Typing Keyboard Layouts

The typing keyboard layout is any specific mechanical, visual, or functional arrangement of the keys, legends, or key-meaning associations (respectively) of a computer, typewriter, or other typographic keyboard. Mechanical layout is the placements and keys of a keyboard. Visual layout is the arrangement of the legends (labels, markings, engravings) that appear on the keys of a keyboard. Functional layout is the arrangement of the key-meaning associations, determined in software, of all the keys of a keyboard.

QWERTY Keyboard Layout

QWERTY Keyboard Layout

QWERTY Layout is a keyboard design for Latin-script alphabets. The name comes from the order of the first six keys on the top left letter row of the keyboard (Q W E R T Y). The QWERTY design is based on a layout created for the Sholes and Glidden typewriter and sold to E. Remington and Sons in 1873. It became popular with the success of the Remington No. 2 of 1878, and remains in widespread use.

The arrangement of characters on a QWERTY keyboard was designed in 1868 by Christopher Sholes, the inventor of the typewriter. According to popular myth, Sholes arranged the keys in their odd fashion to prevent jamming on mechanical typewriters by separating commonly used letter combinations. However, there is no evidence to supportthis assertion, except that the arrangement does, in fact, inhibit fast typing.

Dvorak Simplified Keyboard Layout

Dvorak Simplified Layout

The Dvorak layout was designed to replace the QWERTY keyboard pattern (the de facto standard keyboard layout). The Dvorak pattern was designed with the belief that it would significantly increase typing speeds with respect to the QWERTY layout. Dvorak believed that there were many problems with the original QWERTY keyboard pattern.

The Dvorak pattern is intended for the English language. For other European languages, letter frequencies, letter sequences, and bigrams differ from those of English. Also, many languages have letters that do not occur in English. For non-English use, these differences lessen the alleged advantages of the original Dvorak keyboard. However, the Dvorak principles have been applied to the design of keyboards for other languages, though the primary keyboards used by most countries are based on the QWERTY design.

Colemak Keyboard Layout

Colemak Keyboard Layout

Colemak is a keyboard layout for Latin-script alphabets, created by and named after Shai Coleman in 2006. The layout is designed to make typing more efficient and comfortable by placing the most frequent letters on the home row. Many major modern operating systems such Mac OS, Linux, Android, Chrome OS, and BSD support Colemak. A program to install the layout is available for Microsoft Windows.

The Colemak layout was designed with the QWERTY layout as a base, changing the positions of 17 keys while retaining the QWERTY positions of most non-alphabetic characters and many popular keyboard shortcuts, supposedly making it easier to learn than Dvorak layout for people who already type in QWERTY without losing efficiency. It shares several design goals with the Dvorak layout, such as minimizing finger path distance and making heavy use of the home row. 74% of typing is done on the home row compared to 70% for Dvorak and 32% for QWERTY. The default Colemak layout lacks a Caps Lock key; an additional Backspace key occupies the position typically occupied by Caps Lock on modern keyboards.

Workman Keyboard Layout

Workman Keyboard Layout

Being a programmer, I type a lot and I suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and tendonitis on my wrist. I’ve tried many different ways to help make it better. One way to do this is to switch to a different keyboard layout other than QWERTY. QWERTY was supposedly designed for typewriters to solve a very specific problem–to keep the types from jamming against each other. The most frequently used keys were placed apart from each other to prevent them from jamming. This results in a non-ergonomic layout. However, there are alternatives.