Is Qwerty the best layout

QWERTY terminology and definition

“QWERTY” is a general term used to describe the English keyboard layout. This is made up of the first five letters of the top line directly below the row of digits. The English keyboard layout QWERTY is a standardized guideline for the sorting of keys in data and text input according to ISO / IEC 9995. This describes not only the standard-compliant keyboard layout, but also the assignment of the special keys and the layout of the numeric keypad. Since this is an internationally used standard, it also knows other variants for the most widely spoken languages ​​with Latin letters, including the German QWERTZ keyboard layout or the French AZERTY keyboard layout. In addition, the standard differentiates between various secondary keyboard layouts, which are used, for example, in multilingual offices, if the Latin letters cannot be used exclusively. Such a secondary keyboard layout is referred to as T2, the keyboards that are used in everyday life without secondary letter groups are consistently referred to as T1.

History and structure of the "QWERTY" keyboard layout

When the first typewriters appeared in the 19th century that still worked with mechanical lever constructions, typing frequently occurring words quickly was severely hindered due to the great susceptibility of these levers to get stuck. At that time the letters were strictly arranged according to the alphabet, frequently used letters were close together. To counteract this problem, Christoper Latham Scholes, an American accountant, decided to completely change the layout of his keys. Starting from the position of the shift and enter keys, which were responsible for capitalization or paragraphs and line endings, he positioned the most frequently used letters as far apart as possible in a semicircle distributed in the middle of the letter rows. This is still understandable today if you look at the positions of the letters A, E, T, N and O. He distributed the remaining letters in the spaces in between so that combinations that often occur in English were also as far apart as possible. It is often claimed that the layout of the keys known today is also beneficial for ergonomics and is intended to increase typing speed, but the "QWERTY" keyboard layout is rather disadvantageous in this case, as the weaker left hand has to perform most of the movements while the stronger right hand is only used sporadically. The fact that we can still cope best with this keyboard layout today is due to the fact that not only computer keyboards, but also on-screen smartphone keyboards and even game consoles now use the QWERTY or QWERTZ keyboard layout. In addition, as already described above, the ISO standard has stipulated this arrangement of the keys for many years, while other keyboard layouts were included in the standard much later, long after they were established worldwide. The connection of new keyboard layouts is also problematic with the operating systems. While other languages ​​were integrated into the software early on, the implementation of alternative keyboard layouts was not an issue for manufacturers for a long time, and even today only a few of them are supported.

Use of the QWERTY keyboard layout worldwide

"QWERTY" is the most widely used keyboard layout in the world, because it is not only used in America, but in all countries with English as the official language, with the exception of the United Kingdom, where the special UK keyboard layout is used. In addition to North and South America, QWERTY is also used in Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand and South Africa. Almost all other countries either have their own keyboard layout based on it or use combined Latin and non-Latin secondary arrangements. In German-speaking countries, for example, the standard-compliant QWERTZ keyboard layout is mainly used because of the umlauts Ö, Ü, and Ä (except Liechtenstein), while French-speaking countries including the Netherlands use AZERTY. It should be noted, however, that although there is also a Latin QWERTY assignment mainly in the Asian countries, this is only secondary and must be activated using special keys. In Japan in particular, there are even keyboards without any Latin letters because of the three different writing systems for a better overview. This is where multitypographic font assignments from a combination of Hiragana, Katagana and Kanji are common. In these countries, too, the trend is towards a purely secondary use of the typical typeface. This is mainly because most of the web pages on the internet use Latin letters.

Criticism and improvement of QWERTY

The QWERTY keyboard layout and the offshoots are repeatedly criticized. The arrangement of the keys is ergonomically and technically disadvantageous, the hand position used with the 10-finger tip system would favor diseases such as tendinitis and in general the weaker outer fingers are much too stressed. Of course, not all of the statements can be proven, for example, studies did not find an increased risk of tendinitis compared with other keyboard layouts, and prolonged typing on the computer itself is much more likely to be a trigger for stress diseases of the wrists and fingers. In addition, the ergonomics of the standard keyboard layout could be improved many times over by producing the keyboard itself according to ergonomic standards, for example adapting it to the natural angles of the wrists, as is already common in many offices and offices. Nevertheless, there are several elaborated concepts for an ergonomic re-assignment of the keyboard. Above all, the distance that the fingers would have to cover when typing should be reduced by the new assignment, for example according to August Dvorak. The Dvorak keyboard layout was designed in such a way that less frequently used letters are further out and the left and right hands alternate as often as possible when typing. In addition, frequently used letters have been distributed on the upper and middle row of the keyboard, while the lower row, which is difficult to reach, is rarely used. Almost 90% of the travel of the fingers can be saved when using the Dvorak keyboard layout, and learning the 10-finger tip system should also be much faster, as it feels “more natural” to do the main work with the index and middle fingers. One problem with the Dvorak keyboard layout, however, is the strong focus on English terms and frequently used letter combinations. In countries with other languages, it would be less useful to use it, especially since the various special characters are completely missing and would have to be entered laboriously using keyboard shortcuts. So far, none of the alternative keyboard layouts has really caught on, as the resulting advantage only appears marginal, while at the same time the familiarization and easy availability of the standard keyboards is particularly high.

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