34 thoughts on “Dvorak Typists

  1. I used Dvorak as a teen, and then gave it up when I had to get a temp job as a typist, where I couldn’t count on it being “available.”

    I tried to go back later but I found it difficult to accomodate all the weird symbols I frequently needed to type as a Mac OS 9 developer (mainly in MacsBug). Maybe it would be easier to go back now.

  2. Dvorak user for 1 year – and I’ll never look back. Interestingly, since I’ve switched to a the dvorak format I find that I am also ambidextrous enough to write as quickly and almost as legibly with both hands.

    I don’t know if the two have anything in common, but I like to think so.

  3. I’ve wanted to learn it, but always been afraid I wouldn’t be able to work at someone else’s computer.

    It’s bad enough when they don’t use emacs, or if they’re using xterms instead of gnome-terminals.

  4. I would like to try Dvorak, but my primary software tools (ProTools and LogicPro) have key commands that are laid out very sensibly on a QWERTY keyboard.

  5. The best part about typing Dvorak is when people come over to your desk and try to use your computer. “No, you won’t really be able to type anything.” They never get it. “Oh, OK. Hey, why does this say ‘C-m a nro.p’???” Then they always blame you, like you’re the weirdo who insists on using a ridiculously unorganized keyboard layout. :)

  6. On a Mac you can use the Dvorak layout with the qwerty commands, thus your ProTools commands can remain where they are, and you can go to Dvorak. Or you can set your machine to switch layout rather quickly with a command sequence.

    I’ve been Dvorak for more years than I can remember. People still trip out when they sit down an my machines.

  7. I use Dvorak all the time. It infuriates my wife. And if there is guest who wants to check their e-mail, then apple+space makes for a quick change. I tried for ages to learn no type using the QWERTY layout but never really improved. But with Dvorak it’s plain sailing. Changing the keyboard layout is the first thing I do when I’m on a windows machine in an internet cafe. So much more intuitive.

  8. Man….. I’m more worried that I’ll break my brain if I try to convert after 15 years of typing.

    The really need to teach Dvorak to kids coming out of school…..

  9. I’m in the midst of converting to Dvorak, I’m sick of being the same as everyone else. I want to “Stick it to the man” and do something completely different to the norm. I’ve been doing that physically for a few weeks now, and now I want to do it with my computer, only a matter of time till I have stuck it out long enough to really have “stuck it to the man”.

  10. I’ve been using Colemak for about three months now and have almost surpassed my Qwerty WPM.

    After some research I discovered that Colemak was designed to be a practical alternative, not to just Qwerty, but also intended to surpass Dvorak’s flaws. At one point in time I did experiment with the Dvorak keyboard layout, but I would always switch to Qwerty while programming. One of my biggest pet-peeves have always been the locations of the Z, X, C, and V keys. Colemak fixes this problem by keeping them in the lower left and replaces the caps lock key with backspace.

    Hope this helps, and enjoy the light read.

  11. One good reason to get a Toshiba laptop…

    The keys come off really easily and can be rearranged for Dvorak, no problem at all.

    I have a (slightly oldish) P30 thingy and it works a treat.

    Now if only I could get over 10wpm in Dvorak…!

    I suck at typing :(

    -Alister

    1. Depends on the laptop. I have a newer Toshiba P870. The clips for the F and J keys are slightly larger than the rest, and that size different goes right to the keyboard base, which means the those two keys cannot go in their dvorak positions, nor can the U and H go where the F and J were. Made me so mad when I realized that! :( I’d have to stick labels on those four which will just look ugly. Guess I’ll just have to keep a printed guide beside the keyboard until I fully memorize the Dvorak positions…

  12. I’ve never used Dvorak!
    I’m a QWERTY user but I really want to know with what Dvorak is better than other layouts(QWERTY for example)? Just curious… Maybe I’ll switch some day…

  13. I’ve considered moving the Dvark side a few times but as I understand it, Dvorak is optimised for typing English. I mainly type PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS and other non-english languages so I assumed it wouldn’t be all that helpful. I guess I was wrong?

