Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Touch Typing for a Developer?

Cliff posted about 11 years ago | from the beware-the-tunnel-of-carpal dept.

Education 137

The Whinger asks: "I've been programming in various forms for about 20 years now, and I still can't type. I keep thinking, "I must learn to touch type". Unfortunately, two finger typing, 'touch typing tutorial' into your search engine of choice throws back a minefield of hits. Of course, picking something to try does not guarantee success. Does touch typing help with programming? Do you know of any tutorials that you would recommend or avoid? I can't spend the next forty years two finger typing ;)."

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Just upgrade to Visual Studio (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6864473)

With Microsoft Visual Studio .NET [hhttp] , you won't have to worry about typing much. It automatically completes variable names, handles indentation, and can even generation much code automatically using wizards. And, of course, thats not even mentioning the obvious advantages of the .NET framework. It makes touch-typing obsolete!

Re:Just upgrade to Visual Studio (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 11 years ago | (#6867547)

Older versions can do the same with Visual Assist by Whole Tomato Software

Discalimer: I am only a satisfie user, and to now work for them or sell it in any way.

One thing you could try (2, Informative)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 11 years ago | (#6864483)

When I was a little kid I used "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" on my Commodore 128. You should be able to master the letters in a couple of hours. After that comes the other symbols and finally comes speed. Without putting any special work into it since I was 7, I type at about 60 words per minute now.

Re:One thing you could try (2, Informative)

moosesocks (264553) | about 11 years ago | (#6864544)

Yep. This annoying computerized woman will still teach you how to type, and the software has been kept up to date and should work on all modern Wintel PCs. You can get it here []

And yes, Mavis is fictional []

Anyhow, I learned how to type through this program, and the help of an excellent teacher (the human variety)

Re:One thing you could try (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 11 years ago | (#6864694)

Fictional?!? Say it ain't so! That strange smiling black lady on the computer box was like a mother to me.

I checked google for a typing speed test and found this:

I'm getting about 70 words a minute. Pretty neat. I should become a secretary and ditch programming.

Re:One thing you could try (2, Interesting)

Glonoinha (587375) | about 11 years ago | (#6868416)

In the 8th grade (like 1980?) I took typing in school and we had a strange smiling black lady as a teacher. I don't remember her name, but I assure you she wasn't fictional. And she would whack your knuckles with a ruler if you did not maintain proper posture or composure in her class.

Eight weeks was about all I could take of that business before I got transfered into a different class but I can type like a greased monkey now, and I still keep both feet flat on the floor and my back straight.

Re:One thing you could try (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | about 11 years ago | (#6865269)

I used Mavis, and I have to say that it's an okay way to learn. There are, however, many non-Wintel alternatives []

To the original poster -- I also code, and I have to say that it took a good long stint with Mavis and then forcing myself to touch type while programming through a coding class or two (it takes a while to learn to type "again", since the keys you hit when coding in most languages are rarely pressed when typing ordinary English). If you can simply force yourself to touch type, and damn the short term cost in time and how frusterating it seems at first, you will get phenomenal payoffs. There isn't really a shortcut there. You have to make yourself do things the hard way for a bit -- it's the same thing as dieting, but once you can touch type, you're done forever.

Re:One thing you could try (2, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | about 11 years ago | (#6864667)

I've used Mavis and it's good, but I really learned on Mario Teaches Typing. There is a little page on it here [] , but I can't find a screenshot. I probably still have the disks somewhere.

That said, I think that learning to type will definatly help you.

I took typing to meet stupid/hot girls (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | about 11 years ago | (#6864735)

Fortunately for me I learnt to type as well. Boring class but extremely helpful in my job. Ahhhh... the good old days of competing with girls (they always won). I took french for the same reason, all the jocks (I was a jock too) took spanish because they heard it was easy, so it was me (straight guy) one other straight guy, 3-4 gay guys and 20+ girls (some hot some not). What an excellent 3 years in high school. Did the same in college, and to my surprise I met even hotter girls (and somehow learnt to speak french along the way).

Oh yea, touch typing is good and as you progress all the special programming keys (characters) and numbers become quicker as well.

Re:One thing you could try (2, Informative)

higuy48 (568572) | about 11 years ago | (#6865319)

Forget Mavis Beacon, how about either "Mario Teaches Typing [] " (which is how I learned to touch type, and is probably available somewhere for download by now) or the new breed, "Typing of the Dead [] " which is basically "House of the Dead" but instead of guns, you use a keyboard weapon. It's true.

Re:One thing you could try (1)

DetrimentalFiend (233753) | about 11 years ago | (#6865999)

I tried Mavis Beacon but failed miserably. The interesting thing is that I hunted and pecked for quite a while, but the more I typed, the faster I seemed to type. Eventually I realized that I was typing the way you're supposed to without trying. I now can type over 70 wpm, though I've found that it rarely helps me program faster. It's mainly nice for when I'm writing papers or e-mails.

Re:One thing you could try (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6866549)

Yeah, I did all the same keyboarding crap going up through school what have you. Got up to a reliable say 35 to 40 wpm. But I always had to look at the keys.

What cured me? College. Typing at night, in the dark, on a non click keyboard so my roomate could sleep while I was still working, or mudding.

Re:One thing you could try (1)

innosent (618233) | about 11 years ago | (#6866108)

I remember using a space invaders type spelling program, but can't remember what it was called. Once you got to the higher levels, you had to know where every key was. It was simple (on an IBM PC it had to be [yes, the original, complete with 2 5.25" floppies and an Amber monochrome monitor]) but it was damn effective at getting you to learn where keys are.

