Author Topic: I want some advice on ergo layouts  (Read 3041 times)

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Offline ergo_guy

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I want some advice on ergo layouts
« on: Thu, 31 August 2017, 19:45:29 »
Just a little background about myself to start.  I just started college and am majoring in engineering.  I handwrite my notes, so I really only type for papers, reports, emails, and some minor coding work.  I currently type on my laptop keyboard, I have a let's split, but am still waiting on keycaps (they should be here next week).  I can touch type on my laptop but I'm pretty slow (30wpm), when I look I do slightly better but still pretty bad (35wpm).  I used to be faster, but haven't really done any typing all summer.  So I think that I should start using Dvorak or Colemak, but am open to suggestions for other layouts.  I'm leaning towards Colemak due to shortcuts being the same, but I can relearn those if it is worth it otherwise.

TL;DR
As a young slow qwerty touchtyper what layout should I use instead?

PS.   Yes tp I am going to tent my keyboard to a steepish angle.

Offline MajorMajor

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Re: I want some advice on ergo layouts
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 01 September 2017, 20:29:10 »
First of all, changing your layout isn't going to make you much faster. I switched from Qwerty to Dvorak and gained maybe 5-8% on my WPM. Most the reason to switch is for ergonomics, not speed.

Second, here's how I view Dvorak vs Colemak - I think Colemak by and large is superior, except that it's not installed standard on most major OS. I don't want to be in a position where I would have to download some shady looking config file from a website and run on a corporate computer in order to be able to type efficiently. Same with visiting family, etc.

Dvorak is a keyboard option on every major OS I'm aware of, so switching to and from it is a breeze. Keyboard shortcuts suck with it, though - there's no denying.

If you want to get faster at typing I think you just need to practice typing more. Build that muscle memory.
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Offline ergo_guy

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Re: I want some advice on ergo layouts
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 01 September 2017, 21:07:11 »
Sorry if I wasn't clear enough in my first post, but I know switching layouts won't magically make me faster. I figured if I am going to spend time practicing, I should probably do it on a layout better than qwerty, considering I have very little practice time invested in it. The whole colemak versus Dvorak compatibility doesn't seem like much of an issue to me since in college I will be using my own computer and keyboard. I could see how that could be an issue later depending on employers, but I would rather wait and deal with that later if it becomes an issue.  I'm leaning towards colemak right now but I'm also intersted in other layouts with higher alternation over colemak such a MTGAP.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: I want some advice on ergo layouts
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 03 September 2017, 11:07:19 »
hahahahahahahahahaha...


yea it'll all workout with tenting..


The layout isn't critical IMHO because when you're pushing past 130wpm,  the barrier is NOT where the key is,  it's keeping your visual pacing in sync with hand movement.


The fight between which layout is more efficient is m00t. at the upper echelon of speed,  layout doesn't hold you back,  the human brain holds you back..



And specific to dvorak, which is the most popular alternative layout,  the placement of   l  and r,   those are very important letters, and I don't think they should be placed where they are currently.



Offline ergo_guy

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Re: I want some advice on ergo layouts
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 04 September 2017, 10:14:38 »
hahahahahahahahahaha...

yea it'll all workout with tenting..

The layout isn't critical IMHO because when you're pushing past 130wpm,  the barrier is NOT where the key is,  it's keeping your visual pacing in sync with hand movement.

The fight between which layout is more efficient is m00t. at the upper echelon of speed,  layout doesn't hold you back,  the human brain holds you back..

And specific to dvorak, which is the most popular alternative layout,  the placement of   l  and r,   those are very important letters, and I don't think they should be placed where they are currently.


So what layout do you use then, a vegan specific layout?

I know that the layout won't be what keeps me from typing super fast, that will mainly be down to how much I practice. But having a layout with a really high load on a certain finger would be worse ergonomically, and considering I will be typing for the next 50 years, it seems to me that I should choose a good layout to reduce the chance of injury.


Online algernon

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Re: I want some advice on ergo layouts
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 04 September 2017, 10:33:15 »
I know that the layout won't be what keeps me from typing super fast, that will mainly be down to how much I practice. But having a layout with a really high load on a certain finger would be worse ergonomically, and considering I will be typing for the next 50 years, it seems to me that I should choose a good layout to reduce the chance of injury.

