Is it worth switching to Dvorak keyboard?

3 minute read

 1. Dvorak keyboard history

Dvorak keyboard Dvorak keyboard layout

A Dvorak keyboard designed for speed typing. The Dvorak keyboard was designed in the 1930s by August Dvorak, a professor of education, and his brother-in-law, William Dealy. Unlike the traditional QWERTY keyboard, the Dvorak keyboard is designed so that the middle row of keys includes the most common letters. In addition, common letter combinations are positioned in such a way that they can be typed quickly.

It has been estimated that in an average eight-hour day, a typist’s hands travel 16 miles on a QWERTY keyboard, but only 1 mile on a Dvorak keyboard.

2. The Good side of Dvorak keyboard

Dvorak increases your speed

Typists base their fingers on the home row of the keyboard. If you want to increase typing speed, the home row is where you place the most commonly typed keys. This is exactly what Dr. Dvorak did in his layout — 70% of keystrokes are on the home row; 22% on the top row; 8% on the bottom.

In QWERTY, only 32% of keystrokes are on the home row. Which means most of the time, typists’ fingers are either reaching up for the top row (52%) or down for the bottom row (16%). So not only does QWERTY do nothing for typists, it actually hinders them.

Dvorak further increases typing speed by placing all vowels on the left side of the home row, and the most commonly used consonants on the right side. This guarantees that most of your strokes alternate between a finger on your right hand (consonant) and a finger on your left (vowel). Alternating between fingers from either hand is faster — just imagine texting with one hand or drumming with one stick.

Healthy wrist

Although its only your fingers that do the extra reaching in QWERTY, the distance adds up. A study compared the distance traveled by the fingers of two typists in performing the same task. In Dvorak, the typist’s fingers traveled 1.5 km per day; In QWERTY, 30 km per day. This extra distance increases not only the likelihood of errors but the stress on your fingers.

3. The disadvantage of Dvorak keyboard:

The Dvorak layout has been installed by default in pretty much every OS for decades but you need appropriate permissions and time to add it as an option to each computer you use.  You can still type Qwerty after learning Dvorak, but generally a bit slower.

If you have to use random computers on a regular basis which you will not be able to add Dvorak to- If you use short-cuts like Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V on a lot in applications which isn’t possible or practical to re-bind these short-cut keys in.  These short cuts are less efficient by default with Dvorak since the ‘C’ and ‘V’ keys are on the opposite site of the keyboard. This forces you to either execute the shortcut with two hands or move your left hand to the right side of the keyboard. The real annoyance is that shortcuts are often used in conjunction with mouse selection.

Shortkey Shortkey

If you use other software like Photoshop, IDE programming, Excel, Word or other tools, it’s really difficult to re learn the short key in Dvorak.



4. Finally

I’ve been tried Dvorak layout a few months ago. It’s really hard to switch from Qwerty to Dvorak and type slower at the first time, but just a few months later I get to normal speed. It’s really comfortable than Qwerty like other people said. But one thing I really don’t like Dvorak is that it’s really inconvenient when use short key. I’m developer and blogger, I use short key a lot to reduce typing. So I gave up on Dvorak.

But if you didn’t use short key much. You can replace Ctrl + C, Ctrl +V, Ctrl + X by Ctrl + Ins, Shift+ Ins, Ctrl + Del for Copy, Paste and Cut. And it’s true like Dvorak would be more comfortable to type in than Qwerty, increase speed, good for health. There’s no harm to try new thing, enjoy experience.