I'm sure someone makes something similar to this, as it would be a little difficult to keep up with even the slower levels on modern hardware. Anyways, letters fall down from the sky, and you have to type them before they reach the bottom. Sounds simple, yes, until you have two or three of them falling about every other second, and you include the shifted symbols.

Re:One thing you could try (1)

redtail1 (603986) | about 11 years ago | (#6867949)

I learned from typing class in high school, something I can't imagine existing in a school today.

And Typing Derby (A [] B [] ), a type-in (natch) program for the Commodore 64. Compute!'s Gazette, February 1984. Little pi symbols gallop across the screen like horses depending on how fast you can type ASDF ASDF ASDF, etc.

Mind numbingly repetitive, sure, but I was 12 and had patience for such things. :-)

does touch-typing help with programming?! (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 11 years ago | (#6864500)

Geez, what a question!

Touch typing will help with ANY typing.

The industry's 800lb gorilla for typing software seems to be Mavis Beacon, as another posted has already mentioned.

Not so fast (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 11 years ago | (#6867343)

Touch typing will help with ANY typing.

Yes and no. For normal text, such as you find in comments, of course.

However, the usual "formal" approach to touch-typing, based on a home row and marked keys, isn't nearly so helpful in the context of a punctuation-heavy programming language. Being able to do 85wpm is little use if you're using Perl, where 98% of the characters you type are '/'. :-)

On top of that, developers spend almost no time typing code. The vast majority of their coding time is spent thinking, planning and exploring. And of course, their coding time is a relatively small part of their working time, the majority being spent on activities such as design, debugging and documentation. Touch-typing is great for the latter, of course, so the three of you out there who actually write a sensible amount of useful documentation might find the lessons useful. ;-) For everyone else, though, touch-typing is a useful skill, but not so much for development as for other activities related to it.

irc (2, Funny)

m00by (605070) | about 11 years ago | (#6864503)

dude, get on IRC, and get interested in some conversations, you'll start typing faster out of necessity :) that's how I learned to touch type, all those years ago...(ok, so it was like, yahoo chat, but irc is cooler, gimme a break =D, irc does the same thing anyway)

Re:irc (1)

T-Ranger (10520) | about 11 years ago | (#6864678)

In all that time of typing, have you never come accross a keyboard with a shift key?

Re:irc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6864706)


Re:irc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6864802)

Apparently, you have discovered caps lock.

Re:irc (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | about 11 years ago | (#6865288)

There's supposed to be an accent on the "e", you uncultured cur.

Re:irc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6865867)

Accents are optional [] for capital letters.

Thank you! (1)

Graelin (309958) | about 11 years ago | (#6869348)

That was the funniest thing I've read all day.

(But I've been awake for only 37 minutes so don't get too excited.)

Re:irc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6865729)

But he wanted to learn how to type with TWO hands...

Just try typing in the dark (1)

ryanmoffett (265601) | about 11 years ago | (#6864510)

If you can't see the keyboard, you will have to force yourself to touch type. In addition, you can't cheat! Unfortunately, I am serious. I forced myself a few years ago to learn to touch type over the course of a few weeks by being too lazy to change a light bulb.

Re:Just try typing in the dark (1)

aoteoroa (596031) | about 11 years ago | (#6864610)

Good idea. But chances are the glow of the monitor will provide enough light to see the keyboard.

My dad taught himself how to touch type using our atari computer, some typing software and a cardboard box. Find a box big enough to fit over your keyboard, and your hands. Cut out the front and bottom of the box. Sit it over they keyboard so you can't see the keys.

It worked well for him.

Re:Just try typing in the dark (1)

Dave2 Wickham (600202) | about 11 years ago | (#6865032)

I'm using my laptop now and can't read the keys... though I bet I could angle the LCD so I could. OK, I can slightly read the keys if I concentrate, but not easily glance at them.

It ain't gonna happen (4, Insightful)

Wonko42 (29194) | about 11 years ago | (#6864519)

I never learned to touch type the "correct" way (i.e., homerow keys and all that) but after ten years of programming, I have no trouble pounding out hundreds of words per minute without glancing at the keys. If your hands still haven't gotten the hang of things after twenty years, I seriously doubt you're going to have any luck forcing them to learn.

It really sounds like there's some kind of spinal disconnect going on here. Your fingers should have learned where all the keys are by now, and you should be able to hit them without even thinking about it.

Re:It ain't gonna happen (2, Insightful) troll (593289) | about 11 years ago | (#6864577)

" It really sounds like there's some kind of spinal disconnect going on here. Your fingers should have learned where all the keys are by now, and you should be able to hit them without even thinking about it."

I Agree, but maybe he just hasn't realised that.
To the original poster: Try typing without looking some time. just see if you can do it. Your accuracy might be a bit off at first, but you'll get the hang of it. its all about knowing where the keys are, especially relative to the last one.

Re:It ain't gonna happen (3, Funny)

p4ul13 (560810) | about 11 years ago | (#6864682)

"I have no trouble pounding out hundreds of words per minute without glancing at the keys"

This is of course keeping in mind that "I" is in fact a word.

Hundreds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6864718)

I consider myself a pretty good touch typist after growing up with a computer (20 years or) plus taking typing classes in school (easy A's). I max out at around 130-140 wpm with a high level of accuracy, but normally type around 90-100 wpm. Are you really typing hundreds of words per minute?

Re:Hundreds? (1)

Wonko42 (29194) | about 11 years ago | (#6864750)

Okay, okay, I exaggerated. I haven't measured in years, but last time I checked I think I averaged around 120wpm.

