About 2 months ago, I switched from QWERTY to using the Dvorak keyboard layout. As an aside, the layout is called Dvorak because it was patented by Dr. August Dvorak - the upper left keys are NOT replaced with D, V, O, R, A, and K as some people have clarified with me (see Wikipedia article). The Dvorak layout was suggested to me by a friend who switched months earlier and I agreed after some serious deliberation. But this article is not about the deliberation, rather how well it is going so far…
Last weekend, I reached over 60 wpm in a typing test. This is still below my QWERTY stats of an average speed of 65 wpm and a burst speed of 95 wpm. But it is going surprisingly well and generally pleasant.
To learn Dvorak, the process I followed was quite simple. For 2 weeks, I trained for about an hour a night by working on the exercises in A Basic Course on Dvorak. I just ran each lesson there twice. Outside the training, I still used QWERTY. After finishing the course, I made the full switch and avoided QWERTY almost entirely. I no longer used training tools, except every weekend to track my improvement.
My typing speed improved steadily until about 50 wpm. At the end of the 2-week training, it was a little over 20 wpm. I reached 30 after a week, 40 after another, and then 48 wpm. It slowed down significantly since then. With 60 wpm today, I improved only by 12 wpm after 4 weeks. But I’ve reached my targets so far by improving by 10 wpm until 40 wpm, the minimum required typing speed for clerk-typists. I target to reach my old QWERTY average of 65 wpm by the end of the year.
It was only difficult in the beginning, and only frustrating when participating in chat conferences. For some strange reason, I had more chat conferences than usual (more than the 1st 9 months of the year). I also noticed that typing punctuations needed to be exercised to get used to them. Fortunately, punctuations are used regularly in programming. Also, it’s useful to have the Dvorak keyboard layout wallpaper to cheat.