So, there’s this new keyboard layout, Colemak, whose creator says it’s better than Dvorak.
What’s wrong with the Dvorak layout?
- It’s very difficult and frustrating to learn for existing QWERTY typists.
Any new layout is going to be difficult and frustrating to learn. I’d be surprised if the 11 letter locations Colemak has in common with QWERTY make it noticeably easier to learn than Dvorak with its two. I wouldn’t be surprised if it made it even more difficult to switch back and forth from QWERTY to Colemak. In the absence of persuasive evidence that there’s a dramatic improvement in learning, I’d call it a mistake in designing a new keyboard layout to prioritize keeping letters in common with QWERTY. (Maybe the creator has this evidence, but the site doesn’t mention it.)
- Placing ‘L’ on the QWERTY ‘P’ position causes excessive strain on the right pinky.
- ‘I’ is very frequent but isn’t on the home position.
I’d agree that these are Dvorak’s biggest flaws.
- It is significantly lopsided so that the right hand does too much work.
Maybe. I haven’t noticed this.
- Even though the design principles are sound, the implementation isn’t great because it was designed without the aid of computers.
I don’t take “designed with the aid of a computer” as a conclusive sign of an advantage in the general case. But, for this case, computer analysis would so handy that it’s easy to believe that, with it, Dvorak could be bettered.
- All keyboard shortcuts are changed.
Not quite all — I can name several programs that use ^A as a shortcut. And Colemak leaves only up to nine more unchanged. But my reaction is the same as to the first point. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Changing a keyboard layout is going to change shortcuts.
But it’s got to be better than QWERTY. I’ve been very happy to have gone to the bother of learning Dvorak, and recommend learning a better layout to anyone who does a lot of typing on QWERTY. I wish Colemak’s creator the best of luck in advancing this layout (certainly, Dvorak found it a thankless job.)
For myself, I figure learning to touch-type twice is enough for one lifetime. (But remapping Caps Lock to Backspace is a great idea — I’ll probably do that one.)