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Is DVORAK Gaining Traction Among Coders?

Cliff posted about 7 years ago | from the slow-news-day dept.


coderpath asks: "At a recent Seattle Ruby Brigade hack night someone asked how many people used the DVORAK keyboard layout. Out of 9 people, 7 used DVORAK and only 2 were using QWERTY. I personally made the switch last Christmas, after 25 years of typing with QWERTY. What do you use? Have you switched to DVORAK? Have you been wanting to make the switch? Has anyone else noticed an increase in adoption of DVORAK lately?"

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Vim (2, Interesting)

FromWithin (627720) | about 7 years ago | (#18736757)

Always wanted to try the Dvorak layout, but I've become a slave to the Vim and that sort of messes things up for me...

Re:Vim (2, Informative)

Doytch (950946) | about 7 years ago | (#18736793)

Why not just remap whatever keys you need(HJKL and such) to the apprpriate keys for a Dvorak layout?

A quick Google turned up a few already-built config files that handle the dirty work for you. Alas, I don't use Dvorak so I can't test them. Although like you, I have always wanted to switch cold turkey.

Re:Vim (5, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#18736799)

It's not just Vim, but everything else I do as well. It's hard to imagine going back to being careful where the keys are... I've had plenty of times that I just kept on typing while I was looking at my boss (he was talking) or I got something in my eye and just needed to finish a sentence that was in my head.

On top of that, I've -never- seen a Dvorak keyboard. I'm sure I could find some online if I looked, but I'm -very- happy with the feel of my current keyboard (I own 2 and a wireless version of it now) and don't look forward to trying to find a Dvorak layout one that I like.

There's still just too many reasons not to switch, and only 1 to switch: It's supposedly quicker. (Last I heard, it actually wasn't enough quicker to care.)

Re:Vim (1)

poopdeville (841677) | about 7 years ago | (#18736895)

Dvorak is only faster if you're a touch typist, in which case it doesn't matter what letters are printed on the keys anyway. Right now, my keyboard's top row says "ALEXROCKSU". (This makes it impossible for non-touch typists to use my computer)

So just get your hands on some Dvorak learning software and practice both. I did it. It was fun.

Re:Vim (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#18737151)

I took an old keyboard and rearranged the key caps so they said "FUCKBILGATES".

Oddly enough, none of the Windows users could type with it - even after years of computer use, they're not touch typists ...

Re:Vim (5, Interesting)

zsau (266209) | about 7 years ago | (#18737273)

It's not just Vim, but everything else I do as well. It's hard to imagine going back to being careful where the keys are... I've had plenty of times that I just kept on typing while I was looking at my boss (he was talking) or I got something in my eye and just needed to finish a sentence that was in my head.

I was like that before I switched. I'm like that after I switched. I wasn't like that for about a month in between. And I'm better at vi for it, too.

On top of that, I've -never- seen a Dvorak keyboard.

Fancy that, neither have I. You (i.e. I) touchtype dvorak. The only value you'll ever get out of looking at the keyboard is because it's fun to look at yourself typing on a keyboard with the keys marked wrong, and you can't do that with a dvorak keyboard.

There's still just too many reasons not to switch, and only 1 to switch: It's supposedly quicker.

Most reasons against switching are false; about the only one worth listening to is that lots of people use your computer and/or you use lots of computers. A very good reason, certainly, but still only one.

And the purported benefit of dvorak is that it's more ergonomic. This results in it being a little faster, but it's not the point. That's why if you do want to buy a dvorak keyboard, you'll find that almost none of them have the standard physical arrangement. But I do certainly notice the benefits of dvorak with my regular-format keyboards.

Re:Vim (5, Insightful)

zsau (266209) | about 7 years ago | (#18737109)

I learnt VIM with Qwerty, and now I use VIM with Dvorak, a lot better and more skilfully than before. There's no reason to remap VIM's layout (and plenty of reasons not to). It will probably take a while to get used to it, but once you are you might find you use hjkl a lot more: in particular, I've found the hj (up/down ... or is it down/up? i just use them, i don't think about them) to be much better placed on dvorak than qwerty (they're on the left hand, so you have a choice: use hj with left hand, or cursor keys with right hand).

Once you're used to VIM+dvorak, it's absolutely no harder than VIM+qwerty. I would expect it'll take you longer to get used to VIM+dvorak than anything else+dvorak, but if you love vi as much as I do, it'll only motivate you to learn faster :)

On the other hand: Although I can touchtype fluently in qwerty and dvorak, my VIM+qwerty skills are almost entirely gone. I have to stop and think about just about everything; it's painful and the only time I ever regret switching. If you're going to be bouncing around on computers whose keyboard layouts you can't control, and you use VIM, consider this before switching. Maybe just remap some keys so up/down are where god (not Bill Joy) intended.

Re:Vim (1)

dhasenan (758719) | about 7 years ago | (#18737231)

I use dvorak and vim. You start ignoring the hjkl thing quickly. And jk at least are still adjacent, and h further left than l.

Really, since most bindings in vi are arbitrary, why shouldn't those be? And since the bindings are intended to be used with both hands remaining on the keyboard, it rarely makes a difference that you need both hands to navigate all directions without resorting to the arrow keys.

Re:Vim (1)

pestilence669 (823950) | about 7 years ago | (#18737295)

I switched in 2001 and it took about six months to relearn the vim key bindings. It's possible, but seriously funky w/ the arrow keys. Most everything else is easy to get used to. The "Z" key is conveniently located for the quick SHIFT+Z+Z escape.

For coding, I've found that I move my hands much less. HTML & XML junkies should appreciate it as well, as the greater-than & less-than keys are more conveniently located. Many programming keywords & function can be typed entirely with the home row.

