Keyboard Hell!

I learned to type on a QWERTY UK keyboard layout, which despite the odd foray into US layout and resultant transposition of some minor characters (like @ to ", good fun for email addresses), was reasonably friendly for use as a developer.

Now however I’m using a Swiss German layout and all of a sudden the Alt Gr key has become a significant part of my life as I hunt for brackets (square and curly) where before it was only interesting after the introduction of the Euro.

I can’t help wondering if this has an impact on developers using this keyboard layout, or if they get used to having two shift keys. Friends have mixed views, and naturally research on the web gives a similar wide range of results, although the one area almost universally agreed is that having to use a different machine with a different layout is a pain in the posterior.

This hit home when I tried to use a couple of VMs that weren’t aware of my locale, with Swiss German keyboard labeling but UK layout in one and US layout in the other. At that point a Das Keyboard would have been useful, as would slightly less secure passwords without symbols – typing them into vi and then pasting rather defeats the purpose 🙂

Update: 21 February 2012

I’ve been using a Swiss German keyboard for six months now, and I am starting to get used to it even for programming tasks.

The one thing which still drives me nuts though is the ~ symbol. Not only does it require AltGr, but it’s also an accent key even though to the best of my knowledge German doesn’t use either ã or õ.

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