Workman Keyboard Layout

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Workman Layout is a improvement of the Colemak layout. It fixes the lateral movement of the right index finger to the h key on Colemak layout.

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Here is his story on why it is invented. Excerpt from [A Different Philosophy in Designing Keyboard Layouts By OJ Bucao. At ]

Being a programmer, I type a lot and I suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and tendonitis on my wrist. …

The first alternative keyboard layout that came to mind is Dvorak. It was created in the 1930β€²s and promised to be vastly superior to QWERTY. I went ahead and tried it out and soon enough after doing β€œls -latr” on the terminal, I had to shake my head and sadly walk away from it. I didnt like the way Dvorak was laid out especially for the weak fingers of the right hand.


Then I stumbled upon a layout called Colemak, …

My initial excitement turned to disappointment when I realized that even though my fingers were not moving up and down as much, it was moving too much laterally. I realized that the main culprit was the letter β€˜H’ placed to the right of the letters β€˜N’ and β€˜E’. β€˜N’ is where your index finger rests. Typing β€˜HE’ forced the hand to make a very unnatural sideways twisting motion from the wrist and then back again. To give you an idea on why this could be serious, consider these:

Just ask yourself, how often do you type β€˜the’, β€˜these’, β€˜them’, β€˜when’, and β€˜where’, etc. on a day-to-day basis? It's even worse when you're typing these words in the beginning of a sentence. Try typing β€œThe” with the T capitalized on Colemak and hopefully you'll see what I mean. Your right hand will move somewhat like this: you swing to the right to get the SHIFT key with your pinky, then you swing back to the left to get the letter β€˜H’, and then you move to the right again to get the letter β€˜E’. All this is happening in a split second. …

I was really disappointed that Colemak was not the layout that I had hoped it would be. I no longer wanted to use QWERTY. I didn't like Dvorak, and the other alternatives didn't look very promising either – but rather very alien. I really wanted Colemak to work however I can't live with the H-E movement and having to reach for D and H often. I felt that it could be made better. …

I decided to try to create a new keyboard layout based on these ideas. …

I call it the Workman Keyboard Layout in honor of all who type on keyboards for a living. And considering that today is Labor Day, I think it's perfectly fitting.

The Workman Layout Homepage


2018-07-09 [2016-12-26 ]

See also:

Keyboard Layouts and Efficiency


Layout Efficiency

Xah Keyboard Guide