Tell me about switching to Dvorak

How long would it take for me to learn Dvorak? Is it really a lot simpler and faster than qwerty? Is the difference noticeable?

I can type about 50 wpm on a qwerty keyboard. Should I try and switch, or should I just try and learn how to type faster on qwerty?

I don’t think that 50wpm is all that slow. I’d never consider a switch to Dvorak because anytime I’m using someone else’s computer, I’d have to switch it over to Dvorak and then the keyboard would not correlate. The same goes with using a Blackberry.

Here’s my experience switching to Dvorak.

I switched in high school just because I was bored and looking for something to do.
It took me about 2 weeks to get back up to my original typing speed (about 50-60 wpm). However this was with a lot of typos and corrections.

It took about 2-3 months for me to be at my original typing speed with the same level of accuracy before.

I don’t type much faster now than before (maybe somewhat faster) but it is noticeably more comfortable and less tiring to type in Dvorak. This is because your hands don’t have to stray from the home row as much with Dvorak
Darryl, all windows OS’s come with the dvorak layout built in and its pretty easy to switch back and forth. I’ve never really had any problems in this regard.
Also, I can still type pretty fast in Qwerty, I just have to look at the keyboard. It’s sort of two handed hunt and peck.
Blackberry is a completely different skill; Nobody is touch typing on a blackberry.

Some recommendations if you do switch:
Don’t re-label your keys or switch the caps around. Print out a picture of the Dvorak layout and keep it by your keyboard. This will help you learn to touch-type and have bettor form. You want to be able to use Qwerty keyboards without the printed letters being in the ‘correct’ place.

Don’t go overboard with practice typing while trying to learn the new keyset. Anything past 2 hours a day is probably counter-productive.

Don’t switch back and forth between the two layouts while learning. If you can commit, it will prevent sabotaging your own efforts.

I’m sure you’re right. I touch type but still have to glance at the keyboard for things other than letters, so I was somehow imagining than non-letter characters would somehow be different.

My experience was a lot like Folly’s. While I was using Dvorak, it wasn’t hard for me to go back and forth to QWERTY - it just took a few words for my brain to switch and I was good. Ultimately, however, I went back to QWERTY full time. The dealbreaker for me was keyboard shortcuts. They’re somewhat reasonably laid out for a standard keyboard, but all over the place on Dvorak. I also had problems with keys that are used for programming ({} etc.) but that may not be an issue for you.

Yes, I’ve been typing Dvorak for 10 years now. Similar experiences to Folly and Winsling. I don’t find I’m any faster, but it’s way easier on my wrists and fingers. Between piano and guitar, I’ve fought RSI/tendinitis for ages.

Yes, it makes it awkward to use somebody else’s computer, but it makes it really hard for somebody else to use yours, as well. Think of it as a double-locking password.

The most useful trick I found for learning was to print out the keyboard diagram and tape it to the top of the monitor; it makes you look up to find your way rather than looking down at the keys.

Windows can switch between Dvorak and QWERTY with a little bit of work, but on Macs it’s dead easy. Important for me because my kids (6 and 9) need to see the letters on the keys in order to type.

I’ve had key labels before - they’re a drag, they just get dirty and wear off. What’s interesting is when they’ve been on for a few months, the ones on the home row are the dirtiest, followed by the upper row and the ones on the bottom row are by far the cleanest. Anecdotal evidence, I grant you.

One of these days, someone’s going to do a complete study of the relative merits of different keyboard arrangements.

For a general overview of Dvorak, this comic will do a much more entertaining job than any of us jokers:

It probably would if it worked.

So I am interested, do you generally lose the ability to type in QWERTY if you switch to DVORAK? If so, I find it an interesting neurological phenomenon to ponder.

I’ve been doing dvorak for a few years now. I’m not that fast of a typer, 35 querty 45 dvorak, but it is much easier on my wrists and fingers. The main advantage for me however is probably the touch typing. Dvorak on a qwerty keyboard forces you to touch type. It is probably what makes dvorak faster for me and, at least when I am composing, cuts down on typo’s because I am looking at the screen as opposed to my fingers.

