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Displays Programming

Do Developers Really Need a Second Monitor? 1002

jammag writes "It was an agonizing moment: a developer arrived at work to realize his second monitor had been taken (given to the accounting dept., to add insult to injury). Soon, the wailing and the gnashing of teeth began. As this project manager recounts, developers feel strongly — very strongly — about needing a second monitor (maybe a third?) to work effectively. But is this just the posturing of pampered coders, or is this much screen real estate really a requirement for today's developers?"
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Do Developers Really Need a Second Monitor?

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  • So, apparently, says the research to come out of Microsoft's User Interface group. [] Quoting:

    The research study required users to complete several different tasks, switch from one task to another, and remember data. None of the study participants had used multiple monitors before.

    The first study revealed that the users' productivity increased by 9 percent. Further studies showed even greater increases - at times up to 50 percent for tasks such as cutting and pasting. Mary Czerwinski, the VIBE research manager, is excited about her group's discoveries, asking, "If you're able to squeeze 10 percent more productivity out, do you know how much money that will save?"

    One of the user studies that the VIBE group did required users to navigate through a series of doors, and then back their way out. They wanted to test the user's ability to remember a series of actions on a small display versus a large display.

    "The interesting thing is that they try to get it right. We found that memory capability is considerably improved on a big display over a small display. There's something about engaging the peripheral vision that improves your spatial memory of what has gone on," said Starkweather.

    They've also found that additional monitors greatly help women in computing. See same article.

    My own experience with this is that I perform better when I can get more pixels in my field of view, regardless of screen size, as long as I can read what's going on. An additional monitor improves both constraints. In contrast, when I have to work with a laptop and an 800x600 display, it's like sipping information through a straw. This is regardless of other factors like network bandwidth. Your mileage may vary.

  • by GreyWolf3000 ( 468618 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @05:17PM (#36145050) Journal

    The cost of buying a second monitor for one developer is immaterial. The cost of buying second monitors for every developer isn't.

  • Virtual Desktops (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sd.fhasldff ( 833645 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @05:25PM (#36145202)

    My opinion is this is largely a consequence of how the Maximize functionality works / has worked.

    My money is on the complete lack of virtual desktops on Microsoft's platform.

    Yes, there are third party apps that add the capability, but I don't know a single Windows developer who uses them. On the other hand, I don't know a single Linux developer who DOESN'T use them... (now watch Slashdot provide countless counter examples).

    Developing on a system without virtual desktops *or* a second (at least) monitor is a huge pain in the ass.

  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @05:28PM (#36145246) Homepage Journal
    Rats, I'm reading it on my primary monitor. My work is on the second monitor.
  • Re:Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @05:30PM (#36145286) Homepage
    Whoa... for 120k/yr I'd write everything in stone with a chisel if they wanted.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus