It’s been seven whole days since I switched from qwerty to Dvorak, and I’m happy to report that progress is steady and my accuracy and speed are improving day by day. There is a hurdle I still repeatedly trip over, and it’s the one that prevented me from making the switch originally a year ago.
Dvorak is possibly a worse layout for coding in HTML/PHP than qwerty is.
What qwerty has going for it in terms of coding, is the relative location of all the special characters that programming languages rely heavily on: brackets, quotes, semi-colon, etc… Dvorak purposely distances those keys from the home row, making them more difficult to reach, especially repeatedly with your pinky fingers. The greater-than/less-than characters right now are my biggest challenge because using the right shift key has never felt natural to me.
I think my memory has reserved a special place for where these special keys are. Because I spend less time typing out new code, and instead am rearranging existing code and improving it, special characters aren’t being accessed enough to purge the old muscle memories as quickly as normal letters. To solve this, I think I’m going to come up with some exercises to do during the each day to stretch my pinkies out and get them doing what I want them to, instead of what my memory remembers them doing.
Learning Dvorak keeps reminding me what it’s like to learn to play an instrument. So many little mistakes need to be made and so much practice needs to happen before you can play your first full song. Relearning how to program with Dvorak is like switching from drums to bass guitar on your favorite song – you know every note and beat, you just can’t hit them without dedication and practice.