Frequency Of Characters
Tech Web Drupal Drush
Published: 2011-12-20

I've been thinking a lot about how coders use keyboards, given that they weren't specifically designed for writing code, and yet we are some of the heaviest users around. I ran some frequency analysis on a Drupal installation to see how often certain characters occur in the source code. Specifically, I was looking at non-letter characters (specials and numbers). The code that does this is available as a simple drush command.

The major observation is that the number keys across the top of the keyboard should be inverted, so that SHIFT+NUM types a number, whereas hitting the key creates the symbol. The symbols are used far more frequently than the numeric counterparts. Especially the () parenthesis, the $ and the *.

Another interesting observation is the underscore occurs 3 times more frequently than the dash.

Here are the full results:

Symbol Count
SPACE 2747986
' 486004
LF 430118
_ 238795
$ 234498
) 197119
( 197115
= 156975
, 153406
> 145194
/ 123651
; 104608
* 102685
. 93372
- 87662
[ 74840
] 74831
{ 44167
} 44147
: 22891
" 22035
# 20217
@ 16544
1 14906
& 11903
< 11178
! 10429
2 9221
? 5285
% 5058
3 4684
\ | 4317
5 3921
+ 3620
9 3559
| 3291
4 3182
6 2917
7 2761
8 2177
? 442

Keyboards just weren't designed for coders.