Today I learned about an alternative to the QWERTY and Dvorak… Colemak. While I am committed to fully switching to Dvorak, I decided to see what Colemak was all about. The short version of my discoveries is the following:
- Colemak maintains certain key positions from the QWERTY layout (CVXZ – corresponding to the most common shortcuts), making it easy to learn.
- Colemak moves backspace to Caps Lock’s position.
- Both are superior to QWERTY, but neither are significantly superior to the other.
- Dvorak is a built in alternative layout in Mac OS X and Windows. Colemak requires software.
Personally since my plan is to totally rid myself of QWERTY, holding over positions to make the transition easier is not a huge plus to me. If there were significant advantages to Colemak over Dvorak I might have been tempted to give it a try… but I am happy with Dvorak and will keep at it. Carpalx has some good data on alternative keyboard layouts.
This site has this to say about switching to Colemak:
As I’ve said, Colemak is slightly better than Dvorak and more similar to Qwerty (thus easier to learn) but you must install it, whereas Dvorak comes with pretty much every operating system. Your choice.
If you’re already using Dvorak, switching u and i and moving Backspace to Caps Lock wipes away most of the small advantage Colemak has over Dvorak.
I do like the idea of swapping backspace and Caps Lock… And I also see the merits behind swapping the u and the i.
UPDATE: Matt Mullenweg is a Dvorak typist.