  14. I tried to switch. But I didn’t have the patience, and the pros didn’t seem to outweigh the cons.

    Most of the work I do is “thought work” anyway. It’s not the actual typing of the code that slows me down.

  15. I’ve tried Dvorak a couple of times but I don’t find it all that comfortable. Putting the very commonly used L key in the top right hand corner where your right pinky has to stretch to get to it is just plain horrible for starters. And don’t get me started on ls -l …

    I’ve been experimenting a bit with the Colemak layout on my Kinesis ergonomic keyboard this evening, and though I am painfully slow with it, my first impressions are that it feels a lot more comfortable than Dvorak. Having said that, whether or not I switch permanently remains to be seen.

  16. Okay, so how do I get started learning Dvorak and do they sell keyboards for it or do I have to memorize the layout?

  17. I’ve been using Dvorak for about 8 months now, and the pros far out weigh any cons for me. @Tamlyn Rhodes I do a lot of CSS and XHTML on my Dvorak layout and the repetitive stress my old qwerty layout was giving me in mostly my right hand quickly went away after I switched to Dvorak. This is probably do to its logical layout which forces you to use both hands equally when typing. Also I feel I am almost as fast of a Dvorak typist as I was a qwerty typist and I’ve only been using it for 8 months. When I do get behind a qwerty it just takes a couple moments to switch back. To anybody thinking about switching: Do it. Just pop those keys off your keyboard, rearange them and don’t look back. Use something that was invented to help people type faster (Dvorak) not slower (qwerty). The worlds fastest typist will only use Dvorak (212 wpm) if it means anything.

  18. I’m curious whether anyone is able to switch between the two with relative ease. I’ve been curious about Dvorak for years, but, although I mostly use my own computer, i do frequently use other computers. Not sure whether my *brain* is dexterous enough to switch between the two layouts.

  19. @Janet

    I only using Colemak at home, but Qwerty everywhere else (school, work, LiveCD’s, other PC’s that I’m fixing) and have no troubles at all switching between the two. However, I need to look at the keys when I use Qwerty. It’s not a big deal or noticeable as my WPM (words per minute) seem to be about the same speed as touch typing in Qwerty before discovering Colemak.

  20. I converted to Dvorak some one or two years ago. Since I use my computer often, and also IM a lot (at least in those days) it took me about two weeks to get it flowing as good as qwerty :).

    It really isn’t much of a problem using it on other computers , there are little no-admin programs that easily switch keyboard layout. I don’t remember where you find it, but it’s probably easy with Google. If you’re not convinced, read the Dvorak Zine at http://dvzine.org/. If you happen to not find any nifty Dvorak layout changer, you could just email me.

    Oh, and about switiching between Dvorak and Qwerty, that’s very easy. In Windows it can be done by a key combination or by clicking the keyboard symbol in the lower right corner. Don’t hesitate to try it!

  21. I would happily switch to Dvorak (I’m a self-confessed geek, always up for fiddling with tech) but I have a couple obstacles:
    *There are no Dvorak keyboards for sale in the UK (none that I can find at least) and I’m not the key-prising type
    *As well as my own computer, I frequently have to use University computers which are set for QWERTY (and I doubt they are set up to let people change that!). I will in a few years be working in an office with the same obstacle

  22. I never heard of Nathan Myhrvold until I read this article. It doesn’t look like many people like him though.

    Anyway, I’m trying Dvorak. I found a pretty good website “http://dvorak.nl/learn.plp”. Anybody who wants to learn to type Dvorak should check it out. I’m starting to get it. After about a week I pretty much know where all the keys are.

    I tried typing a paragraph earlier today though — very hard. So I’ll keep at it until it gets a little easier, then maybe I’ll switch over to that full time. For now though, I don’t feel like struggling through everything that I need to type just so that I can learn it faster. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  23. I don’t realize I’m typing in dvorak anymore.
    The initial 2-3 weeks were a pita.

    Still think typing in dvorak is a handicap, when the rest of the world is using against you.

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