Swedish Dvorak keyboard Layout

last updated 2002-07-17

Dvorak Keyboard Layout for the Swedish Language

I will not give an introduction to the dvorak keyboard layout here, if you need one you can visit Dvorak International. Further down on this page you will find answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

As you may know the dvorak layout is optimised for the English language. 70% of all keystrokes hits the home row, compared to only 30 - 35% for the qwerty layout. Other optimisations like frequent shifting between the left and right hand as well as more logical letter placement is also benefits of dvorak. On the downside it is not a well spread standard and some applications may have been optimised for qwerty in terms of placement of keyboard shortcuts for example.

However if one spends a great deal of time at the keyboard writing massive amounts of text, switching to the dvorak layout may be the right thing to do. Many dvorak advocates claim that your typing speed is increased if you switch to dvorak. This is generally not true, it will increase the comfort, but if you are a good qwerty typist already it is unlikely that your speed will increase. You will not be writing slower though, except during the training period of course.

How good is dvorak for the Swedish language then? Well first it must be modified to put in the letters and . With the help of statistics on the language I have solved the problem in the following way, other layouts given for comparsion:

without shift:      with shift:         with altgr:

Swedish dvorak layout
§1234567890+´      ½!"#¤%&/()=?`        __@£$__{[]}\_
 pyfgcrlq¨       PYFGCRLQ^         ___________~
 aoeuidhtns-<       AOEUIDHTNS_>         ___________¦
',.jkxbmwvz        *;:JKXBMWVZ          ___________

American dvorak layout
 1234567890[]       !@#$%^&*(){}
 ',.pyfgcrl/=       "<>PYFGCRL?+
 aoeuidhtns-        AOEUIDHTNS_
 ;qjkxbmwvz         :QJKXBMWVZ

Swedish qwerty layout
§1234567890+´      ½!"#¤%&/()=?`        __@£$__{[]}\_
 qwertyuiop¨       QWERTYUIOP^         ___________~
 asdfghjkl'       ASDFGHJKL*         ____________
<zxcvbnm,.-        >ZXCVBNM;:_          ¦__________

If you run Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 95/98 or Windows 2000 you should download the WindowsNT4/95/98/2000 keymap. If you run unix you should get the unix package instead (it contains files for X-windows and bash, plus some installation tips). Of course, you should also rearrange the keys on the keyboard. The Swedish print on the keys will fit the layout. Not all keybords have identical shaped keys on every row which will cause problems when you move them around.

The difference between American and Swedish dvorak is about the same as between American and Swedish qwerty. Swedish dvorak has in practice the same performance on the English language as the native version.

Back to the main question, how good is dvorak for the Swedish language? 60% of the keystrokes hits the home row, an truly optimised Swedish keyboard layout would be able to increase that number to just under 70%. The balance between left and right hand is unchanged and the hand switching frequency is slightly increased (which is good). The letters 'h' and 'u' are not very much used in Swedish, which causes the 13% smaller hit-rate on the home row.

However, the performance is in my opinion good enough for keeping the standard layout. An efficiency extremist would switch the places of 'r' and 'h' which would rise the hit-rate close to the 70% limit. The letter 'l' is arguable also a bit bad placed since it is used quite frequently and must be pressed with the right little finger.

It may be interesting to note that qwerty is slightly better at Swedish than English. About 40% of the keystrokes hits the home row. This makes the difference between qwerty and dvorak smaller for Swedish than it is for English.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why should I learn dvorak?
A. You will feel more comfortable when typing. If you type a lot it will be worth it. Some claim that their typing speed increased, but it will probably not happen if you already are a good typist. Mine did, but I pressed the wrong keys terribly often when I used qwerty, probably due to bad touch-typing technique.

Q. Why should I learn the Swedish version of dvorak?
A. Since the qwerty layout is better on Swedish than English and the opposite is the case for dvorak, the gap between they two layouts are not gigantic (50% more home row hits with dvorak). While it is perfectly ok to learn the layout, it may not be worth the effort if you just type Swedish texts. If your output includes both English and Swedish, I would recommend dvorak.

Q. Why should I avoid learning dvorak?
A. If you will work on several different computers or it is not possible to use dvorak most of the time by some other reason, it may not be worth the effort learning it. If your typing mostly is done in command shells, dvorak will probably not help you. Also if you are a programmer that never writes comments nor documents your code, you will probably not benefit from dvorak. You probably should stop programming too.

Q. How much time will I need to learn dvorak?
A. It depends on how much you type of course. I would recommend you to allocate a month when there is no hurry when typing. Then just type. You will be terribly slow the first week, but after that first week you will probably be fast enough not to be frustrated. Then you may need three more to gain the old qwerty typing speed.

Q. Will I forget qwerty when I have learnt dvorak?
A. No. Well, I did not, I use qwerty-machines now and then without experiencing much problems, I need to look at the keyboard when I type though. I must confess that I was never that good at qwerty even before I switched to dvorak.

Q. Why is Q moved compared to the american version?
A. The alternative is to have the full stop key or similar at the position. In an early version of the layout that was the case, which could lead to an overloaded right little finger. The letters s and l are slightly more used in Swedish and that together with a rather common key as full stop or comma is simply too much for the little finger to handle. Q is used once in ten thousand letters in common Swedish, and about one q in is found among thousand letters in English texts.

Q. Will my collegues hate me if I use dvorak?
A. Yes.

(c) Copyright 1999, 2002 - Anders Torger