Keymileage calculates just how far your
fingers must travel to type something. Since the miles can really rack
Keymileage allows you to measure very long files. Distance is tallied
for both the standard and the Dvorak keyboard layouts (see
below). Take a road trip with Keymileage today.
The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard
In 1932, Dr. August Dvorak concluded years of research into letter
frequency and typing motions by introducing a radically different
keyboard layout. Dvorak's keyboard was painstakingly designed to be the
best possible keyboard for the English language.
|Dvorak Simplified Keyboard
Note how the Dvorak home row actually contains comon letters!
Also, by placing the vowels only on the left hand and all the major
consonants on the right, Dvorak ensured that the typist develops a
steady hand-alternation motion. This can make typing faster. The real
reason people use Dvorak, however, is that they swear by its comfort.
Due to Dvorak's careful placement of letters, Dvorak typing is a very
fluid motion. It makes typing on Qwerty feel like drowning flailings. Also, because the most common letters in the language are
directly under one's fingers, one's hands simply don't move as much.
Dr. Dvorak reportedly claimed that a Qwerty-typing secretary would beat
out between 12 and 20 miles of finger movement each day, while a
Dvorak secretary would move only 1 mile. A later study calls that
astronomical ratio into question.1
Keymileage lets you
investigate the question yourself.
Keymileage measures the number of inches between coordinates on the
keyboard as the
fingers are moving. At this time, the program makes no attempt to
estimate movement that occurs above the keys themselves; the simulated
typists are essentially sliding their fingers across the keys without
When a finger is moved to type a character, it is left on
that key for
the next three keystrokes, waiting for a new character to be typed with
that same finger. If such a stroke does not arrive, the finger moves
back to its default position on home row.
After analyzing over 50 MB of English, a trend had clearly emerged.
Using the Dvorak keyboard results in at least a 38% reduction of finger
over Qwerty. The figure is fairly consistent, from Elizabethan
English to all the e-mail I've ever typed. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
weighing in at 9.1 MB, exhibits the ratio almost perfectly; the 88
miles it requires under Dvorak is only 62% of the Qwerty distance.
The Altar Call
(cue the revival music if you need it)
You don't have to keep forcing your fingers to do 60% more work
than they need to. Just about any computer can be switched to Dvorak
instantly, for free. Learning to type Dvorak (especially if you already
know how to type) only takes a few weeks of total immersion. Unlike
actually makes sense, which dramatically facilitates the learning
process. Dvorak converts often see a 10-20% speed increase2
as well. Most importantly, you will chop literally miles off your
typing, which ought to work wonders for repetitive stress injury.
Switching to Dvorak does not mean forgetting Qwerty. I can still pound
out Qwerty if I have to; now I simply loathe every second of it. Now
accustomed to Dvorak, I
cannot imagine wanting to switch back.
Instructions for switching just about any
computer under the sun, as well as much more information can be found
at Marcus Brooks' "Introducing
the Dvorak Keyboard
If you don't have a Mac (heaven forbid!), this Dvorak
also calculates distances.
Unfortunately, it cannot load in files, and computes in metric.
For the ultimate in keyboard nerdiness, read this positively fascinating
into creating a keyboard layout by evolutionary programming.
The best evolved keyboard looks suspiciously familiar.
This webpage took 297 feet 5
inches to type.
Ober, S. (1993). Relative efficiencies of the standard and
Dvorak Simplified keyboards.
, 35, 1–13.
, achieved 212 WPM with her Dvorak typewriter. It bears
noting that she nearly flunked high-school typing.