Few years ago I wanted to learn touch typing, for no particular reason actually but I got excited seeing in movies people typing (you know hackers ;-) ) really fast and it kinda gave me the impression of being able to do something that others can't ... which is pathetic but still that's the truth, why I wanted to learn it. Anyway as everyone else I started with the QWERTY layout.
A few of the main (2) known "things" about it
*. It is designed to slow you down - although the QWERTY lovers always seems to back it up... saying it is not true at all, but in my experience it is true (to some extent).
*. Puts more strain on your fingers - Yes, I'd say.
*. Since it is less efficient, in comparison with Dvorak grammar errors occurrence is higher - In my opinion, yes.
I did use few different programs and first it looked like an impossibility but then as the time went on I did gain some speeds but they weren't that impressive. But I knew that speeds of 120WPM or even higher isn't unreachable, although I never wanted to reach such speeds, but anything that is around 60-70 WPM was more than enough for my duties.
But one of the main things that slowed me down was the spelling mistakes that took place while typing. Although it would have "helped", of me not being a native English speaker but still I was making some errors. Then I heard about the Dvorak layout, and I mean I heard some really good stuff which kinda forced me to give a try at it.
Few things about "it"
*. Since it is designed or optimized for achieving higher speeds you can type faster - Oh yes... definitely.
*. Puts little strain on your fingers - in my experience yes (more below).
*. Grammatical error occurrence is lower - Yes.
*. Better than QWERTY - Yea... I.. mean... you... know....h ;), I love Dvorak!.
So I was saying that I switched to Dvorak. Now it took me a while to get my head around the new layout since I was already getting quite familiar with the QWERTY. But once I've gotten used to it.. I did notice a speed jump.
Another thing with the Dvorak is that they have a lot of different layouts that are designed for various purposes. For instance if you work a lot with numbers or if you're a programmer they have different layouts for you. Of course you can still use the default layout to do those tasks as well. But one of the main benefits is that Dvorak layout gives both let-hand and right-handed individuals a layout of their own!, which is something QWERTY lacks or if you've read its story, then I think you'd agree that it is actually "dropped" intentionally.
Now on the plus side I was able to gain few of the followings...
*. Speed - Yes, as I said before, Dvorak is optimized for typing (you know the most frequent letters near your fingers, etc) I did receive a speed jump and less mistypes as well.
*. Comfort - Now to be honest, I did not use QWERTY for long enough to make a judgment about this. But the rest assured, I do type decent amount of words daily but still my fingers feels very little strain. So on the comfort side, not sure how I could have end up with the QWERTY but still Dvorak does not strain me out!.
Few negative things about Dvorak
*. Now Dvorak is not as popular as the QWERTY is when it comes to standardizing (it's not even near). So as a result, if you're a Dvorak typist like me, then you just can't sit in front of a computer and start typing unless it is set-up properly. Although it is pretty easy to do but still it takes time and a big drawback in my point of view.
*. I'm not sure having to learn a different layout for coding programs and switching back to a "normal" layout while typing an e-mail is something that is beneficial. But as said I think the default Dvorak layout should work just fine for you even while doing programming, etc, but still having a lot of different variations can be a bit confusing if you're new to it.
*. When entering passwords at log-in screen, until recently Microsoft introduced it with Vista which was followed by 7 as well, now you can switch keyboards. But with Windows XP or below.. you simply can't do it. So not only with Windows... I think you get the general idea.
Well other than that, I'm quite happy I made the choice to switch to Dvorak. But if you're thinking about switching to it from QWERTY, then consider, if you have to work "switch" from one PC to the next (let's say technician) then unless you can find an USB Dvorak keyboard, it can be a bit of a headache.
Anyway, that's just what I think and I'm pretty sure you have a different opinion about it... (you know I'm just begging for a comment ;-) ).. so what do you think?...