I wouldn't ever suggest someone make the switch unless they're completely serious and accept that they'll type like an idiot for the next three months. I also wouldn't expect a 30% improvement in speed, although you do get an eventual increase.

The biggest advantage is a reduction in effort when typing. Good for my carpal. Next biggest advantage: When people sit at your computer, they can't type at all! If you're like me, and pick up a Das Keyboard, the absence of lettering combined with a different layout ensures that no one can type on your workstation when you step away.

Personally (5, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#18736801)

I find Dvorak a bit tedious. For coding, I prefer Williams, John, not Andy. Sometimes I listen to something light like Bocelli. Moody Blues. But, never metal when I'm coding.

Re:Personally (1)

jd (1658) | about 7 years ago | (#18736953)

That's strange. I agree about Dvorak, but there's nothing like Sisters of Mercy for shell-scripting, or a bit of Sabbat for a debug session. Paul Di'Anno's Battlezone seems to be better for GUI work, though.

If only the cost was less... (5, Interesting)

Tokimasa (1011677) | about 7 years ago | (#18736803)

At one point, I went out looking for a DVORAK keyboard, starting at my local computer shop and expanding to office supply stores and even Wal*Mart, just to see if anyone had one and if not, how much it would be to order one. After prices over $200, I checked online and found the cheapest, most basic, DVORAK keyboard at about $100 + shipping and taxes.

I know I could get a cheap QWERTY and rearrange the keys. But (at least from the pictures I've seen), wouldn't be a true DVORAK layout. If I could cheaply obtain or emulate a DVORAK layout, I would try it. But right now, I have a laptop, so I would only use it when I'm at my desk and I would need to purchase one first. The idea of switching back and forth day after day and the cost just doesn't help...

Re:If only the cost was less... (1)

rustalot42684 (1055008) | about 7 years ago | (#18736849)

Even if it isn't a true Dvorak layout, it's still far more efficient than QWERTY to have a mostly-Dvorak layout.

Re:If only the cost was less... (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#18736927)

I don't know about that. If you already type about 100 wpm or so, how great is Dvorak giong to be for a coder? Are you really going to write code at 300 wpm? I doubt it. And while I suppose it might put less straight on your fingers, a lot of us have absolutely no problem with QWERTY. Not to mention the time involved in re-learning a new layout. And I gaurantee they aren't teaching Dvorak in school.

It's an improvement over QWERTY. Over that I don't think there is any doubt. But I'm not sure the improvement is worth it if what you have is working as it is. Dvorak is mostly just something people can brag about to be different, just like people who buy Zunes and iRivers so they can show how cool and different they are because they didn't buy an iPod.

Re:If only the cost was less... (-1, Offtopic)

aliquis (678370) | about 7 years ago | (#18737597)

"Just like people who buy Zunes and iRivers so they can show how cool and different they are because they didn't buy an iPod."

I don't care about the zune but yes, that and player software which doesn't suck, UMS-support, decent equalizers/sound, more sound format support, better battery life, radio, line-in and voice recording, and probably at a cheaper price aswell.

Thought iRivers players haven't been as good after the IFP-line, the E10 is said to be ok, T50 and T60 looks interesting.

I'd rather go for the iAudio U3 or D2 or the Samsung YP-Z5/YP-T9 thought (over the E10 that is, T60 might be nice.)

There are no rockbox for the Nano 2nd gen afaik so it can't be fixed either.

Re:If only the cost was less... (2, Informative)

RealRav (607677) | about 7 years ago | (#18736887)

I was typing dvorak for years before I purchased a dvorak keyboard. It is better when you type not to look at the keyboard anyway. Just change the layout in your OS, then print out a keyboard layout and tape it to you monitor for the three day learning period. After that, you will know where the keys are by touch and the actual keyboard doesn't matter.

Re:If only the cost was less... (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 7 years ago | (#18736907)

"At one point, I went out looking for a DVORAK keyboard"

Maybe it's me but I just switched the keycaps around.

I tried Dvorak for six months and tried really really hard. But I couldn't get
to be a fraction as efficient as I could with qwerty. If nothing else whoever
put the M there should be shot.

I've been using a computer keyboard for 37 years starting with an IBM 029 keypunch and I may just
be too goddamn old to learn. You young punks may have a chance.

Re:If only the cost was less... (1)

Falladir (1026636) | about 7 years ago | (#18737519)

What's wrong with having the M there? I'm assuming your remark is completely guileless, which might be wrong.

M isn't as important as H,T,N or S, so it shouldn't be a home key. It's more important than W or V or Z, so it gets a stronger finger than those. The placement is totally logical.

(dvorak user for three years; only issue is hotkeys, and it's just an annoyance. Also, you have to keep a "switch to qwerty" hotkey, so you can play games without manually remapping, and so that other people can use the computer)

Re:If only the cost was less... (3, Informative)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | about 7 years ago | (#18737035)

You don't need a Dvorak keyboard anymore. Just change the settings in the OS. Ah, but what about the keycaps, you ask? Leave 'em as they are. I started using Dvorak about seven or eight years ago, and when I did I got a programmable keyboard. I was never quite as fast using Dvorak as I was with QWERTY, but I persevered. When I eventually got a Mac, the programmable keyboard wouldn't work with it, so I just used a QWERTY keyboard and remapped it within the OS. Within two weeks my typing speed in Dvorak significantly improved, since I could no longer fall back on looking at the keys as a crutch. When I didn't know where a key was exactly, I would start hitting around near it until I found it. I think the learned muscle memory from that experience was a far better teacher than having the keycaps. Interestingly, my QWERTY typing speed improved somewhat as well, because I realized how often I had been glancing at the keys while I typed, out of sheer force of habit from when I was learning to type. I quickly broke that habit, and my typing speed went up maybe 20%.

