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Do Developers Really Need a Second Monitor?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the give-me-pixels-or-give-me-death dept.

Displays 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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I think it's kinda silly (-1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143816)

I've had two monitors now at two different jobs, and the only way I found it useful was when I was running a VM and let it have one monitor.

I mostly find the concept to be really ridiculous. I have 20-30 windows and several workspaces at any given moment. None of these windows is ever allowed the entire screen unless some idiot web developer doesn't realize that designing for a particular pixel-width display is obnoxious and stupid. And then I just curse the web page and use firebug to edit it into being reasonable.

When I can fit several windows on the screen at once, I have plenty enough context on my screen to keep my mind occupied. I don't need more monitors.

I strongly suspect this is because of stupid IDEs like Eclipse and Visual studio that basically assume they have the entire screen to themselves. I don't know why people design applications to work like that. I mean what's the point in having a multi-tasking GUI anyway if you can't have a whole ton of windows open side-by-side at the same time?

Re:I think it's kinda silly (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143956)

Um... wow... I tend to not want to scroll horizontally to view code. Have you ever put a web page and code side by side, splitting a wide screen monitor in half? Its fucking terrible. Especially when you consider things like, I don't know, RDP in to a testing machine to use different browsers than you are allowed on your machine, while tweaking code, or having email up on one screen so you can just glance over to check mail, or having IM on the other side, or the code definition window on the second monitor. There are tons of reasons. My screen always feels too small when I am forced to use one.

Re:I think it's kinda silly (1)

knarf (34928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144154)

Have you ever put a web page and code side by side, splitting a wide screen monitor in half?

No, I put them top to bottom. That way, they both have the whole screen width to play with, no horizontal scrolling needed. It helps if you use a tiling window manager as that takes care of the tedious window positioning for you - I just press Alt-Spacebar to switch between top-bottom, left-right, left-stacked right, fullscreen and sometimes other layouts in Xmonad [xmonad.org] (on *nix, obviously).

Re:I think it's kinda silly (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143982)

Agreed on the VM comment, also RDP sessions are pretty tedious when not run in full-screen mode (keyboard shortcuts like Win+R launch on the host, etc). I usually use my second monitor for VM/RDP or small applications that I need to be "always on top", without occupying my screen space (IM, software phone/Skype, Nagios, etc). Some of my coworkers use their secondary widescreen LCD's in portrait mode for spreadsheet editing, to fit more rows.

Re:I think it's kinda silly (1)

urbanRealist (669888) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144008)

I have used two monitors, but I prefer a single widescreen monitor with 6 virtual desktops in KDE. Mind you, I program in gvim and konsole, not an IDE.

Some do, some don't. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144030)

But the main point is that TFA is so badly written.

He continued, âoeAnd she was such a beauty! A LED backlight 22-inch widescreen display with full HD 1920Ã--1080 resolution and mega dynamic contrast ratio. Iâ(TM)ll admit the pure darkness provided by the contrast ratio was more suited for watching movies, but I need downtime too!â

Yeah, way to subtly make your point.

How about instead of the artistic license about what you THINK someone would use a monitor for you look at what real coders use their monitors for.

He seems to be focusing on the 22" instead of the real issue.

Is a coder with two 17" screens as productive (or less or more) as one with a single 22" screen?

Re:I think it's kinda silly (4, Insightful)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144066)

Have you ever gone from two monitors to one, though? You don't make it clear in your post.

If you haven't, try it sometime (disconnect your second monitor or something). It's incredibly painful.

Re:I think it's kinda silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144098)

For me it is about overview. It can easily get cluttered if you need to tab between zillions of windows.

Often when I do something I tend to edit more than on file at a time, and I want to be able to have both the code and the result visible. And at home it can be nice to have an IRC/IM-client visible too, with zillions of conversations open ofc.

I think it's needed (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144118)

I know this is may be kind of a weird concept, but not all of us have all of the nuances and documentation of the languages in which we work memorized. When I'm developing anything, I always have at least one window open with my IDE/editor, at least one window open (many times multiple windows open) with documentation--a window to which I refer to with such frequency that it would seriously hamper my efforts to have to click or alt-tab around to find it, at least one browser window open with Google and/or its search results, and most of the time, a window open with the project on which I'm working, and sometimes a debugging window as well.

The more code I can see at one time, the more productive I am, period. The more documentation I can see, the more productive I am, period. As for the project, it depends.

So yeah, I do think it's needed. Without dual monitors, every time I alt-tab, it costs around five seconds or so of down time while I try to get my bearings. It may not sound like much, but it happens literally hundreds of times during a coding session.

Re:I think it's kinda silly (1)

yog (19073) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144172)

I love having two monitors. I can see more stuff at the same time. Netbeans lets me place the output window on the second screen, so I can constantly watch output during builds and runs.