Re:Hundreds? (4, Informative)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 11 years ago | (#6864994)

Anything above 100 wpm would put you in about the top 2/10ths of 1% of typists. Take this test and tell us how you do. []

Re:Hundreds? (1)

Wonko42 (29194) | about 11 years ago | (#6865094)

Gross speed: 107wpm
Errors: 1 word
Net speed: 106wpm
Accuracy: 99%

Re:Hundreds? (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 11 years ago | (#6865172)

Very cool. You checked the box so it'll show up on the top 100 list right? (They update every half hour.)

Re:Hundreds? (1)

Wonko42 (29194) | about 11 years ago | (#6865188)

I tried several times, but it refused to submit my score. Said the email server was down. Oh well.

Re:Hundreds? (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 11 years ago | (#6865223)

I just tried it and got the same error.

Re:Hundreds? (1)

Cpyder (57655) | about 11 years ago | (#6867141)

(keep in mind that I am not a native English speaker, my 'Dutch' speed is usually several WPM higher)

Test duration: 2 min
Test text: Fishing in Finland
Speed unit: WPM
Result: Accuracy: 99%
Net score: 96 WPM

Whaaaa? (1)

Asprin (545477) | about 11 years ago | (#6864529)

When I took programming in high school (mid 80's), I had a teacher who was adamant that we should take a typing course.

My excuse for not doing so was that I was going to switch to a Dvorak layout for my keyboard, thus rendering my QWERTY touch-typing skills entirely useless.

Of course, that never happened, but she doesn't know that. ;)

Seriously, man, I learned to type by entering programs from computer magazine printouts by hand. What other training could a programmer possibly need?

Re:Whaaaa? (1)

outlier (64928) | about 11 years ago | (#6864937)

I learned to touch type in high school many years ago. I can still remember the frustration of having to do things the "hard way" while my touch typing speed hovered around 5-10 wpm.

A few years ago I switched to Dvorak by simply printing out the layout and transcribing text from a book. I had that same feeling, but kept with it (about an hour a day for 3 weeks, while continuing to type QWERTY the rest of the day) and eventually switched to Dvorak exclusively. It took me a month or so to get my Dvorak typing up to my previous QWERTY speed. It was actually much easier to learn Dvorak having already learned QWERTY.

20 years and you still can't type?!? (1)

Chester K (145560) | about 11 years ago | (#6864531)

How do you go 20 years typing without ever learning anything more than two finger typing?! I've never had any formal typing classes, training, or anything of the sort and I type over 100 WPM. My fingers know the keyboard so well I don't even need to have a keyboard UNDER my fingers to know where they should be moving to type out things.

Re:20 years and you still can't type?!? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 11 years ago | (#6865171)

How do you go 20 years typing without ever learning anything more than two finger typing?!

Quite easily. I type properly now, but I went for years using two 2 fingers and the thumb on each hand (it can be surprisingly quick), but then the first computer keyboards I worked with were the old Burroughs "teletype" machines. I challenge anybody to touch-type on one of those machines without letting themselves in for an industrial-class case of RSI within a week.

gtypist, tuxtype (4, Informative)

LarryRiedel (141315) | about 11 years ago | (#6864535)

I feel pretty good recommending gtypist [] for the tty, and tuxtype [] for the GUI.

I think the ability to have words come out as effortlessly via typing as via speaking is invaluable.

apt-get install tuxtype

apt-get install gtypist


I touch type, and I program... (5, Insightful)

DaveJay (133437) | about 11 years ago | (#6864567)

I learned to type when I was ten years old, on my family's new Atari 800 with a program called MasterType. Unlike everything else I learned on that old machine (BASIC, PILOT, LIFE) I use my touch typing skills on a daily basis, and can hit upwards of 95wpm on a decent day.

There are five benefits to touch typing that I personally reap as a programmer:

1. If I am copying code from a book, or a printout, or notes that I took by hand, I don't have to take my eyes off of the printed material. This is quite helpful, as it means I don't have to find my place on the page every time I look away, then back;

2. I can repeatedly bang out long, descriptive variable names in roughly the same amount of time it would take someone else to hunt-and-peck a short variable name;

3. My comments and error messages tend to be more descriptive and useful, as I don't feel the need to save time and effort by writing in short words and sentences;

4. I can easily write documentation on the fly as I code, since little effort is required to whip out a quick paragraph or two about the code I'm working on;

5. My posts to Slashdot can be made quickly enough to be read by most people, yet still be long enough to warrant an automatic "+1 Informative" from any moderator who doesn't read the whole way through. ;)


Speed is all that matters (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 11 years ago | (#6864584)

If you can type at a level you are comfortable with, that's all you need. I certainly never learned the "proper" way of typing, and wouldnt describe what I do as "touch typing"- it's more like position typing- I know where my hands are and where the keys are, I don't do this by feel, I do it just by knowing what key I'm currently at.
As long as you're not doing "hunt and peck", you're fine. There also happen to be quite a few two-finger typists who are incredibly fast- faster than many "touch typists". Knowing the "proper" way does not help.

Just do it (1)

74Carlton (129842) | about 11 years ago | (#6864587)

If you don't know what the home keys are, or which finger to use for what key, then sure, grab a typing tutorial and learn what those are. After that it's just a bit of self discipline until you are comfortable with it. As a side note, as a programmer, you end up using a lot of symbols (curly braces, brackets, parens, etc) that are not part of the mainstream "important" keys; if you pick up a tutorial you might want to spend a bit of time on these.

I didn't learn to touch type until I was in my thirties, it's just another skill.

touch typing vs. knowing where the keys are (2, Funny)

AdamBa (64128) | about 11 years ago | (#6864608)

I learned to touch type back in high school, but now I type with three fingers (two on right hand, one on left). Most people are still amazed how fast I can type. But one thing is, because I learned to touch type first, I know where all the keys are. If you are really "hunting and pecking" then you will be slow. But if you know where the keys are, just use fewer fingers, I doubt it will hurt. After all how often in programming are you thinking faster than you can type?

