The German Mac Keyboard is not developer friendly

I know that the vast majority of Mac users will probably not care about what I have to say today, but this is something I’ve hated about my Mac for a while now.

Back in 2006 when I switched to a Mac, the biggest problem apart from the poor Finder GUI is the fact that the German Keayboard completely lacks printed characters that you frequently need as a programmer.

If you sit in front of your Mac’s German keyboard and want to write a program in C, Smalltalk, Objective-C or most other programming languages, you won’t find any of these characters printed on your keyboard: “[{|}]~\” and probably a few more.

Don’t get me started about the key combination to enter a Tilde!
But that put aside, given the fact that in Objective-C, Apple’s favored programming language, is stuffed with square brackets for message sends and curly braces for all blocks of code, it is somewhat a crime to programmers to not print these characters onto the keyboard.

Since I guess many developers constantly move between Mac and PC, it is surely not only me who starts searching for them on the keyboard every time they sit in front of the Mac. My primary development environment is VA Smalltalk on Windows, XCode is more of a secondary environment for me, so the fact that all of the above-mentioned characters sit on different keys on a PC and a Mac make it harder (if not impossible) to transfer the knowledge on which key to press into the muscular brain.

Apple has a design principle of less is more, and most of the times, it works out really well. But in this case, it is a complete failure in my opinion.

I like my aluminium keyboard. It is nice to type on, I can go very fast on it without too much mistyping (except for special characters), so a third-party keyboard that could replace it is probably hard to find. The ones I’ve seen so far also have no special characters printed on them in the German layout. I am quite sure I couldn’t handle a US Keyboard layout, so I have to live with it (I know because I had to type on french, swiss and czech keayboards before and I really felt lost). Grrrrr!