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Why is Everyone Still Stuck in QWERTY? 255

Posted by Cliff
from the matters-of-inertia-and-reinforced-behavior dept.
theWrkncacnter asks: "I was recently giving some instructions over IRC to a long time QWERTY keyboard user who wanted to switch to the Dvorak layout, mostly because a good majority of the people in channel had made the switch and were all talking it up, myself included, about how our speeds had increased and how its much more comfortable. This made me think, why don't more people use the Dvorak layout? Searching around I found an older topic on the subject, but that didn't answer too many questions, as most people in the comment section seemed to think that Dvorak vs. QWERTY was a hardware issue, when it is really a matter simply changing the layout on your particular OS. I took the time to pry off and remap my powerbook keyboard's keys but I have no problem typing in Dvorak on a physically QWERTY mapped keyboard, and I know many others who don't have a problem doing so either. So given all of this, why don't more people switch? Is it that most people just can't be bothered to make the change, even when its more efficient and more comfortable?" Is it mostly due to the fact that most people learn to type first on QWERTY due to its popularity, and hence don't bother to learn anything else?
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Why is Everyone Still Stuck in QWERTY?

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  • Two reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FreeLinux (555387) on Monday May 05, 2003 @06:49PM (#5886244)
    First, everyone learns on QWERTY. Why? See reason two.

    You are more likely to find a QWERTY attached to any particular PC or terminal than anything else. Switching back and forth is a pain.

    Thirdly, unlike you, it seems, not everyone is a touch typist.
    • Re:Two reasons (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rick the Red (307103) <Rick.The.Red@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:32PM (#5886533) Journal
      I second that. If I'm going to learn something new, I'd rather learn to use a Twiddler [handykey.com], that way I can take it with me and use it wherever I go. I'm just waiting until I can afford both it and a PDA with a USB Host port (why doesn't the Zaurus include this?).
    • Re:Two reasons (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SpaceLifeForm (228190)
      True, many people learn on QWERTY, but not many *had* to!

      I'll age myself here and point out that I first tried to learn to type on a manual typewriter.
      Later, the computer keyboard was invented.
      Now I 'touch type' but not in the historical sense. I can type very fast, but only because I can hit the backspace key quickly. Only my fingers know the location of the specific keys. I could not draw you a keyboard layout from memory, except for parts like 'QWERTY'.

      Changing the keyboard layout would cause my f

      • Hehe... I personally learned to touch type back when I was a kid.. on my dads 'laptop' (Back when a laptop was really a 20 pound, desktop computer sized device, with a battery and a really crappy display)

        I tought my self how to touch type... so I never did learn to type 'right'. I think for the most part I only type with just... 6 fingers? Something like that. 3 fingers and a thumb on one hand two fingers on the other... LOL (With a pinky from either hand now and then for caps) Considering this, I still ty
  • by foooo (634898) on Monday May 05, 2003 @06:51PM (#5886259) Journal
    I tried to switch... but the letters written in Sharpie ink rubbed off to quickly =(

    ~foooo
  • Who needs Dvorak? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darkov (261309) on Monday May 05, 2003 @06:52PM (#5886262)
    I hunt and peck faster than I need. I can hit the keys with my index finger without looking and I'm not going to learn to touch type ever, although I type for a living.

    Changing keyboard layouts would reduce my typing speed with no benefit. The fact is that most people can't think faster than they can type, and only a fractiion of the population need to type very fast and would benefit from a change to Dvorak.

    • I learned QWERTY in school and in middle school I typed 80WPM. When I had to take a typing class in high school I was doing 130WPM, however now in the real world I don't have a set of sentences in front of me and I compose as I type.

      The only benefit I see is with the comfort level, typing 10 hours a day can hurt...

  • Simple: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GreenHell (209242) on Monday May 05, 2003 @06:52PM (#5886264)
    1. See the post above me (Everyone learns QWERTY)
    2. Users don't like having to learn new input methods (partly the reason why soft (ie software) keyboards on PDAs are in the QWERTY layout, despite the fact that the skills related to tapping the keyboard with a stylus are completely different to those found in touch typing.)
  • Beyond Dvorak (Score:3, Informative)

    by aster_ken (516808) <dustincook469@live.com> on Monday May 05, 2003 @06:52PM (#5886267)
    Slashdot had an article a long time ago about going beyond the efficiency of Dvorak and determining what is better through genetic algorithms. You can read the Slashdot article here [slashdot.org].
    • Slashdot had an article a long time ago

      This is somewhat off-topic, but am I the only one who hates the fact that slashdot appears to be completely unaware of "year" as a unit of time? The article you referenced is identified this way:

      Posted by timothy on Saturday July 06, @09:33AM

      What the...?

  • I took the time to pry off and remap my powerbook keyboard's keys but I have no problem typing in Dvorak on a physically QWERTY mapped keyboard, and I know many others who don't have a problem doing so either

    Guess I know a different crowd. I don't know anyone who wants take the time to rearrange their keyboard.