And for what it's worth, Dave Cutler pounded out most of the NT kernel using two fingers.

- adam

Re:touch typing vs. knowing where the keys are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6864664)

Yeah, I've got the "one handed touch typing" skill mastered too, if you know what I mean.

Re:touch typing vs. knowing where the keys are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6866800)

do you really want to cite the NT kernel as your backing to "two fingered" typing? really... i mean... windows? it's no wonder why it sucks so damn much.

Re:touch typing vs. knowing where the keys are (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | about 11 years ago | (#6867908)

Touch typing IS knowing where the keys are.

And its using the exact same method as you use but using all 5 fingers.

Take a test and see how many words per minute you can get.

Let me guess... (3, Funny)

eyepeepackets (33477) | about 11 years ago | (#6864625)

"I've been programming in various forms for about 20 years now, and I still can't type." You work for Microsoft? They've been selling product for over twenty years, still can't get it working right. Just wondering if there is a coorelation.

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6867129)


If I had mod points, I'd give all 5 of them away.

Learn Dvorak (1)

fuzzbrain (239898) | about 11 years ago | (#6864677)

If you haven't learned to touch type already I highly recommend doing it properly the first time and learn to touch type using Dvorak. I was a Qwerty touch typist but I taught myself Dvorak using
dvorak7min []
and haven't looked back. I think gtypist has a dvorak module as well.

How I learned how to touch type (5, Informative)

Sevn (12012) | about 11 years ago | (#6864705)

For me it was just getting my head around it. It's logical.

You have ten fingers at your disposal. I used no typing tutors or books or classes.

First, get your pointer fingers on the home keys. F, and J. You'll notice those keys have raised bumps, nubs, or generally feel different than every other key in some way. Line up the rest of your fingers on the keys next to them. Pinkys on A and ":". Rest of your fingers on the keys in between. You'll have a G and H staring back at you.

Next, get a piece of paper. Look at the keys around those "home position" keys. Figure out what keys out of the keys that are left are closest to each finger. Obviously, you'll hit G with your left pointer finger and H with your right pointer finger. Y and U with your right pointer finger and so on. There is an optimal finger for each key starting from that home position. Your pinkies end up hitting lots of keys.

Once you figure out what keys go with what finger,
Start out slow, cheating by looking and type out:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy red dog.

Do it again and again and again and again. At some point you'll stop looking.

After that, concentrate on making a letter appear on the screen at random. Try to hit the A without having to look. If you can't, look. Then do it again without looking. Eventually you'll be able to type like you would on a typewriter without having to look for keys. Slowly work in the rest of the keys.

Pitfalls to avoid:

Get used to using the opposite hand to hit the SHIFT key for the other hand.

Learn to use the number keys above your letters instead of the crutch that is the number pad. You'll be much faster if you don't have to move your hands from the home position to hit numbers.

Take your time and don't get discouraged. Every little victory in the form of memorizing where a new letter is without having to look keeps you going.

I'm doing about 90wpm now. A lot of that has to do with spending 10 years on IRC before finally walking away for good. IRC is a great way to get really fast at touch typing.

This is how I did it.

Re:How I learned how to touch type (1)

74Carlton (129842) | about 11 years ago | (#6865455)

you can leave out "red"

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

But perhaps include some symbols:

The (quick) [brown] fox jumped over the {lazy} dog.

quartz glyph job vex'd cwm finks (1)

AdamBa (64128) | about 11 years ago | (#6866042)

This was in the Guiness Book of World Records, I think. They even provided a supposed definition (thieves trying to steal something from a Welsh valley etc).

- adam

Re:How I learned how to touch type (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 11 years ago | (#6866129)

Other pangrams:

The zombies acted quietly, but kept driving their oxen forward
Black sphinx of quatrz, judge my vow
Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs

Start from scratch (1)

Fluffy the Cat (29157) | about 11 years ago | (#6864711)

Learn Dvorak. It's far easier to start from scratch than it is to unlearn your bad QWERTY habits. It'll take a little while to get up to speed, but afterwards you'll probably be happy on both types of keyboard and faster on Dvorak than you are on QWERTY (mainly due to your touchtyping than any significant advantage in the keyboard layout, to be honest)

Paint it Black (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6864722)

When I really wanted to master touch typing, I bought a can of black trem clad spray paint, and covered the entire keyboard. Makes looking useless.

hmmm (2, Funny)

karmavore (618727) | about 11 years ago | (#6864755)

You are probably better off as you are.

I have been able to touch type for 25 years.

Now I type much faster than I can think.

Get "Typing of the Dead." Seriously. (5, Informative)

Gothic_Walrus (692125) | about 11 years ago | (#6864792)

One of the best typing tutors I've ever used is "Typing of the Dead," which you can find for both the PC and the Dreamcast. The game began as "House of the Dead 2," and Sega modified the graphics slightly (all of the characters have keyboards strapped onto their torsos...) and the method of attack. Now, you use your keyboard to kill zombies instead of a light gun.

This program is effective because it's fun. It has a (somewhat pathetic) tutorial mode, and the first level or so in the game is easy. It gets hard very quickly, though. If you want to continue playing, you've got to learn how to touch type, and do it quickly - if you can't type quickly, you're toast. And there's something gratifying about watching the zombies explode into green piles of goo...

If you can find the game (should be less than $20), get it. You won't regret it.

Re:Get "Typing of the Dead." Seriously. (1)

Dave2 Wickham (600202) | about 11 years ago | (#6865001)

Yeah, I recommend TTOTD as well, although it does sometimes come out with some odd phrases - e.g. on the final boss I had some very wierd options for questions like "What is the biggest lie you've ever told?"... You can imagine, surely? Shame the official URL has been taken over by cyber-squatters :( -

Re:Get "Typing of the Dead." Seriously. (1)

Kalak (260968) | about 11 years ago | (#6865185)

This I've got to try. Quick Google came up with a new web site with a demo.

