Keyboard: Why Undo Cut Keys Wreck Your Hand

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Many programers think that the keys {z, x, c, v} used for {undo, cut, copy, paste} is perfect as is, and many new keyboard layout designs specifically want to have these keys remain the same positions as QWERTY. On this page, i tell you my experiences, and i think the key choices {Z, X} are actually hazardous to your hand health.

In 2012, using a ergonomic keyboard but with rubber dome key-switch (the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000), i actually developed RSI syndrome. My hand tingles. RSI cause is often very hard to trace. After weeks, eventually i traced it to be caused by pressing the x key for Cut too much by the ring finger, while my hand remains in touch-type positions. Why do i suddenly press the x too much? It's a bit complex story, but in short, it's because we introduced a new feature in ErgoEmacs Keybinding so that the cut command will cut current line when there's no text selection, and i find this so convenient and start to use it even for deleting several lines. The complete story is here: The Roadmap to Completely Replace Emacs's Key System, Part 1.

The {cut, copy, paste, undo} keys are better remapped to {F2, F3, F4, F5}. (skipping F1 to move them towards the middle, because F5 is much easier than F1.) These keys require you to reach out, and may be slower to hit than pressing 【Ctrl+z】 etc, but they are better for your hand health.

There are 2 reasons for it:

Many keyboard layouts, such as Colemak, Norman, Capewell, Minimak, Asset, actually want these keys to remain in the same position as QWERTY. The reason they cite is that people are reluctant to change, so having these keys same as QWERTY increases adoption. That's a bad design decision.

Also, on Mac OS X, Apple created a Dvorak layout but with QWERTY modifiers, again because many people want that, DUE TO HABIT. This is bad.

On Dvorak Keyboard Layout, the positions for Z X C V are overall ergonomically better, even though they are scattered.

Dvorak keyboard layout
Dvorak keyboard layout
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