My Experience Switching To The Dvorak Keyboard

in technology •  9 months ago

my-experience-switching-to-the-Dvorak-keyboard.png

Back in October of 2017, I chose to drop QWERTY cold turkey and force myself to learn how to type on the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard. I tried to accomplish this about a year prior, but fell off when I could not type well in either style. I also was not typing a lot back then, so my practice was seldom and a hassle when I needed to type Dvorak.

This is no fault of the keyboard, the fault lay in my inability to force myself to learn the new layout at that time.

Fast forward to October 2017 when I wrote the blog titled, "The Keyboard Simplified: The Mythical Keyboard Of Dr. Dvorak".

In this post I shared all the benefits the users of this keyboard layout claim. I remembered the pain that QWERTY caused me during any extended typing session, and I chose to make the switch for good.

What Is The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard

Since I have an entire post about this, I will touch on the main points and leave the details for you to check out in the link above. The Dvorak is an alternate keyboard layout introduced in 1936 by Dr. August Dvorak with the aim of making typing more efficient.

On this keyboard, the home row differs significantly from what you see on QWERTY. On the left side, you will find nothing but vowels and the right holds the most used consonants. On the top row are the letters used most often only to those on the home row, with the bottom row left for the rarely used letters. This works well since reaching our fingers to the bottom row puts the most strain on our joints.

For comparison, thirty-two percent of all keystrokes on QWERTY happen on the home row, whereas on Dvorak, the number is seventy percent!

This limits the amount of distance traveled by our fingers considerably. On QWERTY, the average office worker will move their fingers an average of sixteen miles! While using the Dvorak keyboard, it is only one mile of distance.

While the mileage measure is debatable, what is not is the fact the fingers move less on the Dvorak Keyboard and, in turn, reduces strain. This is precisely what I have experienced since making the switch from QWERTY. The only time I find I have pain is when using an awful keyboard like those found on MacBooks. Using my mechanical keyboard mapped to Dvorak give me no pain at all no matter how much I type.

dvorak-keyboard-layout
Sourced from Wikipedpia

The Switch

After choosing to move to the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, I soon found out how much of my typing was muscle memory ingrained into my fingers. After typing QWERTY for seventeen years, I was not typing letters and words, but instead expecting a series of muscle memories. Having this deep memory made a move a frustrating experience. The only reason I stuck with it this time was the pain in my fingers.

The first two weeks of only typing in Dvorak were mentally painful. My mind became frustrated, knowing that if I just moved back to QWERTY I would type so much faster, not to mention all the mistakes and typos I made due to my mind wanting one thing and my fingers wanting another.

During those first two weeks, I did a lot of typing tutors online meant to teach the user how to type. Keybr.com was the most effective at teaching me where the letters were. After I had the location down and formed some level of muscle memory, I moved to learn.dvorak.nl to type words that I would most likely use in my average day.

The Aftermath

After the initial two weeks, I was proficient enough to use Dvorak daily with minimal suffering. I was still slow on the keyboard, but, if I took my time, I made few mistakes and my hands had no pain. After about a month of forcing myself to use Dvorak, I was at a point where I had no desire to use QWERTY. My speed was still not matched to my old QWERTY speed, but it was bearable.

At this point, about four months using only Dvorak, my speed is almost to where it was on QWERTY before the switch. I no longer type QWERTY except on my mobile device where it is an entirely different set of muscle memory. There is also no need no move to Dvorak there since the letter spacing allows my thumbs to steer clear of each other.

ditch-qwerty-use-dvorak

The only downside to going all in on Dvorak and leaving QWERTY in the dust is now I am unable to touch type QWERTY anywhere close to my old speed. That said, I never made it a point to keep my QWERTY speeds up or even care to save that ability. With today's technology, every device I will ever use can map any keyboard to Dvorak.

A quick search online will bring up many testimonials of Dvorak users and how long it took them to match their old QWERTY speeds and even surpass them. Like this example on /r/dvorak where the user hit their QWERTY speeds in about 200 days and continues to increase from there. To me, the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard is a keyboard for a lifetime much like Vim is an editor for a lifetime; we will always improve as we use these tools more and more.

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard. More Efficient. More Comfortable. Faster.

Thanks For Reading!

All images came from royalty and attribution free sources unless specified.

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Very interesting, I didn’t really understand the benefit of going to Dvorak before but now I’m curious. Thanks for reporting on your experience so far!

i've thought about switching more than once - being a developer, i type alot - i might try it a day or two when i have some down time.

Thanks for sharing, I've been considering the switch and am now motivated to do more research!

Wow it is great experience ..You archive the news experience

Cool, a very hard struggle. But, the result would be good.
Incredibly, thank you for sharing in this post.
Greetings from Aceh, Indonesia.

Useful article @jrswab :)

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articles that are very helpful and very helpful

Really interesting project! I'll try to keep it in mind; the norm should always be challenged. I've never seen a DVORAK live though.

Just voted you for Witness, by the way. I thought I'd already done so a while ago!

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Thanks for the witness vote mate!