Layout is very, very personal. Language, type of text you input all contribute to what layout would work best. Whether you find hand alteration or finger rolling great or annoying is another factor, among many. Modifiers and their behaviour (traditional, one-shot, sticky, or dual-use Ctrl/Esc and the like) also have a huge impact on the layout, not just alphas. Whether you use numbers or symbols more often can also change how the layout looks (my "number row" for example is symbols, because I use numbers less often, and have a numpad layer for them instead).

Learning one layout and then tweaking it to fit your needs is also something I would highly recommend. Our jobs, tasks, habits change over time, why shouldn't we adapt our layout as well?

(With that in mind, I find Dvorak to be a reasonable starting point.)

Offline nomaded

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Re: I want some advice on ergo layouts
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 04 September 2017, 11:28:04 »
I've been touch-typing Dvorak for over 15 years. I was touch-typing Qwerty before that. There were very few situations where I felt that I needed to be able to type really fast, when typing only Qwerty. I switched to Dvorak for efficiency reasons -- not needing to leave home row as much. At that time, Colemak wasn't really an option -- certainly not a default option in the OSes that were commonly available at the time. I've been working in IT for almost 20 years. I have not found my switch to Dvorak to be much of a hinderance, even though I can't fully touch-type Qwerty anymore, but most every keyboard in the States has labels for Qwerty, so re-orientation is easy.

Luckily I don't have any sort of RSI. I have had tired hands in the past, but due to evolving nature of my jobs over the years I never needed to type for 8 hours continuously. i would always have breaks due to being interrupted to help someone, or needing to get up from my desk to deal with a problem elsewhere is the building, or surfing pages for research, or just writing notes/drawing diagrams to figure out a problem.

In recent years, after touch-typing Dvorak, I've started to customize my layouts -- not so much the alphabet, but more like how I need to hit various symbols, functions, or macros. This is the reason why I love building my own keyboard -- I get to customize the hardware and the software to how I want, and over time have the option to evolve how I type, and what I type on.
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: I want some advice on ergo layouts
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 04 September 2017, 11:36:15 »
I've been touch-typing Dvorak for over 15 years. I was touch-typing Qwerty before that. There were very few situations where I felt that I needed to be able to type really fast, when typing only Qwerty. I switched to Dvorak for efficiency reasons -- not needing to leave home row as much. At that time, Colemak wasn't really an option -- certainly not a default option in the OSes that were commonly available at the time. I've been working in IT for almost 20 years. I have not found my switch to Dvorak to be much of a hinderance, even though I can't fully touch-type Qwerty anymore, but most every keyboard in the States has labels for Qwerty, so re-orientation is easy.

Luckily I don't have any sort of RSI. I have had tired hands in the past, but due to evolving nature of my jobs over the years I never needed to type for 8 hours continuously. i would always have breaks due to being interrupted to help someone, or needing to get up from my desk to deal with a problem elsewhere is the building, or surfing pages for research, or just writing notes/drawing diagrams to figure out a problem.

In recent years, after touch-typing Dvorak, I've started to customize my layouts -- not so much the alphabet, but more like how I need to hit various symbols, functions, or macros. This is the reason why I love building my own keyboard -- I get to customize the hardware and the software to how I want, and over time have the option to evolve how I type, and what I type on.



Good write up there..   my layout has evolved as well..

the base is still qwerty,  with 4 letters modified due to ergodox column layout.

it could certainly still change in the future as well..


again, Tenting,  is critical for rsi,    layout is not.    the reason i say this is,  the majority of typing / piano playing problems is wrist related,  fingers are usually ok,  because ultimately they're not being put in position for torsion they're not designed for.

whereas the wrist is really messed up by having them meet flush against a flat keyboard..