Maybe I'll finally get the motivation to stick to touch typing. I'm an OK typist if I've got command line completion.

Thanks for the tip.

Re:Get "Typing of the Dead." Seriously. (1)

Kalak (260968) | about 11 years ago | (#6865254)

replying to myself (sigh). The website has an incorrect URL. The demo is at:

Favorite typing game ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6864806)

Typspeed [] for *nix. No, it won't teach you how to type, but it is multiplayer! It has words for programmers, unix users, and dos users. If you can two-finger-type and get a reasonable score, don't change.

And if you really want to cheat at it, just use cut and paste.

While you're at it, learn something better (2, Interesting)

Noah Adler (627206) | about 11 years ago | (#6864839)

If you're seriously considering retraining your typing, I strongly recommend the Dvorak [] layout. I typed in QWERTY for a long time, but I never really noticed any of its problems until I took the time to learn Dvorak a couple summers ago. It took me about of constant Dvorak to get back to my old speeds, but it was well worth it.

If speed is your only goal, Dvorak will certainly be worthwhile, as you'll probably be able to type faster than you would with QWERTY, but in my experience the most noticable difference is just how much more comfortable Dvorak is. That's important for me, because I've had tendonitis in my hands (from too much fast typing with QWERTY...go figure). As I said before, I never noticed that QWERTY wasn't comfortable until I learned Dvorak. It really is much better. I'd say a regular old flat keyboard with Dvorak is quite a bit better than an 'ergonomic' keyboard using the same old crappy key layout.

It might seem to some of you like this keyboard layout is a solution in search of a problem. That may be so, but only in the same way that Ogg Vorbis is (i.e. it has some definite benefits, but most people don't think it matters, since its competitor already has such a huge user base). But my point is, if you're going to do something, in this case relearning how to type, you may as well do it the best you can.

Btw, some people have said to me "well, I would learn Dvorak, but then I'd get confused by a regular keyboard." JFYI, this is wrong. I can still use a QWERTY keyboard as well as I ever could. However, I don't really enjoy having to do it :-)

If you go with dvorak... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6867642)

I think the best way to learn to type is type in quantity. Learn which fingers go with which keys and then just get a novel and start typing pages and pages from it. Or write a paper, or a program or something. Typing tutors are good for getting you to used to using the right fingers for the right keys. After you learn that, even if you're slow, just start using your new skill. That's how I learned.

I've been on Dvorak for over a year now after having been a QWERTY touch typist for the better part of 13 years (I'm finally back to my old 60wpm net). One thing I noticed about Dvorak is that the punctuations are not optimally placed for some familiar things:

Too much right pinky usage for unix commands:

find /usr/local/lib/perl -exec grep "whatever" {} \;

That's 12 right pinky keys there: /l-\{} are all right pinky.

Also while programming the {} are where the - and + keys are. I can't just look at the keyboard for them since I didn't relabel the keys.

Emacs is also tougher to use (w/o remapping the keys). C-x C-s: Dvorak "X" is where the "B" key is, "S" is where the ";" key is. Try typing C-b C-;

You should keep in mind the compatibility problems too. I can't use my 2 coworkers' computers since they're QWERTY. I'm relegated to hunt-and-peck on those. They can't use mine since when they type it looks like the keyboard's all screwed up: "Hello" becomes "D.nnr"

That being said, Dvorak is much more comfortable. I can type much longer at a stretch before my hands become sore.

don't do it (1)

austad (22163) | about 11 years ago | (#6864842)

Slow typing prevents code bloat. You don't want to be like microsoft with all their 80wpm typists do you?

Focus on home keys. (2, Informative)

Fished (574624) | about 11 years ago | (#6864883)

There are two basic elements of touch typing. One is to learn where all the keys are - you already have this. The second is to learn to use all your fingers to type - this you lack. Just spend a few days typing, consciously focusing on keeping your pointer fingers on f & j, and you will pretty soon be touch typing.

Just type without looking at the keyboard (1)

AReilly (9339) | about 11 years ago | (#6864957)

That's how I learned, when I was about 13. I could see that keyboards were going to be a big part of my future, so I just made myself learn. The first thing that you learn, this way, is where the backspace key is...
The trouble with learning to touch-type, any way, is that your typing *will* be slower than you were as a skilled two-fingered typist for a couple of months. After that, the raw speed, and the ability to look at the screen, or books, or anything else at the same time, will make you wonder why you waited so long...

What about (1)

Enrico Pulatzo (536675) | about 11 years ago | (#6865012)

Community College? I'd look into taking a typing course at your local cc (assuming you've got one).

dvorak (2, Interesting)

oskillator (670034) | about 11 years ago | (#6865049)

For what it's worth, I never learned to type properly until I learned Dvorak. When I decided to learn Dvorak, I had to relearn so much of typing anyways, might as well learn the proper style while I'm at it. Dvorak lends itself to touch typing much better than Qwerty does, anyways -- maybe half of the letters you type will be in the home row.

To this end, I didn't relabel the keys themselves, I just taped a keyboard diagram below my monitor. I never look at the keyboard now, I just rely on the bumps on F and J.

Hardware not Software (2, Interesting)

lpp (115405) | about 11 years ago | (#6865102)

When I learned to touch type, I was in 8th grade and doing computer work for our high school yearbook. The instructor in charge suggested that instead of using a computer to learn touch typing I should use a device he had. It was a simple keyboard with a little LCD display that would run through typing tutorials.