    Is it mostly due to the fact that most people learn to type first on QWERTY due to its popularity, and hence don't bother to learn anything else?

    Yes.

    QWERTY works good enough, and most people ar
  • Obvious answers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FrenZon (65408) * on Monday May 05, 2003 @06:54PM (#5886277) Homepage
    I use QWERTY because it's the standard. I know it's not as efficient as DVORAK, but it's more than fast enough for my needs (and I spend all day writing code and emails), so why go through the hassle of relearning typing skills and using DVORAK? Especially in an office environment where I have to keep constantly swapping over to my co-workers keyboards - I really don't want to have to deal with swapping contexts all day long.

    Then there's the fact that most apps come with keyboard layouts configured for QWERTY keyboards.

    Dull answers to your question, but were you expecting anything else? People aren't going to inconvenience themselves unless the benefits FAR outweigh the problems. I'm sure it's the same reason why many people don't use Linux.

    • by shaitand (626655)
      your right, although I have to note, the reason why many people don't use linux is that they don't KNOW the benefits FAR outweigh the problems.
    • Re:Obvious answers? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Verne (249617)
      I grew up using QWERTY. Although as I started typing at a very young age, I never learnt how to touch type.

      I could type in QWERTY at adequate speeds, and I didn't feel I needed to be any faster.

      The main drive for me to switch, was that I wanted to learn how to touch type. I'd tried to learn to touch type a few times, but it was always so easy to cheat and go back to typing with the incorrect fingures, as I was too used to typing in my own way.

      I switched to DVORAK at work, and used QWERTY at home. For a n
  • by trouser (149900)
    QWERTY keyboard from Taiwan is so cheap it's nearly free. I wouldn't know where to start looking if I wanted an alternative keyboard layout.

    Also, how many readers are concerned with WPM ? The quality of my code tends to take a sharp nosedive when I type quickly. Lots of thinking, slow typing, a good editor with syntax highlighting that notices when I don't have enough close braces, etc. Why don't more people use smart editors ?
    • by nomel (244635)
      For me, it's more about comfort. When I use the Qwerty keyboard, and watch other people use it, I'm amazed how the fingers flail about to try and reach the keys. You just don't have to move as much and make awkward finger movements to hit the keys that you use most. I did a little calculation, and about 70% of all the letters you will type (based on most common) are on the home row in Dvorak...only about 35% for Qwerty.
  • and you'll have qwerty, go to your friends and you'll have qwerty, you get the drift..

    it's not evil like ms and it's 'standard' ;), it's what people learn in school at typing class too.

    seriously though would i be able to type with one hand at the same speed i type now with two hands? because that would be enough reason to switch but otherwise i type fast enough with qwerty for my brains to spill out useful information to type.
    • seriously though would i be able to type with one hand at the same speed i type now with two hands? because that would be enough reason to switch

      You could try learning one of the One-handed Dvorak layouts [aboutonehandtyping.com]. Motivated users can reach very high speeds with sufficient practice.
    • !! You just found the next big revolution. They say that porn drives all technological improvements and pushes the boudnaries..

      Keyboard layouts designed for one-handed use! Brilliant! You can write code with your [less 'favorite'] hand, while that pr0n video clip in the lower corner of the screen has your other hand ...

      Well, you get the idea.
  • Redux (Score:5, Funny)

    by limekiller4 (451497) on Monday May 05, 2003 @06:58PM (#5886301) Homepage
    Oh god. This is like a bad Twilight Zone episode.

    <voice style="serling">

    Limekiller. Reader of Slashdot and sometimes typist. He thinks he's seen every rant devised by man. He also believes that he has come to grips with the Slashdot editor's penchant for beating the proverbial dead horse. It is with this jaded approach that he will begin his evening routine with a bookmark. A bookmark that leads ...to the Twilight Zone.

    </voice>

    Dear sweet Christ would you let the qwerty debate die! Hath you no shame!?
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:00PM (#5886323) Homepage Journal
    "So given all of this, why don't more people switch? Is it that most people just can't be bothered to make the change, even when its more efficient and more comfortable?" Is it mostly due to the fact that most people learn to type first on QWERTY due to its popularity, and hence don't bother to learn anything else?"

    It's because nobody cares. It creates more problems than it solves. Do you really want to retrain your fingers just so you can type a little faster? Is your keyboard really your bottleneck? (Linux masochists excluded from that question.) Do you really want to move your keyboard shortcuts around? Do you really want to use a non-standard keyboard? What do you tell friends that come over and use your computer?

    There may be benefits to it, but we're not excatly talking about a live issue here. I mean if we're going to discuss this, why don't we discuss why people should use Procomm instead of Telemate for visiting BBS's.

    • You're so right. I mean, everyone knows Telemate is the best option.
      • "You're so right. I mean, everyone knows Telemate is the best option. "

        Heh I have an OT question for ya. How old do ya think I am based on my Telemate comment? Just curious because I find myself assuming people are a certain age just because they remember using software from a particular era.

