I ended this experiment within a week, but never gave an update. The short answer is that I gave up and went back to QWERTY. So basically I think Dvorak is like the Metric system in the US, with two exceptions: It’s a a better system and most people that have seen both would agree. The two caveats being
- much fewer people know about it versus the Metric System
- It would not be as easy to phase in. With the Metric system, you could show both measurements on signs and labels for a while, decades even, and teach the next generation the new way from scratch. But it’s kind of hard to use both keyboarding systems and be proficient at both, which leads me to my next set of points.
Going with my theme of two’s for the day, there were two reasons I chose not to stick with Dvorak.
- Relearning the muscle memory in your fingers and brain to adjust to a new typing system is HARD! I was typing like maybe, mayyyybe 3-8 words a minute, literally. However, I knew this going in and was willing to suffer this for a while in order to make the switch. This was a secondary reason for quitting.
- The main reason I gave it up is because, quite simply, support for keyboard layouts in Windows SUXXXXX! I thought it was a change at the driver level or something fancy, that would make it seamless. But no, its an unreliable software setting in Windows and it is often per application. I used keyboard shortcuts to switch between QWERTY and Dvorak layouts and I would have to do this every time I started up my computer (although I’m guessing that can somehow be set at startup). Anyway, I’d switch to DVORAK and be typing in notepad, then switch to Visual Studio or Word and I’d be back in QWERTY! This was very very very frustrating. It especially made entering passwords lots of fun. I’m sure there are probably some more things I could automate or extra steps I could have taken to improve this, but I was expecting it to be a ‘one and done’ kind of setting change. The fact that it was hokey at the outset made me wary and decide it wasn’t worth my time and mental investment to find out more.
Long story short, it seems to me that keyboard layouts in Windows are like the Calculator app. Microsoft must have felt they perfected it in 1993 and haven’t touched it since.