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I've been using the Dvorak keyboard layout for a few years, and something that's always bothered me is keyboard shortcuts. On a QWERTY keyboard copy and paste are conveniently positioned as Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, but on Dvorak they are pretty inconvenient (equivalent to Ctrl+I and Ctrl+. on QWERTY).

I would have figured the 'right' thing to do would be to have the keyboard shortcuts based on position, rather than value. So switching to Dvorak would change copy and paste to Ctrl+J and Ctrl+K (which are in the same position as C and V on QWERTY), but very few applications do this. In fact, the only one that comes to mind is Inkscape. I get that implementing it that way is harder, but not even Windows does it, so I figure there must be some further reasoning behind it?

I'm also interested in how certain international keyboards are handled, such as Arabic and Russian keyboards, which don't have any Latin characters.

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Sidenote - about half the characters in Russian are the same as latin characters :). –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Dec 17 '12 at 5:50
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The UX answer is that people tend to think of which key they are pressing rather than the position of the key. So it makes more sense to keep the shortcut linked to the key than the position of the key - even if that position is awkward.

While it could be beneficial to add profiles for different applications, you would have the situation where one program uses Ctrl-C and another Ctrl-I. This would hurt overall UX even more.

You can remap the system shortcuts on many Operating Systems, which should change the shortcuts for every application. So if someone needs them to change, this would be the best solution.

Out of interest, the Colemak layout takes common shortcut positions into account and retains most of the Qwerty shortcut positions. It's also more efficient than Dvorak.


Technically and historically:

There is an intentional separation between what is pressed on a keyboard and where it is pressed. The only thing that every OS that I have seen cares about is the keycode that the input should be - and that is as it should be. There are many different physical keyboard designs, not to mention other devices (such as presenter pointers) which act as input devices. This all results in it being extremely difficult to make the shortcuts based on a physical position.

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I'm not sure what would be most appropriate for a Dvorak keyboard. If one would want to keep the mapping of C to Copy, then G and R could work for Cut and Paste.

I don't believe that there is any particular UX reason for having the cut, copy and past exactly at the X, C an V position. In fact, even among qwerty keyboard these keyboard combinations would differ. The combination of + Z on an Apple keyboard is very different from CTRL+Z on a IBM PC keyboard.

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From a UX point of view, shortcuts s*ck.
I was young and dumb when I wrote the statement above, but I'm much older and much wiser now... :-)
From a UX point of view, shortcuts can be useful. The research is not conclusive, but there's no doubt that the shortcuts must be memorized and practiced to achieve their potential.

The memorization part is two-folded. The actual key-sequence is one aspect, the spatial position is another aspect. Our spatial memory is pretty strong (you might know proximately where things are, but you don't necessarily remember the name of the thing you're looking for (just like this guy has has arranged his desktop icons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=rVC7I5VcTiw#t=479s), but I can't claim that position is more important than the key-name.

I would claim, however, that grouping the shortcuts would make it easier to memorize them. (And perhaps easier to use them).

Thus, the appropriate solution would be either CTRL + |F|G|C|R| (where C=Copy), or CTRL + |:|Q|J|K| if the "spatial memories" from a qwerty-layout is still there. It could also be advocated that the ergonomics would be better at the |:|Q|J|K| position.

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From a UX point of view shortcuts suck? Where do you get that from? The fact that they are not intuitive doesn't mean that they are not useful. Shortcuts are one of the more useful tools in the arsenal when designing systems optimized for speed and efficiency rather than intuitiveness. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Dec 17 '12 at 5:46
    
@VitalyMijiritsky: +1, I couldn't live without short cuts... –  Marjan Venema Dec 17 '12 at 8:46
    
I guess my POV got heavy influenced by Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini a looong time ago :-). "Since users do experience the illusion that keyboarding is faster [...] Even when using "shortcuts" will actually slow them down." From one of his letters. I know this is heavily debated, but I honestly can't remember that I have seen any study that proves that shortcuts actually do improve speed and efficiency. Only subjective opinions... –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Dec 17 '12 at 9:13
    
@Marjan: Me neither! :-) But still, I honestly believe that todays shortcut regime is a mess. I have four different shortcuts for the "Find" and "Replace" commands in four different applications (from the same vendor!). Using CTRL+B in Notepad gives me the "Find dialog", but in Wordpad it will makes my text bold. To search in Wordpad I need to use CTRL+F - which would make my text bold in MS Word. –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Dec 17 '12 at 9:27
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@Vitaly :-) Oh, no hard feelings. I was just a bit unsure if I had offended you somehow. Pure text and a few smiles can come to short sometimes. (I'm not sure if I agree with myself or the research here, me neither ;-) –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Dec 17 '12 at 14:51
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