The thinking was that having a separate device avoids distractions, like wanting to check email or the web or play games. It worked for me. Just thought I would bring it up. I have no idea where you would get something like that now (I haven't checked the font of all, Google).


On the other hand... (2, Informative)

clambake (37702) | about 11 years ago | (#6865211)

Rapid touch typing like you are thinking can be a cause of carpel tunnel... So, if you have a choice between touch typing or cronic hand pain for the next 40 years, which one is it going to be?

Mavis Beacon works (2, Interesting)

attaboy (689931) | about 11 years ago | (#6865225)

However, anyone can type paragraph after paragraph of key combinations, all lowercase, with no numbers or punctuation, and get 100 wpm consistently.

Being a programmer, though, means you need to learn not only where all of the letters are and how to type them in both upper and lower case, but you need to learn how to make extensive use of the number and symbol keys. These are the least emphasized in many typing programs, which are more geared towards the letter/number/symbol ratios you would see in taking dictated correspondence.

There ought to be a "touch typing for perl programmers" type program, or a plugin or exercise set for popular programs that lets you practice symbols, newlines, indenting, commenting, etc ;-)

With that in mind, use Mavis, and stick with it. I type 90 wpm, closer to 75 when coding C++ or Perl. Spend lots of extra time on the number and symbol keys, and it will pay long dividends.

I recommend Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor (1)

markjugg (21992) | about 11 years ago | (#6865235)

My favorite typing program has been Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor [] . It seems really effective, and was also somewhat 'fun'. It's available for Mac, Linux and that other OS.

impressive... most impressive (1)

luciensims (184553) | about 11 years ago | (#6865343)

I work for a web development firm, and one of the guys here can write HTML and ColdFusion, complete with tags and special characters, as quickly as I've ever seen anyone type plain English...

It's damned impressive, but I can't guarantee that half the characters he's typing aren't backspaces. He claims 130wpm.

Apparently he taught himself to type without any specific software.

Re:impressive... most impressive (2, Interesting)

Quixotic Raindrop (443129) | about 11 years ago | (#6865386)

That was how I learned to type. My junior year in college, I decided that I wasn't keeping pace on IRC like I would have preferred. I went to Office Max and bought a little book on typing, made I guess for new secretaries or receptionists or something, just a little plastic-ring-bound book about 25 pages long. I sat with my fingers on the home keys, made a consious effort to type each letter with the "correct" finger, and after about two months I was touch-typing about 80 WPM.

To the original question-poster I say: touch typing has made my coding better, and faster, especially since I got good at getting to the []{}; keys. Making ; a force-of-habit from touch-typing rather than trying to think one character at a time, and forgetting the ; makes a world of difference to me :)

Angband (1)

danaris (525051) | about 11 years ago | (#6865504)

I learned to touchtype (not perfectly, but pretty darn well) by playing the Rogue-like game Angband [] , based (extremely loosely) on the works of Tolkien. It's a lot of fun, and you use every key on the keyboard that has a symbol on it for some action or other (most have at least 2 actions, some have 3: normal keypress, Shift, and Ctrl)

It's a somewhat unorthodox, but highly addictive, method of learning to touchtype. My current favourite variant is T.O.M.E. [] , Tales of Middle-Earth, formerly PernAngband (until Anne McCaffrey got mad :-P)

Dan Aris

Another thing to think about... (1)

Will_Malverson (105796) | about 11 years ago | (#6865528)

Since you're coming at it fresh, you might consider typing on a Dvorak [] keyboard. I've typed on one for about seven years. While it's not significantly faster than a QWERTY, it is *far* more comfortable. I was up to about 80 WPM on a QWERTY when I stopped using it seven years ago, and can now do 100 on a Dvorak, which I might be doing on a QWERTY anyway. But, when you look at me typing on a Dvorak, I don't look like I'm typing that fast, because my fingers are barely moving compared to a QWERTY typer at the same speed.


epine (68316) | about 11 years ago | (#6865801)

I learned how to type on an Underwood manual typewriter in a grade 7 typing class. I was barely strong enough to lift the carriage with my pinky fingers to get capital letters. I used to do 30 wpm on a manual typewriter when I was still a puppy, now I type faster than most people think (not so hard really).

There's not much to it. Form the habit of using the right finger for the right key, and try not to look at the keyboard more often than necessary. Use the shift key opposite the hand typing the capital letter (added benefit: you'll never write in all caps ever again). Bonus points: put two spaces after every end of sentence punctuation mark (except in Evolution 1.2 which bites so bad it wraps the second space to the next text line--how can any editor in this age be *that* bad?).

Does typing fast help programming? Does being able to record your thoughts as fast as you can think help? I'll let you form your own opinions. BTW, you can tell a really fast typist, because most of the mistakes are whole missing. My biggest problem is that I can type slightly faster than I can spell unusual words. For some reason the word "bureau" always causes me a ten car pileup.

Worst name to type fast of all time: Krzysztof Czarnecki. He does cool research into generative programming. I have strong passwords barely that good.

Learn to touch type the easy way (1)

holy zarquon's singi (640532) | about 11 years ago | (#6866009)

Learning with typing software is the hard and slow way. You need: 1 video camera and a video monitor, or a way to see the output of the monitor on the computer screen. Set things up so that you can see the computer screen and the video monitor at the same time. Place the video camera so that you can see your hands in the home position but you can't see the labels on the keys on the screen, then type away. This gives you enough visual feedback so that a competent two finger typist can get the confidence to touch type very quickly. Using this method, I went to 35wpm touch typing from two finger in about 15 minutes.

Know where the keys are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6866050)

I never learned to touch type, but I can easily get 50 WPM. The most important skill is not touch typing specifically, but knowing where the keys are on the keyboard. A touch-typing tutor type of software helps with that a whole lot.

