Sunday, September 17, 2006

Every programmer shall have two monitors - I disagree

While I love the concept of Alex Feldstein: The Programmer's Bill of Rights, I disagree with the first point.

Two monitors? How many USERS/CLIENTS do you know that have two monitors? I deal with a partner who uses two monitors regularly. The result? A bloody pain in the butt every time I try to support them.

I agree - it's cool, it's geeky but it's NOT THE NORMAL ENVIRONMENT THAT USERS SUFFER WITH.

Yes, I said it - SUFFER - users SUFFER with their hardware. Fast - developers need it, comfortable - absolutely - but at least deal with reality.

I remember when Calvin spoke about his notebook in fairly "obvious" terms (not a slight against Calvin, more against the norm) - 4 GB RAM, this was back at the 2002-03 Devcon. Hello? His comment, I remember, ("not that much improved" - or something similar) drew groans from the crowd.

I agree - spoil your developers - but they still need to sit in the world of user reality.

4 comments:

Alex Feldstein said...

Not sure we are talking about the same thing. You taklk about clients. I talk about developers. I do believe that developers (and advanced users if you want to talk about clients), are more productive with two monitors.

The extra real estate is very helpful when you need to have several windows ipopened. I can see code at the same time I have the debugger open while a I'm running a program step-by-step. I can see the code, I can see the output on the program's interface and I can see many windows open in the IDE (properties, variables, whatever).

Works for me in VFP, and in VS2005.
It is also very helpful when I have MS-Outlook open at the same time I'm using a text editor, or -- you get the point.

Andrew MacNeill said...

I realize you were talking about developers - my point is that when developers get two monitors, they have immediately stepped out of the zone of "understanding" what their end users will work with.

I do see the benefit - but I think the danger is where one starts to think everyone has the same thing.

Now then, a larger wide-screen monitor - hmmm...

I'm all about the user experience and I find having too many bells and whistles on my own machines - can then cause possible bad assumptions as to what "regular people" work with.

Of course, I've been proven wrong before...

Steve Ritter said...

Andrew, I think having a wide screen monitor, as you seem to be lusting after in your comment to Alex, would give you more of a disconnect from the average user than the typical dual monitor setup would. Ahh, "geek lust" - some people would never understand. 8-)

Anyway, the dual monitor setup doesn't "stretch" the screen across the two monitors, it just provides more area to work on. So you still have a representation of what your average user/client is working with - on one of the monitors.

As an analogy, imagine you have the blueprints for your new house laying on your 30" x 60" desk. After you get tired of flipping back and forth between different detail pages, you set a table of the same size next to your desk. Now you can spread out your blueprints and look at them side by side. Having the extra table doesn't stretch the blueprints, it just provides more area to spread out. And you can still understand what your user/client is using to look at his blueprints.

I've been using dual monitor setup for nearly two years. Some of my users also have dual monitors, some don't. And there hasn't been any loss of understanding - just a lot of "monitor envy". 8-)

Andrew MacNeill said...

Boy, it sounds like I'm going to be eating my words and just admit it - I don't have two monitors but I've heard enough about it now to say "hmmm - maybe it's time"