During my occasional bouts of extended programming sessions, I'd been having some issues with pains in my wrist. Nothing major but it tended to be rather annoying when it happened. I eventually decided to try getting a more ergonomic setup at my desk to see if it would make any noticeable difference.
After doing some research online (is there any other place that you do research now a days?), I stumbled upon a bunch of information about split keyboards. Their major benefit being that you can position the 2 halves separately including tilting them so that you don't have to angle your wrists so much. This sounded promising to me, so I began investigating what some of the most popular split keyboards were available.
One of the ones that popped up was the Ergodox which seemed to have some uniqueness in that it was an open source DIY keyboard. Unfortunately I wasn't in the mood to build my own keyboard from scratch.
Another cool keyboard that caught my eye was the Keyboardio Model 01 which looked very awesome with its wooden frame and unique thumb cluster.
Both these keyboards were using vertically staggered key arrangements though, which I didn't know if I would like. Also they seemed like they would take an absolute age to ship. So a quick search of amazon found a couple of promising options that I could get in only 2 days!
I actually ended up ordering the Koolertron as I thought it looked more interesting.
The first thing I noticed upon trying to actually use a split keyboard was that I had never learned to properly touch type. You don't really notice this sort of thing until you attempt to type the letter 'B' with the wrong hand and your finger just hits thin air. "Wha??.. Oh yeah its on the other half of the keyboard, oops". My typing style at the time was some odd combination of 4 fingers on each hand floating over the keyboard at random, with occasional/often glances down at the letters to re-orient myself. It was after a few days of the frustration of not being able to type at all, that I knew it was time for me to learn to touch type correctly.
At this point I knew I had a choice to make. I could just go ahead and learn to type correctly on a standard qwerty keyboard (or possibly a split qwerty), or I could take a look at something different entirely.
I think most of us have heard the theories about how the qwerty layout was designed to slow down typists so that ye olde typewriter arms wouldn't jam, and therefore is a terrible layout for modern computers. I don't really know if that is true, but if I was going to have to learn to type from scratch anyway, why not look around and see what options were out there?
Having known about the dvorak layout already, I wasn't really keen to learn something that looked so crazy. But after a quick search turned up many more layouts, I was intrigued.
The main one that caught my eye was Colemak. It's biggest draw for me was that it kept my ctrl + z, x, c, and v, all in the same place. This was great since I used those a lot in coding (Copy and paste for the win!).
So after a lot of consideration and concern I decided that if I really was going to try for more ergonomics, I should do the thing properly and go all in.
This was when I decided to go and learn Colemak on a split vertically staggered keyboard.