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Tools of The Effective Developer: Touch Typing

A colleague of mine thinks learning touch typing is a waste of time. He even suggests that it might be a disadvantage for a programmer to be able to type fast. While typing slowly, he reasons, one has time to reflect upon the work at hand. Well, I don’t share his point of view. I mean, should a cook not become skilled with his knives because slicing and chopping slowly gives more time to plan the next step? Of course not!

As a programmer, typing is what you do most, so you should spend time to become good at it. Touch typing is not only about rapid typing. It’s also about the freedom of your eyes. You can look at the screen and still be able to strike the right keys. That way you’ll discover typing errors more quickly.

Being able to look away and still type has another great advantage. When I get into “the zone”, my most productive state, I’d like to stay there as long as possible without interruption. If someone comes by I’m still able to continue my work thanks to touch typing. All I have to do is turn my face to the intruder and fake interest with nodding, humming and carefully placed responses like “mmm’right”, “mmm’kay” or “mmm’yes”. Try it, and I promise your productivity will skyrocket. 🙂

Learning touch typing has been well worth the investment for me. It took me approximately two months to become fluent, spending 20-60 minutes of practice every day. To my help I had Stamina, a free typing tutor software, which I gladly recommend.

You could, like me, create your own keyboard layout. I have based mine on a swedish version of Dvorak, with more convenient placement of special characters common to programming. I’m not sure I want to recommend creating your own layout though, at least not if you’re a Windows user. One thing I’ve had problems with is that certain IDEs have been shadowing parts of my layout, forcing me back to qwerty and my old-style typing. And, you’ll need your own layout installed, which is a problem if you’re using computers that belong to others.

Whether you decide to create your own layout or not, be sure to learn touch typing. You’ll be grateful you did.

Previous posts in the Tools of The Effective Developer series:

  1. Tools of The Effective Developer: Personal Logs
  2. Tools of The Effective Developer: Personal Planning
  3. Tools of The Effective Developer: Programming By Intention
  4. Tools of The Effective Developer: Customer View
  5. Tools of The Effective Developer: Fail Fast!
  6. Tools of The Effective Developer: Make It Work – First!
  7. Tools of The Effective Developer: Whetstones
  8. Tools of The Effective Developer: Rule of Three
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  1. Ali
    September 8th, 2009 at 03:51 | #1

    You could try colemak as an alternative layout…

  1. October 7th, 2008 at 08:23 | #1
  2. September 3rd, 2009 at 08:06 | #2