Switching to Bépo

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May 8 2020

About a year ago I started having severe pain in my left wrist when I was typing all day on the keyboard. A few sessions with the osteopath made this pain disappear. However, each time I used my wrist again intensively the pains would return. After some research on the internet, I saw that people who were in the same situation as me had solved their problem by changing the layout of their keyboard to an ergonomic layout.

For French, the ergonomic layout is called Bépo. When using this layout, the fingers move much less than on an Azerty keyboard. The most used letters are located directly under the ten fingers in their rest position. So it seemed logical that my fingers would be less stressed. This change could only be beneficial even if it did not provide a definitive solution for my wrist.

I knew that changing my keyboard layout wouldn’t be easy. Indeed, I had already tried to learn Bépo in the past, without success. Changing the way my fingers have been typing on the keyboard for almost 25 years. Starting from scratch, typing at the speed of a child who discovers his first computer. I knew from my past attempts the feeling of wanting to write lines of code at my usual pace, with the fingers that no longer obey and the brain that gets confused. In the end, an incomparable feeling of frustration. However, this time I had no choice.

In order not to slow down too much at work, I started by doing typing exercises using Bépo for one month. At work, I continued to use an Azerty keyboard and did my exercises in the evening. These exercises allowed me to go from 14 to 30 words per minute in Bépo. I still didn’t type as fast as in Azerty (38 words per minute), but it was enough to start using Bépo at work. Despite the exercises, the beginnings were extremely difficult. It took me about 3 months before the bulk of the frustrations disappeared. And it took 3 more months before the Bépo finally became pleasant to use.

It’s been about a year since this adventure began. I now type as fast in Bépo as in Azerty a year ago. It’s completely natural for me to use Bépo, both for typing text or code, and for using keyboard shortcuts. Since then, I also bought an ergonomic keyboard, and it is an ideal complement to the Bépo layout. I no longer feel pain in my wrist and my arms tire much less. However, my wrist did not regain its full mobility, so I took an ultrasound which allowed me to discover a cyst. It will probably have to be removed, even if it is less annoying today.