I ultimately stopped using Dvorak because it was too much of a pain to reconfigure the keyboard all of the time when getting a new game or something. I doubt I'll go back at this point, since I currently make my living using Avid and I know all of the Avid commands I regularly use by their letter and keyboard position. I could remap them, I suppose, but after all the fun I had trying to use Emacs with a Dvorak layout, I'm not sure I find the advantages of Dvorak compelling enough to bother.

Buying a new keyboard is pointless. (4, Insightful)

spiritraveller (641174) | about 7 years ago | (#18737073)

The complaints about there not being many Dvorak keyboards for sale are just silly.

Why would you change layouts without bothering to learn how to touch-type??? If you don't touch-type, you will never type fast, regardless of which layout you use. It doesn't matter what the keys on your keyboard say if you are touch-typing.

The best thing to do when learning a new layout is to have a copy of it on paper taped to your monitor. You want to get out of the habit of looking at the keyboard, not perpetuate it.

Re:Buying a new keyboard is pointless. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 years ago | (#18737133)

If the key caps don't matter, and you never have to look anyway, I suggest you get Das Keyboard [daskeyboard.com].

Re:Buying a new keyboard is pointless. (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | about 7 years ago | (#18737169)

If the key caps don't matter, and you never have to look anyway, I suggest you get Das Keyboard.

I am hoping to get one of those for father's day. At the price, I would probably never buy one for myself, but it would be nice.

Re:Buying a new keyboard is pointless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737257)

Oh, I don't know about that one. I wouldn't mind a blank keyboard, but I'd prefer one with nipples on the home keys.

Stickers might help (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 7 years ago | (#18737101)

They have opaque and transparent ones:

http://hooleon.com/miva/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&S tore_Code=KBH&Product_Code=OV-0658 [hooleon.com]

http://hooleon.com/miva/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&S tore_Code=KBH&Product_Code=OV-0658 [hooleon.com].

(There might be better and cheaper ones around, probably, as you don't need to get "dvorak" stickers, afterall, just get regulars ones and stick them in the dvorak formation).

I just change my OS to handle both qwerty and dvorak.

Re:If only the cost was less... (2, Interesting)

aslate (675607) | about 7 years ago | (#18737313)

I gave Dvorak a good 1 year trial and frankly found it made no real difference at all.

I've got one of those IBM spring-loaded keyboard that my mum got from work with an old PC, so i could re-arrange the key caps (not even the physical keys, but the cap with the letters on) to Dvorak. I even changed the Qwerty keyboards at school to the Dvorak settings (which should help my learning as i can't do hunt-and-peck at the keys). And never noticed anything useful.

Now it may have been in part that i would every-so-often have to use a Qwerty layout (such as a friend's keyboard and hence wouldn't change it), but Dvorak made fuck all different to any typing skills, sticking to Qwerty is so much easier...

I also used the Dvorak switch to learn to type properly (when i use Qwerty i only use one finger on my right hand, fucked up, but it works as a typing style and is damned quick no matter what anyone says). So from that i should have learned to type faster, because not only was i using Dvorak, but typing in the proper style (4 fingers on home keys and such). But it never helped my typing speed.

Finally, no-one should spend that much on a keyboard. We've got 3 IBM spring-loaded keyboards probably worth a good £50+ each, but they're worth so much more to keep any type on compared to any new keyboard :p

Re:If only the cost was less... (1)

pestilence669 (823950) | about 7 years ago | (#18737335)

Das Keyboard is an excellent keyboard (different key resistance zones) and has the benefit of having no key markings. This helps you type faster as looking down won't help you at all. Blanking keys is highly recommended for learning new layouts, with masking tape, if nothing else.

It has the extra benefit of never needing key cap rearrangement between layouts. It's a good unit and I'm very picky when it comes to keyboards. ...and should you never make the switch, there's nothing stopping you from using it with QWERTY, Dvorak-Left, or Hungarian.

Re:If only the cost was less... (3, Informative)

Inoshiro (71693) | about 7 years ago | (#18737405)

The cost is nothing. I'm typing this on an IBM model M with the keycaps re-arranged to Dvorak. I've had Windows, MacOS X, and Linux all set to use the Dvorak keyboard layout with no troubles.

Now, as for actually having the keycaps set to Dvorak, that's mostly for when you start out. Once you develop your muscle memory so that you can touch type, it's really not an issue. MacOS X even has the DQ (Dvorak-QWERTY) mode for helping people who type like this. When you're typing normal text, the layout is Dvorak; when you press the command button, it shifts back to QWERTY so the shortcuts you're used to (Apple-X, C, V, etc) are all in the same location as before.

The real cost is your personal time. You will not be able to type above 50wpm for a few weeks.

Languages (5, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | about 7 years ago | (#18736807)

Dvorak is optimized for writing English. Most coders - like most computer users in general - do not use English as their main language, and for us Dvorak is substantially worse than the qwerty layout in every way.

So no, most coders are not switching to Dvorak.

Re:Languages (1)

zsau (266209) | about 7 years ago | (#18736929)

Can you provide any examples? Most code consists of words. What's left over is punctuation. Words and punctuation are easier to access. (I code, and I use dvorak and qwerty, and I find that there's no difference in benefit of coding vs english in dvorak: And for both you notice the benefit of dvorak over qwerty.)

Re:Languages (4, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | about 7 years ago | (#18737057)

Can you provide any examples? Most code consists of words. What's left over is punctuation.

Most coders spend at least as much time - normally substantially more - writing in their natural language, not actually writing lines of code. Comments, specs, documentation (in the code and test documentation sense), email, project reports, IM ... And that's the stuff you do as part of work, not the time you spend off work on discussion sites, writing a blog, communicating with friends and family or whatever.

