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I'm from Portugal and have used a Portuguese keyboard all my life. Should I switch to English keyboard for programming?

In the workspace, I can't write the {} using a PT keyboard, that's why I started considering always switching to english when programming

1 Answer

I'm not familiar with the Portuguese configuration, so I can't really speak about the limitations you might have, but I know that some alternate language keyboards make it difficult to access common keys like brackets, braces, and so on. That being said, all language keyboards have their pros and cons, and I think the answer to your question rests mostly in the realm of "Do what you're most comfortable with."

Learning to program is, in itself, a challenge. Learning a new keyboard configuration at the same time could make that significantly more difficult. I've used an English QWERTY keyboard most of my life, but a few years ago I taught myself to use the Colemak configuration to speed up programming in some languages I was using. I might pick up Dvorak at some point to see how it plays out, but I've just been too busy lately, so it's not worth the energy to me.

I'm not sure if you have familiarity with the English keyboard layout or not, but most operating systems will let you toggle between alternate configurations or languages fairly easily, so you can use the same physical keyboard (in most cases). Usually, this will update the onscreen keyboard as well, which is helpful until you've gotten a few days of solid practice in on the new configuration. Supposing you attempt the switch, this is probably the best way to go.

If you do give it a shot, I would recommend doing the bulk of your work in the way you're most comfortable with and then to devote some time at the end of every day to practice your new configuration. After a few days, it should become a bit more natural and you can stretch out your time more evenly between the layouts. Whatever you do, make sure to practice it at least once a week or so after that, otherwise you'll lose the skills pretty quickly. It's more about overriding your muscle memory than anything.

I know it wasn't a direct answer to your question, but hopefully it gives a bit of insight into the topic. Good luck :)