The workman layout is the first non qwerty layout I have tried to learn. It’s taken me an inordinate amount of time to get used to it, but I’m finally getting to point where I’m considering swapping to it cold turkey.

Here are a couple of things to help out if you are thinking of switching


Vim has an awesome method called langmap that allows you to use an alternative set of keys and map them back to their qwerty equivalents in normal mode. This saves you the pain of actually mapping all the keys yourself.

This is a basic qwerty to workman langmap:

set langmap=qq,dw,re,wr,bt,jy,fu,ui,po,\\;p,aa,ss,hd,tf,gg,yh,nj,ek,ol,i\\;,zz,xx,mc,cv,vb,kn,lm,QQ,DW,RE,WR,BT,JY,FU,UI,PO,:P,AA,SS,HD,TF,GG,YH,NJ,EK,OL,I:,ZZ,XX,MC,CV,VB,KN,LM

I also tried moving the home row one key to the right and putting colon on the h key (but I just couldn’t get my head around it):

set langmap=qq,dw,re,wr,bt,jy,fu,ui,po,\\;p,aa,ss,hd,tf,gg,y\\;,nh,ej,ok,il,zz,xx,mc,cv,vb,kn,lm,QQ,DW,RE,WR,BT,JY,FU,UI,PO,:P,AA,SS,HD,TF,GG,Y:,NH,EJ,OK,IL,ZZ,XX,MC,CV,VB,KN,LM

langmap is magic it sorts out your keybindings and operators, however it doesn’t do function keys. I’m working on adding some other peripheral stuff as vim plugin in this repo nicwest/vim-workman


The workman repo is in the AUR and can be installed via yaourt (or similar):

$ sudo yaourt -S workman-git

If like me you use a keyboard layout other than US standard you may want to go edit the workman layout config and change the included layout to your preference:

// /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/workman
include "gb(basic)"


Also it seems that I’m unable to do anything without adding aliases to my zsh, I wouldn’t really bother putting this up apart from I’m strangely proud of qdrwbj which of course is qwerty in workman.

alias workman="setxkbmap -v workman && xset r 66"
alias qwerty="setxkbmap gb && xset -r 66"
alias qdrwbj="setxkbmap gb && xset -r 66"


If you want to practise then I would suggest you try out It has a clever (but infuriating) method of incremental learning where it won’t let you use more letters utill you have masted the current set. Here are my stats. You are now all witness to the hours of my life that I’m never going to get back…

bad at keyboards