I don't assume anyone seriously proposes switching to Dvorak when about to write code, then switching back to their normal layout once you've written your line or two.

Re:Languages (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18736931)

Hmm, as a longtime Dvorak typist, I don't necessarily see that the Dvorak layout is less amenable to coding than QWERTY. Not only are most keywords in all the common languages derived from English (and who still types out their constructs anymore, in this TextMate day and age?) but frequently used characters, like _.=, are all easier to access. There's tradeoffs with {} and ; being further out of reach, of course, but that still doesn't make it obvious to me that QWERTY's so much better for coding.

The best part of using Dvorak? Nobody bothers trying to touch my computer anymore. And let's face facts, most programmers are disgusting, greasy-fingered creatures whom you'd rather not have filthying up your keyboard, if you can possibly avoid it.

—Tickletaint (forced to post AC due to karma)

Re:Languages (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#18736961)

Because QWERTY is optimized for non-english . . ?

And while I'm not a coder by trade, I'm pretty sure that code is still written in english, isn't it? I mean, sprintf() is sprintf() no matter where you're writing code? It's not elsprintfo() just because you go south of the border or anything...

Re:Languages (1)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | about 7 years ago | (#18736985)

Has anyone tried DVORAK Programming Setup [kaufmann.no]? It could possibly handle your objections.

Re:Languages (3, Insightful)

ozamosi (615254) | about 7 years ago | (#18737187)

I am currently using it, and I've used a more normal Dvorak layout before, and I'm not that impressed. Partly because I use funny letters, like åöä, which the Dvorak Programming layout requires me to use alt-gr for, but that is not in any way different from normal dvorak - just from the dvorak I used before.

My other complaint is that you have to use shift to type digits. Even though I enjoy being able to type special characters without pressing shift, I rarely write two special characters in a row, but I often write multiple digits, since numbers very oten consist of multiple digits. To solve that problem, I've replaced the numbers and the special characters. However, too many keys are on the numerics - the special characters would IMHO be much better placed on your home row or your upper row, just like they are in many swedish dvorak dialects, so I wouldn't have to stretch my fingers so much. I mean: I don't touch type on the numeric row, because my fingers are too short to reach it properly - don't cram too much stuff up there!

I sometimes wonder if there is any logic behind where the keys are placed. For instance, = is used on almost every line when you code, but it is in the least accessable position on the whole keyboard - on the absolute top, exactly between your index fingers. It feels like all special characters were moved around Just Because.

When it comes to the special digit arrangement: I'm not sure. I haven't been able to get used to it yet, so that means either that it sucks, or that I haven't tested it enough yet.

I should tell you that I probably don't code enough to experience the eventual advantages of this layout, but I still feel the layout isn't that good.

Re:Languages (2, Funny)

jd (1658) | about 7 years ago | (#18737017)

I've heard that to be the case, and also that Dvorak can't map onto certain international languages at all. True, I'd hate to use Qwerty for writing Younger Futhark, but you can't have everything. Seriously, though, I am not convinced it is possible to map all languages onto a single keyboard layout efficiently. Too many forms (phonetic, alphabetic, syllargy, ideogramatic, etc) and too great a variation in the number of symbols (anything from 16 to 6,000). IMHO, it has been a grievous error to try and make things so cheap and so mass-produced that the very cheapness becomes expensive and the mass-production ceases to be for the masses.

Re:Languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737131)

Seriously, though, I am not convinced it is possible to map all languages onto a single keyboard layout efficiently.
It isn't, and I think most people understand that (for a change!), since if you travel at all, you'll find language-specific keyboards pretty much everywhere you go [wikipedia.org] (sorry for the Wikipedia link, I'm feeling lazy).

Do you mean that regional layouts could be better than mere slight variations on QWERTY? Well, I agree, but QWERTY ain't got much to recommend it in the first place, either.

Tickletaint [slashdot.org] (forced to post logged-out due to fucked-up moderation)

Well, yeah. (1)

jd (1658) | about 7 years ago | (#18737375)

I far prefer the British English keyboard I grew up on* to the American English one, for example, and most European countries have their own. This isn't a perfect solution - the German alphabet has 27 characters, for example, making either the mappings weird or the number of keys weird - but it's better than a totally pan-galactic standardized solution.

(*growing up on a keyboard is painful, though - the keys are too lumpy)

Re:Languages (2, Insightful)

farnsworth (558449) | about 7 years ago | (#18737153)

I've been using Drorak since I learned to touch type. I don't understand your comment. I type both English and Japanese. Although Drorak is designed and optimized for English, the same letter patterns appear in other languages too. Certainly not to the same degree as in English, but they are there. I've never typed Japanese on Qwerty, so maybe I'm wrong, but I find Japanese very natural on Dvorak. I imagine that Spanish, French, Italian, etc are also very natural on Dvorak. I've never typed Hebrew or Russian or many other substantially different languages, so maybe Qwerty is in fact much better suited to these languages.

Also, every single programming language I've used has English keywords. There are few languages that support unicode source code, but still I've never seen any real software written in anything except English.

The worst aspects of Dvorak for programming are:
- location of "_", "{", "}" etc. (Qwerty is not much better, but it is better)
- pair programming is just about impossible on windows because its input switching is so bad.
- several remote connection software packages support Dvorak badly. some not at all.

Re:Languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737309)

Wait, where does your Dvorak layout put the underscore (_)? It's quite accessible on my Dvorak keyboard [imageshack.us]—immediately left of Return—but perhaps not all Dvoraks are the same, just as not all QWERTYs are either?

Tickletaint [slashdot.org] (forced to post logged-out due to fucked-up moderation)

Re:Languages (1)

JanneM (7445) | about 7 years ago | (#18737371)

The whole point of Dvorak is predicated on it being more efficient to use than qwerty. If it isn't - and it isn't for most languages - then there's no benefit to changing, while you still incur the negatives.

qwerty isn't optimized for, say, Swedish or Japanese or Mandarin. Neither is Dvorak. So why change?

