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Is DVORAK Gaining Traction Among Coders? 559

Posted by Cliff
from the slow-news-day dept.
coderpath asks: "At a recent Seattle Ruby Brigade hack night someone asked how many people used the DVORAK keyboard layout. Out of 9 people, 7 used DVORAK and only 2 were using QWERTY. I personally made the switch last Christmas, after 25 years of typing with QWERTY. What do you use? Have you switched to DVORAK? Have you been wanting to make the switch? Has anyone else noticed an increase in adoption of DVORAK lately?"
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Is DVORAK Gaining Traction Among Coders?

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  • Vim (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FromWithin (627720) <stuff&fromwithin,com> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @08:49PM (#18736757) Homepage
    Always wanted to try the Dvorak layout, but I've become a slave to the Vim and that sort of messes things up for me...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Doytch (950946)
      Why not just remap whatever keys you need(HJKL and such) to the apprpriate keys for a Dvorak layout?

      A quick Google turned up a few already-built config files that handle the dirty work for you. Alas, I don't use Dvorak so I can't test them. Although like you, I have always wanted to switch cold turkey.
    • Re:Vim (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @08:54PM (#18736799)
      It's not just Vim, but everything else I do as well. It's hard to imagine going back to being careful where the keys are... I've had plenty of times that I just kept on typing while I was looking at my boss (he was talking) or I got something in my eye and just needed to finish a sentence that was in my head.

      On top of that, I've -never- seen a Dvorak keyboard. I'm sure I could find some online if I looked, but I'm -very- happy with the feel of my current keyboard (I own 2 and a wireless version of it now) and don't look forward to trying to find a Dvorak layout one that I like.

      There's still just too many reasons not to switch, and only 1 to switch: It's supposedly quicker. (Last I heard, it actually wasn't enough quicker to care.)
      • Re:Vim (Score:5, Interesting)

        by zsau (266209) <(slashdot) (at) (thecartographers.net)> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:46PM (#18737273) Homepage Journal
        It's not just Vim, but everything else I do as well. It's hard to imagine going back to being careful where the keys are... I've had plenty of times that I just kept on typing while I was looking at my boss (he was talking) or I got something in my eye and just needed to finish a sentence that was in my head.

        I was like that before I switched. I'm like that after I switched. I wasn't like that for about a month in between. And I'm better at vi for it, too.

        On top of that, I've -never- seen a Dvorak keyboard.

        Fancy that, neither have I. You (i.e. I) touchtype dvorak. The only value you'll ever get out of looking at the keyboard is because it's fun to look at yourself typing on a keyboard with the keys marked wrong, and you can't do that with a dvorak keyboard.

        There's still just too many reasons not to switch, and only 1 to switch: It's supposedly quicker.

        Most reasons against switching are false; about the only one worth listening to is that lots of people use your computer and/or you use lots of computers. A very good reason, certainly, but still only one.

        And the purported benefit of dvorak is that it's more ergonomic. This results in it being a little faster, but it's not the point. That's why if you do want to buy a dvorak keyboard, you'll find that almost none of them have the standard physical arrangement. But I do certainly notice the benefits of dvorak with my regular-format keyboards.
        • Re:Vim (Score:5, Insightful)

          by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @01:53AM (#18738755)
          I switched to Dvorak. However:

          1) I hated switching the hotkeys of every app I touched.
          2) After a month was still significantly faster at QWERTY and doubted I could catch up to a lifetime of QWERTY in less than a year.
          3) Knew the world would always be qwerty and I usually wouldn't be able to switch it over, so I would have to switch back and forth at work, on a co-workers computer, on my blackberry, etc etc etc.

          so I gave up.

