Kushal Das

FOSS and life. Kushal Das talks here.


Touch Typing

Learning new things, is an essential part of life. While we try to spend a lot of time learning various tricks about our tools or a particular programming language, many newcomers miss another important common skill.

The art of Touch Typing.

Ever since, I started going to conferences, I met many people who do touch type, and they generally type really fast. I found that to be very common, in our circles. But, when we meet beginners and discuss the things they should learn, we completely miss talking about this point. Most of the beginners I’ve met can’t type well. And most of the errors people ask about, are caused by, guess what?

Typing mistakes.

Also, because they type very slow, beginners lag behind in workshops.

GNU Typist

In the dgplug summer training, just about after we’re done with the communication sessions, we ask people to start spending some time learning to type.

My favorite tool is GNU Typist. It’s a small command line tool which can help anyone learn touch typing in a few days. Remember that the package name is gtypist.

In the main menu, you choose one of the many courses shown. The “Quick QWERTY” course is powerful enough to give you a start. After a few screens of description, about how to use the tool, you get into a screen like the one shown below.

As you see, any error will be marked by the tool. In the beginning, it is okay if you keep checking where your fingers are. If you spend a week with this tool, you should be able to start typing faster, and with fewer errors. Your muscle memory will kick in, and you’ll will be amazed by your new super power :) When I first used the Das Ultimate (no relation :P) or the Kinesis Advantage keyboard, I spent the first few minutes in gtypist to become familiar with them.

KDE Touch

KDE Touch is a GUI application to learn how to type. It will give you similar levels of detail, using various pretty looking graphs & charts. If you do not like the command line tools, you can always start learning using this tool.

There is also the Tux Typing tool, which is aimed more at kids. The tool shows various words and if you can type them properly, you will be able to provide to food to the nice little penguin.

People who are reading this, most probably will spend the rest of our lives in front of computers (for various reasons). Learn to type well; having that muscle memory is a powerful tool and will be a be source of great strength for you.