Re:Languages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737445)

Err, maybe because most of us probably don't spend a lot of time writing in Swedish and Japanese and Mandarin?

If you're saying that all keyboard layouts are equally worthless simply because none of them can hope to be perfect for every situation imaginable, I have to disagree. I'd rather live in an environment designed for my specific needs, not those of some hypothetical Universal Man.

Tickletaint [slashdot.org] (forced to post logged-out due to fucked-up moderation)

Re:Languages (1)

Rix (54095) | about 7 years ago | (#18737331)

Most programming languages are designed by and for English speakers. Most comments in public code are in English.

Re:Languages (1)

pestilence669 (823950) | about 7 years ago | (#18737369)

I disagree. Symbols are all in much more convenient locations, as far as I'm concerned. You could make the argument that the braces are too high up, but beside backspace isn't THAT far of a reach. I like that they're all above, rather than below, the home row (exception: semi-colon). That alone allows me to type for many more hours.

Re:Languages (1)

drix (4602) | about 7 years ago | (#18737387)

English might not be the first language of most computer users, but English is definitely the lingua franca of the internet. This explains why I am able to read the President of India's web site [presidentofindia.nic.in], or why LKML is conducted strictly in English, despite having participants from every continent. Increased adoption of the Dvorak layout could benefit anyone who spends a lot of time online.

As for coders, there's no need to stop with that distinction. I spend a lot of time coding Ruby. Certainly the best layout for me would have very little in common with that of someone who writes Java for a living (no semicolons for me!) I've often toyed with the idea of hacking together a quick-n-dirty genetic algorithm that would build an optimal layout based on analysis of your source files. Alas, too few minutes in the day :-)

Re:Languages (1)

JohnyDog (129809) | about 7 years ago | (#18737439)

And whether you do or don't use english as primary language, how much of _text_ are you really typing ? The world of IDEs is largery dominated by auto-completion related features and every professional coder i know uses them heavily. Even when i'm writing in self-descriptive languages as ruby, i'm using way more special characters and numbers (and tabulator for autocompletion) than the alphabet. QWERTY as well as DVORAK has most of them accesible only by little finger - not good. It's the one reason i'll probably never learn the proper touchtyping.

I'd say that most people that will go through the lengthy process of learning and trying DVORAK will stay with it not because it's substantially better, but because it's basically the same, and they don't want to repeat the process to go back to QWERTY. (Plus, there's the placebo factor and the uber-geekiness feeling of using input method that is totally inaccessible to commoners :) ). Thats not to say that there aren't any improvement - there is, if you're writing long english texts, but as i said, i don't think most of coders will fall into this category.

Re:Languages (2, Insightful)

bullok (155096) | about 7 years ago | (#18737587)

Dvorak is optimized for writing English. Most coders - like most computer users in general - do not use English as their main language, and for us Dvorak is substantially worse than the qwerty layout in every way.

Most (not all) computer languages have keywords and library names and functions that ARE based on English. Furthermore, English is the most common language used in comments when contributors have different native languages. So, coders type an awful lot of English and near-English words. So, I dispute your assertion about English not being used by most coders.

Furthermore, I don't see why Dvorak is a horrible layout for other languages. I type a few other European languages with some regularity on a Dvorak keyboard, and while accents are a bit of a pain, it's no worse than qwerty. Qwerty is essentially random, so it's certainly not tuned for any particular language, except perhaps by accident. I can't say whether qwerty's really good for some non-European languages, but I doubt that it's substantially better than Dvorak.

If you ignore the letter keys, the only things that are moved so that greater or less reach is required are: -_ swapped with [{ , and += swapped with ]} . Whether this is good or bad depends on your coding style and what programming languages you use.

Long story short: you're a moron.

I've been using Dvorak for 10 years. It took me a couple of days to learn, and I exceeded my qwerty typing speed within two months. Almost all of what I type is code. I'm happy with the switch.

Alas, a laptop! (3, Insightful)

Tragek (772040) | about 7 years ago | (#18736813)

I probably would switch, if there was a simple way to reconfigure my keyboard. Alas, laptops are not exactly amenable to keyboard layout switches.

Re:Alas, a laptop! (1)

Khakionion (544166) | about 7 years ago | (#18736841)

Actually, many laptop keyboards use scissor switches that are perfect for detaching and re-arranging. I do it on my MacBook Pro, and did it back when I had a Toshiba Satellite.

Re:Alas, a laptop! (1)

FigTree (1076935) | about 7 years ago | (#18736987)

Maybe I'm just incredibly clumsy but I've broken way too many keys on my 12" PowerBook to feel safe popping keys on and off anymore. I was going to switch to dvorak awhile back until I realized Open Firmware only uses qwerty (and thus, yaboot as well I believe). Guess this probably isn't a problem on the mactels...

Re:Alas, a laptop! (1)

dhasenan (758719) | about 7 years ago | (#18737293)

Why not type by sight in those rare cases you need qwerty and use dvorak when you're in your OS? You shouldn't need to muck about in your BIOS or boot menu that often.

Re:Alas, a laptop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737027)

Is the keyboard on the MacBook Pro still easily replacable? I know the keyboards on PowerBooks and iBooks used to be brain-dead simple to swap out, and Apple used to hand out replacement iBook and PowerBook keyboards like candy, which was nice if you ever wanted to share your Dvorak-capped laptop with anyone else. The new (non-Pro) MacBooks look like a real pain in that regard.