Offline ergo_guy

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Re: I want some advice on ergo layouts
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 04 September 2017, 20:40:42 »
Thanks for all the advice guys, so I've decided to go with self-modified version of VU for now, and see how I feel about it after a couple of months of practice.  Although when I finally get my let's split completed (keycaps should come tomorrow) I will probably use it with qwerty for a couple of days to get used to the ortholinear layout and the tenting, before switching.  This is what my planned layout looks like if you guys are interested, or have any suggestions on things to change.


 Tab        Q      C     D      M       V       J       W       U      K       ;     Bksp

 Esc        N      S     T       R       H       Y       I        E      O       A       '   

 Shift      Z      F     G       L       X       B       P       ,        .        /     Enter

Adjust   Ctrl   Alt    GUI  Lower Bksp  Space Raise Left  Down   Up   Right


Left shift tap dances into capslock, enter when held is shift, escape when held is control. All pretty standard stuff.

I might change the left spacebutton backspace to a enter/shift later, but I figured when I am still learning the layout I will probably be using backspace quite a bit.

I made the adjust layer besides having the standard change baselayer and led lighting, have the standard qwerty windows shortcuts, so when I hold adjust and press where 'x' or 'c' would be on the qwerty layer it will send 'control x' or 'control c', so that should help with not having to relearn the common shortcuts right away.

Offline wolf

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Re: I want some advice on ergo layouts
« Reply #9 on: Sat, 23 September 2017, 18:24:24 »
 when I finally decided to learn to touch type - after years of looking at the keyboard and hitting the keys with whichever finger happened to be the closest - I went for Dvorak because it was designed to minimise a lot of the things that were deliberately built into QWERTY to slow typists down and prevent key-binding on early typewriters.

I've personally found Dvorak very good - though I dare say that if I had learned on Colemak, I would have found that very good as well.  I also found that using keytweak or Xmodmap to alter the layout of the number keys to 7531902468 as per Dvorak's original idea put ( and ) nicely close to my index fingers due to the pairings of a standard computer.

I haven't got fantastically fast at typing - a little faster due to no longer having to constantly look between keyboard and screen - and I would say I've hit my natural limit.  I type as fast as I need/want to type to get things done - I'm generally composing text rather than having to copy someone else's work as fast as humanly possible or keep pace with someone's spoken words, so the speed limit is more as fast as I can come up with the words I want.  I can now type as fast as I can write by hand, as fast as I can formulate a sentence, which I classify as "fast enough".

Could I possibly have learned to touch type on QWERTY as fast?  Very probably - my natural typing speed is well under that of fast QWERTY typists.  Are my fingers doing a lot less work than they would if I were using QWERTY?  I don't doubt it in the least.  Far fewer hurdles of the home row, common digraphs close together rather than split across the keyboard etc etc etc.

The biggest thing that slowed me down and caused me comfort problems was the physical layout of a standard keyboard with its staggered rows and the placement of pretty much every important key in inconvenient places - Tab, shift, enter and backspace off to the sides under the pinkies, Ctrl and Alt buried two rows down from the home row and - due to there being no real standard between different keyboard manufacturers - randomly placed between any other keys they might want.  Even though I can type most keys without looking, I'd often have to look and move my hands to do common Ctrl-something  shortcuts.

I fixed those issues only by making a custom keyboard tailored specifically to my requirements with a large number of keys placed in arrays that could be reached by my thumbs - now I can use shift, Ctrl and Alt and (at work) the "Win" key to do keyboard shortcuts without having to reach to the sides or curl my fingers right down.

Moving to vertical columns angled to avoid deviation of the wrists has also improved comfort immensely.  It took under a week for me to get used to the alignment of the keys.

I didn't bother tenting my custom keyboard because I've never experienced problems with pronation of the wrists - just as I can use a thumb controlled trackball without having problems with strain of the thumb - other people may well have different experience of the matter. 

For my part, not having my left wrist perpetually bent outwards and not having to bend my right wrist outwards to reach many keys I frequently use has been a real improvement on how long I can type without strain.  At work and at home, I put in many hours on a keyboard and I'm definitely noticing that my hands, wrists and fingers don't "burn" like they used to.

I would say that the best plan is to examine the way you personally type and find what works best and is most comfortable for you.   Your layout and description of function looks great.  I hope your Let's Split works extremely well for you.
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