1. 9
  1. 3

    Thank you for this!!!!

    After using Colemak (3+ years) and then attempting Workman (slightly better than Colemak at reducing discomfort with reduced horizontal index finger travel for me personally), I’m ready for a keyboard that’s optimized for reduced pinky usage (even on Windows/Linux machines, I’ve swapped Ctrl with Alt/Meta such that keyboard shortcuts primarily use my thumb like Mac OSX’s Cmd) while still reducing the horizontal finger motion that was so common with Colemak.

    Time to roll up my sleeves and learn QGMLWY!

    For anyone who suffers from typing discomfort, I can’t recommend alternative keyboard layouts enough. It’ll likely take a long while to get used to typing in a different keyboard layout, however (I believe Colemak took me well over 8+ months to get decently proficient at [80+ WPM; my QWERTY baseline is about 95WPM], and I never did get proficient to the level I would have liked with Workman…).

    However, if you’re not willing to take the plunge to retrain your muscle memory (not a small undertaking!), there’s two small changes that really helped me out which I would recommend to anyone:

    1. Swap Capslock with Backspace. No more reaching the top right side of the keyboard with your right pinky in an awkward motion! Some VIM users have told me they remapped this to Esc… but I’m much more of a Ctrl+C person (plus, after the second tip below, Ctrl+C no longer becomes a torture test on your left pinky!)
    2. Swap Left Ctrl and Left Alt so that hotkeys only requires your thumb to hold onto the modifier instead of your pinky! (This is unnecessary if you’re on Mac OSX)
    1. 2

      I had pinky problems and have been using QFMLWY for 6 years. It’s one of the best investments I’ve made in my career. If you want a keyboard try the Kinesis Advantage.

      I wrote a little more here last time this came up on lobste.rs

      1. 2

        Thanks for the testimonial! Btw, what made you choose QFMLWY over QGMLWY (the latter is the one with ZXCV unchanged)? Part of the reason I was attracted to Colemak/Workman was because I didn’t want to have to change my hot key muscle memory/bindings (one of the reason why I never gave Dvorak a try). I’m guessing you didn’t find that to be a problem?

        I’ve demo’d the Kinesis Advantage in person, and wasn’t quite a fan of the bowl size (I have small hands. I’ve also used the Ergo Dox previously and had to sell it because my hands also too small to reach the keys and the thumb clusters comfortably)–I’m thinking of getting a TypeMatrix 2030 keyboard since I did enjoy the columnar non-staggered layout of the Ergo Dox.

        1. 1

          Oops, I actually use QGMLWB, I can never remember which and just copied what I (mistakenly) said last time. They’re similar enough that you can confuse them so I don’t think it matters what you pick :) I’d just go with your intuition.

          However, your concern still applies. The answer is that I don’t use keyboard shortcuts outside of my custom Emacs setup in any significant capacity. But even if I did, it wouldn’t have been a consideration–I overhauled everything at once and just resigned to being useless for a few weeks.

          The TypeMatrix looks good to me except for Ctrl under the pinky. I think if I had used this keyboard I would have kept with the foot pedals.

          1. 1

            Yeah, I’m definitely going to give the “most optimized” version a try… What do I have to lose ;)?

            Re: TypeMatrix: Per my own “life pro tip #2” in my GP post, I would personally be swapping Left Ctrl and Left Alt, so that I’d be using my thumb instead of my pinky for Ctrl (I never ever use Right Ctrl anyways, so that’s not much of a big deal, and if I needed to use Alt, for say Alt + Tab, I just use a combination of my right thumb [on R-Alt] and my left ring finger [on Tab]).

      2. 2

        I took the hardware way to solve the ‘pinky’ problem, and bought a typematrix 2030. It brings the enter amd backspace in the middle so you use your index/thumb to press them. The shift/control keys are also taller to make them easier to access.

        1. 1

          I swapped CapsLock for Ctrl and its 1000% more comfortable for my hands to not have to reach for the Ctrl key. Having CapsLock on home row and then having it be such a rare keypress (does anyone use caps lock any more) is easy to change into a big win.

          I’ve used Dvorak for a couple years and as a programmer, I would recommend Colemak to someone interested simply because they leave the symbol keys alone. Having dvorak’s home row vowels is a huge win but largely off setted by putting <>? up at QWE.

          1. 1

            However, if you’re not willing to take the plunge to retrain your muscle memory (not a small undertaking!)…

            Still not a small undertaking, but you feel better even after an hour of fumbling as you learn it. Compared to Colemak and Workman where I still couldn’t get with O and I after weeks of practice…

            ‘A’ being on the other hand entirely will take some getting used to.

          2. 1

            Interesting. This appears to take a similar approach as the AdNW project (German language site only). They defined quantitative metrics inspired by Dvoraks methods and then ran a genetic algorithm over a 50/50 English-German corpus.