Tickletaint [slashdot.org] (forced to post logged-out due to fucked-up moderation)

Re:Alas, a laptop! (2, Informative)

zsau (266209) | about 7 years ago | (#18737015)

Simple solution: Don't physically rearrange the keys. You gain nothing in two-fingered hunt-and-peck if you're using dvorak; it's benefits are almost entirely limited to touch-typing. It'll force yourself to learn the layout faster and better if you can't look at what you're doing. Also, it helps for if you ever need to run your computer in recovery mode when it won't load keyboard drivers, or for stupid games that don't realise not everyone is an American using qwerty layout; and sometimes it helps interpret typos on the web.

Trust me on this: I learnt Dvorak by keeping a printout attached to my screen for a week or two...

(To reconfigure the layout, use your operating environment's keyboard control panel thing; it's usually very simple. Every recent operating system installs the layout files by default, too.)

Re:Alas, a laptop! (1)

Falladir (1026636) | about 7 years ago | (#18737551)

You should be touch-typing anyway. I found that dvorak keys' locations are easier to remember than qwerty anyway, because there's some logic relating frequency to distance from the home row and finger strength.

Happy Dvorak User Here (3, Funny)

Khakionion (544166) | about 7 years ago | (#18736823)

I started using it because I heard it can reduce wrist stress. I'm not going back; I love the Dvorak layout. Well supported across Mac/Lin/Win, and speeds my typing up significantly. I dunno about the wrist stress part, but it sure does feel like I'm spending less time contorting my hands to type code.

Not only that, but it's a great way to look elitist and pretentious, now that Macs are gaining market share again.

aoeu > asdf!

Re:Happy Dvorak User Here (1)

rlwhite (219604) | about 7 years ago | (#18737177)

I'll second that, except that I noticed significantly better comfort rather than a speed increase. I suppose it's a matter of whether you try to type fast; personally I keep a leisurely pace.

lying bastards (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18736839)

So, which astroturfing idiot is trying to sell this now?

Laptops? (1)

loony (37622) | about 7 years ago | (#18736853)

No dvorak for me - until they start labeling the keys on laptops that way :-)

But to answer the original question - nope - big IT shop here and since I switched to my laptop and back to qwerty, not a single guy using dvorak...


DVORAK will never win cause its too hard to spell (5, Funny)

cpaglee (665238) | about 7 years ago | (#18736863)

Qwerty on the other hand is very easy. In fact its spelled out on every keyboard right at the top.

Every keyboard except DVORAK keyboards that is.

dvorak is useless (2, Interesting)

Zheng Yi Quan (984645) | about 7 years ago | (#18736865)

I always wanted to switch, but coding requires so much punctuation that DVORAK doesn't help. Plus it doesn't work with vi.

Monster cables (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18736875)

DVORAK is comparable to Monster Cables. Most or all of the improvement is from the placebo effect.

Only good for touch typing? (1)

kherr (602366) | about 7 years ago | (#18736885)

I'm a fairly fast hunt-and-peck typist, I don't do touch typing. My fingers "hover" above the keyboard and I've basically got muscle memory for where the keys are, moving my fingers without looking at the keyboard. While I like the idea of the dvorak layout, I don't see how it benefits someone who's not a touch typist.

Re:Only good for touch typing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737051)

No offense, but I've never met a hunt-and-peck typist that's any good at coding. I strongly advise you to learn to touch type, whether on QUERTY or DVORAK. Seriously: Learn to touch type. It only takes one day, and it'll be worth 10s of thousands of dollars if they sit you down at a keyboard for an interview.

Re:Only good for touch typing? (0, Flamebait)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#18737265)

No offense, but I've never met a hunt-and-peck typist that's any good at coding. I strongly advise you to learn to touch type, whether on QUERTY or DVORAK. Seriously: Learn to touch type. It only takes one day, and it'll be worth 10s of thousands of dollars if they sit you down at a keyboard for an interview.

REAL programmers have to touch-type - we've worn the labels off the keycaps on too many keyboards ...

What's funny is watching people who claim to be such "hotshots" and still don't know the keyboard shortcuts for selecting, cutting, and pasting, in ANY editor.

I did learn, don't like it (1)

kherr (602366) | about 7 years ago | (#18737301)

I did learn, even went through typewriter class in school. It doesn't work for me. I am, despite your experience, quite a capable coder. I also type well over 60 wpm as a hunt and pecker (heh), although the quality of my coding comes from thinking about algorithms and implementation design and not how fast I churn out instructions.

DVORAK -- just for fanatics (4, Insightful)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 7 years ago | (#18736935)

DVORAK is another way to show other people that you're different. Any benefits are minuscule and are outweighed by the incompatibility downsides. It's another symptom of the "geek" disease [udolpho.com].

Re:DVORAK -- just for fanatics (1)

Jerf (17166) | about 7 years ago | (#18737195)

Yes. Optimizing a device you spend tens of thousands of hours using is such a waste of time. Definitely only for status and stuff.

If you want to make a rationality-based argument, even "miniscule" benefits add up to a slam-dunk decision in a rationality computation across so much usage.

Most people aren't rational on this issue at all, neither switchers nor bitchers.

Re:DVORAK -- just for fanatics (3, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | about 7 years ago | (#18737561)

How much of an improvement in QWERTY could you see if you spent as much time improving that skill rather than learning DVORAK? Obviously you hit diminishing returns, but for a lot of people, the effort and time spent to switch just won't get enough of a return.

Re:DVORAK -- just for fanatics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737353)

Harsh, I saw a lot of myself in that essay. Time to make some lifestyle changes.

My sample (4, Interesting)

Jerf (17166) | about 7 years ago | (#18736947)

Well, in my sample size of one, 100% of users have switched. Therefore, clearly, there's nowhere to go but down.

