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Which keyboard layout is best for you?

For programming or writing, we use a keyboard. Most of times, we use the layout common in our area (QWERTY in English-speaking countries, AZERTY in France, QWERTZ in Germany, …). Some more advanced users sometimes look in alternative layouts (e.g. Dvorak), but finding the best fit in this jungle without being wronged by what’s fashionable can be difficult.

I just tumbled on a Keyboard Layout Analyzer which, from some sample text you input, analyzes which keyboard layout would be best for you.

For instance, I tried with the source for My latest entry and the analyzer tells me that, to write my English Markdown text, Colemak is the best fit (Colemak is an alternative layout for English, 3rd just behind QWERTY and Dvorak). And AZERTY, my usual layout, is the worst…

The fun facts are interesting: in the “Miscellaneous” tab, you can see I had to use the Alt Gr key 72 times. On any layout other than AZERTY, I would not even have touched it once. Heat maps gives a pretty good idea of the finger moves you’ll have to make, too.

There are limitations nonetheless: only six layouts are available, namely QWERTY, AZERTY, Simplified Dvorak, Programmer Dvorak, Colemak and Personalized (I don’t know this one, maybe a specific built for the author’s own needs?). I dare not test one of my French texts as input, though I would have loved to see BÉPO and French Dvorak ranked against AZERTY.

So, what’s your best fit?


Image courtesy by Alcibiade, CC-BY 4.0

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Cyrille Chopelet

Programming addict, UX philosopher, casual gamer, sci-fi enthusiast, hi-tech dilettante, ... Some people even call me a geek.

2 thoughts on “Which keyboard layout is best for you?”

  1. I understand that “Personalized” is a keyboard that is based on (and optimal) for what you’ve typed.

    I’ve found Colemak to be consistently the closest to my needs — though it breaks most of the keyboard shortcuts I use on a daily basis — but I’ve had to add some changes to get a more direct mapping for French, Vietnamese, as well as to a bunch of Unicode characters I can’t live without (you know… things like ⇒ ™ ≠ ≤ — that can be tedious to write with the compose key).

    BTW, you might already know Carpalx (http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/carpalx) : this site is gold! They optimize keyboard layouts using simulated annealing, which results in highly optimized layouts such as QGMLWB.

    1. I expect such a “Personalized” keyboard should always come out first, which is not the case. I thought of it though, and skimming through the tabs again, the “Personnalized” tab seems to prove you right.

      I didn’t know Carpalx, thanks for the discovery. I might write something about it someday. In the meantime, you know how it is when you work at several clients: you can’t always have your own layout. So I won’t do the switch to yet another layout until I finally get my keyboard adapter. 😉

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