Do you QWERTY or Dvorak?

Do you QWERTY or Dvorak?

Summary: How many of you have abandoned the old-school (and inefficient) QWERTY keyboard layout and instead use the supposedly more efficient Dvorak alternative?

TOPICS: Hardware

How many of you have abandoned the old-school (and inefficient) QWERTY keyboard layout and instead use the supposedly more efficient Dvorak alternative?

I'm guessing that given the high number of alpha-geeks that read ZDNet that opinions on keyboard layouts will be split. 

  • Some of you will prefer the traditional QWERTY layout because it allows you to sit in front of any system and start tapping away (I would hazard a guess that people falling into this category won't be the type that make use of fancy split-style ergonomic keyboards and such).
  • Others will be drawn into the speed and efficiency that the Dvorak system offers.   There's plenty of evidence to suggest that the Dvorak layout is much faster than QWERTY and some people claim that it is better for you because it reduces/eliminates carpal-tunnel syndrome.

[poll id=147]

I have to be honest and say that I'm sitting here at my desk typing this using the QWERTY layout.  I felt like it took me long enough to master QWERTY well enough to be able to use it.  The idea of trying another layout just doesn't appeal to me right now, partly because of the time I feel that I'd need to learn it - I'd either have to devote a block of time to learning Dvorak and stick with it or learn it over time and take a performance hit in the interim.  Maybe I'm overestimating how long it would actually take me to learn and that it's really something that I could do over a weekend if I set my mind to it.

So, are there any Dvorak users out there?  If so, when did you learn?  How did you learn?  How long did it take?  Why did you make the shift?  Are you seeing efficiency gains from the switch?

Topic: Hardware

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  • QWERTY - 75 wpm

    I've been QWERTYing since junior high school typing class (1976). After years of doing data entry, followed by many jobs involving keyboarding, including being a programmer for 10 years, I feel safe in stating that I've overcome ANY alleged inefficiencies of the layout. At 45 years old, I can still type about 70-75 wpm.

    That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. :-)

    • Maybe you could hit 150 wpm on a Dvorak?

      I'm a QWERTY man myself and I've no intention of changing. Apparently the world's fastest typist used a Dvorak and hit 212 wpm although her typical rate was 150-170 wpm.

      Besides, I do a lot of programming and typing four or five letters followed by a {, {, < or ; does not exactly let you you get up to speed....
      • Whey-hey! A typo!!!

        That should have read

        ".... or five letters followed by a {, [, < or ;"

        How ironic in an article about keyboards! :-)
        • Are you a mind reader?

          How do you know he didn't mean "or five letters followed by a {, }, < or ;"?
          • Whoops! Never mind!

            I didn't realize you were correcting your own typo. In the same fashion, consider this me correcting myself. ;-)

            JumpedTheGun :->
          • It wouldn't happen with a Dvorak keyboard!


    Learned qwerty and while in 5th grade, doing blind typing, I don't think I would ever consider changing. Unless the gain would be more than double my current speed.
    • Speed would be nice

      but not losing my wrists to carpal tunnel would be better.
  • qwe?ty

    I lea?ned qwe?ty in high school. 50WPM
    Makes a nice chicklet sound on my IBM PC.
    Looks like I am going to have to b?eak down and ?eplace the keyboa?d now!

    Oh g?ea*! What nex*?
    D T Schmitz
  • Dvorak

    In 1998, I was writing a long document when I noticed that my wrists started hurting.

    I went to the doctor and he said that it was probably muscle strain and suggested that I take breaks. (He also installed the brain to computer connector so I wouldn't have to type anymore - just kidding but some day that will be the case and we'll never have to type. Let's just hope we don't get a virus - sorry, that's really bad isn't it.)

    Seriously though...

    I purchase 2 ergonomic keyboards - one for work and one for home. I think the ergonomic keyboards make a huge difference in and of themselves.

    I did some research about Dvorak keyboards, and having some Czech blood myself, I decided to give it a try. I pasted the letters of the keyboard on my work keyboard so I could actually see where the stuff was.

    It was really tough at first but after about a week I started getting the hang of it. I was touch typing proficiently after a month and have used Dvorak consistently on all the computers I use.

    I should take the next step and put key caps on my home computer so my kids can have a choice of which keyboard format they want to use.

    The biggest advantage of Dvorak is that the fingers travel significantly less than a Qwerty.

    And yes, it's hard to type on the computer when it's set to Qwerty but that comes back to me after a little bit.

    In the end, voice recognition will replace keyboard formats.

    "Just use the keyboard."
    "Keyboard? How quaint."

    Can anybody name the movie?

    - earlofpeatrig
    • Would that movie be Star Trek?

      About the "Just use the keyboard" dialog on a movie, was it on one of the Star Treks, when they travelled back on time to save the planet?

