Why switching to the US keyboard layout is good for you

I have been a long time user of the German keyboard layout, simply because I saw it as the only keyboard layout out there. But there are some quirks that I had to adjust to. And now I finally switched to the US layout and feel a lot more comfortable when programming.

Here are some reasons why you should switch to the US layout if you are a programmer or a typist.

Programming

Writing code is probably the most time consuming thing I do on a keyboard. Having to type a lot of symbols like brackets needs a comfortable position on the hand. I noticed that the German keyboard layout handles this completely different than the US layout. In the US layout everything is nicely arranged, just like a nice stack of pancakes – like if programming was in mind when they designed this thing. On the other hand the German one has some issues that  I took long time to notice. The ‘Alt Gr’ button is probably the worst. You have to use it to type in some common characters like {}, @ and <>, which is just the most annoying thing I noticed after switching.

I have also been using VIM for quite a while and it’s much nicer with the US keyboard.

Typing the semicolon required me to press the Shift key on the German layout. On the US it’s much nicer because you only have to press one key. There are more differences like the greater and less signs but that is for you to decide.

Umlauts

The ‘Umlauts’ are the German characters ä, ö and ü. If you write German you probably need these. But too bad, the US keyboard doesn’t contain these. I found a nice OS X keyboard layout made by a German programmer which let’s you use the old keys when pressing the ALT key. But I haven’t found one for Linux so I’m pretty much stuck on my laptop, having to switch between keyboard layouts.

Conclusion

Of course in the end it’s your choice. If you are an author then I think there is no good reason to use the US layout. But if you are a programmer, then learning the US layout is a must in my opinion. If you use Linux you sometimes get stuck in shells with only US keyboard layout support, like the GRUB rescue shell.

So what do you think? Try out the US layout for a week and tell me!