        (Before ya mod me down, at least consider that I'm trying to be interesting!)
        • shrug ...!

          Okay, lets throw some random figures in the air. I'm 34 ... and I was using Telix for ages until I finally moved across to Telemate. I was a little older than the usual suspects in my BBS crowd, so lets take a random stab at 30.
        • Anywhere between 24 and 35 I'd say. Being curious about the answer and hyping Telemate, I'd narrow it down to between 24 and 30.

          Disclaimer: I'm 20. 21 at the end of this month. I was a Telemate user, though SALT scripts were so much more powerful (and less buggy. Telemate's scripting was so annoying. Ugh. Oh look, I've been running for a while. Crap, I've run out of memory because I have memory glitches and half my commands don't work.)

          But otherwise, telemate 4 life!! :) (Though now PuTTY is my pr
    • I totally second this!
      Seriously, who gives a damn? (Or a FF for that matter? :)
      If we had story moderation I'd mod this a Troll. :)
    • why don't we discuss why people should use Procomm instead of Telemate for visiting BBS's.

      Well, that would be silly... because everyone knows the best comm program is Qmodem!
  • Too many toys to change: Laptop, Sharp Zaurus, Psion Revo, Mandrake Box - and about 20 or more *BSD servers that still have a keyboard hooked up to them.

    After growing up with a TRS-80, it took me years to forget thay Shift 2 doesen't give me a quote anymore.

    And unless you're writing a novel - a good programer types suprisingly little to worry about.

  • It's what the computer came with.
  • because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by egomaniac (105476) on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:07PM (#5886372) Homepage
    A) Actual research does not support the efficiency gains of the Dvorak layout. The most-commonly-cited study in favor of the Dvorak layout was published by ... guess who ... Mr. Dvorak himself, and the science behind that study is deeply questionable.

    The data entry industry did their own studies, which do not support the claimed efficiency boost of the Dvorak keyboard. Since they make more money if their data entry personnel type faster, they had every reason to conduct a fair and honest study of the two formats. They stuck with QWERTY.

    B) QWERTY is actually pretty damned good. The common urban legend about QWERTY being designed to slow typists down is just that, an urban legend. It is true that QWERTY was designed to reduce jamming on mechanical typewriters, but it did not do this by intentionally slowing typists down, as the legend claims.

    Instead, it does this by ensuring that commonly-pressed pairs of keys are not next to one another (and in the days of mechanical hammers, this would also mean that the hammers were not next to one another). Conveniently, this means that successive keystrokes are likely to be pressed by alternate hands, which actually makes typing faster instead of slower.

    C) Your own anecdotal stories are, I'm sorry to say, worthless.

    This is for two reasons: first, you probably didn't do a formal study of your typing speed before and after the test, and you also didn't have a control group of people who remained with the QWERTY layout but put an equal amount of effort into attempting to improve their speed.

    Second, even if it is true that you really do type faster with Dvorak, that's not conclusive. Some people can do math faster with an abacus than they can with a calculator, but that doesn't conclusively prove that the abacus is a better tool. It just proves that there are some people for whom the abacus is a better tool. Unless you do a large-scale test and find both the positive cases (you) as well as the negatives (people who tried the Dvorak layout and don't like it), you really have no clue which is better.

    Again, these sorts of studies have been done. Every one I am familiar with concluded that the benefits of the Dvorak layout were minimal at best.
    • wow, a rational response. based on facts and logic. i'm kind of stunned really.
    • by shaitand (626655)
      a ration response based on reasearch and logic, wtf is this????? I thought I was reading slashdot, stone this SOB and show him we won't take it 'round here!
    • Re:because... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by outlier (64928) * on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:57PM (#5887103)
      Actually, that's not quite right. It looks like most of the arguments you're presenting were based on The Fable of the Keys [utdallas.edu] by Liebowitz and Margolis.

      As I pointed out [slashdot.org] when the topic came up last year, Leibowitz and Margolis are economists, and while their discussion of market externalities was correct, they don't quite represent the cognitive research on the Dvorak vs. Sholes (QWERTY) issue very accurately, or fairly.

      A) Actual research does not support the efficiency gains of the Dvorak layout. The most-commonly-cited study in favor of the Dvorak layout was published by ... guess who ... Mr. Dvorak himself, and the science behind that study is deeply questionable.

      The data entry industry did their own studies, which do not support the claimed efficiency boost of the Dvorak keyboard. Since they make more money if their data entry personnel type faster, they had every reason to conduct a fair and honest study of the two formats. They stuck with QWERTY.


      Actually, the half-dozen or so well constructed lab tests comparing Dvorak to Sholes consistently show a 5-10% advantage for Dvorak (even Leibowitz and Margolis admit that Dvorak is somewhat faster). For a good overview of the research conducted on text entry, check out Jim Lewis's chapter "Keys and Keyboards" in the Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction [amazon.com].

