Designed by a programmer, for programming. Named for its home position letters. Also known as Hallingstad's layout, for its inventor.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Puts your thumbs to good use
Your strongest fingers are your thumbs. In this layout (unless you have a keyboard with thumb keys) you shift your hands up one row, and you use your thumbs on the bottom row. (Put your index fingers on QWERTY's
I keys, and rest your thumbs on VB and NM) The Ctrl and Shift modifier keys now use your strong thumbs instead of your weak pinkies. (Ctrl shortcuts are especially important for programmers.) The modifiers may contribute more to RSI than letters.
Pro Minimizes same-finger bigrams
Pro Emphasizes adjacent finger bigrams
Common bigrams are a fast rolling motion, like Colemak.
Pro Balances load between hands
Statistically, the left and right hand are used about the same amount.
Pro Easy access to common punctuation and numbers
Programmer punctuation and numbers are accessible without stretching on the AltGr plane. (AltGr is now on the spacebar).
Pro Reduces load on pinkies
Con Pointing stick is no longer on the home row
Most keyboards don't have one, but if you use it a lot it becomes a bit of a stretch. On the plus side, a keyboard with a pointing stick will have mouse buttons you could remap to thumb keys instead.
Con Hard to orient in a new position by feel
Most keyboards have bumps on two of the keys to orient touch-typists. On QWERTY, this is usually F and J, but sometimes D and K. On some keyboards you can fix this by swapping keycaps. You could also try adding small stickers with enough thickness.
Con Letter keys as modifiers may cause jamming or ghosting
Cheap keyboards designed for QWERTY might struggle with the use of Arensito's letter keys as modifiers. Gaming keyboards with n-key rollover don't have this problem. And any keyboard with proper thumb keys (Kinesis, Ergodox, Maltron) works properly. There is an older version of the layout that keeps QWERTY's home row that you can use on cheap keyboards, but it's not quite as nice.
Con Copy-paste shortcuts are right-handed
XCV are on the right side. This makes it difficult to cut/copy-paste with the mouse in the right hand.