Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Functional keyboards

The modern keyboard design trend, at least on the laptops I've seen and on my wireless keyboard, is to omit the Function keys and instead provide them as a secondary function on the number row with a special coloured "Fn" button. I don't like this much, because I'm a big keyboard user. I type. I code. I use keyboard shortcuts to make my life faster and easier, but when those shortcuts use Function keys, and the Function keys don't exist, that becomes a big problem for me. Instead of being able to close a window with Alt+F4, now I have to use Alt+Fn+4. Three-finger shortcuts are terrible and always slow me down. There are lots of Function key shortcuts I use every day - several times an hour - in Visual Studio: F5 to run a program, F10 to step through code in debug mode, F11 to step *into* code in debug mode, F12 to go to a variable, function or class definition, and of course the F4 functions to close tabs or windows. Oh, and F3 for searches. Add an extra key to them and you definitely slow down my development.

The very worst part is that this type of keyboard usually also omits the Page Up, Page Down, Home and End keys, too, in favour of the Fn versions. The Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 I'm currently trying out has Page Up and Down, but Home and End are Fn key combinations, which is more annoying than you think.

And, yes, this is all a big first-world problem, because I'm whining about how my amazing, powerful, portable computing and communications device is sometimes a little bit slow to use, but here's something else I like to say: we made these machines, so what good are they if they don't serve their human masters? Humans are undisputed masters of the built environment, but it's pretty pointless to go and build it wrong.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I am otherwise very impressed with the Yoga.
PPS - I did have to adjust the console window font size.

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