      The "data entry industry" study you're referring to is probably the Navy study mentioned in The Fable (and Lewis's chapter). Leibowitz and Margolis don't really describe the study correctly. This is in part due to the strange way it was conducted -- I'm away from my copy of it so I can't give a good description.

      (On an unrelated note, it is pretty irritating to read Leibowitz and Margolis's character assassination of Dvorak. I once asked a well known economist about Stan Leibowitz and was told that his research seems to be too motivated by his political beliefs. I have no idea if that's true, and I would never use that as an argument to refute him in a peer reviewed article. Likewise, I think that the aspersions cast on Dvorak's reputation are a bit disingenuous and out of line for a scientific article.)

      B) QWERTY is actually pretty damned good. The common urban legend about QWERTY being designed to slow typists down is just that, an urban legend. It is true that QWERTY was designed to reduce jamming on mechanical typewriters, but it did not do this by intentionally slowing typists down, as the legend claims.

      Instead, it does this by ensuring that commonly-pressed pairs of keys are not next to one another (and in the days of mechanical hammers, this would also mean that the hammers were not next to one another). Conveniently, this means that successive keystrokes are likely to be pressed by alternate hands, which actually makes typing faster instead of slower.


      Sort of right. Analyses of cross-hand keying do indicate that QWERTY is pretty good, but Dvorak is still better.

      C) Your own anecdotal stories are, I'm sorry to say, worthless.

      Actually, this is sort of true, sort of false, but these days probably irrelevant.

      True: Only well designed scientific studies (or simulations) of human performance using various layouts can tell us which layouts are most efficient in which contexts.

      False: Your anecdotal evidence is actually worth a lot -- to you. If you typed at 40 WPM using one layout and now type at 60 WPM using another layout, good for you. It doesn't mean anything for anyone else, but something about the switch (the new layout, the practice you had to engage in, your desire to prove that your layout is superior) helped you.

      Irrelevant: Unless you are a transcriptionist (in which case, you probably should be using a specialized tra
      • I said that the advantages of Dvorak were "minimal". I consider a 5% increase in typing speed to be pretty damned minimal, personally, given the costs of switching.

        Perhaps you feel differently, in which case you are certainly welcome to switch. I don't think the data supports anything approaching an industry-wide switch, however.
        • Re:because... (Score:2, Interesting)

          by damien_kane (519267)
          5% is quit a marginal increase, not minimal.
          Consider as such:
          Person A types 8 hours a day.
          In these 8 hours, (s)he averages about 70wpm (while typing). 70wpm * 4 chars (4 chars/wd + 1 space) = 350 keystrokes/min.
          In those 8 hours, assuming 1 hr break (30 min lunch, 15 min * 2 breaks, legal minimum, YMMV) this means 7hrs*60min/hr*350cpm = 147000 chars (/5cpw) = 29,400 words typed in a day.
          This is, of course, theoretical.
          In any case, a 5% increas in speed now puts you at 30,870 wpd. This is over 1000 word
          • Re:because... (Score:2, Informative)

            by egomaniac (105476)
            Oh, bullshit.

            I don't know what kind of dream world you live in, but I have never in my life met a coder who could compose code faster than they could type it.

            As someone who codes for a living, I'm not afraid to admit that I have often spent hours tracking down a bug which ends up being fixed with a one-line change. Typing speed isn't all that important unless you spend most of your day typing, and I've never met a coder who does.

            Of course, I'm writing this comment on a Palm Tungsten C, which is pretty i
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:07PM (#5886377) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe this submission beat my "Why did some people prefer Gobots to Transformers?" story.
    • by rbolkey (74093)
      From my experience, some people's parents were cheap :(. You can't have an effective war with one transformer, but you could take the same money and get a dozen gobots and have a righteous galactic battle.
  • An Average Geek (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:09PM (#5886392) Homepage
    Why? Here I why I don't switch.
    • I already learned QWERTY
    • QWERTY works fine
    • I don't own DVORAK keyboards
    • I don't want to buy a DVORAK keyboar just to have to learn to use it. Yes I know you can remap keyboards but...
    • I use many computers off and on and I don't want to switch between the two on a daily (or even hourly) basis. Yes I know you can remap keyboards but...
    • Basically it would cost me time, money, and make my life harder. You only want to switch to things if it saves you time, money, or makes your life easier.

    Game, set, match... QWERTY.

  • by molo (94384) on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:11PM (#5886410) Journal
    I used Dvorak for a while.. but there were a couple things that made me switch back to Qwerty:

    1. public computers: internet cafes, computer labs, libraries, or even helping my girlfriend out with her computer required me to un-wire and switch back to qwerty for a while.

