Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Aaron Toponce aaron.toponce at gmail.com
Thu Sep 27 11:01:01 MDT 2007

On Thursday 27 September 2007 10:18:54 am Kenneth Burgener wrote:
> Hello all,
> I have recently decided that I would like to invest the time in
> learning the Dvorak keyboard layout, to help reduce such things as
> Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  I am curious to find out who here uses the
> Dvorak keyboard, and what tips and tricks they have found to make the
> switch easier?

I type in Dvorak.  I found that using the gtypist program running in 
screen on my SSH server allowed me to practice anywhere anytime.  Going 
only 30min / day, I was up to my QWERTY speed in around 2-3 weeks.

> The issues I have stumbled upon are:
> 1. Solutions needed for both Windows and Linux environments.  I live
> in both a Windows and Linux world so it is important to find
> solutions for the following problems that work in both.

Dvorak is supported and installed in Mac, Windows and Linux.  You should 
have no problems getting it setup.

> 2. Lack of keyboards.  The few Dvorak keyboards I have found are all
> $100+, and I have yet to find an "ergonomic" shaped Dvorak keyboard.
> The most common Dvorak keyboard I have found is the TypeMatrix  2030,
> but it is not ergonomic.  For now I have settled upon using Windows
> "Local - Dvorak" feature, and Linux alias/xmodmap/loadkeys solutions
> I have found.

I would not recommend getting a keyboard with the Dvorak layout printed 
on the keys for a couple of reasons.  First off, you shouldn't be 
looking at your fingers when you type.  It'll just slow you down and 
you'll never learn to truly touch-type.  Second, switching your keys 
around on your QWERTY keyboard will move the F and J keys, taking the 
notch to find the home row with them.  Also, finding Dvorak keyboards 
that are reasonably priced or not ugly is difficult.  Just stick with 
what you have.

If you really must have a different keyboard, then I would recommend 
spending the $90 to get a Das Keyboard II (http://www.daskeyboard.com).  
I love mine, and would never part with it.

> 3. Location based keys: Cut/Copy/Paste/Undo or Vi's 'hjkl'.  Vi's
> 'hjkl' movement keys are no much of an issue for me, as I use the
> arrow keys provided on all modern keyboards, but for the die hard Vi
> purists, this may be a rather irritating point.  For me
> Cut/Copy/Paste/Undo being the "ZXCV" positions is very convenient,
> especially since they are one handed, and you can use the mouse while
> performing these actions. Switching to Dvorak breaks this
> convenience.  Any one familiar with a good solution?

Shift-Delete: cut
Ctrl-Insert: copy
Shift-Insert: paste

For undo, ctrl-z has moved to the other lower corner of the keyboard.  
For vim, which I use for all my coding, hljk have not been an issue 
with me, but I know they are for some people.  You can remap your vim 
keyboard shortcuts if you like.  I don't recommend it though.  Learning 
the new patterns in Dvorak has been just fine for me, and it's not 
uncomfortable at all.

> The TypeMatrix 2030 keyboard does have an extra set of keys for the
> cut/copy/paste, which is an awesome solution, but I really don't like
> the fact that it is not an ergonomic shaped keyboard.  I have seen
> mention that this is solvable using software, but I have yet to find
> software for either Windows or Linux that will remap the CTRL+ZXCV
> keys combinations only.

Again, see above.  Shift-delete, shift-insert and ctrl-insert, coupled 
with the Das Keyboard II are all that you need. :)

> The other solution I have seen is using a modified Dvorak layout
> called "Capewell Layout" [1], which keeps the ZXCV keys in their
> location, and makes some other improvements to the Dvorak layout.  I
> have also heard of a Programming Dvorak layout.  Anyone had any
> experience with these layouts?

I'm not familiar with these layouts, however, being a purist, I see no 
need for the Programmers Dvorak layout.  I learn the patterns and 
shortcuts and just go from there.

> My final comment is when I refer to an "ergonomic" style keyboard, I
> don't just mean one that "bumps" out.  I have also seen "separated
> halves" style keyboards, which I think work as well.  Anything to
> give more distance between the two hands.
> Thanks in advance,
> Kenneth
> [1]http://www.geocities.com/smozoma/projects/keyboard/instructions.ht

Aaron Toponce         ( )  ASCII Ribbon Campaign
www.aarontoponce.org   X   www.asciiribbon.org
                      / \
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