          I'm not going to carry around a config file for the 10,000 applications I use every week on multiple computers because I want to type a bit faster. That's a false optimization in my opinion.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by rvw (755107)

            1) I hated switching the hotkeys of every app I touched.
            On my Mac I have the option of using Dvorak - Qwerty. This option leaves the shortcuts as they were. So I suppose all control/command/option key combinations stay as they are. I don't use Dvorak though, and I'm not planning to use it, so I haven't tested it.
        • by KlaymenDK (713149) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @04:25AM (#18739475) Journal

          And the purported benefit of dvorak is that it's more ergonomic. This results in it being a little faster, but it's not the point. That's why if you do want to buy a dvorak keyboard, you'll find that almost none of them have the standard physical arrangement. But I do certainly notice the benefits of dvorak with my regular-format keyboards.
          Here's a fun comparison [vt.edu]: Enter some text (using any layout), and have stats shown for Dvorak and qwerty. I have a page about Dvorak [g-b.dk], and the distribution of characters on that page come out thusly:
          • Home row -- Dvorak: 66%, Qwerty: 32%
          • Top row -- Dvorak: 24%, Qwernty: 49%
          • Finger movement (arguably less scientifically 'hard' piece of data) -- Dvorak: 367m, Qwerty: 602m

          In other words, Dvorak gets you the same result with 39% less effort.
        • speed or health? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by beaverfever (584714)
          "And the purported benefit of dvorak is that it's more ergonomic. This results in it being a little faster, but it's not the point."

          I seem to recall that the point of dvorak was that it was faster, then that claim was subsequently discredited with force. When did an ergonomic benefit become its selling point? Has this claim of a physical health benefit been tested?
    • Re:Vim (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zsau (266209) <(slashdot) (at) (thecartographers.net)> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:27PM (#18737109) Homepage Journal
      I learnt VIM with Qwerty, and now I use VIM with Dvorak, a lot better and more skilfully than before. There's no reason to remap VIM's layout (and plenty of reasons not to). It will probably take a while to get used to it, but once you are you might find you use hjkl a lot more: in particular, I've found the hj (up/down ... or is it down/up? i just use them, i don't think about them) to be much better placed on dvorak than qwerty (they're on the left hand, so you have a choice: use hj with left hand, or cursor keys with right hand).

      Once you're used to VIM+dvorak, it's absolutely no harder than VIM+qwerty. I would expect it'll take you longer to get used to VIM+dvorak than anything else+dvorak, but if you love vi as much as I do, it'll only motivate you to learn faster :)

      On the other hand: Although I can touchtype fluently in qwerty and dvorak, my VIM+qwerty skills are almost entirely gone. I have to stop and think about just about everything; it's painful and the only time I ever regret switching. If you're going to be bouncing around on computers whose keyboard layouts you can't control, and you use VIM, consider this before switching. Maybe just remap some keys so up/down are where god (not Bill Joy) intended.
    • by dhasenan (758719)
      I use dvorak and vim. You start ignoring the hjkl thing quickly. And jk at least are still adjacent, and h further left than l.

      Really, since most bindings in vi are arbitrary, why shouldn't those be? And since the bindings are intended to be used with both hands remaining on the keyboard, it rarely makes a difference that you need both hands to navigate all directions without resorting to the arrow keys.
      • Re:Vim (Score:4, Informative)

        by Doctor Memory (6336) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @11:23PM (#18737939)

        most bindings in vi are arbitrary
        Wow, I may have to re-calibrate my bogometer after that one. Arbitrary? ^F goes (F)orward a page, ^B goes (B)ackward a page, ^D goes (D)own half a page, ^U goes (U)p half a page. 'w' goes forward a (w)ord, 'W' goes back a (w)ord, likewise 'n' goes to the (n)ext match of the current search expression, 'N' goes to the (N)ext in the opposite direction. h,j,k and l were chosen because ^H is backspace (left), ^J is a newline (down), ^K is a vertical tab (up) and ^L is &mdash well, OK, ^L is a form feed, so that doesn't really follow. However, if you'd ever used an ADM-3A (a popular serial terminal BITD), those keys had arrows printed on them that showed those directions. I'm not sure why they were there originally, but I'm guessing there was some prior art there that vi followed. Likewise with the / (search) and : (enter command mode) characters: those were brought in from the original Unix 'ed' editor (and so were most of the commands). About the only 'arbitrary' command I can think of is the '%' key — I've never made a connection between it and parentheses.

