Experiences of almost two years using colemak

TL;DR: I like colemak, and it is a very good layout. I found some equivalent pros and cons, so I can’t recommend it to anyone without a little bit of philosophy. :)

For those who don’t know Colemak, it is a keyboard layout created to make the most used keys stay in the home row as well as make you swipe between your right and left hand.

There is a keyboard layouts heatmap for you to understand the benefits of using a keyboard layout that was designed to help you to be confortable and fast when typing instead of one that helping the operator to not jam the typewriter. I tried some code (python), English and Portuguese texts and it looks almost the same on the heatmap.

I’m using Colemak since Dec, 25 of 2013 and here are come pros and cons that I found:

The first con is that I don’t know how to type fast on qwerty anymore, now I’m typing as I never saw a qwerty layout before. The problem is that everyone uses this crappy layout and sometimes you need to use it to write and it makes you look like a granpa. The good part is that I almots don’t need to use qwerty, all devices that belog to me I’ve changed to colemak (computers, cellphones and so on), so I just need to use qwerty when I’m typing on other peoples devices.

A pro is that my typing speed grew from an average of 75 WPM to almost 100 WPM. I need to consider that I also bought a Kinesis Advantage Pro;

Kinesis advantage photo

Without this keyboard I’m not that fast. Just tried 10fastfingers now and got 92 WPM using my laptop’s keyboard.

Another pro is that I really feel confortable using Colemak, you the same way as being an experienced Vim user, looks like you don’t need to type so much. :)

Now, talking about Vim… I’m an experienced Vim user, but Vim is totally coupled with qwerty layout. I tried to remap some keys (like hjkl for example) in order to keep using the home row to navigate but it was not very good. Totay I’m just using plain colemak layout on Vim and it is not so good as it was on qwerty. For this reason I decided to try a new editor and I’m using Emacs now. :)

It took me at least a month to get back to my old typing speed, I was training everyday on 10fastfinges to get used to the layout. In the beginning you may feed some headaches because of the mind remapping. It’s not so easy to change something that you thought was the only way of getting things done. It was a great challenge for me and it just seems right, I don’t wanna use a keyboard layout that was made to avoid jams on a typewriter, Jesus, we’re in 2015 and there is not typewriters anymore.

Hope this post helps a lot of colemak newcommers and the only thing I could say about my journey is that I would do it again if I could. :)