Addressing some myths:
  • It's probably not any faster, but it is much more comfortable. There's no scientific evidence whatsoever about whether it affects carpal tunnel, neither for nor against, so you're on your own.
  • You don't need a special keyboard, just the willingness to actually learn to touchtype. Even if you don't switch to Dvorak, you really ought to learn to touchtype anyhow.
  • Code complaints vary from language to language. [] and /= may switch, but I actually took the time to do a character count in my Perl code (what I work in professionally) and it turned out they were as close to identical as to make no difference. You can make your own custom layout to move those back, but the further away from a standard layout you get, the more nervous I am. (I did end up remapping Caps Lock to Backspace, which has been nice, and that's not special to Dvorak. The key is to unmap the normal Backspace key; you'll learn in nothing flat.) Some languages may suffer more, some may even come out ahead.
  • You don't lose QWERTY per se, but I find there is a "reloading" period of five or ten minutes before I can really crank along again. If you're just using the keyboard briefly this can look like you'e lost QWERTY; I think this is the kernel of truth behind the myth.

Less strain (1)

MechaBlue (1068636) | about 7 years ago | (#18737185)

My personal experience is that strain from typing goes down by 30-40%, which can make a huge difference. I've found that laptop keyboards have a similar strain reduction due to the lower force needed and shorter travel distance. The Dvorak kbs are significatnly more expensive but worth it for desktops. There is little advantage for coding but there is a large advantage for documentation and commenting. A major downside is a productivity hit for a few days or weeks until the new layout is learned.

I'd really like to see Dvorak or dual keycaps for the MBP (I'd be willing to shell out a good $200 for an option that doesn't violate warranty and works with the backlighting). Hopefully the OLED keyboard will make it into laptops soon.

The answer is NO! (4, Informative)

joto (134244) | about 7 years ago | (#18736965)

Very few people are switching. Very few people ever did switch. And very few people will switch in the future. I use Qwerty, or a national variant of it, as is 99.99% of everybody else using a computer. I have never switched to Dvorak. I once considered it, and determined it would be a waste of time, as I'm not a secretary, I already type pretty fast, there is no Dvorak for Norwegian, and I like having labels matching output on the keys of my keyboard. Also I'm weird enough as it is, and don't need to type weirdly too. So in conclusion, no I haven't really wanted to make the switch, otherwise I would have done it long ago. I have absolutely not noticed an increase in Dvorak use lately. It's probably the same two people who are still using it now, as it was in 1952.

I switjved tb Dborgx (5, Funny)

sakusha (441986) | about 7 years ago | (#18736981)

I chpngyd to thp Dvprak kehboxc ank thp qualxpy og my coginq chamgbd drabaciralle.

Re:I switjved tb Dborgx (4, Funny)

CptNerd (455084) | about 7 years ago | (#18737025)

I'm a bit unnerved, I was able to understand what you typed on the first pass...

Re:I switjved tb Dborgx (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737507)

Same, but I work at disneyland so I deal with understanding gibberish on a daily basis

Re:I switjved tb Dborgx (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737543)

Hey me too and i've never used a DVORAK in my life...

Dvorak is fun! (5, Interesting)

pizzach (1011925) | about 7 years ago | (#18737029)

I have been using Dvorak for years. It has been an interesting mental exercise...but I would not say it is more productive. It's just different.

Some things you should consider before taking the plunge:
  • Dvorak seems to be worse for Japanese. There a lot of words only using one hand. Not to mention it's a pain setting the default layout for Japanese to Dvorak on some OSs.
  • VIM isn't as much fun in Dvorak when you have to switch randomly to QWERTY. For one thing, ":wq" is all done with on one hand.
  • The curly braces feel too far in Dvorak when coding
  • You will need to keep your qwerty skill up. Especially during the learning period.

I also had some unforeseen side-effects occur using Dvorak. When I had first started becoming proficient in it, my QWERTY skill practically disappeared from lack of use. When I had gotten my first web design job, my boss thought I was a computer newbie at first because I was typing so slow and with so little confidence. I didn't want to go mucking changing his keyboard layout so I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thank God keyboards have the QWERTY letters on them. (I never thought I would say that.)

On the other hand, my computer is an impenetrable fortress of solitude nowadays. I run a desktop with no icons, Dvorak keyboard layout, Left handed mouse setup, all on top of Japanese Linux. You just try and touch my computer. I recommend you use a 6 foot stick.

To wrap up, I want to say you're a sissy if you actually buy a Dvorak keyboard or dare rearrange the keys. Thank you.

Re:Dvorak is fun! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 7 years ago | (#18737289)

Dvorak seems to be worse for Japanese. There a lot of words only using one hand.

Sounds perfect for japanese pr0n chat!

Re:Dvorak is fun! (1)

Falladir (1026636) | about 7 years ago | (#18737593)

VIM isn't as much fun in Dvorak when you have to switch randomly to QWERTY. For one thing, ":wq" is all done with on one hand.

qwerty: colon is on the right, w and q are on the left.

dvorak: colon and q are on the left and w is on the right.

Niether layout has them all on one side. Do you not have to key the colon in manually? I'm a newbie at VIM.

...my boss thought I was a computer newbie...

I'm having a hard time imagining a situation in which you couldn't casually remark "I'm a little slow on qwerty because I use a different keyboard layout." I always get great reactions when I say that.

you're a sissy if you actually buy a Dvorak keyboard or dare rearrange the keys. Thank you.

This is 100% correct.

Re:Dvorak is fun! (1)

pizzach (1011925) | about 7 years ago | (#18737653)

Oops, my bad on the wq thing. I'm not as awake as I had thought I was. I have a feeling the last sentence of my post is probably costing me mode points....