        Now if only I could figure out how to make vim map CAPS LOCK to CONTROL when it starts up, I'd have it made...
    • I switched in 2001 and it took about six months to relearn the vim key bindings. It's possible, but seriously funky w/ the arrow keys. Most everything else is easy to get used to. The "Z" key is conveniently located for the quick SHIFT+Z+Z escape.

      For coding, I've found that I move my hands much less. HTML & XML junkies should appreciate it as well, as the greater-than & less-than keys are more conveniently located. Many programming keywords & function can be typed entirely with the home row.

      I wo
    • Re:Vim (Score:5, Informative)

      by shadroth (935602) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @02:44AM (#18739021)
      I use the Colemak layout, which has a custom mapping for vim.

      Colemak [colemak.com] is much better than QWERTY, from a research paper listed the Colemak site:
      "All things considered, I believe Colemak is better than Dvorak and the best alternative to QWERTY."

      The layout is similar to QWERTY in some ways QWZXCVBM stay in the same place, but everything else moves.
      CAPS becomes BACKSPACE. Colemak was entered in the CAPSoff competition [capsoff.org] (a contest for keyboards with CAPS lock), which it won.

      Colemak was designed by Shai Colemak after considering the most common digraphs (two letter combinations).

      When you start to type quickly, your brain works on it's memory of key combinations, not key locations, so you'll start typing in QWERTY while you're learning, as you speed up.

      It took me 3x 10 hour days using ktouch to learn the layout well enough to use it well and about 2 months to equal my QWERTY speed. All progress from there.
  • Personally (Score:5, Funny)

    by WED Fan (911325) <akahigeNO@SPAMtrashmail.net> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @08:54PM (#18736801) Homepage Journal
    I find Dvorak a bit tedious. For coding, I prefer Williams, John, not Andy. Sometimes I listen to something light like Bocelli. Moody Blues. But, never metal when I'm coding.
  • by Tokimasa (1011677) <thomas.j.owens@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @08:54PM (#18736803) Journal
    At one point, I went out looking for a DVORAK keyboard, starting at my local computer shop and expanding to office supply stores and even Wal*Mart, just to see if anyone had one and if not, how much it would be to order one. After prices over $200, I checked online and found the cheapest, most basic, DVORAK keyboard at about $100 + shipping and taxes.

    I know I could get a cheap QWERTY and rearrange the keys. But (at least from the pictures I've seen), wouldn't be a true DVORAK layout. If I could cheaply obtain or emulate a DVORAK layout, I would try it. But right now, I have a laptop, so I would only use it when I'm at my desk and I would need to purchase one first. The idea of switching back and forth day after day and the cost just doesn't help...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by RealRav (607677)
      I was typing dvorak for years before I purchased a dvorak keyboard. It is better when you type not to look at the keyboard anyway. Just change the layout in your OS, then print out a keyboard layout and tape it to you monitor for the three day learning period. After that, you will know where the keys are by touch and the actual keyboard doesn't matter.
    • by rs79 (71822)
      "At one point, I went out looking for a DVORAK keyboard"

      Maybe it's me but I just switched the keycaps around.

      I tried Dvorak for six months and tried really really hard. But I couldn't get
      to be a fraction as efficient as I could with qwerty. If nothing else whoever
      put the M there should be shot.

      I've been using a computer keyboard for 37 years starting with an IBM 029 keypunch and I may just
      be too goddamn old to learn. You young punks may have a chance.

    • by Guido del Confuso (80037) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:18PM (#18737035)
      You don't need a Dvorak keyboard anymore. Just change the settings in the OS. Ah, but what about the keycaps, you ask? Leave 'em as they are. I started using Dvorak about seven or eight years ago, and when I did I got a programmable keyboard. I was never quite as fast using Dvorak as I was with QWERTY, but I persevered. When I eventually got a Mac, the programmable keyboard wouldn't work with it, so I just used a QWERTY keyboard and remapped it within the OS. Within two weeks my typing speed in Dvorak significantly improved, since I could no longer fall back on looking at the keys as a crutch. When I didn't know where a key was exactly, I would start hitting around near it until I found it. I think the learned muscle memory from that experience was a far better teacher than having the keycaps. Interestingly, my QWERTY typing speed improved somewhat as well, because I realized how often I had been glancing at the keys while I typed, out of sheer force of habit from when I was learning to type. I quickly broke that habit, and my typing speed went up maybe 20%.