      I read somewhere that the Dvorak advantage in typing speed wasn't that great, and that the old story about QWERTY being invented so it wouldn't gum the typewriter mechanism wasn't true. Maybe when I have a chance to try Dvorak I can give you an answer as to which is better (more comfortable)...
      Roque Mocan
      • Getting the straight scoop ain't easy

        [i]I read somewhere that the Dvorak advantage in typing speed wasn't that great, and that the old story about QWERTY being invented so it wouldn't gum the typewriter mechanism wasn't true.[/i]

        None of the speed tests are adequately designed and are usually administered by those with some sort of point to prove. The people I know who have switched to Dvorak have usually done so because of the comfort advantages. But it seems sensible to me that more efficient movement would translate into faster speeds. It has certainly been true for me, since I couldn't type at all on the Qwerty set up.

        But I think your source that hoped to debunk the reason for the weird Qwerty layout is just wrong. Those old typewriters could get mucked up rather easily and slowing down the typist was an easy, low-tech solution.

        I learned to type in the 60s and the typing teacher wouldn't let me use the manual typewriters because I hit the keys so quickly with so much force that the machines had to be repaired. (My habits from music practice may have had something to do with that!)
    • Star Trek

      Scottie trying to put a formula for some kind of super alum. plastic. I remember the title, but it was the one where they were trying to bring whales back, so the stupid black cylinder wouldn't get them.
      Such a dumb idea that he could remember how to use a Qwerty keyboard at blazing speeds. The needed a Matrix idea to program the device within seconds.
      As far as Dvorak use for the majority of PC users? Not going to happen in my life time, unless there is a huge movement to push it, and since when this topic was studied 20+ years ago there wasn't a super great reason to learn it.
      • typos

        just ignore the typos.
      • Dvorak's keyboard will never catch on....

        ... because the he was not smart enough to have his name as the first six letters on the top row - unlike Mr Qwerty!

  • I've been touch-typing since I taught myself...

    ...when I was a teenager. I'm now 50 and don't see any point in trying to learn a new keyboard layout. When MS first brought out the Natural keyboard I bought one as soon as I could afford it. After a day of typing on it I was up to speed (45wpm). I own three or four of them now. I bought a couple when MS came out with the Natural Elite keyboard (what a way to mess up a great idea). Also, I supply my own keyboard for work (I'm a programmer) - the MS Ergonomic 4000. It's not quite as good as the original Natural but better than the Elite or the Pro (I gave my Natural Pro away).
    The only downside is when I have to use another computer with a standard keyboard - I type slow on it and make mistakes because the keys aren't where I'm used to them.
    Beat a Dead Horse
  • shortcuts

    I've put some time into learning Dvorak, and it is by far a faster and easier method of typing. However, my annoyance is a result of the keyboard shortcut commands I know for everything.

    I tend to be a lazy computer user, and try to do as much as I can without moving my hand to my mouse, so I've memorized a great deal of the keyboard shortcuts. A lot of these are strategically placed in certain groups or spots on the board. The best example is cut-copy-paste. These are all in a row on a QWERTY setup, but on Dvorak, they're all over the place.

    If there was an easy way to re-map those commands when switching between qwerty and dvorak, I'd make the switch permanently.
  • abcd

    I long for the day that a strictly alphabetical keyboard becomes the rule: abcd is the thing! Simple, easy, intuitive.

    Greetz, Pjotr.
  • I Azertyb

    For a number of our international users out here the switch to Dvorak is impossible as we are not using qwerty. I am an azerty-b user and I would like to consider a dvorak, but it would not be a dvorak nay more anyway in order to suit my needs. How is this type of problem solved for people typing text in 4 languages, with 3 dominant ones? (written by a Belgian member) ....
    • Dvorak is best suited to English & West Euro

      You have a great question.

      I'm disappointed to hear that people who use alphabets or languages that are not based on Roman style alphabets are forced to use variations of Qwerty, which was designed to be inefficient and serves no good purpose, given our current technologies.

      Dvorak is based on English language letter frequencies, which can be quite different from other languages. Vowel-heavy European languages such as French, though, are at least as compatible as English for me. YMMV

      I think much of the benefits of Dvorak come from clustering the vowel keys in the "home key" range of the keyboard.

      Each language probably presents individual problems when it comes to determining a healthy keyboard pattern. But keeping frequently used keys close together, and getting rid of the staggered layout are ideas that could be applied to any language.

      Many years ago, when Greek fonts were not readily available, I was able to program my keyboard to display Greek characters. Now, that meant that I had to program each character, and needed to use at least 2 fingers simultaneously to type them out, but it was better than the other alternatives available to me in the 80s.

      Perhaps a bit of experimentation with reprogrammed keyboards might help those like me who have physical difficulties that are aggravated by inefficient, repetitive use of their hands.