I tried to learn touch typing in 8th grade. I still can't type at a reasonable speed without ever looking at the keyboard, but I use every finger on both hands, and know without thinking about it where to find each letter. Often I'll realize I've just typed an entire sentence of familiar words without looking at the keyboard at all.

A typing program won't give you the ability to touch-type brackets and symbols for programming unless you follow it through diligently to the end, since those are usually the last keys you're taught (they tend to teach first the letters and basic punctuation, then the numbers and the symbols that share the number keys, and only lastly the mathmatical and programming characters).

However, just knowing where to find those symbols when you need them, and having the physical confidence to stretch out that pinky instead of pecking with your index finger, will save you a lot of time.

good luck!

typespeed (1)

Ramses0 (63476) | about 11 years ago | (#6866102)

apt-get install typespeed. Hooah. :^)


The Best Way to Learn to Type (2, Interesting)

Sepsis (615111) | about 11 years ago | (#6866150)

The best way to learn to type is to start playing a MUD (multi-user dungeon, text based) Most are at least relatively entertaining, and many are extremely addictive. Thats how I learned to type, and right now I am typing at approximately 100 words per minute, and I have rarely used a typing tutor. Or become an IRC junky. is the game I used to play...get mudmaster.

How I learned to Touch Type (2, Interesting)

Crutcher (24607) | about 11 years ago | (#6866187)

I was in the same boat as you. My hands hurt, and I was a professional programmer. I _knew_ I needed to learn to touch type, but I couldn't stop looking at the keyboard.

So I painted my keyboard black. The first week _sucked_, but by week 3, I was at 80% of where I had been before, and that 80% was touch, no looking at all.

Over the next month, I crept up to a bit faster than I had been, and that was good. But the real benifit to my speed was that, with my hands always in the correct location, all the control-Key and alt-Key keyboard shortcuts for my editor, my shell, and my web browser became available, and even second nature to me.

It is worth it.

There are a number of businesses which sell keyboards with blank keys, for use in typing classes; you can google for them. I reference this only as a means of showing that this has worked for others.

Try it, it _will_ work. Just take the plunge, accept the reduced short term productivity, and paint the keys black.

Re:How I learned to Touch Type (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | about 11 years ago | (#6866826)

That's kind of what I did- I was hunting and pecking even though I knew where all the keys were. So I just popped the keycaps off and swapped them around. Worked for me.

Of course the people that worked with me hated it. "Let me show you..." (grabs keyboard) "aggggghhhh, what have you done to your keyboard?" ;-)

One of the biggest failures of programmers (1)

floydigus (415917) | about 11 years ago | (#6866261)

In my opinion, anyone working in the IT industry and especially programmers should be able to reach a minimum standard of typing (say 70 wpm).

When you're getting paid the big bucks and you're still doing hunt-and-peck, you're not worth the money.

To answer the question, though, try 'TyperShark' from PopCap games. It's good fun.

Re:One of the biggest failures of programmers (1)

DarkDust (239124) | about 11 years ago | (#6867122)

In my opinion, anyone working in the IT industry and especially programmers should be able to reach a minimum standard of typing (say 70 wpm).

Why ? Being able to type faster than you can think is not a Good Thing when programming ;-) Seriously, my programming speed is more limited by the fact that except for trivial constructs (or when I'm really deep in my "flow") I am actually thinking about what I'm typing, how to write what I mean and if there is a more elegant way to do it.

Being able to type at more than 70wpm wouldn't speed up me writing programs...

When you're getting paid the big bucks and you're still doing hunt-and-peck, you're not worth the money.

Not-touch-typing is not hunt-and-peck. I personally suffer the same problem as the guy who asked that "Ask Slashdot" question: I'm using keyboard for nearly 20 years, I'm a programmer, but my system involves two to four fingers ;-) But that's not hunt-and-peck, since I type blindly and at quite a good speed, I'd say (sure, the average touch typist is faster, but as said above, my mind is a bigger speedbump than my fingers ;-)

It's not the speed at which you produce code that counts but the quality of the code. You're not worth the money when you produce useless/bad quality code at an astonishing rate. You're worth the money when you produce quality code that works, and does so reliable, at a slower rate. In the end the slower but more quality code saves more time since you need less debugging and have lesser problems with you customers ;-)

Re:One of the biggest failures of programmers (1)

floydigus (415917) | about 11 years ago | (#6867622)

Being able to type faster than you can think is not a Good Thing when programming

I disagree. I am typing this whilst looking directly at the screen. I can see and correct errors as I make them, so I don't need to read everything through when I've finished and correct the mistakes.
When I watch someone else typing and they are looking at the keyboard, it is painful to behold.

On the other hand, when copying text from notes or a listing, I can keep my eyes on the source material.

Not-touch-typing is not hunt-and-peck
Agreed. This was hyperbolic (or litotic - wtf?).

It's not the speed at which you produce code that counts but the quality of the code
In fact, its the speed and the quality that count.

Let me just say that I would strongly recommend touch typing to anyone. I'm sure you'll feel that you've become more efficient and you'll enjoy the whole typing thing a lot more.

Re:One of the biggest failures of programmers (1)

DarkDust (239124) | about 11 years ago | (#6867732)

Let me just say that I would strongly recommend touch typing to anyone. I'm sure you'll feel that you've become more efficient and you'll enjoy the whole typing thing a lot more.

