Learning touch typing

August 15, 2020

I just got a new keyboard: Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 with Norwegian layout.
I couldn't find any good prices online, so I bought a used one from Finn. It seems this keyboard is old and out of stock, compared to Microsoft's newer 2019 and Sculpt models.

Previously, I have only used the laptop's keyboard. I developed my own way of typing by years of usage. That way was very incompatible with my new keyboard, as the keys are split on the middle of the keyboard into two groups.

So the logical conclusion was to relearn typing, and to do it properly this time. I started by looking for good, online training sites and found these:

Next, I did a minute of practice on keybr, followed by a test on 10fastfingers.com. I tried both with touch, and with my laptop and the homegrown method. My old way of typing was already feeling strange; crazy how fast muscle memory fades!
Here are the results:

Touch method
Results of the first test, using the touch method.
Old method
Results of the first test, using the old method.

My old method would probably have been 5-10 words faster if I did the test before starting to learn touch, and the touch method would be slower. Anyways, this will serve as a benchmark for the future.

Comparing the websites

The first thing I notice is that few support the Norwegian/Scandinavian keyboard layout. Those that do are typingclub, typing and 10fastfingers. However, using Norwegian keyboard on typing still showed an American layout.

Next is the user interface. typingclub, speedcoder and typing have a nice keyboard UI that also shows what fingers to use. Ratatype has a color coded keyboard but no fingers.

Gamification is present on typingclub and typing in the form of minigames and scores. Both 10fastfingers and keybr has multiplayer in the form of a race car game.

Ratatype requires signup before you can use it.

10fastfingers and keybr uses words to teach you. Keybr is also dynamically adjusting what words you get, based on your performance. The others have you type fjfj ffjj ffff jjjf ffjf a lot, which prevents you from memorizing words. I think memorizing words is a good thing. 10fastfingers also has Norwegian (and other languages) words, which is good. We use a lot of Æ, Ø and Å which also needs to be practiced. speedcoder is different from all the others, by using programming languages as the source of training text. This lets you practice common symbols like (, { and ;.

10fastfingers and speedcoder do not ease you into touch by adding more and more letters. Instead you have to use every key from the start. The other sites are structured more like a course, gradually ramping up the difficulty. typing has a video introduction for each course.

Not all sites encourage you to use Backspace, which is a shame. If there is anything a touch-noob like me needs, it is the Backspace key! 10fastfingers and speedcoder are the only ones where you can erase your mistakes. The others will simply go to the next letter.

Combination keys like Shift + t are shown on speedcoder, indicating which finger to use for the Shift key.

My choice of site

It's a hard choice. They all have their strengths. I will be using 10fastfingers to measure my speed. I might use typingclub to learn finger and key placements. And I will use keybr and 10fastfingers to get my speed and accuracy up, as their words are dynamic and Norwegian respectively.

Eventually, I might throw in some speedcoder and typing to write code and practice symbol characters.