Already in 1932 invented Dr. Augusts Dvorak a keyboard layout with improved usability, with clearly less effort and risk on repetitive strain injury, as well as easy to learn. But his invention remained almost unknown until today, although many computers systems already support this keyboard layout, if you only would know and turn it on (Mac, Windows, Linux...).
The learning of a layout costs between 25 hours and 100 hours time, there are empiric reports on the net, even switching between layouts is only one minute of "remapping" in mind. So there are no rational reasons against learning a new, more efficient layout. The old layout slows down your typing rate between 50% and 75%, fatigues and leads often to repetitive strain injury. The whole world is talking about software ergonomic, invests in faster computers, while they persist on a keyboard layout, which was designed around 1870, for to avoid fast typing on mechanical typewriters that lead to jamming. So the most used types are put on the keyboard with the maximum distance, so that the types don't jam and as a good argument to sell these old scrappy typing machines, the upper row was designed to type "TYPEWRITER" on it. For such a important interface between machine and human this is unbelievable, no matter how long it has "worked". (more on that you'll find down below in the "link"-section)
Hartmut Goebel, some of the scientific and ergonomic basis on this site I based on at beginning development.
By cryptographic statistics of the frequency distribution of the letters in the german language, as well as the frequency of certain letter sequences and efficiency of certain palpation sequences, the resulting arrangement of the keys are more or less inevitably. Since existing layouts mostly ignore or break several of my paradigms, it came to the development of a new layout - NEO.
The NEO layout deduces itself particularly from my own needs to pass the limiting borders of qwert, with fewer fatigue symptoms, because I would call myself a busy writer.
For the developement I used statistics and ergonomic scientific investigations from Hartmut Goebels site, other sources like word statistics and some small statistic programs I developed for this task. It came to some interesting results. Limited to the basic row, a list of the most frequent german words was matched on the QWERTZ keyboard and scores only 75 words, on Dvorak 1400, on de_ergo (more eMeier) approximately 1600 and on the NEO design over 3600. This resulted rather coincidentally from the optimization of the statistic distribution and shows, this is a good way in optimizing a keyboard layout. For the english words it was not as clear, but still significant better than all other layouts (including dvorak!).
On the Wikiweb you can find a list of the most frequent 207 german words, with which a quite convincing statistics can be set up. These 207 words result together in approximately 54% of the on the average written german text. The following statistics shows, how much the weighted words of it can be written with the fastest keys. The 50,5% to the priority at the end of the "NEO" column 189 of the 207 words, which means 91% of the words altogether, however the priority of the words arise at the beginning of the list more frequently than at the end. I measured even distributed within the groups and would actually ignored the Zipf law, the consideration the projection/lead of NEO here, since the missing words of the first group are in the last third of the list. Still better performance on the baseline is to be expected after the german spelling reform, because many of the words in this list are still according to old kind with "ÃŸ" instead of "ss" written and the "ÃŸ", after the reform, loses statistic priority in the text flow.
You'll recognize that the frequency of the punctuation marks "," and "." and therefore the Dvorak allocation starting from the middle finger remains unconsidered in an somewhat unfair way and performce more badly in the comparison, particularly to the QWERTZ. Also poor performance of the QWERTZ layout is typical in this most important range.
I think this small statistics is a clear argument for the NEO design, but everyone should decide for himself. The layout could probable be optimized still on a special word list, however at the price of the large whole, because at the end again the total statistics of the german language will count in and particularly on this global statistic NEO is optimized for the total mass of text.
The frequent emerging of the word "paragraph" in the list is most suspect, I think, this is a word, which I personally just used just now the first time in my life. If you go through the first three wordgroups of the list, it determines that the most frequent words can be typed extremely simply on the NEO keyboard, to a large extent on the basic LINE and in a continuous direction of finger movement, which brings naturally clear speed advantages. That is however likewise not because of an optimization on this word list, but that the layout gives generally the most frequent letter sequences in bi and trigrams and also tries to optimize the finger running in one direction like Rohmert measured is the fastest way and which produces high typing speeds.
The speed of highly developed ergonomic layouts develop to a certain maximum, which permits not much more increases any more. So after NEO, I presume is no relevant gain. Even if a seldom used key could be highly optimized (which I do not think), the overall gain will be too small after all.
Additionally to this allocation the NEO layout was supplied with a large number of special character on the AltGR and Shift AltGr level, which supports all scientific working and also most western unicode characters, like french, danish, and so on. Starting with euro-sign and cent, many greek letters, scandinavian or other special characters and a pronounced DEAD key holding back, thus, with which letters can be modified. There are akut's, cedilla, ogonek, tilde or cirkumflex and many more modifiers.
the common keyboard layouts in the overview briefly arranged on this page.
Since the designers of the other layouts did a damn good word anyway, I can't say I did this alone, because these people backed me up with their knowledge and withoud NEO won't exist in the way it is now.
With improved Linux version and Windows XP driver
For printing layout I prepared a small pdf file, which you can download by clicking the on the link. Because I am still in development any changes can happen. You find as well the layout de_ergo layout of Hartmut Goebel for xkb/Qt which is an improvement of the Meier layout and you may use them in comparison.
For learning the new layout, I wrote a learning lesson for KTouch the KDE typing program from the kdeedu package. This typewriter learning lesson was made by transfering the spirit of the DIN typewriter lesson and is now as close you can come to that standard. The lesson covers 100 short chapters, together with exercises and such things and ends, where the lesson would be exactly become the same for QWERTZ layout, with the numbers for example. I recommend to continue the course with exercises and sample letters from the text book for typewriter, where this course ends. On older Linux versions the special characters of the training file on ISO8859-15, coded in UTF-8, would have to be back-coded, approximately with recode or iconv.
A readme file describes the installation in the archive for installation on Linux and Windows XP.
So far no drivers for Mac, Win98 and Linux/Console are available, if necessary I can write the Linux/Console drivers subsequently. For the Mac I can't help with lack of Macs here, the Win98 I don't yet know how to.
This software is under the GNU Public Licence publishes, all rights reserved, no warranty.
You download the files here:
(including Linux Driver, Windows XP driver, readme, sourcefiles, ktouch learning lesson)
tgz: NEO layout for Linux/KDE and Windows XP
zip: NEO layout for Linux/KDE and Windows XP
28.01.2005: english version of NEO-Homepage
27.01.2005: Version 1.00 - Again! Now also drivers for Windows XP
Hartmut Goebel, Johannes trunk, Markus Hanauska, Denis Knauf
Hartmut Goebel DE-ERGO
Wikipedia - keyboard
Wikipedia - alphabet