Dvorak is fun!
Well, I use US Dvorak and Swedish Qwerty keyboard layouts since 2001 and I'm very happy with it.
If Dvorak makes me write faster? Depends but yes, probably. Writing English feels very comfortable and also, I perceive that I write faster, even if I have not really clocked it. What I do
know is that writing program code goes faster compared to Swedish Qwerty because square brackets, at-signs and curly brackets all are relatively easily accessible on Dvorak (at least compared to Swedish Qwerty) and those characters are fairly often used in several programming languages. Prior to learning Dvorak I had already learned to type properly (touchtyping without looking at the keyboard only looking at the produced text, if even that) on Qwerty, so the increase in speed when typing using Dvorak once I got a hang of it is not
because of me 'finally learning how to type in general'.
The odd thing is that when I write in English, the Dvorak layout is instinctively in effect but when I write Swedish text, the Swedish Qwerty is equally instinctively in use. And yes, in both cases, I'm touch typing without actually viewing the keyboard characters. I can actually write "the other way around" (with some speed penalty), that is, write Swedish text using Dvorak (but it grinds to a halt as soon as I need a Swedish special character, å, ä or ö
) and also, write English text using a Swedish Qwerty layout. Another slightly weird thing is that the two layouts each seem to be related to each of my two hands. Dvorak seem to "live" in my right hand while the left hand is the "home" of the Swedish Qwerty layout. Bizarre, I admit, but by choosing which of these two hands I should let "take command" over the typing, the proper layout were subconsciously chosen (by both hands, worth noting).
I'm a Linux user, and I've configured X-windows to alternate between these layouts by hitting both CTRL keys simultaneously. Handy when I need to alternate between them on the fly (like now, in the middle of a sentence, when I need to write "smörgåsbord" with proper Swedish characters).
Only case the decreased speed in typing English in Qwerty has an impact is when I try to write chat messages when playing Battlefield 2 on our Windows gaming machine... but that impact is by far ok.
Makes me wonder what would have happened if I continued to play piano instead of quitting it when I were 14 - 15 years...
Regarding learning Dvorak: don't rely on rearranging the physical keyboard keys in order to learn Dvorak. Just reconfigure your computer to use the Dvorak layout, then start typing whatever you need to type with the sick twist that you need to consciously explore where the heck every letter has ended up on the Dvorak layout, and that you do so without viewing the keyboard (only the resulting text on screen). Starting with the fingers properly located on the home row and them move around á la touch typing is recommended. Damn, in the beginning it feels like rats are running around along your spine as you try to get your fingers understand where to go and you frantically tries to remember "where the heck is 'v'" and so on. However, an instinctive flow in the typing will gradually develop and eventually, you will find any letter or symbol by instinct on your Dvorak keyboard. But yes, as an utter Dvorak novice it can be very frustratin taking 2 hours to write that first short email.
But practice makes perfect... Quite a lot of practice though.