Switching from QWERTY to Colemak

QWERTY, the most common keyboard layout out there, was designed to prevent you from typing too fast! If you want the long story (and part of how Dvorak was created) you can read The Dvorak Zine. If you want the short story, QWERTY was designed to place the most common letters away from each other because, in typewriters, it was common for keys to jam when typing too fast. So why are we still using this layout when we don't have to worry about this anymore? It's time for everyone to switch to a new layout.

About a month ago, I decided to switch to a different layout. I only knew about Dvorak and Colemak at the time and, because Dvorak was more popular, I decided to go with Dvorak. After two days, Dvorak wasn't for me. The 'L' key was in an awkward position where I had to use my pinky a lot even though it is a common letter. I also didn't like how it rearranged the punctuation marks. It was kind of disappointing that my first attempt of switching layouts was a failure, but I kept at it with Colemak.

Colemak is a much newer layout. It improves on some of the flaws that Dvorak has and doesn't change as many keys as Dvorak from the QWERTY layout, only 17 are moved. I almost have a month with Colemak and I don't plan on ever going back to QWERTY (well, it will remain on my phone). I still haven't reached my QWERTY speeds (I was able to type at around 100 wpm) but I am slowly improving (currently at 45 wpm).

Switching layouts is not easy, you have to unlearn QWERTY and will be hitting keys thinking you are still in the QWERTY layout. But if you begin the journey, don't give up! Here is a list of benefits, listed on the Colemak FAQ that Colemak has over other layouts to get/keep you motivated:

  • There's an active and growing community of users.
  • Colemak has been designed to be easy to learn and to allow easy transition from QWERTY.
  • Colemak keeps the Ctrl+Z/X/C/V in the same place.
  • Colemak doesn't overwork the pinkies.
  • Colemak's design is considered stable.
  • Colemak is available for many operating systems.
  • Colemak has typing lessons.

I hope you will join me in leaving QWERTY.