Typing without looking at the keyboard?

Seeing someone typing while looking at the screen seems fascinating, no? It is like the person typing has learned the language that computers speak.

I used to be awestruck when I saw someone type like this. In wonder, I’d look at the person typing, his eyes focused on the screen, and then at his fingers, moving wildly in every direction forming words magically somehow. Later, I came to know that this magical skill is called touch typing.

Before touch typing, I used to type with 2-4 fingers that moved in a frenzy.  I had the idea where a key was but I could not type without seeing the keyboard. But I was satisfied. (That’s what I used to think since I didn’t know what touch typing is).

Around a year back I came across the term touch typing (Almost the same time I was introduced to DGPLUG), and that reminded me of my fascination with the geeks who knew the art to type without looking at the keyboard.

I started practicing touch typing using gtypist. Daily. Diligently.
Initially, it was nothing but a pain in the fingers.  And I was typing slower than I could while looking at the keyboard.

But with weeks came accuracy. With months, came speed.

Few months later, I could touch type well.  And even after a long time has passed since I started with touch typing, my love for it only increased.  And to this date, I love typing and I’m still fascinated by crazy moving fingers on the keyboard. Except for this time, they are my own fingers!

During this time I also learned basic vim, which made qwerty my home.  My fingers never moved from the keyboard while writing or editing text. Like the hjkl keys were so comfortable that I wanted every application to have vim key-bindings. During this time I also tried spacemacs which was again a beauty.


That’s qwerty touch typing. How about Dvorak?

Around a month back, during a session, mbuf(one of our mentors at DGPLUG) suggested that one should be able to type at least 70 wpm.  I was shocked.  I knew he used Dvorak keyboard layout, but 70 wpm to me was more of an achievement than a lower limit. (btw, he upgraded the limit. And after a session recently, he said that 80 wpm should be minimum 😛 ).

Around the same time, while we all were having a typing race, one mentor said: “Wait till you see mbuf”, then I remembered the remark about 70 wpm and almost spontaneously asked what his (mbuf’s) typing speed was.
The reply was: “Always more than 80”.
I sat gaping at that number for a while. I was decent at qwerty, but from then on Dvorak had my attention.


Crux of a small research

Then for a day or two, I read about Dvorak and Qwerty.

Alphabetical typewriters had a problem in earlier times that while typing fast the rods attached to the keys would stick to each other. Qwerty dealt with this problem by spreading the keys so that clash was less often.
But this was in 1873!

Also, vowels that are present in almost all English words are not in the home row (except ‘a’).
Whereas in Dvorak all vowels are in the home row and in fact under your left five fingers!

TH: One of the most used key combinations used are under two adjacent fingers of your right hand, on the home row.

Also the keys that are used less are pushed at the positions that are a little harder to reach as compared to the home row keys.  Like v is pushed below the right hand ring finger.

The point here is that for Dvorak your fingers rest at the home row for longer as compared to the spaced out layout of qwerty.  You can type more effortlessly.



One Comment Add yours

  1. This was really nice to read.exactly the kind of post I expect from and apprentice programmer you’ve convinced me to move to Dvorak.
    really well done

    Liked by 1 person

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