Mobile devices, Planets and the Human Condition

Indepth look at Keyboard layouts; Part 1

, posted: 23-Sep-2006 12:45

This is part one in a multi - part series on my blog, the first part is looking at some of the already existing
Keyboard layouts as an overview.
Part 2 will look at some of the layouts in more depth.
part 3 will cover in more depth what I propose at the end of this entry, along with the software to be used.
Part 4 will be the initial results.

Many of you may not have even really thought about it, and others of you may be like me, and have become consumed with finding the best input methodology possible...

There are a number of different (English based) keyboard layouts

Such as

- Dvorak
Dvorak was originally developed in the 1930s by Dr August Dvorak; Dvorak spent a long time studying people
Typing, he analyzed them to try and find out what operations slowed them down.
Unfortunately Dvorak spent his entire life fighting the big corporations trying to get them to try the Dvorak
Layout. in 1970 the Dvorak layout was approved by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) as an alternate

- Qwerty
Developed back around 1867 to 1873 by Christopher Latham Sholes, this layout was produced to stop the mechanisms
jamming, qwerty then became a bit like Windows, better alternatives originated but could not gain a foothold
Due to the complete market domination of the qwerty layout.

- Mobile phone :( (1)punctuation, (2)abc, (3)def, (4)ghi, (5)jkl, (6)mno, (7)pqrs, (8)tuv, (9)wxyz )
- Some blackberrys and similar devices- qwerty, however each key is two letters, so the top line would be (QW, ER, TY, UI, OP)

There are altered versions such as:

Qwerty based layouts
-colemak (

While the Colemak keyboard is a qwerty derivative, it claims to be better than both Qwerty and Dvorak.
They have a cool java applet that lets you compare between Qwerty, Dvorak and Colemak on the site.
And I must admit I haven’t written off taking a closer look at this particular layout.

Another qwerty derivative, this claims to be more efficient than Dvorak and Qwerty as well, I personally dont like the placement of the Q, I feel its Premium real - Estate.

Qwerak - This is apparently based on both the qwerty and Dvorak keyboards
Not too keen on this one, although I need to investigate further:

Asset Keyboard
this is another layout that is deserving of more investigation

Then there are more original ones

Such as Plum -

I must admit I don’t like this at all.

There is the Maltron (

The Maltron seems to be more popular, however I don’t know of anyone who has used it.

There are many more too.

A lot of places around the web there is people documenting how they have written a computer algorithm, that will work out the best way of writing based on the average keys used in writing, etc.

There are neural kinetic studies to say where the keys should be placed based on the pre-existing figures of keys used.

And there are others who are analyzing common and great works to come up with the most efficient or the best layout Based on the language.

Dvorak himself did a lot of investigation based on the written language - however he also studied the typists themselves.

I think there is now a better way of approaching it.

Rather than basing it on the language, or the pure physics of the finger movements, the first thing that needs to be established is The USAGE.

With the advent of the internet a great opportunity has presented itself, the ability to collaborate on a massive scale.

I am preparing to begin a study on the typing habits of as many people as possible.

To begin with this will be involving the help of volunteers.

This is what I am proposing - I will be making available for download in the next couple of days a small statistics gathering application,

What this application will do is count key usage.
On a weekly basis it will email me statistical counts - from the volunteers account, they will be able to fully view exactly what is being sent.

I will also make the source available so that people involving themselves in the study can review the source  for peace of mind :)

I will then begin collaborating the information as my intention is to find the ultimate keyboard layout.

I'll be posting shortly with information on how you can become part of the study.

More information

Other related posts:
What Keyboard layout do you use?
Optimus Maximus, OLED Keyboard release announced.
Thought powered game controller - Emotiv releases a "mindreader"

Comment by juha, on 23-Sep-2006 14:20

Hey! Where's AZERTY?

Author's note by inane, on 23-Sep-2006 14:29

My apologies, I'll have it in there shortly.

Comment by chiefie, on 3-Oct-2006 13:23

What about New Standard keyboard (ABCD)

Author's note by inane, on 3-Oct-2006 13:38

thanks for pointing that out chiefie, I`ll be sure to add that into the next post.

Comment by Akuma, on 15-Dec-2006 14:34

I'm just curious, but have you actually looked into Colemak further as you said you would? I used to be a Dvorak typist, and I changed to Colemak because I felt it was better. Honestly, I don't regret that I made the switch, but that's just me. Everyone has their own experiences.

Author's note by inane, on 15-Dec-2006 14:48


I haven't yet, however I will do so shortly, I have been to busy at work to afford the additional time to learn a new layout - (any change like that causes a small drop in productivity, which can usually be made up in extra time, however, due to workload, that extra time is already accounted for.)

however I intend on doing so shortly-

the above reason is why part 2, has not been posted yet!

Comment by Albert, on 2-Mar-2007 08:01

I have used QWERTY, Dvorak, and Colemak. I feel that Colemak is better than the other 2 and have been using it for exactly 1 month now (since Feb 1st). I highly recommend it.

Comment by Jules Vogel, on 7-Mar-2007 06:29

If anyone wants to conduct speed trials using the XPeRT keyboard layout, they can contact me at, for a free installation program. For statistics, digraphs are of interest (see the Dvorak US patent of 1936 for a definition and set of key sequence stats) With regard to placement of Q at the left small finger location on the home row: Yes, that could be improved. However, it is less than prime, since the small finger shares a tendon with the ring finger (look for it) and is shorter (reaches the lower row better) and less dexterous. Studies and comparisons of keyboards are all welcome. Any drive to get beyond Qwerty seems worthwhile.

inane's profile

New Zealand

I'm a professional Geek, and also in my own time, I am likely to write about all manner of things on this blog.
Of late I haven't updated this place much, but I need to do some revamping and dust off the cobwebs a bit. so thats what I'll do. going to aim for a minimum of three times a week updated here to begin, then perhaps head towards every day!

Who knows! 

but for now I hope you enjoy what you read, and that I aid the constant novelty and stimulus to your brain that the internet provides us all, in a way nothing else can!

I am likely to comment on everything here, but my current topics of choice are

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*general and specific ramblings
*Dvorak Keyboard

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