A few months ago I switched from QWERTY to DVORAK. I was lured by a more efficient layout but the final shove was finding out a coworker used the layout.
I took some online lessons, and was shocked at how many words you can type just using the home row of DVORAK - especially compared to QWERTY. But then QWERTY only has one vowel on the home row... clearly not a well designed layout.
Getting used to the layout was another matter. My typing speed with DVORAK hovered around 25 words/minute (counting the time used to fix typos) and it was generally frustrating. Granted, I have 2 or 3 decades of muscle memory built up on QWERTY so overcoming that is a huge problem.
I decided to quit the experiment recently, while struggling to keep up typing with a friend in a chatroom at work. 3 months and I had plateaued - I was typing slower but not moving my fingers as much... still, I felt that DVORAK could be improved on.
Going back to QWERTY I noticed far more finger/hand movement than before. A LOT more. But I'm back to 50+ wpm typing again and I don't have to think and mentally remap letters before moving my fingers.
QWERTY is awful though, so much "prime real estate" devoted to bad letters - like the JKC, and so on. DVORAK is better, but isn't perfect - the placement of the L and S on the pinky is rough, the R is more common than other letters on the home row, plus I found myself stretching for the F (where the Y is on QWERTY) more than reasonable given how frequent it comes up. Also, the QWERTY E becomes . on DVORAK, giving prime placement to punctuation?!
Anyway, for me, too many letters and other keys changed. Only the A and M stay the same switching QWERTY to DVORAK, leaving the other 24 letters moved, plus basically all the common punctuation as well. I think that's a bad move - props to Dvorak for trying to design a better layout, because QWERTY is clearly just crap - but since QWERTY is so dominant, moving from it (how many people literally learn a keyboard layout starting from a blank slate?) require a near complete relearning of keys.
I'm going to "rest" back with QWERTY again, but the lure of a better key layout is still there. To that end, I've become interested in Colemak and Workman, both are recently designed alternate layouts. Colemak is especially interesting because only 17 keys change, instead of 31 for Dvorak.
The Colemak layout comes with OSX and Linux out of the box, making it super easy to try. For Windows, on machines I'm admin on, I can install an IME, not quite as good (availability wise) but decent enough. Workman is available on Linux as well.
Anyway, I'm interested but probably won't try learning a new layout for a little bit. I'll give Colemak a shot since it has better availability and looks easier to learn. I think the Workman layout is very interesting from the design perspective, but more keys move and I found that to be the problem with learning DVORAK. Workman tests better than Colemak, but are similar in efficiency and better thank DVORAK. Dragging in last place, far behind, is QWERTY.
I even bought a Colemak keyboard cover for my MBP (no Workman available), and an ergonomic Type Matrix keyboard (QWERTY but I also bought a Colemak skin - Workman is available as a skin for the Type Matrix).
Anyway, I'll see how this goes... in a little bit. ;)