Sunday, January 31, 2016

Colemak - the slowest way I could write a blog post (for now!)

I am in the process of learning Colemak, an alternate keyboard layout. There are lots of great reasons to do something that seems so masochistic, but it would take too long to type them here (literally). I've gone from ~55 WPM, to about ~15-20, but my goal is ~70 COMFORTABLY by the time I'm done. The top of my right hand especially hurts after prolonged QWERTY use.

A couple guys at work use Dvorak, which I tried to learn in 2005. But as a developer, the punctuation moves killed me so I gave up after a couple of months. Plus, Dvorak was designed without the aid of computers and without any concern for the learning curve coming from QWERTY. Colemak has been easier to learn than Dvorak for me because:

  • Only two keys changed hands: E and P
  • Only three keys moved far from their QWERTY positions: E, P & Y
  • The useless CAPSLOCK key becomes backspace, so you have a way to fix mistakes on homerow
  • Only 17 keys moved in total, and only one on the bottom row
  • WAY more words can be typed without moving from homerow
  • L is more accessible with stronger fingers
The biggest problem for me has been relearning frequent letters like E and S. S has been especially brutal.

Here are the resources I used to make the decision to switch:
All the online resources suggest learning to touchtype over QWERTY keys with the new layout. Hogwash. Last time I put stickers on my keys, and I still touchtyped, but didn't get stuck or frustrated nearly so much as I would have without labels. This time, I have (and highly recommend), this: http://kbcovers.com/colemak-keyboard-cover/

(this post was not easy to type, so when/if I get better, I'll follow up).