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What is the Dvorak keyboard layout?

It's a different layout for the keyboard. It looks like this:



~ !  @  #  $  %  ^  &  *  (  )  {  }  BACKSPACE 
` 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  0  [  ]  

TAB "  <  >  P  Y  F  G  C  R  L  ?  +  | 
    '  ,  .                       /  =  \ 

CAPS  A  O  E  U  I  D  H  T  N  S  _  ENTER 
                                     -
SHIFT  ;  Q  J  K  X  B  M  W  V  Z   SHIFT 
       :

CTRL    ALT [SPACE - - - - SPACE] ALT  CTRL 

It was invented by August Dvorak after extensive study of people's typing technique and the most commonly used characters. It's a (superior) alternative to the standard layout. It's physically the same, except the characters associated with each key is different.

Why was it made?

It was made because the standard layout was designed to slow you down. It was designed to slow the typist down. At the time, typewriters had the old mechanical key-and-hammer type deal, so those who learned to type fast, would often jam the machine, getting the hammers all stuck to eachother, because it wouldn't return fast enough in time for the next key to be pressed. And this was when the layout was basically the alphabet... So they put a lot of the most common keys in hard-to-reach places, so that the typist wouldn't jam up the typewriter as much, because (s)he couldn't go as fast. If you look at the keyboard, and find the first 16 or so characters of the alphabet, you will notice that they are still very much in order.

So August Dvorak set out to design one for speed / efficiency. And he did some research and whatnot to come up with the layout shown above.

Why should I use it?

'Cause it's superior. 70% of the typing you do will be on home row. That mean that your fingers will not have to travel as far to reach the most commonly used keys. So it will be easier, and faster. Besides, I use it. What better reason? :) I use it exclusively now -- except when I have to use the old qwerty -- because I think it's superior to the standard "Qwerty" layout, even if it isn't perfect itself.

Will using the Dvorak Layout prevent Carpal Tunnel and/or Tendonitis caused by typing?

Well, there haven't been any actual studies, but since Dvorak is much easier on your hands, it could quite possibly improve things. But, personally, I think the most important thing to keep in mind when typing is posture. The worse posture ( in your hands ) you have, the more pain and injury you are in risk of developing.

If you rest your wrists on the desk (or even a wrist-pad, for that matter), your arm is pointing down, yet your hand is pointing up. (The mouse is notorious for promoting bad posture, as well) The hand wasn't designed to bend much backwards. If you use your muscles and tendons extensively while in this strained position, you're going to strain yourself. Simple as that. Also, I would suggest getting a (real) ergonomic keyboard. Those Micro$hit "ergonomic" keyboards may work for some people, but everyone has different hand and arm sizes and preferrences, so the unadjustable keyboard may not work for you.

My preference is the Lexmark Select-Ease Keyboard that can be adjusted to any angle that you would ever want. It's really cool. There're also some really funky keyboards like the Kinesis Contoured Ergonomic Keyboard, but I've never used one of those, so I can't vouch for them. But check out the Alternative Keyboards User Survey for a list of lost of cool keyboards with pictures and extensize specs comparing them all. You can decide for yourself.

Will the trasition from Qwerty to Dvorak be hard?

I can't say it'll be easy. In fact, it will be frustrating. But once you start learning it, you'll begin to love it. It just makes more sense. Most of the vowels are on home row. Very cool, if you ask me. But, really, you don't have to learn that much.

You already know how to type. Your fingers know where to go for each key, and you should already know good technique if you took a typing class. So all you have to do is re-wire which character is associated with each key. It doesn't take all that long. As for new typists, there are many more real words you can type on home row alone, so I'm sure it wouldn't be as boring as learning Qwerty was.

But I would suggest using a lesson "book" that is designed for the Dvorak layout. I haven't been able to find any for sale, but there is a really good one called ABCD: A Beginning Course in Dvorak. I first learned with a normal Qwerty book. It worked, but it really sucked. L8r on I found the ABCD Dvorak Course and went through the whole thing, even tho I could already type on the layout. It really helped me improve.

How can I get one?

In fact, you don't have to buy a new keyboard. There is software for just about every type of machine and operating system that will allow you to change the layout on your keyboard. Look here.

Is Dvorak weird to learn?

If you already know Qwerty, a few things might confuse you when learning the Dvorak layout. For examle, the A and M keys are in the same spot. And the Z key is in the same spot (same finger) on the other side of the keyboard (other hand). The comma (,) and period (.) are still next to eachother on the Dvorak layout, except they jumped up two rows, and switched hands. The B key is only one key over, and so is the H key. Most of these are just coincidence, but it may throw you off at first, especially if you plan on switching between the layouts often.

But, still, the Dvorak layout is far better than the Qwerty layout, so I use it. Perhaps chord-keyboards or Direct-Brain Link-Up will replace our current keyboard interface in the future. But for now I choose to use a better layout than most people.

Um, this site sucks, and wasn't very informative. Is there anything better out there?

Yes. Try Introducing the Dvorak Keyboard. It's probably one of the most complete sites around, with lots of links. I just threw this page together, so it's not gonna be perfect, unless I decide to spend more time on it later. If that doesn't do it for y', look in a search engine and look it up yourself.



 

 

 

 

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