What type of typist are you?

11 Jul 2019

Sharing a desk-photo of a diagram I’d drawn for work recently, I noticed the lamentable state of my keyboard in the margin. I can make out the places where my fingers rest when I’m using the keyboard, and the tops of the keys are all shiny and, well, grimy.

A forensic investigator could probably glean all sorts of information from the wear patterns (not to mention the crumbs, dust and other detritus). Mine gives away the fact that I have certain strong preferences while typing.

It seems I hardly ever use the number 4, for instance. It’s not part of my phone number, or my address, and I don’t write php code or use dollars so I have little use for the $ symbol. F6 and F5 look brand new.

I’m quite proud of my typing abilities, having been brought up with Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. Being a coder often goes hand in hand with pride in one’s typing, it turns out, based on conversation tiny sample of people I share an office with. And that conversation led to this very geeky blog post, and a little code project of mine.

Between us, we realised that we type very differently. Now, companies exist that have been built on identifying typists from the patterns of their pressing (the field is called “Keystroke dynamics”). My own effort is humble by comparison. But it made a room with four developers in get fairly geeked out by the differences between us. Have a go at the bottom of the page.

Type in a couple of sentences and it will categorise you into one of a handful of sillyly-named categories. All just for fun, and it explains how it works when you’re done.

It was a good opportunity to try my hand at a not-too-familiar front-end framework, a new source code host, and continuous integration. All needless for a toy project but good software engineering things to do. I learnt a lot, and am grateful to the experts who helped me learn and answered my questions as I went along.

Tags: geeky, code