Home Hand Evaluation in Bridge C Programming Keyboard Layout

Comparing arensito to dvorak and qwerty

For full description of the following applet, see Jim A. Maxwell's original applet page. The original does not include the arensito layout, but includes statistics on non-letter characters. (The applet cannot without a major revision cope with arensito's special non-letter layout.) Also, for comparison of the arensito layout with a the layout found by Peter Klausler using his evolutionary algorithm, you should look for Adam Spier's applet version.

To see the differences in the letter layouts, paste or write some text into the applet. The applet calculates distances and probabilities that are related to strain of fingers.

Most of the results are self-explanatory, perhaps except :

The distance for a text is calculated as the sum of lengths for each key pressed, defined as

    if (previous key was pressed with the same finger) :
      length = distance from the previous key to this key
    else :
      length = distance from previous key back to the home row
             + distance from home row to key

This is a simple measure of the total strain your fingers go through when writing the text.
Same hand
The percentage of pairs of consecutive characters that are both different and on the same hand.
Same finger
The percentage of pairs of consecutive characters that are both different and on the same finger.

Discover that qwerty is by far the worst, with arensito better than dvorak. All the statistics seems to work out well for arensito, but after all the it was designed to be best on these kind of measurements.

Of course a lot can be said about the measurement of distance.

  • It does not consider the relative strength, length and dexterity of the fingers. Distance is of course an approximation to a measurement of strain of the muscles.
  • The true movement of the fingers include pushing the buttons down. These movements are equal to all layouts, but they would even out the differences in distance.
  • Your finger does not rest on the home row. At least not on the qwerty where my fingers tended to rest more over the letters e, r, i and o than on the home row. If this is taken into account (and similarily for the two other layouts) qwerty will get a huge reduction on distance, but probably not enough to close the gap entirely on dvorak.
  • It does not measure the distance used in typing backspace, numbers, commas, space, etc. (Partially solved in the original applet)
  • It does not include the reduction of strain caused when hitting diagraphs like e-r (on qwerty/arensito), or the extra strain when hitting diagraphs like e-x (on dvorak).

When I did the arensito layout, I took these factors into consideration, see the the design of arensito.

Some observatitons

Doing some testing on random texts, I found that

  • The users of dvorak have to move their fingers about 10+% more, and qwerty user 100+% more than users of arensito.
  • The users of dvorak have to use the same fingers twice in succesion about 100% more, and users of qwerty about 400% more than users of arensito. (These figures varied, but they where all in favor of arensito.)
  • The users dvorak users the same hand about 40% less, and qwerty users 10% less than users of arensito.

The two last points means that your fingers keep rolling down easy diagraphs/triagraphs. (The most frequent(?) is h-e-r which I bash down in no-time.)

The dvorak hype

If you ever considered switching to dvorak, the best arguments against it is :

  • Altough it is said that dvorak was meant to have the most frequent letters under your fingertips, this is not so. The i and r are among the 8 most used letters (and h and u are not).
  • Because all the vowels are on the left hand and "all" the consonants are on the right hand, you will not be able to hit diagraphs or triagraphs. Dvorak meant that alternating hands would be best, but I cannot disagree more. It also seems that my brain mixes the vowels causing some high error-rates.

    Even reading is easier when there is a lot of one-hand diagraphs: the word "operator" is read and written like o-pera-to-r. After using the arensito layout for a while my brain has started to recognize "pera"s in words as a unit, effectively writing "operator" as fast as any 4 letter word!
Home Hand Evaluation in Bridge C Programming Keyboard Layout
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Last modified: Sat Aug 18 23:41:22 CEST 2001