Eric Workman

Keyboard Layouts

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A few weeks ago on Hacker News, an article on the Workman keyboard layout, no relation, reached the front page. The user lambda linked to the White keyboard layout. The explanation behind the layout is well worth the read regardless of intention of adoption.

I've attempted to use it for a couple of weeks now, and I have some feedback:

  • I love offsetting my right hand one key to the right.
  • With the right hand home being kl;' in QWERTY, the right pinky does so much less work. My index fingers have a much easier time stretching two keys than my pinkies.
  • Having the left index finger on e and the left pinky on a minimizes a lot of movement. I think having a, e, t, i, s, and h in the home row makes a ton of sense.
  • I must use # way more often than White.
  • I associate common symbol pairs from the QWERTY layout, and I have a difficult time separating those pairs. I mean pairs such as 1!, ;:, and /?.

White includes the Rust program that he used to do the analysis on his personal typing habits. I've run this for a bunch of Elixir, Ruby, Python, some SQL, and Markdown I've written.

My supposedly optimal keyboard is

    & 1 2 3 4 5 % + 6 7 8 9 0      ! | { ] $ @ ~ ^ ? # [ } \
       y m f . ) * x k l u = _ '      Y M F , " ; X K L U - / `
        t a h e g > b s n o i          T A H E G < B S N O I
         w j p d v q r c ( z            W J P D V Q R C : Z

but I don't think I'm going to adopt it yet. I really don't like that the parentheses, square brackets, and curly braces are split from their respective pairs. I suppose I'll give my layout a shot someday, perhaps after some tweaks.