I use Dvorak but (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | about 7 years ago | (#18737053)

I'm not a gamer. I like it better than Qwerty, my wrists don't hurt anymore. However, I used to touch type Qwerty, now I can't. This isn't a big deal but would someone point me if a USB device exists that could be plug in between the keyboard and the computer that could translate qwerty signals into dvorak ones? I would find this helpful on computers other than my own.

If you want to learn Dvorak, like a foreign language I would suggest to plunge in and stop using qwerty. Your muscle memory needs to get accustomed to the new system and changing in between is not helpful. I initially tried learning dvorak by taking online lessons in small doses. After six months, I wasn't getting anywhere. I switch cold turkey one weekend, and by Monday morning, was a touch typist again (I spent roughly 6 hours on online lessons that weekend and did all my other computer stuff in Dvorak).

There are potentially better layouts designed recently but I want to ask anyone with experience with the "Neo" Tastatur/Layout - is it better in your experience?

Neo Layout:
(German - has useful visual comparison to QWERTY, DVORAK, and other layouts)
http://pebbles.schattenlauf.de/layout.php [schattenlauf.de]

If you never have heard of it:
http://pebbles.schattenlauf.de/layout/index_us.htm l [schattenlauf.de]

Re:I use Dvorak but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18737201)

Wouldn't it be easier just to pick a Dvorak keyboard layout [imageshack.us]? I recall hearing that Windows has similar functionality, and I'd be surprised to learn you couldn't do the same in Gnome or KDE.
Tickletaint [slashdot.org] (forced to post logged-out due to fucked-up moderation)

Re:I use Dvorak but (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 7 years ago | (#18737245)

If you are replying to my request for a usb device that intercepts qwerty signals and traslates them into dvorak signals, I have all my computers set on dvorak layout.

However, there are times I use a computer at other places, at work or at school, where the system is so locked down that I cannot change the layout in software - yet I have access to the hardware.

I would find such a device easier to use than to lug around a dvorak keyboard just for that purpose.

Re:I use Dvorak but (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | about 7 years ago | (#18737631)

If you've got an FPGA dev kit, you can probably implement such a thing without a huge effort- but making that portable would cost lots of $$$ to get an ASIC and circuit board made up.

Programmer Dvorak (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | about 7 years ago | (#18737059)

Perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask this question about Programmer Dvorak [kaufmann.no] rather than standard Dvorak.

Progammer Dvorak has the same letter layout as regular Dvorak (allowing for compatibility with other machines), but it changes the placement of punctuation in a way that "makes it easier to write source code in C, C#, Java, Pascal, LISP, CSS and XML."

Spelling! (1)

seebs (15766) | about 7 years ago | (#18737065)

"Dvorak", not "DVORAK". "QWERTY" is named after the appearance of the letters; "Dvorak" is named after a person.

I switched to it ages ago. It's not always faster, but it hurts less. I also use QWERTY keyboards, because better even than a better system is changing systems from time to time to change my muscle usage patterns.

Re:Spelling! (1)

drix (4602) | about 7 years ago | (#18737429)

I agree with that last point. Ironically I have found that the best way to "rest" my hands after a long bout of piano is to play guitar. I don't know why or how but this just works for me.

Insert Mac Elitism Here (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | about 7 years ago | (#18737217)

1. Use a pencil to pop out all the keys on your Apple keyboard and rearrange them
2. Go to "international" in your systems preferences and add Dvorak U.S. to your languages list
3. Hit shift-option-space to switch between keyboard types
4. Profit!

Now I just need to find a decent free program for learning Dvorak typing in correct order...

long ago (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | about 7 years ago | (#18737229)

I tried to switch long ago- but I got frustrated when I'd go to a lab or anywhere other than my home that didn't have the dvorak layout and all the hard-work I'd done getting used to dvorak went partially out the window and I found myself having trouble typing qwerty and lost some gained proficiency at dvorak.

The first few days were horrible- at the time I liked IMing a lot and I found myself trying to write everything in the shortest way possible and get offline. I went from being a ~120wpm typer to being closer to 5-10wpm. After a few days it wasn't excruciating anymore, but it took me almost two months to feel like I was even marginally close to my old speed.

If you switch, buy a USB hardware dvorak keyboard that you can take with you, otherwise you'll go nuts switching back and forth. If you can avoid it at all, don't use qwerty at all while you're learning dvorak- it really messes up your progress (or at least it did for me).

Anyway, I finally gave up at about 3 months, and I've been wanting to go back now that I really only type at home (work from home).

Did and went back (2, Interesting)

pescadero (1074454) | about 7 years ago | (#18737277)

A few years ago I went full-blown DVORAK for a few months. I really liked it, but I ended up switching back to QWERTY. Here are the two problems I had:

1) Shortcut keys (control-z, control-x, control-c, etc..) are all over the freaking place in DVORAK.

(If there was some way to do DVORAK for normal typing and switch back to QWERTY when control/alt/command are held down, then that would probably be cool. I don't know of any way to do that though)

2) Other people. If I've been typing DVORAK for weeks, and I try to use someone's QWERTY computer, I turn into a retarded monkey. Similarly, anyone that tries to use my computer turns into a retarded monkey.

But if a wide-spread adoption of DVORAK ever breaks out, I am willing and ready!

Re:Did and went back (2, Informative)

pizzach (1011925) | about 7 years ago | (#18737581)

(If there was some way to do DVORAK for normal typing and switch back to QWERTY when control/alt/command are held down, then that would probably be cool. I don't know of any way to do that though)
You can on Mac OS X. It's called Dvorak (Command Qwerty)

Nerds! (1)

drolli (522659) | about 7 years ago | (#18737489)

Excuse me, the statment that you where at an event where 7 of 9 people used DVORAK keyboards IMHO qualifies you as a nerd.

I have never seen a dvorak keyboard before, i do not know anybody who uses it. Maybe i am just to old (32) or something....
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