I'm switching to Dvorak...

| ~5 minute read


So I've finally taken the red pill and switched to the Dvorak Programmer layout; and now you have to read about my experience heh heh. Now whether Dvorak actually makes you more accurate and/or faster hasn't really been proven and I won't be talking about that, but facts & logic aint gonna change my decision now.

Y tho

I am not ashamed to admit that the main reason for this was because it's cool and quirky. The other main reason is that I wanted to get better at typing. I, like most people, learned typing the wrong way. I started out by looking at the keyboard while typing, and slowly moved on to touch typing. but looking at the keyboard is bad for your posture and eventually reduces accuracy. Surely it's possible to learn the right way later on, but in my opinion it is just easier to forget everything and learn from the start... preferably the hard way! Now that's where layouts like Dvorak and Colemak come in handy.

Why not colemak?

Dvorak (especially Programmer's Dvorak) seems more attractive as a programmer, but who knows, maybe I'll try out Colemak one day too! I will say that Colemak seems more sensible for keyboard shortcuts but I hated the default ones anyways. But I love how Dvorak has commonly used symbols in more accessible places.

First thoughts

Initally it felt really hard but comfy in Google Docs (yes I sometimes have to use it) and it was surprising how many words I can make just from the home row. But when it came to other programs... Oh dude

It was hell. It's still hell. I cannot use my window manager, I cannot use Doom Emacs, I cannot use vim. Using a new layout is confusing enough, but it's 10x worse when your brain just hits h,j,k,l without thinking. I somehow typed out a part of this article in emacs but since "First Thoughts" I switched to vscodium just to keep my sanity.

Second thoughts

Fuck my typing speed literally became 17% of what it used to be. It actually feels much more frustrating than I imagined. I literally cannot use my pc properly anymore. I'm sure I'll get it back but for the time being typing this article on 14 WPM actually feels like shit. I'm literally taking way too many sanity breaks. I've been writing this since yesterday!

On the plus side, ctrl-t and ctrl-s are soo much more comfier! I've already started to fix my muscle memory. Before, I used primarily the left shift and almost always the left ctrl key and with Qwerty I had to be constantly conscious about it in order to keep the usage of the left and right keys balanced, which was almost impossible! With Dvorak it's much easier because I'm building better habits from the start. That's not a Dvorak thing; that's a new layout thing.

Does Dvorak help though

Well yes and no... In the end, it all boils down to your level of practise. With proper training you can become the best typist while still using Qwerty. It's you who is improving! But like I said, it's easier to start over with good habits rather than to try to forget older bad habits. It's a more miserable experience but it's a one-time investment. Also, I think what helps more is applying blanking stickers on your keyboard in order to encourage you to not look at the keyboard. You can find ones meant to be applied on keyboards online, but I used some paper stickers I had lying around. It doesn't look as good since it's DIY but it gets the job done.

With that being said, I do agree that Dvorak is a superior layout. It requires much less finger movement to type the most commmon words and has many more combinations in the home row. Only caveat for me is that most programs have keybindings that only make sense for Qwerty. Vim is obviously hell at start, I wonder what Gimp and Kdenlive would be like.

Qwerty is outdated!

Qwerty was made for typewriters. It deliberately spreads apart more commonly used letters, increasing finger movement. In the context of typewriters it makes sense because it prevents jamming. But for computers, It's pretty outdated and less ergonomic. The ; key under the little finger has seemed funky ever since I learned touch typing. Dvorak just makes better use of all the Fingers! Just the position of the s key is a huge selling point for me.

While other layouts require serious commitment, they also put less strain on your Fingers! It's definitely isn't easy, and it's not for everyone. I've taken the red pill, would you take one too?
Let me know!