think that the similarity to an old layout is too much of an advantage if you're going to be committing a fair amount of time to learning the layout anyway. Plus, for a very long time after I'd learned to more or less touch-type with Colemak I still had issues with muscle memory switching. I'm sure this would happen no matter what, but I would posit that the similarities to QWERTY made it harder. For example, I still to this day occasionally press the wrong key for 's' because it's so close to the QWERTY 's'.

Also, I feel that it would be easier to switch between QWERTY and an alternative on the fly if they were very different. For example, I still use a QWERTY keyboard on my phone very well because the experience of QWERTY on a phone is very different from Colemak on a keyboard. While this is a more extreme example, I believe the difference in experience is key to being 'fluent' in multiple layouts at once.

Keyboard Shortcuts
Colemak wins right now, hands down. The current shortcuts used in computers are difficult/impossible to change, plus they're generally a part of muscle memory at this point (and harder to retrain, at that). Plus, many of the shortcuts become two-handed shortcuts in Dvorak, which for many people is unacceptable.

However, I do want to say that this has the possibility to change. If the ability to change common shortcuts becomes easier then this will become more a moot point.

Other Points
For other languages: These layouts aren't designed for other languages. I did manage to create a custom Spanish keyboard using Colemak, with an accent dead key replacing ' and ñ replacing ;. I've found it a little awkward typing accents, though, as almost all of the vowels are on the same hand as the accent key, and 'o' actually shares the same finger. Not sure this is any better for Dvorak, however.

Programming: I don't use VIM, so I can't say anything about HJKL awkwardness, but programming has been a very pleasant experience for me using Colemak. Punctuation and symbols are virtually the same as they are in QWERTY.

Caps Lock -> Backspace: I tried making this change in order to get the full Colemak experience, but there were a few issues. For one, my brain is pretty hard-wired into using the regular backspace. Second and more importantly, some Macbook Pros as of late (such as mine) have a "feature" that makes Caps Lock not engage unless you hold the button or press it fairly slowly. The problem is that there is no permanent fix for it, so the Caps Lock as Backspace is very inconsistent, and thus almost useless. (Another notable issue is that many people use Caps Lock as Ctrl). Finally, I decided that I'd prefer to not have backspace too accessible, so that I can try to force myself to type with less mistakes.

Other Impressions: I don't know that Colemak is any faster than QWERTY. If it is, then it isn't by very much. I will say that it is a heck of a lot more comfortable to type with, though. One thing that you definitely will notice is how little your fingers move in comparison to QWERTY.

Conclusion (finally)
If you're willing to change keyboard layouts, then I think either of these layouts would be great options. If you're looking to maximize typing speed, I would venture to say that Dvorak is the faster layout. If you're just looking for more comfortable typing, I can personally recommend Colemak, though I haven't tried Dvorak yet. (Will probably return to this post once I do) It all comes down to personal preference. If you don't mind the change in keyboard shortcuts, then I might say that Dvorak looks to be the stronger option. In the end I mostly chose Colemak for the sake of being able to type words like "walls" without my pinkie falling off.

-------------------------------------------
As for cjmcjmcjmcjm -
Colemak and Workman look very similar. I would choose Colemak of the two (the disclaimer being that I'm a Colemak typist). Here's why:
In Workman, CTRL+F becomes a two-handed shortcut.
More importantly, 'H' is moved so that your index finger's lateral movement is less frequent, and 'D' and 'R' are placed on the top row. In terms of individual key-presses, this may actually be more comfortable. However, Colemak's placement of 'ARST' is for the sake of more rolls when it comes to letter diagraphs and trigraphs, which the Workman keyboard kind of destroys. Also, I am personally not a fan of the Workman layout's placement of 'M' and 'L'.
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