      I ultimately stopped using Dvorak because it was too much of a pain to reconfigure the keyboard all of the time when getting a new game or something. I doubt I'll go back at this point, since I currently make my living using Avid and I know all of the Avid commands I regularly use by their letter and keyboard position. I could remap them, I suppose, but after all the fun I had trying to use Emacs with a Dvorak layout, I'm not sure I find the advantages of Dvorak compelling enough to bother.

    • by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:23PM (#18737073)
      The complaints about there not being many Dvorak keyboards for sale are just silly.

      Why would you change layouts without bothering to learn how to touch-type??? If you don't touch-type, you will never type fast, regardless of which layout you use. It doesn't matter what the keys on your keyboard say if you are touch-typing.

      The best thing to do when learning a new layout is to have a copy of it on paper taped to your monitor. You want to get out of the habit of looking at the keyboard, not perpetuate it.
    • They have opaque and transparent ones:

      http://hooleon.com/miva/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&S tore_Code=KBH&Product_Code=OV-0658 [hooleon.com]

      http://hooleon.com/miva/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&S tore_Code=KBH&Product_Code=OV-0658 [hooleon.com].

      (There might be better and cheaper ones around, probably, as you don't need to get "dvorak" stickers, afterall, just get regulars ones and stick them in the dvorak formation).

      I just change my OS to handle both qwerty and dvorak.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aslate (675607)
      I gave Dvorak a good 1 year trial and frankly found it made no real difference at all.

      I've got one of those IBM spring-loaded keyboard that my mum got from work with an old PC, so i could re-arrange the key caps (not even the physical keys, but the cap with the letters on) to Dvorak. I even changed the Qwerty keyboards at school to the Dvorak settings (which should help my learning as i can't do hunt-and-peck at the keys). And never noticed anything useful.

      Now it may have been in part that i would every-so-
    • Das Keyboard is an excellent keyboard (different key resistance zones) and has the benefit of having no key markings. This helps you type faster as looking down won't help you at all. Blanking keys is highly recommended for learning new layouts, with masking tape, if nothing else.

      It has the extra benefit of never needing key cap rearrangement between layouts. It's a good unit and I'm very picky when it comes to keyboards. ...and should you never make the switch, there's nothing stopping you from using it wi
    • by mikesd81 (518581)
      Here [hooleon.com]
    • by Inoshiro (71693) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @10:05PM (#18737405) Homepage
      The cost is nothing. I'm typing this on an IBM model M with the keycaps re-arranged to Dvorak. I've had Windows, MacOS X, and Linux all set to use the Dvorak keyboard layout with no troubles.

      Now, as for actually having the keycaps set to Dvorak, that's mostly for when you start out. Once you develop your muscle memory so that you can touch type, it's really not an issue. MacOS X even has the DQ (Dvorak-QWERTY) mode for helping people who type like this. When you're typing normal text, the layout is Dvorak; when you press the command button, it shifts back to QWERTY so the shortcuts you're used to (Apple-X, C, V, etc) are all in the same location as before.

      The real cost is your personal time. You will not be able to type above 50wpm for a few weeks.
  • Languages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JanneM (7445) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @08:54PM (#18736807) Homepage
    Dvorak is optimized for writing English. Most coders - like most computer users in general - do not use English as their main language, and for us Dvorak is substantially worse than the qwerty layout in every way.

    So no, most coders are not switching to Dvorak.
    • by zsau (266209)
      Can you provide any examples? Most code consists of words. What's left over is punctuation. Words and punctuation are easier to access. (I code, and I use dvorak and qwerty, and I find that there's no difference in benefit of coding vs english in dvorak: And for both you notice the benefit of dvorak over qwerty.)
      • Re:Languages (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JanneM (7445) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:20PM (#18737057) Homepage
        Can you provide any examples? Most code consists of words. What's left over is punctuation.

