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Week 2 ,3 and 4
Typing.com out! RataType in!

This is the second article in my series about learning to type programs and what the experience is like as someone who has been working as a developer for 10 years without knowing how to touch type. Most of my initial commentary on why I chose to force myself to learn and the method I am using is in the first article. Throughout this experience, (and as I type this I am in week 7 and mostly touch typing now) I have focused on 4 different learning to type programs. This installment will focus on RataType.

If you are here to find out about how I went about learning to type and what programs I used, then I hope this second guide in my series helps you choose the best learning to type program!

If you have stumbled upon this article and not read the first in this series. The first article I wrote about learning to type can be found here. 

 

Week 2 and 3 – Typing.com is just not working now

As you may know I started this journey as someone who had spent years hunting and pecking at the keyboard. I spent my first few weeks using Typing.com and ultimately hit a wall which caused me to change to Ratatype. It didn’t take me long to start to hit that wall. In week 1 I learned the basic typing drills focused on sets of keys.

By week two I was finally starting to be able to find some of the harder keys on the keyboard. At this point I am still using Typing.com. In addition, I was finally starting to use the correct shift keys. (this was a major problem for me) Over week two and into week 3, I had mostly completed the basic lessons and was moving into intermediate. I felt GREAT! It was clear that I was finally going to get this whole touch typing thing! Then I graduated to the intermediate lessons…

Typing.com fizzles out

In the intermediate lessons, Typing.com has you starting to make real words. I quickly found myself struggling at this stage. During this time it started to become apparent that I was lacking the skills I needed to type real words.(I mention that because this is the point where things got bad enough that I decided that I needed to try a different trainer. My perception of Typing.com may be tainted by this period. I may have just been a better typist by the time that I got to Typing.Club. ) Working through this phase of Typing.com had made it clear that all of that practicing had not prepared me for for much and very little was actually sticking. Sure, I could do the typing drills that I’d spent so long on, but when it came to words, it was suddenly like I was typing with my elbows!

 

How does RataType compare as a learning to type program?

 

After some struggling it was clear to me that while I was able to progress through the beginner lessons, I really hadn’t learned the keys! As I struggled through the lessons, I started to wonder if this typing app was ever going to get around to re-enforcing all the holes that I had in my knowledge of the location of keys. I also started to get frustrated. I started catching myself reverting to my old method of typing and that became a quick decline. Due to my mounting frustration, I started skipping my 15 minute a day commitment. At some point (about halfway through their intermediate courses it became clear that I needed to go back and work on the basics.)  So I started over on the lessons which was largely the same experience sooooo….

So that’s when I decided to try Ratatype.com , this tool is what I would call an advanced level typing tool. I found it way too hard to use as a beginner and even as an intermediate?

 

 

Ratatype interface

How does Ratatype differ from other learning to type programs?

Ratatype is unique when it is compared to other learning to learning to type programs. In general most of the learning to type programs I have experiences are pretty similar to Typing.com and TypingClub.

Typing.com and TypingClub are so similar in so many aspects. The interfaces look similar, and they feel very much alike. Ratatype is much different than these however it has it’s own style in how they show you the keys, how they display what fingers to use, and even the types of lessons and the level of accuracy is required to make progress.

Ratatype is an interesting program that has a much more basic (and kind of ugly) interface compared to the other ones I have mentioned. It handles mistakes much differently than the other learning to type programs too! In Ratatype you are only allowed 3 mistakes in a given lesson, you cannot backspace to correct and you cannot move forward until you hit the correct key. What is interesting to me about using Ratatype, is that it seems to be focused on accuracy, much more than the other apps. While enforcing such strict accuracy ultimately means that you will progress through their lessons much more slowly than other learning to type programs. When you actually do achieve the kind of accuracy that is required, you will have done much of the work that is required for you to learn how to type FAST.

