This tool compares the efficiency of the standard
Qwerty layout with the
Dvorak layout and newer alternatives.
Note: You cannot submit more than 50,000 characters
(that's about 25 pages).
First of all, let me point out that the results are remarkably consistent. The difference
between the values for H.G. Wells's science fiction novel and those for Lester Del
Rey's novel written 80 years later is almost always less than 1 percentage. The
difference is still less than 2% when comparing it with the modern Encarta Encyclopedia
On average, Dvorak requires 20% less effort than Qwerty. By ignoring data which
is the same for all layouts such as key press effort or the Shift, Space
and New Line keys you can come up with misleading statements such as Dvorak
is 60% (or even 100%) more efficient than Qwerty.
But the fact is, the Qwerty layout is not very friendly to the touch-typist
(touch-typing hadn't been invented when QWERTY was created). By switching
to the Dvorak layout you will type faster and feel more comfortable
while typing. It's impossible to say exactly by how much, as 20% less work does
not translate into 20% more speed, and comfort is a personal thing.
I never learned to touch-type in Qwerty so I can't personally make a fair comparison between the two,
but my typing speed was 30-35wpm after years of 'hunt and peck' in Qwerty,
and 3 months from starting to touch-type with Dvorak I was typing at 55wpm.
It's unlikely I would have learnt to touch-type if I hadn't learnt about the Dvorak layout.
change your layout in minutes (you don't need a new keyboard or any new
Try my Dvorak layout Dvorak Simulator.
Simply select the option 'Convert from Qwerty to Dvorak'.
Colemak is slightly better than Dvorak and more similar to Qwerty (thus easier to
learn) but you must install it, whereas Dvorak comes with pretty much every operating
system so you won't have any trouble when using different computers. A note of caution
is that Colemak does consistently score worse than Dvorak in some areas. Although
I am suggesting its 'pluses' are greater than its 'minuses', this might well be
a personal thing.
If you're already using Dvorak, switching u and i, moving Backspace
to Caps Lock and remapping Cut, Copy, Paste would make up for a good part
of the small advantage Colemak has over Dvorak. On the other hand, that's no longer
standard Dvorak, so this also takes away the advantage of using Dvorak as a 'standard'
layout that's already on all computers and doesn't require an installation.
There is a bit of a chicken and egg problem here. Qwerty makes it hard to touch-type.
So most computer users won't learn to touch-type. If you "hunt and peck" instead
of touch-type, then using Dvorak won't bring much of a benefit. For this reason
there hasn't been a great move towards using Dvorak.
The consensus seems to be that:
Of the 3 things listed above, doing only 1 is unlikely to bring much benefit to
your typing speed/comfort. They tend to reinforce each other and if you improve
your typing technique, change your layout to Dvorak (or a similar layout)
as well as upgrade to an ergonomic keyboard you find comfortable, you will
see a great difference (after a 1-3 months adjustment period).
If you have found this useful, please consider making a small donation (the button on the top right) so I can continue to develop and host this tool.
A word of caution: notice that I talk about typing 'comfort' rather
than 'health'. There is evidence to suggest the above would help with RSI or other
such typing-related injuries, but this might not always be the case. It's a good idea to try out diffent ways of typing and
see which one works best for you, but any health concerns should be dealt with by
a health professional on an individual basis.
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