        Most coders spend at least as much time - normally substantially more - writing in their natural language, not actually writing lines of code. Comments, specs, documentation (in the code and test documentation sense), email, project reports, IM ... And that's the stuff you do as part of work, not the time you spend off work on discussion sites, writing a blog, communicating with friends and family or whatever.

        I don't assume anyone seriously proposes switching to Dvorak when about to write code, then switching back to their normal layout once you've written your line or two.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865)
      Because QWERTY is optimized for non-english . . ?

      And while I'm not a coder by trade, I'm pretty sure that code is still written in english, isn't it? I mean, sprintf() is sprintf() no matter where you're writing code? It's not elsprintfo() just because you go south of the border or anything...
    • Has anyone tried DVORAK Programming Setup [kaufmann.no]? It could possibly handle your objections.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ozamosi (615254)
        I am currently using it, and I've used a more normal Dvorak layout before, and I'm not that impressed. Partly because I use funny letters, like åöä, which the Dvorak Programming layout requires me to use alt-gr for, but that is not in any way different from normal dvorak - just from the dvorak I used before.

        My other complaint is that you have to use shift to type digits. Even though I enjoy being able to type special characters without pressing shift, I rarely write two special characters in
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jd (1658)
      I've heard that to be the case, and also that Dvorak can't map onto certain international languages at all. True, I'd hate to use Qwerty for writing Younger Futhark, but you can't have everything. Seriously, though, I am not convinced it is possible to map all languages onto a single keyboard layout efficiently. Too many forms (phonetic, alphabetic, syllargy, ideogramatic, etc) and too great a variation in the number of symbols (anything from 16 to 6,000). IMHO, it has been a grievous error to try and make
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by farnsworth (558449)
      I've been using Drorak since I learned to touch type. I don't understand your comment. I type both English and Japanese. Although Drorak is designed and optimized for English, the same letter patterns appear in other languages too. Certainly not to the same degree as in English, but they are there. I've never typed Japanese on Qwerty, so maybe I'm wrong, but I find Japanese very natural on Dvorak. I imagine that Spanish, French, Italian, etc are also very natural on Dvorak. I've never typed Hebrew or
    • by Rix (54095)
      Most programming languages are designed by and for English speakers. Most comments in public code are in English.
    • I disagree. Symbols are all in much more convenient locations, as far as I'm concerned. You could make the argument that the braces are too high up, but beside backspace isn't THAT far of a reach. I like that they're all above, rather than below, the home row (exception: semi-colon). That alone allows me to type for many more hours.
    • by drix (4602)
      English might not be the first language of most computer users, but English is definitely the lingua franca of the internet. This explains why I am able to read the President of India's web site [presidentofindia.nic.in], or why LKML is conducted strictly in English, despite having participants from every continent. Increased adoption of the Dvorak layout could benefit anyone who spends a lot of time online.

      As for coders, there's no need to stop with that distinction. I spend a lot of time coding Ruby. Certainly the best layout for
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orzetto (545509)

      Most programming languages use keywords taken from English. Good programmers will not use random variable names, but descriptive ones (ie, in English). Good programmers also write documentation. Anyone also has to write some text or emails once in a while.

      As far as my experience goes, I have been using Dvorak at home and at work for the past four years. I started a new job as a C++ programmer in a small company six months ago. Since in the beginning I worked only 2 days a week (had to finish the PhD thesis

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bungo (50628)
      Dvorak is optimized for writing English. Most coders - like most computer users in general - do not use English

      Further to that, where I am, almost all keyboards are not QWERTY, but a version
      of AZERTY, and that's because I'm in a non-English speaking country. It may be
      surprising to some, but the majority of people in the world to not speak English
      as their first language.