    2. Vi: Vi was made for the qwerty layout, with the home row movement keys (hjkl). Remapping the keyboard is possible, but not without breaking all of the memnomics (sp?) that I had previously had. i.e., that row becomes "dhtn", 3 of which have other (non-movement) meanings (d = delete, t = to, n = next). What now becomes my delete/to/next keys? And what are the memnomics?

    3. I was never taught to type correctly. My hands are not on the home row, my fingers are extended, and my form is a mess.. I basicly use like 3 fingers on each hand to type, moving my hands a lot. I get decent speed doing this (~60 wpm, I would guess), but it isn't accurate and doesn't translate to dvorak. When I learned dvorak, I realized it was designed for touch typists with the standard home row configuration. To this day, whenever I use dvorak, I change to the home-row stance. I am not as comfortable or as confident in this position and it makes my typing slow.

    So, I found myself constantly switching back and forth between qwerty and dvorak.. my bad typing habits were created for qwerty.. and after months on dvorak, I still found qwety to be faster. That is why i reverted to qwerty. I wish I was better at dvorak, i really do, but damnit, i want Vim to work the way it should. /rant

    -molo
    • Of course, one could always ask, why are you still stuck on vi... *ducks* =)
      • Because I've never needed a text editor to make my morning coffee, wipe my arse, cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner, mow my lawn, play fetch with the dog, and transform into an evil AI entity that communicates with me via my toaster.

        Last I checked people who DO need that sort of thing use emacs right? Those of us who just need our text editor to send plagues, turn cities to salt, and part the red sea stick with vi ;)
  • by Fluffy the Cat (29157) on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:15PM (#5886433) Homepage
    I learned Dvorak a few years ago. At the time I learned it on a physically QWERTY keyboard, which helped enforce proper finger positioning. I ended up being about 15WPM faster in Dvorak (85WPM overall), which certainly wasn't bad - however, I was also typing "correctly", while my QWERTY was an ad-hoc mess that I'd learned as I went along. Spending less time just forcing myself to learn QWERTY properly would probably have resulted in much the same speed increase.

    Nowadays my desktop machines have IBM keyboards with removable keycaps, so they're all physically Dvorak - on the other hand, my laptop is both physically and logically QWERTY because other people want to use it occasionally. Switching takes a few seconds, but isn't a major problem.
  • How hard is it to jump between QWERTY and Dvorak layouts? I've thought many times about switching to Dvorak, and I'm pretty certain that I could be back up to speed in only a few months, but there's no way that I can be restricted to using *only* the Dvorak layout, so the ability to remain moderately productive on a QWERTY keyboard is a prerequisite.

    So, how hard is it to jump back and forth? Is it like having two separate modes, each equally capable, or do the two sets of muscle memories stomp on each other? I've known people who spend enough time on telephone and adding machine keypads to develop excellent "touch-typing" skills on both, and they could bounce between them flawlessly, never missing a single stroke even at high speed, in spite of the different layouts. OTOH, there are fewer keys and more "environmental" clues to distinguish between them.

    I notice that (spoken) languages often seem to create the same sort of "modality", whereby a person fluent in two languages can trivially jump between the two with little risk of accidentally mixing them. OTOH, I find that I have a strong tendency to mix keywords and syntax across multiple programming languages, particularly if I'm not using different development environments (my theory is that the different IDEs provide some context that helps).

    So, how does it work?

    • by sidesh0w (32371) on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:52PM (#5886686) Homepage
      YMMV, but I've found your speculations about switching between layouts to be true. I've been using Dvorak for about 5 years at home and I use QWERTY basically everywhere else, and I have managed to remain proficient on both. But if I try to type in Dvorak in other contexts (eg - at school, I switch the layout in software, but leave the keys the same), it takes me a lot longer to adjust -- even though I am not looking at the keys.

      And no, I'm not saying this because I'm some some raving Dvorak promoter -- as people have pointed out, it isn't that much faster, and there is always the inconvenience for other people who want to use my computer (It's very simple to remap the keys back & forth with an international layout tool, but some people still can't get over the fact that all the keycaps have been swapped around). Dvorak just has that same geek fun factor that Linux does -- I like using something different from "everyone else" -- because I can -- even if it's only marginally better.

    • for the time i used DVORAK, i found that i was able to switch back and forth with QWERTY on the fly.

      but as a critical note: my mind operates contextually, and so i mentally adjust for tasks based on my situation. so, i can operate one peice of software with its custom keyboard shortcuts, and then switch to another similar application and be able to use its shortcuts without a second thought. a friend of mine, however, has a great deal of trouble doing that. he can use one application and then gets stuck
    • I've never had a problem switching between dvorak at home and qwerty in labs. Its like speaking two languages. You don't accidentally say something in spanish in the middle of a conversation in english.
    • It's extremely easy and happens automatically. Basically my brain is trained to type Dvorak at my computer. When I sit down to help a friend or go into the lab to work I automatically type QWERTY without even thinking. The switch is automatic. Infact, my friend also uses Dvorak (I got her to switch (took her only two weeks -- three times faster than me to switch)) and when I got to sit at here computer I realize I can't type. I start to type QWERTY because it isn't my computer and it all comes out scra
  • QWERTY is here to stay. we'll switch to DVORAK when the USA switches to metric (i.e. never!)
  • i can type approximately 110 wpm on a qwerty keyboard, why do i want to retrain, remove the key caps on all seven of my keyboards and piss off people using my systems?

