Another attempt at a more balanced layout. This time I moved the punctuation to the top row like Dvorak to facilitate typing numbers, like monetary values and IP addresses. Also, the previous results were skewed by the Enter key being hit by the right pinky. So I removed the Enter key on my layouts to find a truly balanced comparison between the left and right hands.
The main 30 keys for the 3rd Balanced layout are arranged like so:
Try it out and compare it to other popular layouts at this Keyboard Comparison Tool
`1234567890-=Results and Analysis
Here we analyze the results from the comparison tool. My layouts are the bottom ones called Balanced 1, 2, & 3. In order to find a truly balanced layout focusing on the letters and punctuations, I removed the Enter key from my layouts, which relies on the right pinky finger. For the non-Balanced layouts, we can extrapolate similar results by reviewing the older experiments in previous posts. However, note that the algorithms for the comparison tool has been modified somewhat, but this doesn't really change the results that much.PROSE
The selected text is from the first three chapters of The Old Curiosity Shop
by Charles Dickens.Overall Effort and Balance
Balanced #3 uses a bit more effort than #1 & #2, but has the best balance overall, although not by much. However, this doesn't tell the whole story. We have to see the more detailed reports to determine the balance of the hands and each finger.Effort for each finger
First, we can see that the Enter key takes up a lot of effort by the right pinky: about 10% of all effort. That's in addition to the other keys assigned to the right pinky. Altogether, on a standard keyboard the right pinky exerts about 20% of all effort including stretching to hit the Enter and Shift keys.
Speaking of Shift keys, the left and right shift keys ask for significant effort by both pinkies. You can see by the charts that the pinkies exert more effort than the middle and ring fingers regardless of layout, except maybe Qwerty which doesn't have a frequent letter for the right pinky.
Anyway, back to the Balanced layouts, all three versions distribute the effort to each finger quite evenly. However, the same is not true for each hand. In Balanced #1 and #2, the left hand actually exerts a lot more effort than the right. As I said in the intro, this was partly due to the skew from the Enter key which #1 and #2 didn't take into account. Without the effect of the Enter key, #3 manages to achieve true balance between left and right hand.Keys for each finger
For the segment of prose used in this experiment, the Enter key accounts for almost 2% of all keys. So remove 2% from the right pinky on the non-Balanced layouts to get a closer comparison. Regardless, it's apparent that the Balanced layouts have a better bell distribution of keys based on the strength and length of the fingers. That is, the pinkies hit significantly fewer keys than the other fingers. This is not necessarily true for the other layouts, which all seem to under-utilize the ring finger.
The main difference between Balanced #3 and the previous versions is that more keys are hit with the right hand, rather than vice versa. This may actually be more desirable since most people are right-handed. This is a different case than effort, however, since effort takes into account other factors like distance. So while left hand may be hitting fewer keys, the overall effort may match or exceed the right hand.Finger travel
For other layouts, subtract 40m for the Enter key. After doing this, Colemak (-6.84% for right hand) actually looks very balanced, while Workman (-6.88% for right hand) seems very biased toward the left hand. However, this seems too much a departure from previous experiments where Workman was heavily biased toward the right hand. I don't know the reason for this reversal other than that the algorithm has been modified since last time.
Anyway, the Balanced layouts live up to their names. #3 edges out the others ever so slightly in terms of balance between each hand, however that also takes a bit of toll in total distance.Metrics
Balanced #3 looks to have higher percentages in all these metrics. Some of it is by design, due to moving the punctuation to the top row and putting frequent letters on the bottom row. Nevertheless, the margins aren't significant. More important is the feel while typing. For instant, certain row jumping aren't really that bad and some are by design.