As some of you may remember, 3 weeks ago, I posted a blog entry announcing that I would be switching to the Dvorak keyboard layout.
Originally, I could type 50 to 60 WPM with QWERTY. I am now typing around 35WPM with dvorak. The keys that got me the most are the "b" (B is one key over from it's position in QWERTY), as well as the 'F' and the 'Y' (once again, 'y' is one over from it's old spot).
You may be wondering, "Is it really worth it?"... YES! Well... I think so at least. My hands now feel "at home" on my keyboard. Using QWERTY feels like such a chore, like finger aerobics.
The things that I dislike about DVORAK are the keyboard shortcuts, my muscle memory is still there some of the time. Ctrl+Z,X,C,V are all easy, but, it's a simple matter to remap the keys so that it remains the same key, but different letter.
The best way to learn Dvorak is to use it. DO NOT switch back and forth between QWERTY and Dvorak for the first few weeks, or try to keep it to a minimum, for it will just confuse you. Most system administrators are more than willing to change your keyboard layout to dvorak, if you don't have the permissions to do so. The first few days will be a struggle, but after 3-4 hours of typing, you'll be making less and less mistakes. Also, a useful tool for the first few hours is a printable dvorak keyboard that you can fold and put up as a tent on you desk for the first few hours. If you're looking for a formal way to learn Dvorak, there are two excellent web based tutors out there, DVzine , and ABCD, A Basic Course in Dvorak . If you would rather have a tutor that is local/software based, KDE's KTouch and Klavaro for GNOME.
I am also packaging aoeui, a lightweight, unobtrusive, Dvorak optimized editor. All the keyboard shortcuts seem to be set for a Dvorak user. You can move forwards, backards, by words and characters with 'htns', and lines and screen-fulls with 'gclr'.
One thing I haven't found, however, is a good french dvorak keyboard layout. There are some out there, but they are drastically different from the english ones. I'm looking for a layout with accent keys + the english layout, just like QWERTY has the same letters at the same place in both the french and english layouts.
I will finish my month, and then post a more complete entry on the pros and cons of dvorak vs QWERTY.