      Really, how somme can bring up amazing claims from a small sample size of
      an essentially self-selected group, and have it posted to the fr
  • Alas, a laptop! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tragek (772040) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @08:54PM (#18736813) Journal
    I probably would switch, if there was a simple way to reconfigure my keyboard. Alas, laptops are not exactly amenable to keyboard layout switches.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zsau (266209)
      Simple solution: Don't physically rearrange the keys. You gain nothing in two-fingered hunt-and-peck if you're using dvorak; it's benefits are almost entirely limited to touch-typing. It'll force yourself to learn the layout faster and better if you can't look at what you're doing. Also, it helps for if you ever need to run your computer in recovery mode when it won't load keyboard drivers, or for stupid games that don't realise not everyone is an American using qwerty layout; and sometimes it helps interpr
  • by Khakionion (544166) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @08:55PM (#18736823)
    I started using it because I heard it can reduce wrist stress. I'm not going back; I love the Dvorak layout. Well supported across Mac/Lin/Win, and speeds my typing up significantly. I dunno about the wrist stress part, but it sure does feel like I'm spending less time contorting my hands to type code.

    Not only that, but it's a great way to look elitist and pretentious, now that Macs are gaining market share again.

    aoeu > asdf!
    • by rlwhite (219604)
      I'll second that, except that I noticed significantly better comfort rather than a speed increase. I suppose it's a matter of whether you try to type fast; personally I keep a leisurely pace.
  • by loony (37622)
    No dvorak for me - until they start labeling the keys on laptops that way :-)

    But to answer the original question - nope - big IT shop here and since I switched to my laptop and back to qwerty, not a single guy using dvorak...

    Peter.
  • by cpaglee (665238) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:00PM (#18736863)
    Qwerty on the other hand is very easy. In fact its spelled out on every keyboard right at the top.

    Every keyboard except DVORAK keyboards that is.

  • dvorak is useless (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zheng Yi Quan (984645)
    I always wanted to switch, but coding requires so much punctuation that DVORAK doesn't help. Plus it doesn't work with vi.
  • I'm a fairly fast hunt-and-peck typist, I don't do touch typing. My fingers "hover" above the keyboard and I've basically got muscle memory for where the keys are, moving my fingers without looking at the keyboard. While I like the idea of the dvorak layout, I don't see how it benefits someone who's not a touch typist.
  • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:07PM (#18736935) Journal
    DVORAK is another way to show other people that you're different. Any benefits are minuscule and are outweighed by the incompatibility downsides. It's another symptom of the "geek" disease [udolpho.com].
    • by Jerf (17166)
      Yes. Optimizing a device you spend tens of thousands of hours using is such a waste of time. Definitely only for status and stuff.

      If you want to make a rationality-based argument, even "miniscule" benefits add up to a slam-dunk decision in a rationality computation across so much usage.

      Most people aren't rational on this issue at all, neither switchers nor bitchers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ogleslurp (631509)

      Nice link. Perhaps you'll be interested in another post [udolpho.com] from that site?

      Charming.

  • My sample (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jerf (17166) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:09PM (#18736947) Journal
    Well, in my sample size of one, 100% of users have switched. Therefore, clearly, there's nowhere to go but down.

    Addressing some myths:
    • It's probably not any faster, but it is much more comfortable. There's no scientific evidence whatsoever about whether it affects carpal tunnel, neither for nor against, so you're on your own.
    • You don't need a special keyboard, just the willingness to actually learn to touchtype. Even if you don't switch to Dvorak, you really ought to learn to touchtype anyhow.
    • Code complaints vary from language to language. [] and /= may switch, but I actually took the time to do a character count in my Perl code (what I work in professionally) and it turned out they were as close to identical as to make no difference. You can make your own custom layout to move those back, but the further away from a standard layout you get, the more nervous I am. (I did end up remapping Caps Lock to Backspace, which has been nice, and that's not special to Dvorak. The key is to unmap the normal Backspace key; you'll learn in nothing flat.) Some languages may suffer more, some may even come out ahead.
    • You don't lose QWERTY per se, but I find there is a "reloading" period of five or ten minutes before I can really crank along again. If you're just using the keyboard briefly this can look like you'e lost QWERTY; I think this is the kernel of truth behind the myth.
  • The answer is NO! (Score:5, Informative)

