What is Colemak?
Colemak is alternative keyboard layout, designed as a modern alternative to the QWERTY and Dvorak layouts.
What's wrong with the QWERTY layout?
- It places very rare letters in the best positions, so your fingers have to move a lot more.
- It suffers from a high same finger ratio that slows down typing and increases stress.
- It allows for very long sequences of letters with the same hand.
- It was designed before touch typing, without any consiration to ergonomic or efficiency aspects.
- It suffers from an extremely high ratio of home-row-jumping sequences.
What's wrong with the Dvorak layout?
- It's very difficult and frustrating to learn for existing QWERTY typists.
- Placing 'L' on the QWERTY 'P' position causes excessive stress on the right pinky.
- 'I' is very frequent but isn't on the home position.
- It is significantly lopsided so that the right hand does too much work.
- Even though the design principles are sound, the implementation isn't great because it was designed without the aid of computers.
- All keyboard shortcuts are changed.
How is Colemak pronounced?
Should I relabel the keyboard?
You should never look at the keyboard. For the first two weeks I recommend using an on-screen keyboard layout utility or just place a sticker on your monitor. While touchtyping many keys will be hidden by your fingers, so you'll have to lift them everytime to see the letter below. I don't recommend physically moving the key caps because it will move the bumps on the below the index finger ("F" and "J" keys on QWERTY).
Is it worth switching from Dvorak to Colemak?
The Colemak keyboard layout beats Dvorak in virtually every criterion, but the difference will be much less noticable than the difference between QWERTY and Dvorak.
I don't have time now to learn the Colemak layout
Even if you decide not to learn the layout, I recommend remapping the Caps Lock key to Backspace. That change alone results in a 20% reduction of finger distance on QWERTY. After experiencing the difference you'll be more motivated to learn an alternative layout.
Will there be versions of Colemak optimized for other languages?
Probably not in the near future.