Productivity hints #1: Shift not

February 18, 2008

In the next few posts, I want to highlight a few productivity boosters that have worked very well for me.

First up: Numbers vs. puctuation.

A standard US keyboard is not designed for programming. You need to press shift to access most punctuation characters: Curly brackets, parentheses, double quotes etc.

So, this brilliant guy took the step and simply remapped the keys!
1 -> !
2 -> @
3 -> #
‘ -> ”
and so on (the numbers are, of course, accessed with shift).

This may sound impossible to get used to, but it’s a lot easier than you think! Sure, it takes a few hours and countless wrong keystrokes, but it really pays off.

Combined with the “electric” features of Emacs, this speeds up coding a lot. Try it out for a few hours and see for yourself.

By the ways, the mapping technique described on the linked page is not perfect. He simply swaps the keys with keyboard_translate, so keybindings that include numbers (eg. C-x 2) now require you to press shift to get the number 2. I’m working on improving this, but for now, I’ve just mapped C-x @ etc.

In general, keep a eye out for any keystrokes that tend for annoy you, or that you get wrong several times a day. For example, I use 2-4 windows per frame, and of course I need to switch between them very often. Therefore, the default shortcut, C-x o was just too slow, and I remapped it to C-o (M-C-o to switch frames, by the way).

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