    by joto (134244) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:11PM (#18736965)
    Very few people are switching. Very few people ever did switch. And very few people will switch in the future. I use Qwerty, or a national variant of it, as is 99.99% of everybody else using a computer. I have never switched to Dvorak. I once considered it, and determined it would be a waste of time, as I'm not a secretary, I already type pretty fast, there is no Dvorak for Norwegian, and I like having labels matching output on the keys of my keyboard. Also I'm weird enough as it is, and don't need to type weirdly too. So in conclusion, no I haven't really wanted to make the switch, otherwise I would have done it long ago. I have absolutely not noticed an increase in Dvorak use lately. It's probably the same two people who are still using it now, as it was in 1952.
  • by sakusha (441986) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:12PM (#18736981)
    I chpngyd to thp Dvprak kehboxc ank thp qualxpy og my coginq chamgbd drabaciralle.
  • Dvorak is fun! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pizzach (1011925) <pizzach@gCOLAmail.com minus caffeine> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:18PM (#18737029) Homepage

    I have been using Dvorak for years. It has been an interesting mental exercise...but I would not say it is more productive. It's just different.

    Some things you should consider before taking the plunge:
    • Dvorak seems to be worse for Japanese. There a lot of words only using one hand. Not to mention it's a pain setting the default layout for Japanese to Dvorak on some OSs.
    • VIM isn't as much fun in Dvorak when you have to switch randomly to QWERTY. For one thing, ":wq" is all done with on one hand.
    • The curly braces feel too far in Dvorak when coding
    • You will need to keep your qwerty skill up. Especially during the learning period.

    I also had some unforeseen side-effects occur using Dvorak. When I had first started becoming proficient in it, my QWERTY skill practically disappeared from lack of use. When I had gotten my first web design job, my boss thought I was a computer newbie at first because I was typing so slow and with so little confidence. I didn't want to go mucking changing his keyboard layout so I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thank God keyboards have the QWERTY letters on them. (I never thought I would say that.)

    On the other hand, my computer is an impenetrable fortress of solitude nowadays. I run a desktop with no icons, Dvorak keyboard layout, Left handed mouse setup, all on top of Japanese Linux. You just try and touch my computer. I recommend you use a 6 foot stick.

    To wrap up, I want to say you're a sissy if you actually buy a Dvorak keyboard or dare rearrange the keys. Thank you.

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Dvorak seems to be worse for Japanese. There a lot of words only using one hand.

      Sounds perfect for japanese pr0n chat!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by parasite (14751)
      I'm guessing you mention "left handed mouse setup" cause you are a right-hander? I think it's great to use the mouse with your non-dominant hand to increase brain plasticity. I use left hand for work mouse, right hand at home.

      I've also got a deadly coworker torture technique I use at work, inspired by left hand mouse use. I put the monitor, keyboard and mouse at a sharp sharp angle with piles of garbage stacked on the right side -- so you must sit with the chair slanted looking at the desk and the only poss
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Brandybuck (704397)
      Many years ago I knew a couple of medical transcriptionists. These are people who type 120 WPM for hours at a time. Many actually speed up their audio playback so they can type faster. I talked with one about DVORAK, and she said those in her profession that used DVORAK weren't any faster than the QWERTY users. My high school typing teacher decades back used to switch between QWERTY and DVORAK typewriters at a moments notice. She wasn't any faster on one than another.

      My conclusion is that much of the DVORAK
  • I use Dvorak but (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @09:20PM (#18737053)
    I'm not a gamer. I like it better than Qwerty, my wrists don't hurt anymore. However, I used to touch type Qwerty, now I can't. This isn't a big deal but would someone point me if a USB device exists that could be plug in between the keyboard and the computer that could translate qwerty signals into dvorak ones? I would find this helpful on computers other than my own.

    If you want to learn Dvorak, like a foreign language I would suggest to plunge in and stop using qwerty. Your muscle memory needs to get accustomed to the new system and changing in between is not helpful. I initially tried learning dvorak by taking online lessons in small doses. After six months, I wasn't getting anywhere. I switch cold turkey one weekend, and by Monday morning, was a touch typist again (I spent roughly 6 hours on online lessons that weekend and did all my other computer stuff in Dvorak).