    this seems like an argument from the camp of people who want everyone, including their elderly grandmother, to use linux because "it's right," with no regard for the user's preference.
    • my elderly grandmother prefers linux actually... my wife prefers windows. I prefer linux. My grandmother finds windows machines annoying and difficult. Linux she finds much easier since that is what she learned with. My wife on the other hand refuses to try linux.
  • I don't think switching from qwerty would do much good for me. I already type about 155wpm, i can't imagine wanting to type much faster. Although... i thought of giving it a try before becuase i read that it reduces some of the carpel-tunnel (sp?). Dunno how much of a difference it could be though.
  • ...but I have to use public computers a lot at school (commute, can't afford a laptop). Switching back and forth was horrible. I went from being a decently fast QWERTY typist to a crappy QWERTY typist on public computers and an almost decent Dvorak typist at home. It wasn't worth the hastle of switching back and forth on a regular basis, I'd never be able to make myself more efficient without being able to focus on one or the other. Since QWERTY is more common, I decided to just use it at this point.

    I
    • I agree with you that at first switching back and forth kills both abilities. Then it starts to get automatic and you're fast in both. The comfort of the Dvorak is substantially better than the QWERTY IMHO. Also since I do a lot of programming the ;,'./- and others are far better located. Switch back and give it more time. You'll find it will be worth it.
  • by dh003i (203189)
    People have been trained in QWERTY. It is going to be a pain in the ass to switch. Not to mention, you'll be all fucked up when you go to a normal keyboard.

    It's like me in Descent 2. I learned to play Descent 2 with a keyboard. I was pretty damn good. People told me that if i got a joystick, I could be better. So I got one. I became very frustrated and never spent the time to learn how to use it in Descent 2.
    • It was extremely easy for me, please try something before you speak about it. The only thing it didn't improve was my spelling.
  • When I developed carpal tunnel a few years ago, I learned to type in dvorak. Here's why I switched back to QWERTY:
    1. It's the standard. I moved to a position where I had to use many different computers that were used by other people. I found it difficult to switch back and forth.
    2. You can type dvorak on almost any computer. But the keycaps will be wrong, and newer contoured keyboards make it difficult to change.
    3. It's difficult to get correct keycaps on unusual computers, such as sun workstations or laptop
    • What's difficult about going into the control panel and changing the keyboard layout?

      As to the keycaps being different, if you learn it correctly you don't have to look at the keys, and then it doesn't matter.
  • by SandSpider (60727) on Monday May 05, 2003 @07:57PM (#5886720) Homepage Journal
    The last time I wanted to switch to Dvorak, many years ago in college when one does things like that, I went all out. Switched keyboard layouts, actually physically swapped the keys on the keyboard, etc.

    The problem is that some programs used command-keys that were based on keyboard position, and some were based on actual letter (so command-o on the dvorak layout might be either command-o, because they were using the letter, or command-s, because that is the key in the same space on the qwerty layout). So I never knew from program to program which keyboard shortcut I'd be using.

    It might not be as much of an issue now, with a more modern OS. On the other hand, now I really don't care.

    =Brian
    ---
    • It isn't an issue. I found only one program like that and then I found out how to switch that program also. I'm using a Windows and Linux setup at home, and a Solaris setup at school. Not a problem at all. Granted, I don't switch keys or any of that crap, I just load a new may logically so I don't have to worry about key contour. Having to look at the keys is a crutch for any typist, QWERTY or Dvorak.
  • My passwords wouldn't be as easy as "asdf" anymore.
  • Same old story... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nomel (244635)
    It's jsut like switching to the metric system...sure it's easier...but everyone is just too set in their ways and too lazy to switch.

    One more time, based on my own research,
    Dvorak - about 70% of all keys you will ever press are on the home row.
    Qwerty - About 35% of all keys you will press are on the home row.

    Conclusion,
    You won't be moving as much. It is so much more comfortable for me to use Dvorak. The only way I can describe it, it feels like your fingers are flowing over the keys. It looks strange to
    • So, just like the metric system then, it should be possible to switch everyone - just like it was done in other contries that used to use feet/inches.
  • by Crutcher (24607) on Monday May 05, 2003 @08:57PM (#5887105) Homepage
    This is for people whose hands hurt. People who are looking for something to try, something which may work for them. It worked for me.

    Let me preface this with a disclaimer, though I have read pro-Qwerty and pro-Dvorak papers, I am not arguing on research. I am telling my story. If you want to go read the papers, and the modern ones, they are out there.

