keyboard layouts - US International as ultimate solution?

As I grew up in Germany my keyboard layout has always been the QWERTZ based German keyboard layout. The main difference between QWERTY keyboard layouts is that the Z and Y keys are swapped and most special characters are moved to third level as the German language uses umlaut (diacritic) characters like ä, ö and ü and the ligature ß.

German keyboard layout

German keyboard layout © Wikimedia Commons

This is very handy for writing German text but if you program in programming languages like C, C++, Perl, PHP, ... where brackets like [] and {} and slash/backslash are frequently used it's a pain to use it. So I decided to change to the US keyboard layout, which I thought is the best choice as it is very popular. The problem was, that typing umlaut characters is very circumstantial as there is no standard method.

Most Linux users tend to assign combinations like Alt + A for typing Ä using xmodmap, but I wanted to use a standard way which would work on all operating systems and wouldn't be a solution I'm the only person using it. After some googling I found the US international keyboard layout which puts nearly all commonly used characters with diacritical marks on a third level of the keyboard which can be accessed by the Alt Gr key (usually the right Alt key).

US-International keyboard layout

US-International keyboard layout © Wikimedia Commons

At first it was unfamiliar as ä,ö and ü are not on the third level of a,o and u but q,p and y. But after a few days working of it this wasn't a problem anymore.

In the meantime I replaced all my keyboards to keyboard with US (international) layout and I'm not regretting it at any point. I even ordered a MacBook with a US (international) layout. The only problem is when a I have to fix some computers from time to time from family & friends who use still a German keyboard layout 🙂

So which keyboard layout are you using and why?

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About the author

My name is Tobias Müller. I'm interested in com­puters, physics, elec­tronics and photo­graphy. more …

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