    There are potentially better layouts designed recently but I want to ask anyone with experience with the "Neo" Tastatur/Layout - is it better in your experience?

    Neo Layout:
    (German - has useful visual comparison to QWERTY, DVORAK, and other layouts)
    http://pebbles.schattenlauf.de/layout.php [schattenlauf.de]

    If you never have heard of it:
    English:
    http://pebbles.schattenlauf.de/layout/index_us.htm l [schattenlauf.de]
  • Perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask this question about Programmer Dvorak [kaufmann.no] rather than standard Dvorak.

    Progammer Dvorak has the same letter layout as regular Dvorak (allowing for compatibility with other machines), but it changes the placement of punctuation in a way that "makes it easier to write source code in C, C#, Java, Pascal, LISP, CSS and XML."
  • "Dvorak", not "DVORAK". "QWERTY" is named after the appearance of the letters; "Dvorak" is named after a person.

    I switched to it ages ago. It's not always faster, but it hurts less. I also use QWERTY keyboards, because better even than a better system is changing systems from time to time to change my muscle usage patterns.
    • by drix (4602)
      I agree with that last point. Ironically I have found that the best way to "rest" my hands after a long bout of piano is to play guitar. I don't know why or how but this just works for me.
  • 1. Use a pencil to pop out all the keys on your Apple keyboard and rearrange them
    2. Go to "international" in your systems preferences and add Dvorak U.S. to your languages list
    3. Hit shift-option-space to switch between keyboard types
    4. Profit!

    Now I just need to find a decent free program for learning Dvorak typing in correct order...
  • I tried to switch long ago- but I got frustrated when I'd go to a lab or anywhere other than my home that didn't have the dvorak layout and all the hard-work I'd done getting used to dvorak went partially out the window and I found myself having trouble typing qwerty and lost some gained proficiency at dvorak.

    The first few days were horrible- at the time I liked IMing a lot and I found myself trying to write everything in the shortest way possible and get offline. I went from being a ~120wpm typer to being
  • Did and went back (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pescadero (1074454)
    A few years ago I went full-blown DVORAK for a few months. I really liked it, but I ended up switching back to QWERTY. Here are the two problems I had:

    1) Shortcut keys (control-z, control-x, control-c, etc..) are all over the freaking place in DVORAK.

    (If there was some way to do DVORAK for normal typing and switch back to QWERTY when control/alt/command are held down, then that would probably be cool. I don't know of any way to do that though)

    2) Other people. If I've been typing DVORAK for weeks, and I try
  • My home computer is a Macintosh. I use Windows computers at school. My Macintosh has been setup to use Dvorak for a while. I find it interesting that my fingers trip if I try to type on a Mac in QWERTY or a PC in Dvorak. Something about the OS theme makes my muscle memory choose one or the other like the machines have nothing in common.
  • by wrmrxxx (696969) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @02:31AM (#18738965)
    As a software developer, I don't see that a potentially more efficient keyboard layout will help me much. If I was a writer, or perhaps a data entry clerk I'd probably get a lot of benefit because most of my time would be spent typing. For developing software though, I've never felt that the amount of time it takes to type things in was slowing me down. Most of my time is spent on reading existing code and on thinking and planning. Improving my keying time is a local optimisation that will make little to no difference to the total time taken to produce working software. If you really want to improve developer efficiency, try focussing on things like:
    • Ensuring that code is as clean, simple, and easy to understand as possible;
    • Having very fast and high quality feedback cycles (i.e. fast running tests, continuous integration, frequent client involvement, etc.)
    One of my work colleagues uses a Dvorak layout, and having seen the code he produces I wonder if he'd be better off with a data entry system that slows him down long enough so that he can think a little more. Maybe I'm just being nostalgic, but I remember being very careful about my coding back in the days of paper cards.
  • 9 people (Score:4, Funny)

    by miscz (888242) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @04:52AM (#18739619)
    That's a really big sample!
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @12:18PM (#18741877)
    When developing software, it's the speed of thinking that is usually the limiting factor, not the speed of typing. Quality code can't be written contiguously at 100 WPM.

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