    I've been using a keyboard for so long, I've lost my introduction to them somewhere between learning to walk and reading See Dick Run books. I was probably about 5, maybe 4. But touch typing never stuck, and though a proficient computer user, I was a Claw Typist (the next evolution in the series: Hunt-and-Peck, Two-Finger, Claw). I took typing at two different highschools, and one middle school, and stayed a Claw typist. I was just so much faster than I was with the time investment I'd put into Touch, that I never used Touch.

    It finnally occured to me that I might want to try programming when I was already in my second year of college. I'm not sure why it didn't come up sooner, I'd had programming classes all the way back to LOGO in 4th grade, but I'd NEVER done anything outside of what I was assigned with them. It turns out I'm pretty damn good at it, and this irks me, as I was bored for that first 20 years.

    Leaving college without a degree after 5 years (two wasted doing Biology before the switch) and just shy of my bachelors, I went to work as a programmer. I put in 60 - 80 hour weeks, and I hacked kernel code at home.

    After a year of this, the regular time-to-stop-hacking signal that I'd use to decide to go home (my hands going numb) started to really bug me, and started to HURT. I decided to become a Touch Typist.

    As an aside, I use Bash and Vim, and I USE them, meaning that I've really learned my movement, search, and manipualtion keys. Typing hurts, do as little of it as possible.

    My first few weeks of trying to be GOOD (not look down at the keys) didn't work out, so I spray-painted my work and home keyboards black. That was a bad week, vim in command mode without being SURE what key you are hitting is not a forgiving instructor. But I've not looked down since. {You can buy keyboards with blank keys for teaching typing; it just seems that most schools don't bother.}

    I was a Touch Typist! Yay!

    My hands still hurt. Suck.

    Since I already had a good chair, I began the fetish-like search for a more comefortable keyboard, one REALLY designed for hackers. Escape and Control need to be in the Right Place, to reduce stress on that pinki. If you don't use Bash, Vim, Vi, or Emacs, you probably don't know where the Right Place is. I went through an IBM PS/2 mini (a great, nigh idestructable keyboard) and finally bought a Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite off of a workmate with a greater keyboard fetish than me, that had moved on to a full Sun keyboard with a ps2 connector. {The HH is a great keyboard, I've been very happy with it. It's bubble switched, but it clicks enough to give you the tacktile feedback you need for real speed.}

    After the keyboard search, my hands still hurt after a long day of typing. Not as bad, but I was at the penacle of what Qwerty could give me: Full Touch-Typing, A Good Chair, A Good Keyboard, and Knowledge of my Shortcuts (which in Vim and Bash are powerful indeed).

    I decided that I would try Dvorak. I had put it off in the past, looking for a hardware solution, but when I decided to try it, I found how ubiquitous software remap was in different OSes. I switched the software map to Dvorak, and presto.

    I could not type. (The keyboard was black, you see). After a week I was at 20% of Qwerty Touch. After a month I was at 80%. After 3 I was faster. And my hands don't hurt.

    Let me repeat that: MY HANDS DONT HURT.

    Vim and Bash may have been laid out for QWERTY, but they are just as usable in Dvorak. So what if JKHL aren't in a line, your mind learns and applies a pattern, and it just works.

    It does take time to switch, the research sug
    • Took me a month. And my wrists don't hurt. I use QWERTY when I have to now and Dvorak when I have a choice. Thank you for taking the time to educate the /. crowd. I still can't figure out how such a revolutionary try anything in it's alpha stage linux advocate crowd could hate something they haven't even given a chance.
    • I have to second your sentiments. My wrists used to hurt all the time. By the end of the day, they'd be really sore. I'd always have to have my wife massage them. After switching to Dvorak, the problem has almost completely gone away.

      I'm only 27, so the fact that my wrists were hurting at the end of the day, every day, really worried me. Especially since I don't even have my degree yet (I graduate in December). I'm sure I'll be typing a lot more when I get a real job. With RSI at 27, what would my wrists h
  • Seriously, dude. Do you know how much of a pain it would be to try and use the wasd keys for movement in the Dvorak layout? ;)
  • I was quite excited about making the switch until I found it difficult to take off the keys on my dell inspiron 8200. after a few minutes, with only two keys off, i figured it wasn't worth it.
    ;
  • As egomaniac [slashdot.org] summarized, the argument for Dvorak just isn't that compelling. A lot of the supposed benefits are apocryphal. For a great summary of the facts, you could do a lot worse than to read the relevant chapter from Donald Norman's The Psychology of Everyday Things [www.book.nu], which says, basically

    But as a left handed person, my reasons for not switching to Dvorak are pretty specific: one of

  • tried, failed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Monday May 05, 2003 @09:50PM (#5887343)
    Back in university, my roomates and I had a go at leaning dvorak. In our case, the most compelling reason was reduced risk of RSI, not typing speed. As an added bonus, it was also an opportunity for me to learn proper touch typing (which I never did with Qwerty... still haven't).