I tried that several times but gave up on it for several reasons:

  • I checked with that Java applet that is linked somewhere here, and I can type at 60 to 70 wpm with my own system "2 to 4 finger system"... while others can surely type more speedy I'm satisfied with that rate :-)
  • I can already type blindly with my system (I only have to look when I'm forced to use a German keyboard layout instead of an ASCII layout ;-)
  • Since I'm typing for almost 20 years now I find it hard to get my brain accept that "new" method of typing

From time to time I try to get myself to learn touch typing but I find it frustrating and painful (physically; my wrists hurt after a while because of that little angle your holding your hands when touch-typing on a normal keyboad). I don't think it's worth the hazzle to me...

Typing of the Dead!!!!!! (1)

quake74 (466627) | about 11 years ago | (#6867035)

I tried and I tried and I tried..... but then I saw the light!! Typing of the Dead is a game (originally for Dreamcast I believe but it's been converted to PC) which teaches you how to type using the game House of the Dead (2, to be exact). When the zombies appear you have to type words to deatroy them. Sounds confusing? Here are some screens [] . It also has a tutorial (which finger on which key) and in general it's lots of fun. I know I did!

Kebinding... (1)

basking2 (233941) | about 11 years ago | (#6867137)

I've found that touch typing has helped me a great great deal but perhaps best of all is that the key bindings for vi and evilwm make perfect sense now. ;-)

Just be sure not to give up!!! :-)

Home Row! (1)

mindhaze (40009) | about 11 years ago | (#6867965)

Basically, when I started in computers, I felt it was important to type properly. That being said, I tried out various typing programs, but it all seemed like a pointless waste of time. aaa, bbb, ccc, ddd, fff, ggg, hhh.... etc etc etc. However, one thing stuck out: keep your fingers on home row. And thus, I hit IRC, making DAMNED sure to keep my fingers on home row, and started getting faster and faster. Now, I type properly, and faster than anybody else I know, or at least as fast as (in the case of my geek friends).

People are amazed to find out I'm a computer geek that touch types. :)

Next up: Ergonomic Keyboards. Unfortunately, of the ones I've tried, the Borg builds the best.

Split Keyboards (1)

Tom7 (102298) | about 11 years ago | (#6868147)

Start with a split keyboard, like Microsoft's Natural Keyboard. It'll at least make sure you use the correct hands to hit keys.

Touch-typing is for prose (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 11 years ago | (#6868248)

I never 'learned to type' either, but I can type at a good 60 wpm with what my brain's developed as its best algorithm.

What's more important, though, is that it's honed its algorithm to code. I'm up in @$%=->() all day typing perl code, so my left hand's home position is
shift-a-e-r-space and my right hand's home position is space-i---]-return.

I'm sure it would make many typing instructors gasp, but it's fast and I'm hacking out symbol-laden code, not form letters or medical transcription. I have big hands and my trust qwerty Apple Extended II keyboard, so it may vary for others.

What Touch Typing will actually do for you. (2, Insightful)

Whatchamacallit (21721) | about 11 years ago | (#6868866)

Everyone who uses a keyboard on a daily basis should be able to type at least 40 WPM without looking at the keys. Otherwise you are really impacting your productivity.

I took a typing class in High School circa 1987 on IBM electric type writers. It was only a half semester class but I was able to get up to about 60 WPM and over the years, I have increased that amount to about 80 WPM and I am happy with that speed. I can type faster when I transcribe text from a printout, magazine, or handwriting then I do when I type from my head to my fingers.

Co-workers are constantly looking over my shoulder in complete disbelief when they see me really typing fast. The funny thing is, I've witnessed people who can type 130 WPM and they are more then twice my speed. Typing really should be a required class in schools because most jobs require computer work and the keyboard is still the most important interface on a computer.

Programmers on this thread have stated that they don't think that learning touch typing is important and that the syntax of programming languages is too cryptic to type easily. While the cryptic nature of code is more difficult you will get better at it if you have a touch typing foundation and you merely practice entering code from magazines, etc.

Good programming editors have extensive keyboard commands. EMACS, ViM, Visual Studio, etc. These allow for one to quickly select options while actually typing. This keeps your hands on the home row of the keyboard. ViM is a bit better at this then EMACS but I don't want to start a flamewar. Use whatever works for you. Just know that both EMACS and ViM both use keyboard commands extensively and both will improve your productivity if you can touch type without looking.

I really cannot understand why so many refused to learn to touch type without looking. It's really not that hard, anyone can do it.

Mavis Beacon teaches typing for Windows works quite nicely, but as others have mentioned there are several Open Source tutors as well.

It's a whole lot of:

hjk lfgd lkd las lkj etc, etc, etc, till you get the home row down and then start inserting letters off the home row, then changing case and using symbols.

It is boring to learn but once you get some speed you will see the advantages. It kills me to watch someone fumble about with a keyboard or two finger it (even rapidly). All the head bobbing and finger hunting is killing your productivity. It's so much smoother when you know how to touch type the right way.

How (1)

confused one (671304) | about 11 years ago | (#6869308)

How in the hell did you manage...

Never mind. I don't want to know.

Typing Class (1)

vasqzr (619165) | about 11 years ago | (#6869689)

I took half a semester of typing in high school.

First thought? This class blows. I already know how to type. I'm a 15 year old 37337 hax0r!

It's a pain in the butt at first. With a typing program, you'll cheat. When you've got a instructur that's loony walking around the room, you stick to the program.

We used electric typewriters. Big solid CHUNK! CHUNK! CHUNK! when you type.

Don't look at the keys. Hit the right keys with the right fingers.

At first you work on 100% accuracy. The whole class says the letters out loud and types to a metronome. After a few weeks you speed it up. Accuracy is more important than speed.

Many letter patterns are learned, also. You don't just type cheesy stories, but things like:

(home row)

dads fads lads alfalfa sad dad had lag

(single finger)



a s d f g h j k k l ; q w e r t y u i o p

When you say the letters out loud and tap your feet, it burns it in to your brain.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>