I think “it depends”. For instance, if I have to touch the mouse my productivity goes through the floor. Why? Because I’m partially blind with fine and gross motor impairment, so using a mouse, FINDING the ferschlugging mouse pointer, even with assistive tech, and actually navigating to the right UI element to point and click is AGONIZING.
Not just for me, but for anyone who’s ever had to watch over my shoulder while they try and direct me to interact with some on screen UI element. (No, that one, no, up, now left. UNGHHH)
So yeah, It Depends.
As a violinist, it’s important to me that I’m able to do as much as possible on my laptop without a trackpad. Small, precise movements - scrolling, selections - put a lot of tension in my bow hand’s index finger especially. I actually switched to vim recently in an attempt to wean myself off of trackpad dependency and I want to say I can feel an improvement…
I realize that a trackpad isn’t exactly a mouse but many people don’t carry mice around with them which makes it relevant here, I think.
This brings to mind Plan 9 for me. I don’t have a lot of experience with it but I’m totally on board with many of its philosophies. From some of the papers I have read though, it seems like the designers are totally convinced that the mouse is somehow superior to the keyboard, as though it’s an unquestionable fact (though my memory is a little hazy on that). Were the same studies cited there? They seem incredibly flawed and unconvincing. There are so many factors that go into something like this that it seems impossible to prove one way or the other in any general sense, so I’m not sure why any sane person would try?
For me personally it has never been about speed, so much as comfort. I’m more comfortable lazily flicking through webpages with a mouse, and I’m more comfortable programming without one (hate constantly moving my hands). It’s probably better to simply know your audience’s preferences when designing interfaces rather than getting hung up on what is ‘faster’ or more ‘productive’ (or just be flexible and allow both, as most do anyway). Otherwise, I’m not sure why it should matter.
An experienced keyboard user with a keyboard is much faster than an experienced mouse user with a mouse. A non-trained user might be faster with a mouse than a keyboard, because fast keyboard usage requires more training.
Like the article says too, this depends largely on what you wish to accomplish. There are tasks which will almost always be faster with a mouse. Aiming in FPS games comes to mind as a spectacular example.
FPS gaming is just one specialized example. For general computer use (web surfing, programming, email, etc.), experienced keyboard users are much faster than experienced mouse users, especially when using tools that are made for keyboard enthusiasts:
This sounds a lot like the point the post was making. People who like keyboards think they’re faster with keyboards even when they’re slower.
Well, how many professional gamers use any of those? Or, to give another example: a lot of things in Photoshop or the GIMP are going to be much faster - and much easier - with a mouse, than with a keyboard. Some other things in both are going to be faster with a keyboard.
Point still is: the keyboard is not always faster. For a lot of things, it is. For a lot of other things, it is not. And how much of these each person uses varies from person to person.
I’m not a gamer or designer, but some things in those programs are probably faster with a mouse. GIMP and Inkscape are faster with knowledge of keyboard though. It’s much faster to hit ‘o’ than to grab a mouse and find the eyedropper tool in GIMP, or ctrl-shift-f in Inkscape to open the fill settings.
Web surfing, text editing, window management, and other common tasks are unambiguously faster with a keyboard (by a trained keyboard user). It’s worth the time investment.
Shortcuts are faster with the keyboard, yes. But once you selected the eyedropper tool, will you use the mouse, or the keyboard to do something with it?
It is worth investing into using the keyboard efficiently - I never said otherwise. But it will never be unambiguously faster for everything. It will always be “it depends”.
Sorry, I might not have explained my point well. I don’t mean literally for every single hand movement – only that someone who is experienced with advanced keyboard control will be much faster than an advanced mouse user who doesn’t use many keyboard commands, all other things being equal.
I think it is questionable to compare an environment that is optimized for keyboard use (emacs, vi) with an environment that mostly serves to provide a particular metaphor (desktop/folder/trashcan) and which is not optimized for efficient usage but for some idea of being simple to use for non-programmers. I have no doubt that an experienced acme user with a well configured working environment will be just as efficient as an emacs god, and probably with less cognitive work, even though the latter point is probably impossible to prove.