Have you heard of Dvorak keyboards? Its an alternative to the standard QWERTY keyboard layout, and is supposedly better for people that do a lot of typing because it minimizes the amount of finger motion required in typing. Its supposed to reduce the chances of a typing injury such as carpel tunnel syndrome. I’ve wanted to try it for the past couple of years, but never made the effort. Until yesterday. Work has been manageable lately so I decided to give it a try. I made the switch yesterday morning.

On a QWERTY keyboard I would guess that I can type in the range of 80-90 words per minute. Not necessarily speedy, but fast enough that I don’t notice my typing while I’m at work. At the moment I am much slower. Painfully slow. Yesterday it took me about 15 minutes to type a 4 sentence email. I would guess that I was typing at maybe 5 WPM. It was so frustrating that I had to get up to walk off the tension a few times throughout the day. Today I’m better, maybe 15-20 WPM.

I can already tell that my fingers move less. All 5 vowels are just below my left fingers. The most common consonants like T, H and S are just below my right fingers. The letters you reach for are the ones that are used the least like Q, X and Z.

One funny note, yesterday morning I started with a few panagrams, sentences that contain all 26 letters of the alphabet, to get familiar with the new layout, and I came across some good ones. The most famous one that I know of is “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” There are some much funnier ones though.

  • How quickly daft jumping zebras vex.
  • The five boxing wizards jump quickly.
  • Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes.
  • Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. <– This is my favorite.

For the record, this post was typed entirely with Dvorak, and it took me about an hour, not including time to think about what I’m writing. Thanks for reading my practice typing.

3 replies on “Dvorak”

  1. I kind of always wanted to as well, but never actually did.

    One of my coworkers uses the dvorak layout. One time he switched the layout of somebody else’s computer that he was running for a couple of minutes, and then he forgot to switch it back. The guy who owned the computer then logged out. When he tried to log back in, he kept typing his password correctly, but it was the wrong letters because the keyboard was in dvorak mode. He finally figured it out when he accidentally typed into the username field instead of the password field. Good times 🙂

  2. I am very interested in your experience learning the Dvorak keyboard. You are the first person I know who has taken that step. Spending all day at a keyboard, it has been something I have considered doing for many years out of concern of developing RSI or “carpal tunnel syndrome”.

    Years ago, I begin to have pain in my wrists after spending a day in the office. I then switched to the split ergonomic Microsoft keyboard. It is the best thing to come out of Redmond! Although it is still QWERTY, it helped significantly. After a few years of using the split keyboard, I noticed that my right wrist was still fatigued and causing me problems. I could not figure out at first why it was just one hand and not both. Finally “it clicked” and I went out and bought an ergonomic trackball to replace the mouse. Another significant improvement! My hand lays over the top perfectly and only my thumb moves albeit very little. I am now much more accurate with a trackball than a mouse, with the side benefit that it keeps other people from using my computer 🙂

    Depending on your experience I might take the challenge and switch to Dvorak as well. That would really throw my colleagues into hysteria when they come into my office to use my computer!

  3. I figured you might have a blog post on Dvorak. Good to hear that you’re loving it now. I’ve been using it for 5 years and don’t plan on going back.

    To the Dvorak-curious: yes, it does all that helpful stuff like improve WPM and accuracy. It is more ergonomic because of having all the vowels on the left-side home row to promote alternating between hands and having a natural strumming motion to common words.

    The main problems I’ve had have been social ones, basically. At home when I have someone over and they want to use my computer, they’ll run into issues when they see I’ve physically rearranged the caps on the keyboard or when they just start typing and see gibberish. I love their reactions too! For those who’ve never heard of Dvorak or alternate layouts they go crazy or tell me my keyboard’s broken. Sadly, I usually don’t have enough time or patience at the time to explain to them why I don’t use QWERTY, or even the simple fact that other layouts exist.

    Dvorak doesn’t help for coding in C++ or MATLAB or probably any other language out there. That should be pretty obvious. That said, it doesn’t cause a problem either. It probably wouldn’t help in other written languages that favor random letters like Q or V or weird consonant combinations. It was strictly meant for the English language.

    For those who want to learn: it’s a lot easier to start learning Dvorak if you have several weeks/months at your disposal when you don’t have long papers or daily emails to type. Also, I would bet sharing a home computer with the spouse or the kids would be a great hurdle too, but luckily I’m not at that stage yet. 😀

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