When comparing QWERTY vs Colemak, the Slant community recommends Colemak for most people. In the question“What are the best keyboard layouts for programming?” Colemak is ranked 1st while QWERTY is ranked 4th.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
You don't have to carry your own keyboard everywhere, QWERTY is pretty popular.
Pro Default keyboard shortcuts
The keyboard shortcuts for most applications were designed with QWERTY in mind.
Pro Good for Vim users
Vim is most natural in QWERTY, since this is the layout it was designed on. Learning a good editor will help with your programming a lot more than learning a new layout.
Pro Easy access to important keys
Some of the most used keys in programming such as ; . / " | ' < > * are very easily accessible because they either have their own keys or are "shift options". People who grew up using alternative layouts, such as Belgian AZERTY, know from experience this shouldn't be taken for granted.
Pro Much more comfortable than QWERTY when touch typing
Pro Highly ergonomic
Pro You can type faster
Because the home row contains more high used frequency characters.
Pro AZXCV don't move compared to QWERTY
If you rely on the Control-A/X/C/V shortcuts (select all, cut, copy, paste), these keys don't move from their QWERTY locations.
Pro Relatively quick to learn
If coming from QWERTY, only a couple of keys move between hands.
Pro Optimized for quick two-letter bigrams
Not only are the most common English letters on home row under your fingers, but many common two-letter combinations are placed next to each other as well allowing for a fluid "inward roll" motion of letter combos (a-r, r-s, s-t, n-e, e-i, and i-o combos). The inward roll motion is debatably speedier than optimizing finger alternation like Dvorak offers.
Pro Backspace is closer
While the uncommonly used caps lock is further away. May be problematic if you previously developed muscle memory of using caps lock as some other key.
Pro Possibly faster
Most people like the common home row and believes it improves speed in comparison to QWERTY.
Pro Multilingual support
Although it‘s optimized for English, the support for a wide range of special characters enables occasional use of other languages. Still, the Carpalx research shows that a significant improvement is also present in Dutch compared to Qwerty. http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/carpalx/?de_correspondent
Con Not an easy to gain speed on QWERTY
Learning to touch type using traditional touch typing methods, you would not be as fast as others on Dvorak and you would be making quite a few mistakes.
The reasons that most of record holders have placing in typing speeds is because they do not use traditional typing methods.
Con Made for typewriters, not computers
It was created before computers got popular. This layout was created for typing machines, so as to prevent collision between character hammers from slowing down the typist.
Con Very unintuitive
Con Correct typographic letters and symbols not easily reachable
Con Bad for Vim users
Vim was designed on QWERTY. The HJKL "arrow" keys still work in Dvorak, but their positions make less sense in Colemak.
People think Colemak is great because it is easier to learn, but in reality they are deluding themselves thinking that it is better than more advanced alternative layouts.
Con Designed for English
Like Dvorak, this layout privileges English letter frequency, and lacks accented letters.
Since the topic is about programming, the argument is weak as most code is written in English, yet you don't want to learn a layout to type code, and another to type in your native language...
But the problem isn't specific to Colemak, it is tied to all "ergonomic" layouts, and might have no solution.
Con The "HE" bigram is awkward
For all of Colemak's focus on optimizing English bigrams, the second-most used English bigram, "HE", is still kind of awkward due to same-hand lateral motion. This bigram is much easier in both QWERTY and Dvorak. If your concern is RSI, Colemak isn't good enough.
Con AZXCV don't move compared to QWERTY
This will allow one to intuitively access popular shortcuts, but the truth is that the placement of these keys is a compromise in terms of actual typing ergonomics.