The Keyboard Simplified: The Mythical Keyboard Of Dr. Dvorak
What is the simplified keyboard?
The simplified keyboard is an alternate keyboard layout introduced in 1936 by Dr. August Dvorak and Dr. William Dealey, who happened to be Dr. Dvorak's brother-in-law. This keyboard is now know as the Dvorak Keyboard and is available to use today on all major platforms.
On this keyboard the home row differs greatly from what you see on QWERTY. On the left side you will find nothing but vowels and the right holds the most used consonants. The row above home has the second most used letters since it is easier to reach up than down on a keyboard. That leaves us with the least used letters on the bottom row. This is better since it is not the most comfortable thing to reach under your hand with one finger.
As a comparison, thirty-two percent of all keystrokes on QWERTY happen on the home row but on Dvorak it's seventy percent! That's a huge jump! You get around twenty-two percent on the top row and only eight percent of the keystrokes on the bottom row while using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard.
This keyboard's design is for the English language since he was just moving the letter around on QWERTY. There are other keyboards out there for other languages but you will have to do research on your own if you are in need.
I will say now I am writing this in QWERTY since I have just started to practice the Dvorak Keyboard again. As much as I would love to type this using the simplified keyboard, I am not at a good enough speed to be useful. This may come back to hurt me as I could hit the same issues as last time. Where I started forgetting the QWERTY muscle memory but did not know the Dvorak keyboard well enough to make it my daily driver.
Writing a blog post needs me to type as close to my though speed as possible. If not I could loose the train my brain is on and then have to spend more time figuring out what I was trying to say. Also, when learning Dvorak, you know you can type faster if you switch back to QWERTY. This takes a lot of will power to stay on the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard and so I find it much more difficult to muscle my way through writing this post at five words per minute.
QWERTY hurts my fingers through...
image sourced from Wikipedpia
Benefits Over QWERTY
There are many claimed benefits of this old but new keyboard floating around on the internet. Every thing from efficiency to comfort to speed increases. While your fingers are only ever going to go so fast you may still see a slight uptick in your words per minute without as many errors. Even the world record holder for typing speed, Barbara Blackburn, uses the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard!
As of 2005, writer Barbara Blackburn was the fastest alphanumerical English language typist in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, she maintained 150 wpm for 50 minutes, and 170 wpm for shorter periods. Her top speed was 212 wpm. - Wikipedia
Since we are not moving our fingers as much on this keyboard the efficiency can increase far past that of QWERTY. It's quite logical and I really like this benefit. One of the most strenuous movements for my hand is hitting the backspace and I do that a lot. Not just because my spelling is trash but because I end up hitting the wrong keys or in the wrong order all the time on QWERTY. (but yes, my spelling is still trash)
The aim of this keyboard is to reduce finger strain while typing or at least that is what the biggest supporters claim. This makes sense since the letters were arranged by Dr. Dvorak to achieve minimal finger movement. So in theory that should reduce finger strain.
In the past when I first learned the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard I noticed this was true for me. I should have never went back to QWERTY. As I type this my fingers are getting sore and stiff from all the movement. This does not happen when I use Dvorak because my fingers don't have to travel as far as often.
It's funny, if you use Dvorak and then go back to QWERTY you find it feels like your fingers are never on the keyboard but flying above it compared to the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard.
As we mentioned above the world's fasted typer as defined by the Guinness Book Of World Records uses the Dvorak keyboard. So that must mean something right? Yes, it does but switching to Dvorak just for the speed is not a good option. Since you must re-train your muscle memory, your speed will be zero and seem that way for a long time.
Think about it. You have been typing on a QWERTY keyboard for many years, decades even! There is no way you can increase you speed a ton by moving to Dvorak's keyboard. However, people do get faster over time. One student posted in the subreddit that after two hundred days of using only the Dvorak keyboard, he is now past his QWERTY speeds. Still impressive since they probably started typing on QWERTY many years ago.
Should You Switch To Dvorak?
Only if you're fingers hurt when typing on a QWERTY keyboard. Moving for the possibility of typing faster is foolish when you can just practice QWERTY instead of having to re-train your fingers to type. It's super frustrating to have in the back of your mind that you can type faster when you are pumping out less than ten words per minute.
I wouldn't even move over to Dvorak for the increased efficiency. Most people don't even know if they are an efficient typer or not and it does not matter. With today's spellcheckers in almost every app and on every web browser worth using, being ten percent more efficient will not seem that impressive.
If your fingers hurt while you type on your keyboard you may need a new keyboard or you may need to move to Dvorak. I am making the move since typing these long posts has re-exposed the pain that QWERTY gives me. I'd rather not have trash fingers in twenty years so i'm making the mentally painful switch. I have to deal with the fact that I will feel like a grade school student learning to type all over again.
I will be using learn.dvorak.nl to practice in case any of you would like to make the switch as well. My QWERTY speed is at 51 wpm and 254 cpm on Dvorak my speed is 14 wpm and 72 cpm as of writing this post. I used this site to test and will do so as I continue to learn the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard.
It means a lot that you took the time to read this post. If you Dvorak or are now interested please leave a comment below so we can chat. If you are all QWERTY or die comment too! I'd love to know why you think it's a better option.
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