Ratatype is unique in this way and its quirks make it both a great secondary learning program but it also makes it one of the most frustrating learning to type programs on this list.

 

ratatype examples

 

What makes Ratatype different than other learning to type programs?

The differences in Ratatype go beyond the interface and superficial stuff, it is also the only learning to type program that tripped me up with odd lessons and placements. (while at the same time punishing me for making mistakes) They often give me lessons loaded with symbols and special characters. Ratatype even throws in words that are divided by special characters. (see above) When you combine this tactic of using special characters breaking things up instead of spaces, with Ratatype’s “3 strikes and you are out” rules. It sure amps up the difficulty.

This combination is a good one , especially if you are interested in learning to type fast. It also hits on some of the more difficult parts of learning how to type in general. These are the types of drills that I can get behind!  In the lessons like the one pictured, places where I expect spaces have special characters. When typing it is easy to get into a groove  and punctuate every set of words with a crisp clack of the space bar. These types of lessons make it so I have to override my instinct to hit the space bar,

Instead I have to read ahead a little. to make sure that I know what is coming. I feel like I am still able to hit the space bar as quickly and as automatically as I did before,but it just causes me to be more aware. These tests have more significance than just teaching us where they keys are. Forcing you into these patterns that are not very common in typing, is probably to make you a better “read ahead typist”. I have not encountered this in any other learning to type program and I think it is very advanced and forward thinking. It will also help you to learn to type faster.

Ratatype difficult and this isn’t a bad thing even if it isn’t fun.

Ratatype isn’t fun. At least it isn’t for me. All of these good things aside, the punitive nature of Ratatype making it not very fun for me. Even now while thinking about going back to practice it. I am kind of dreading it.

I appreciate it when a system keeps me honest by mixing up the results that I expect. Mixing you up and changing patterns is a proven way to increase your ability to learn a concept. I like practicing my repetition but I don’t (At leas right now) find it fun how hard I have to try to pass a lesson. It’s just so much more failure than I want to deal with first thing in the morning.

I still need to spend some more time with RataType but right this moment I feel like RataType might be more of a trainer for advanced typists, I am anxious to get another month under my belt of practicing with an easier trainer and then come back and challenge myself practicing

Reports? Where they heck are they? Are they important in learning to type programs?

Ratatype is a program that is more appropriate for more advanced typists. I’m really confused by why there is so little reporting. The reports that they offer are ones that tell you how fast you typed through each lesson. It is strange to me how an advanced learning to type program can have so little reporting options.  As a matter of fact the lack of reporting makes me wonder if this tool is targeted at advanced typists. Is this thing just poorly designed?

 

 

Typing Tests and high scores

Ratatype a Typing test and a High scores feature.

The usefulness of there seems really limited to me. According to their site:


Why should you take
a typing speed test?

You can check your typing speed and accuracy online. Compare it with other results in the rankings and increase it using Ratatype. The average typing speed is 40 WPM, try to exceed it!

After completing the typing speed test you will receive a certificate that you can attach to your CV or show to your teacher and friends.

How do we measure
a typing speed?

We measure your typing speed in WPM (words per minute). It is a calculation of how fast you type words with no typos. By the “word” we mean an average of 5 characters including spaces. We measure gross speed in our typing test.

However, we don’t allow you to continue typing if you have a typo in your test. You have to fix it to proceed the WPM test.


Maybe i will find a use for these once I come back, but for now both of these features are a non starter for me.

RataType typing test

 

In Summary Ratatype is difficult, ugly and mean!

But all of those qualities combine to make a truly unique experience for a learning to type program. I believe that once you can handle the difficulty.  This program will be the best one to help you in learning to type faster. We still have a few more learning to type programs to talk about and I suggest that if you are just starting out like I am , then you use Typing.com to TypingClub. TypingClub is the one I will focus on in my next post. If you are already an intermediate touch typist and want help learning to type faster then give Ratatype a shot, and tell me how it worked for you.

 

 

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