Switching keyboard layouts at the same time as starting with the Model100?

I’ve never learned to touch-type, and now after all those years I’m fairly used to hunting-and-pecking on a QWERTZ/Y keyboard. When ordering my Model100, I thought “Wouldn’t it be a great idea to finally learn to properly type with this keyboard?” and also “Let’s use a better layout than QWERTZ!” (Colemak-DH). As a software engineer, I type mostly code (using auto-completion and keyboard shortcuts as much as possible), shell commands, and short prose (chat, email, commit messages, etc.) in English, French, and German. So far in my career, my inability to touch-type hasn’t negatively effected my productivity (as far as I can tell), though I’m still ashamed of said inability. :pensive: :shushing_face:

Now, having plugged my Model100 in, typing on it is dead slow because I have to look up almost all key strokes and get used to putting all my fingers to work. I’m still on QWERTZ and I hesitate to make my life even worse by switching to Colemak-DH. I guess, since I can’t touch-type either layout, they are going to be equally painful to learn. I’m also not sure, given my “typing mix” that Colemak is going to be an improvement (access to symbols is the same between the two).

What do you think? Is learning Colemak a worthy investment for a developer? Should I stick to QWERTZ, learn it first and then reconsider other layouts? or just go back to my regular keyboard…

From personal experience, learning a new logical layout (like Colemak-DH) and a new physical layout (Model 100) at the same time is less of an issue than learning to touch-type and doing either of the previous two at the same time. Doing all three at the same time sounds like a huge annoyance. However, I’m one of those people who have trouble being proficient with multiple logical layouts: the moment I was proficient in Dvorak, I promptly forgot how to type QWERTY - so this may very well skew my view.

Similarly, also from personal experience, switching from one logical layout to the other had little impact on my productivity, even though in my case, some of the symbols did move between QWERTY and Dvorak - they just didn’t make a whole lot of difference. Later on, I also moved my number row from the top of the keyboard to a numpad-like layout on a layer: slightly harder to access, because it requires a layer switch, but the numpad layout allows me to type any number with one hand, in a more compact, friendlier layout, which is a bigger win. So access to symbols is also something that can’t really be judged on its own.

In the end, it’s a question of comfort.

Do you feel annoyed when you type QWERTZ? Is there anything that you don’t feel is comfortable to type on it? No? Then stick to QWERTZ for now, you can always experiment with another layout later.

Do you feel that there’s something wrong with QWERTZ? Do you experience any stress on any of your digits? Do any of them feel overworked? If yes, try something else, be that Colemak-DH, or Programmer Dvorak, or Engram (Engram is great, btw), or any of the bajillion layouts (sorry not sorry).

I suppose this isn’t helping much, so I’ll just pour some more oil onto the fire, and mention that you can also experiment with OneShot keys, home-row mods, and a whole lot of other interesting features you can use on the Model 100. All of which have the potential to improve how comfortable typing on your keyboard feels. Potentially more so than switching to a different logical layout.

Now that is the one thing you shouldn’t do. :wink:

I’m on that crossroad too. Today I’ve received my Model 100. I need to get used to . . . But, I’m already typing between 45-65 wpm. I’m not going to bring it to work yet. But i am considering to switch in those Colemak-DH key caps, because I need to learn typing on this new keyboard anyway. I’m not convinced yet, though.

Sounds like you’re in a fairly unique position (not being really wedded to a layout), but I’d still be a bit cautious about overloading your brain. I’m a touch typist, used to separated hands, but staggered QWERTY (MS Sculpt) and my typing is still very stop & start after almost a week with the Model100. I’ve tried other layouts over the years (seriously with Dvorak & Colemak) and, although it takes a bit of effort, you can fairly quickly adjust, so I wouldn’t worry that sticking to QWERTZ for now (if that makes life easier) would make it any harder to change to a different layout later on.

I’m mostly in the same position, except for the fact that I can already touch type QWERTZ. I also planned to move to Colemak-DH along with the Model 100 for software development and German and English.

Now while I can already touch type a staggered QWERTZ layout, columnar Colemak is quite a different physical arrangement of both letters and keys, which I would assume makes me need to learn touch type anew, at least in part. So I’m thinking: well how do children learn to touch type? They might have little experience in using keyboard at all (maybe more so 20 years ago than nowadays of course). And the way I really learned it initially was by using an app called “Tastenteufel” (key devil), which gave guidance on where to place hands and fingers, then made you practice each key one by one, just typing lots of F and J, then adding D and K, etc. And that is of course the best way to learn any physical skill: start off with practicing very simplified movements which are just a part of the complex whole.

So my plan is do exactly that again, just probably with a more modern learning app: every day just spend some time on practicing a few letters, until all of them feel natural. I also believe this is far better than trying to immediately do everything on a new layout, which will make your learning progress much slower and more frustrating too.

I’m also thinking that it could be beneficial to switch letter layout and key layout at the same time. That way it might be easier for your brain to differentiate it from the old QWERTY/Z keyboards, meaning it will be easier to retain the typing skills for these, so that you can still type when using someone else’s computer etc.

The second issue are the symbols needed for programming as well as the German-only letters ä, ö, ü and ß. My plan for the symbols is to heavily rely on the fun key/layer to type those. Since I can configure them independently from Colemak etc. I will put everything needed for programming in easy to reach positions on this layer and type them like that. I believe that should work very well.
Now when it comes to the German letters I’m not sure yet how to do it. I expect that holding an extra key to type them will be too annoying because they fairly common, so I have to see if can reasonably alter Colemak to accommodate them and how to even do that. Since you will need French as well it might be even more difficult, I guess you will have to experiment.

As of yet I have barely started that journey, so I can’t confirm that my plan works well. It’s just an educated guess as of now. We’ll see how it goes.