Loving Colemak, boo Qwerty

Back in September I changed from Qwerty to Colemak and I must say I’m really enjoying it. Speed has been back to normal for some time now and I think will continue to improve a modest amount beyond where I was. It’s hard to describe but typing just feels really pleasant now, effortless.

Thanks @wmertens for drawing my attention back to this. I briefly considered alternative layouts many year ago and quickly dismissed them due to Qwerty ubiquity. Colemak didn’t exist then, wish I’d noticed it and switched when it did appear 10 years ago though.

When* the Textblade finally arrives I think it will be significantly easier to adjust to with Colemak. More than twice as much use on the home row instead of aiming for the smaller pads neighboring home keys.

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I see some real advantages to Colemak, but I already use Dvorak. As I understand it, the principles are similar, but Colemak is probably easier to switch to from qwerty since fewer letters are moved. But I suspect, being already adjusted to Dvorak, that there is little reason to switch again. Those using qwerty now who consider switching may want to go with Colemak rather than Dvorak - unless some hardware doesn’t give that as an option.

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I would add, a bunch of the cool features in the Textblade can easily be implemented with your existing keyboard and layout.

First one I’d recommend is home row cursor keys. Now that I’ve learned those and other navigation keys directly under my fingers it seems really laborious to move the hand all the way to the arrow keys and back.

If you do nothing else at least learn about adding layers to your existing setup.

I am still happy I switched to Colemak, although I am still not quite at the speed I was with qwerty. (I hover around 60wpm now, it seems to be going linearly since I started before the summer, so I should be at 120wpm next summer :wink: ).

Typing just feels nicer and my keyboard form has way improved due to relearning it the proper way.

I do think that if you already do dvorak, relearning is not really worth it. See the first colemak threads for ways to calculate the difference, dvorak is not as optimized as colemak, but it does come close.

Has anyone a solution to implement the layers on windows? Or even just the home row cursor keys?

I saw @wmertens has a setup for Karabiner on Mac, but haven’t seen anyone demonstrate a solution for windows. I looked at autohotkey, but it didn’t look straightforward.

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For windows, http://forum.colemak.com/viewtopic.php?id=1467 is where it’s at. AHK is a bit sucky.

My surface keyboard can’t handle the TB chords though, too many simultaneous keys, and Karabiner is more configurable still.

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I worked pretty hard at it in the first few weeks. One can get to half speed without too much trouble. At that point you know where all the keys are and its not mistakes or hunting that is killing speed. You’re still typing everything with deliberate individual keystrokes.

Rebuilding that library of fast ‘rolls’ where whole words & key sequences just come out is where the other half of the speed is.

The slower climb from 50% feels really tedious. It seems like you’re really held back although I guess it doesn’t actually cost that much. In the context of many years more typing it is a tiny cost.

Yep, I did the same and eliminated my ‘cheats’ around the edges.

Colemak has also brought the realization that it’s much easier to adopt proper touch typing when the majority of the work has moved to the home row and you’re going off base much less.

I also discovered it helps a lot when typing in the dark or odd angles like in bed because hands aren’t waving all over. You stay anchored to the home row much better.

Absolutely. While I think Colemak is definitely better than Dvorak the gain is modest and Dvorak already has fixed 90% of the disaster that is qwerty.

@Bryce Bryce, I second wmertens link. I am using the basic version of DreymaR’s PKL setup that you’ll find there. It goes waaaay deep into all all kinds of stuff including mouse functions etc that I’m not using yet.

PKL can run stand alone without installing. I keep a copy on a tiny usb in my wallet just in case I need it somewhere unexpected.

Since I am using Caps as a layer modifier I am tempted to depart from Textblade convention and use that on the open left pinky instead of the edit and select chords for accessing those right hand functions.

Making the textblade and laptops behave the same is probably worth it.

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Hmm, I don’t think that is possible in the TB, is it? Or do you mean to keep using PKL?

@wmertens @Dave Thanks for the link and encouragement to use it. I have it mostly working. I must have a few keyboard quirks to work out – apparently so do WayTools.

Did you ever find a way to get the “df” shift for the cursor layer to work on windows? The caps lock isn’t bad, but as I’m still hoping for a text blade, it would be nice to learn a single layout.

I tried making D+F work (well, S+T on Colemak :smile:) but I believe I concluded it could not be done with AHK/PKL, apart from the fact that my keyboard couldn’t handle it…

Hmm, I might have got ahead of myself, assuming too much about what can be customized. The architecture of the TB certainly has the potential for just about any arrangement but looking at the app I don’t see any way to do what I was describing.

Could keep using PKL but I was really aiming for a common interface across devices so if anything I’ll try to make PKL more like TB.

Doh. Seems I won’t get to completely homogeneous solution unless WT open up deeper customization. The current app is probably about the right level of flexibility for its intended audience. Can do a lot without being arcane. Ages ago there was mention of a possible modders kit being released in the future. That is probably the level where full customization belongs.

Yeah that’s how I read the situation too. I would love access to the SDK that maps keyboard timings to keys…