My qwerty has not slowed as far as I can tell. It takes less than a minute to “change gears” going either way.

Ha! Very nicely done.
Contrary to the experience of others, I have never been able to switch back and forth between touch-typing Dvorak and QWERTY; I have to look at the keyboard for QWERTY.
Then again, I didn’t actually try to retain QWERTY ability, and I’m rarely forced to use it.

I learned Dvorak in high school along with Qwerty, and switched to it entirely for about a year in college. I was marginally faster with Dvorak at the time, but have since picked up more speed at Qwerty than I ever had at Dvorak.

I eventually switched back because it was a hassle to use other people’s computers, and I figured that I’d be better off just becoming more proficient at the dominant keyboard layout. I didn’t lose my Qwerty typing while using Dvorak, but it did take a few seconds to “switch gears” if you will.

The one thing that was a huge hassle switching back and forth was passwords. I generally choose very random passwords and, after a little while, the muscle memory of typing the password is remembered more than the actual characters. I could never easily type passwords in more than one layout at a time, so it was a slow and laborious process to log in to any system on my non-default keyboard layout.

I just make sure all my passwords use only a, m and numbers.

Oops. Now I have to change all my passwords. :smiley:

The Master Speaks:

Baloney, say the authors of the article you enclose, S.J. Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis. They point out that (1) the research demonstrating the superiority of the Dvorak keyboard is sparse and methodologically suspect; (2) a sizable body of work suggests that in fact the Dvorak offers little practical advantage over the QWERTY; (3) at least one study indicates that placing commonly used keys far apart, as with the QWERTY, actually speeds typing, since you frequently alternate hands; and (4) the QWERTY keyboard did not become a standard overnight but beat out several competing keyboards over a period of years. Thus it may be fairly said to represent the considered choice of the marketplace.

Not one of Cecil’s better efforts
I don’t know what his source for the original article was, but it was obviously something pro-Dvorak and he bases his views on that.

Then someone sends him an anti-Dvorak article and he takes that one as gospel without taking the additional step of seeing if there were any rebuttals

Here’s a rebuttal of the points made in the Liebowitz and Margolis article.
The Fable of the Fable

The article cited was written by a pair of economists who wanted to disprove the “excessive inertia” theory - the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard and the USA’s reluctance to adopt metric are two examples cited by John Kenneth Galbraith where the free market has not adopted an innovation, even though the innovation was an improvement. The article “The Fable of the Keys” is itself well refuted on this web site by Marcus Brooks in the article The Fable of the Fable. As yet, no one has done a thorough ergonomic study of the two keyboard layouts.

There have been two threads in the last year commenting on The Master’s Response - QWERTY vs Dvorak…again
and Dvorak/QWERTY Myth Myth.

Ha. I posted in both of those but forgot about it. Guess I could have copied and pasted instead of re-writing my experience.
Oh well, at least I didn’t contradict myself!

I’m guessing it’s similar to the phenomenon I have with my multilingual keyboards. I can type about as fast with a US layout or a Spanish (Int) layout, so long as I’m not having to use symbols that I normally don’t. The keyboard I’m using right now is UK, I’m not allowed to convince it to be bilingual and in the two months of effective workdays I’ve been using it I’ve gone from “where the bloody blazes do these people hide the @?” to knowing it’s somewhere near the l (in any Spanish keyboard it’s shift+2; in the UK keyboard it’s shift+“two keys to the right of l”). I have “problems” with test-your-speed tests designed with US keyboards in mind because they’ll include symbols which in a US keyboard are a single, very fast keystroke (/) but in the Spanish one are two and kind of far (/ is shift+7) - typing those texts with the Spanish layout always gives me a slower speed than if I use the layout for which they were designed; this may seem self-evident, but if it was there wouldn’t be so many badly-translated tests out there!

It simply affects different keys, most letters are the same for me in any-language keyboard so long as I stick to Qwerty (Azerty ones drove everybody nuts for several hours, during international meetings in France) but they do change between Dvorak and Qwerty.