Sunday, 23 January 2011

Dvorak typing tutors for Programmers

So, chances are that you have been trying to learn the wonderful dvorak layout, and have found your way to this page. Great!

This "tutor" does not teach you how to type English using the dvorak layout, but rather focus on special characters instead. The sort of special characters that come up often during programming. If you want to get started with typing normal words and letters, you're better off with ABCD or some of the other websites/applications out there. If you don't happen to know what (or who) Dvorak (the scientist, not the composer or ) or the Dvorak layout is, head over to the Dvorak Zine site to find out.

Why use a tutorial when you can learn this by doing some actual programming/designing?
Good question. The answer is because this reduces unavoidable frustration.

Often times when you are programming, its no so much a matter of syntax but rather a matter of algorithms. As a programmer, you tend to focus more on the results rather than the way you get there, and typing then (like syntax) just becomes an intermediary step on the way to the final program (or web-page).

But switching from one keyboard layout to another means that the certain special characters (particularly the semi-colon and the dash) will not be in the same place that they used to be, a problematic side effect for programmers. And when you are trying to program, your fingers will tend to reach for the old locations. Then, you'll have to press the backspace key (or some other key if you happen to be a vi or emacs user) and try again. Needless to say, this whole process gets annoying very quickly, not to mention the fact that it results in a huge productivity drop.

And hence is my reason for creating a dvorak tutorial for programmers. So, it would be wise to only completely switch to dvorak, after you are certain that your hands will go to the right place when you need to type a curly brace.

About the "tutor":
This tutor thing, in reality, nothing but plain ol' HTML page. You can download it to your hard drive and start typing till your get the hang of it. All I have really done is tried to formulate some patterns that come up often, to help your hands get used to reaching the right keys.

Download DVtutor.html (or view it in your browser).

Got a question, tip or comment? Send them to and we'll try to answer it in a blog post!

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