It has been a bit more than week since I started with the Colemak keyboard layout and now I type at an average speed of 34wpm. Starting was really challenging, my wpm dropped to a low 2 :) .
The truth is, I would really push myself to type a longer word, not to mention a sentence! But with practice (mostly keybr.com) I got up and running faster than expected.
The reflection I have now is that it seems like a good (time, nerves, frustration) investment. The feeling I experience is quite nice. My fingers, while typing, seem to have a somewhat rolling motion over the keyboard compared to the chaotic jumping of the QWERTY layout. I notice that wrist motion is also minimized to a near halt, which is good in the long (years to come) run. After all, healthy hands - happy typing career!
Nevertheless, I catch myself typing off track, as if the keys were back to the QWERTY layout, but that’s probably because of my muscle memory and years of typing on a different layout whereas typing on the actual QWERTY layout is not affected at all.
This move to Colemak didn’t come suddenly. (shock!)
While I was searching for my mechanical keyboard, I would often end up on some keyboard blog where the writer was using a different layout other than the usual one. Most of these were Dvorak or Colemak. Long story short, in the end it was out of curiosity that I took upon myself the challenge to switch to Colemak and not until later I would find out that these layouts were well thought and focused on saving the long-term wear on the fingers and wrists.
Continuing on, the screenshot below shows the most challenging keys during my training. The one after, shows the interesting error rate drop. The more I typed, the less I had to use backspace - meaning one less key wasted during typing.
There are two sites I found of interest, a good comparison chart: http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/carpalx/?popular_alternatives and a character distribution chart that, as a programmer, I find eye-opening: http://xahlee.info/comp/computer_language_char_distribution.html
Should I recommend the switch? Probably, but if curious, give it a try and challenge yourself. Unless you try, you’ll never know what you’re missing out.