    We never pulled it off.

    We got all our X11 keyboards remapped. We changed the keycaps on my PS/2. We downloaded some tutor apps from the net. We even spent quite a bit of time actually practicing. Results were promising... But then reality kicked in.

    At university labs, I was routinely using about 5 different keyboards a day, some X, some tty. Remapping all of them wasn't an option, so I was trying to learn Dvorak while still blasting out assignments in Qwerty. Then there's situations during the transition from Qwerty to Dvorak where there's no feedback... Trying to enter a password on a keyboard with Dvorak keycaps but a Qwerty layout is, uh, hard.

    What killed the whole thing, however, is that I'm a vi user. vi at the best of times can be a disaster for bad typists. Just trying to navigate via ijkl in vi on Dvorak is futile, much less handling complex ingrained key patterns like df' or 'ay}. After years of vi use, I've got these patterns burned into my fingers. Learning a new keyboard without learning a new editor at the same time won't happen.

    Yet another problem is that too much emphasis is placed on the letters. C/C++ programmers need a good symbol layout too and we make at least as much use of the symbols as the letters. Dvorak is, I found, a bit weaker in the symbol layout than Qwerty. {}[];()= are, I think, the most commonly used C symbols... This choice of symbols and the convenient placement on Qwerty is probably not accidental.

    c.
    • "Just trying to navigate via ijkl in vi on Dvorak is futile"

      Okay, hjkl. I said "burned into my fingers", not my brain.

      c.
  • cause i use azerty now, i was forced to switch when i moved to europe, and i love it. im faster now than i ever was in querty.
  • why is their an overwhelming number of posts claiming that changing from QWERTY is stupid because its non-conformist!

    The majority of computer users use windows, does that make us Linux guys stupid bacause we are non-conformist!?
  • do something useful with the Caps Lock key. I mean, come on, how many people need a big button like that for caps lock? I don't know why more people don't remap it. For a while I used it as backspace. Currently, its escape (I'm a vi user). For emacs users, you can remap it to control, (where control should have always been anyways).
  • Coming from a hard-core Dvorak user....

    Who cares what the world uses anymore? The whole QWERTY/Dvorak debate made some sense back in the days of typewriters, or even in the days of hardcoded keymaps. What everyone used, everyone had to use. Everyone used QWERTY, so there was no room for anything else, because all the typewriters and computers used it.

    But now, everything is remappable. If you're on a Windows or OS X machine, it takes about two seconds to switch to Dvorak, and about two more to switch back
  • Not everyone is still using QWERTY, but here are some reasons.

    I switched to dvorak after I injured my neck (possibly due in part to RSI from over-using QWERTY layouts, but that's another story). so I swapped caps lock for control and spent a few out-of-work weeks learning dvorak.

    (These are a few concrete issues that are incredibly annoying, but since I've only used software to re-map keys, some of these issues will not impact folks that buy a bona fide dvorak keyboard.)

    - since I was learning from scr

  • I've been using Dvorak as my primary keyboard layout for the past 5 years.

    It wasn't worth it.

    Let me back up... in many aspects, learning Dvorak is not a huge deal: you just force yourself to use it exclusively and... 4 weeks later, you've got the hang of it. The first two weeks are really frustrating, as it takes you forever to type out the simplest messages. I suspect that *nix users who know a lot of keystrokes by heart would find this an extremely frustrating (and dangerous) time period. But you get

  • I was going to switch to a Dvorak layout, but I *like* the layout of Qwerty since all the hotkeys/mnemonics I use for games are in the proper place.

    Upping my words per min is NOT going to make me more effective/productive. I'm a programmer - the problems are logical and logistical. I'm "hampered" by brain speed, not input speed.
  • I've never used Dvorak before reading this post.

    I just switched a few minutes ago on my Windows 2000 box:

    start->settings->control panel->regional options.

    Go to "input locals tab" and hit ADD. Now add US Dvorak (or whatever other type of keyboard you want)

    At the bottom, you'll see the key combination to toggle between QWERTY and Dvorak--*left alt+shift*.

    I can type using one, hit *left alt+shift*, and then the keyboard switches to the other. When I have problems figuring out the keyboard, I si
  • I had heard a lot about compact fluorescent light bulbs in recent years and switched to using them exclusively in my home. I've known a good number of people who have switched to using them over incandescent bulbs and were all talking it up, myself included, about how our power bills were lower and how we were much more comfortable not changing bulbs a few times a year. This made me think, why don't more people use compact fluorescent bulbs? Switching is largely a non-issue, as the CF bulbs screw right

  • Maybe you need the alphaboard [alphaboard.com].

    According to their site, it can help you finish that hollywood screenplay you've wanted to write, but put off because of bad keyboard layouts. Yeah, that's what was stopping me.

  • Why does it get anyone's panties bunched to find that people do things differently?

    Why do geeks want to turn everything into Planet Purple?

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