Why can’t we have ABCDE keyboards from now on? Isn’t the reason why the QWERTY keyboard was invented now obsolete?
The great new is that Kaleidoscope let’s you change the layout of your Keyboard.io and Chrysalis is a very simple graphical configuration tool to do this.
You can have an ABCDE layer on your Model01 and try it for a while…
… And with the Atreus, you can even change the keycaps order to look at your fingers when you’re lost in the alphabet
The goal of any good keyboard layout is to reduce finger travel distance. This means putting the most common letters on the home row, then placing still-common characters within easy reach of the stronger fingers (index and middle finger). With this in mind, an ABCDE keyboard would be awful. It would get a few common letters on the home row, but the most common would all be far out of the way. Notably, not one vowel would be in a prime location on the home row, but that’s not its only problem.
You can find some more info here, which shows the travel distance for three different layouts. I personally use Colemak despite the fact that Workman is allegedly better. I used to use Workman, but the problem I have with it is it places “ly” on the same finger, which is a common-enough pattern as to be annoying.
And on that note, while QEERTY isn’t the best layout in general the constraints which led to its creation happen to correlate pretty well to what makes a good layout, and under those same constraints the other better layouts would also have worked pretty well.
QWERTY isn’t as awful as people think, and the fact that you can expect to have it pretty much anywhere without any brain retraining necessary is a point in its favor, IMO.
I’ve tried alternate layouts and, in my experience, as soon as I get back up to 35WPM or so, I’m in just as much pain as my 120WPM on QWERTY, so it’s not as if getting a slightly more efficient layout immediately solves any problems that are inherent to typing in general.
The constraints that led to the QWERTY layout are likely a myth. There is a great video on youtube where someone analyzes old typewriters and telegraphing machines etc.
I think it was this one: QWERTY or DVORAK? Debunking the Keyboard Layout Myths by Hanno Embregts - YouTube
Basically the most prominent conclusions are:
- There are equally frequent bigrams of keys which are right next to each other and could (and often would) cause a jam of the mechanical parts as those which are often laid out to be the reason why the letters are scattered around as they are.
- Older layouts show a much more ABCDE like variant, which indicates that it actually started that way.
- Layouts over the time show shifting of letters that might have been requested by the typists because they were common causes for errors or to make frequently used ones easier to reach.
- Old machines did not have the numbers 1 and 0 as you would use the letters I and O for that, so they were moved to the upper right to be next to the other numbers.