I Switched to Dvorak Keyboarding - Progress, Results and Thoughts

I Switched to Dvorak after 15 years

This is offtopic from ruby on rails but it is a tangent to any programmer. Here is a cartoon picture of a Dvorak keyboard.

I decided that after 15 years of using a QWERTY keyboard and having heard the testimonials a lot of programmers (rue from #ruby-lang really pushed me) i’d spoken to advocating switching to Dvorak, I would take the plunge and try dvorak cold turkey for a month. I had an average typing speed of 115wpm with QWERTY with peaks of 130wpm and a top sustainable speed of 120wpm for around 5 minutes so I figured the worst case is id lose a month of typing quickly and learn something new.

Why I switched

My main reason for switching was rumors of reduced pain and increased comfort in typing from using a dvorak keyboard. These rumors base their premise on the placement of keys being designed to put the most often used letters in the English language on the home row. There are a ton of “Why you should switch to dvorak” websites online already and I am not looking to make another one here so let me keep things short and just say this:

Before I switched

Before switching to dvorak I had frequently during a day of typing experienced muscle pains in the tendons of my arms along the tops of my forearms. I’d frequently find myself massaging my arms to ease this pain during the day. I already had tried an ergonomic keyboard and it just didn’t make enough difference to notice significant pain reduction.

The Stats of speed Increases from Dvorak Usage

Here is a small textbased journal I kept during my time learning Dvorak between September 6th 2006 and October 17th 2006. It shows my increases in speed from around 5-8 hours of use on dvorak each day. I will say that sleep is a big help in gaining speed. I noticed i’d reach diminishing returns after a long day and the next morning i’d feel refreshed and able to type more quickly.

Here are the stats:

Sep 06 5wpm
Sep 08 12wpm
Sep 13 24wpm
Sep 15 27wpm
Sep 16 33wpm for 2 minutes
Sep 26 43wpm
Sep 27 52wpm
Sep 29 51wpm
Oct 09 55wpm
Oct 16 62wpm
Oct 17 65wpm

Concluding my Study of Dvorak

This article was typed with Dvorak and I continue using Dvorak because after it was all said and done, even with a great loss in typing speed, I feel no pain from using Dvorak all day long.

It may be partly attributed to typing less since having typed faster led me to type more but I think there is more to it than that. I truly believe the Dvorak design greatly enhanced efficiency once it is learned by the human body muscle memory. I hope to continue making speed increases on Dvorak and will share any major breakthroughs if they occur.

Thank you for tuning in!