I can have a browser or text editor window open on one screen while writing stuff on the other. It saves me from flipping back and forth between windows.

I also have openSuse with multiple virtual desktops, and am constantly flipping back and forth between the browser desktop and the compiler/source control desktop, for example. It would be nice to always have a browser screen; I'm wondering if I should get a third monitor just for the browser. I think Suse can handle it, not sure.

Basically it was a dumb question to begin with. People who find they're more productive with two screens (or three, or four) should get one. They're not that expensive. I just got a decent 23" flat screen for home for about $150, and I've seen even lower prices since then.

Re:I think it's kinda silly (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144176)

Well obviously this is just going to show a rift between designers and programmers. So do "developers" need a second monitor? Probably not. Maybe for VM or side-by-side spot-checking.
But if you're a designer, you can really benefit from the real estate... base design on one side, corresponding elements on the other. Or particularly in the case of web designers, code on one side, product on the other. That way you don't have to go back-and-forth for previewing, or heaven forbid, the half-and-half Dreamweaver approach.

That doesn't apply to everyone (2)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144192)

Before I stopped for some slashdot I had a bunch of windows open for development:

- NuSphere PhpED
- Firefox with phpMyAdmin open (and HeidiSQL behind it)
- Putty on the Asterisk server I'm testing the app on
- The web gui for my app

It's really nice seeing the result of my code on the server in real-time. Since both the GUI and Asterisk interact with MySQL directly it's great being able to refresh phpMyAdmin while I run through the motions of testing, and doubly-so to manipulate SQL statements then paste them into PhpED.

Do I need all those open at the same time? No. As much as having a rear-view and side mirrors on your car can be replaced by constant shoulder checking. It's a hassle with just one monitor, and with the extra screen space I'm able to save excessive alt-tabbing.


Re:I think it's kinda silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144216)

Of course you do. You're an arrogant narcissist that thinks everyone should conform to your opinions. Ask a carpenter if he needs two of the same hammer. Who the fuck cares if you think he should only have one? If someone finds that two or three of something helps them, then why the fuck should anyone care what you think?
Whats silly is thinking you should even have an opinion about how other people like to do things instead of just opinions on how you do.

Ten points if reading this on your second monitor! (5, Funny)

ewg (158266) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143860)

Ten points if you read this post on your second monitor like I did!

Re:Ten points if reading this on your second monit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143914)

How many if its on my Third?

Re:Ten points if reading this on your second monit (0)

ak_hepcat (468765) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143950)

Yup. 2nd 24" monitor. the 1st is my VM (see FP, haha) but only because WinBlows works better that way.

But Linux as my main desktop on the right side is where all the action is.
12 open terminals, pidgin, FF, and anything else I need at the moment.

Re:Ten points if reading this on your second monit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143960)

woo 10 points! I want a pony.

Re:Ten points if reading this on your second monit (2)

Kaffien (635219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143980)

Oh yes! I love dual screen monitors. 2x22's at work and at home I wanted dual screen so bad I have a 24 and a 17. Proven to make workers more productive. Not sure if it's because they can work on both or keep work on one and Slashdot on the other. That way work occasionally comes in to peripheral vision and reminds them they are supposed to be working.

Re:Ten points if reading this on your second monit (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144156)

Do I get triple points for reading it in my third vertical monitor?

Maximize (4, Insightful)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143874)

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

The ability to half-screen maximize by dragging a window to the left or right side of the screen helps quite a bit -- this is in Windows 7 and newer builds of Ubuntu (IIRC).

My typical reason for wanting a second monitor is the ability to maximize documentation/help stuff on one monitor while the other is reserved for the code itself. I find I work much slower on, for example, a laptop where I constantly have to switch back and forth between different windows to get at what I want.

Re:Maximize (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143928)

I've never in my life maximized a window and I find working on fewer than three monitors to be unbearable.

On the other hand, I'll never have the problem from the article because I supply my own equipment.

Re:Maximize (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144166)

I've never in my life maximized a window

You can't be much of a developer then if you've never tested that major use case of any project you've ever developed.

Yes (5, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143886)

But is this just the posturing of pampered coders, or is this much screen real estate really a requirement for today's developers?

When debugging a web-app I find it infinitely easier to have my terminal windows open on one monitor with the code and logs and then use the second monitor for my browsers so I can actually see things *as they happen* instead of trying to do lots of switching.

Re:Yes (2)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144096)

This was the killer app for me. The ability to watch server logs while doing things in a web browser. Being able to easily monitor something without having to switch windows with your active task or make things a few lines tall to fit them both on your screen.

In my current job, I only have one monitor, but it's widescreen so it serves that same purpose pretty well. I can have one window off to the side and the browser on top on the right. I can't see everything, but I can see the log well enough to know when I need to change window focus.

At my last job many of the people (down to administrative personnel) ended up getting second monitors. They mostly ended up as outlook monitors, and didn't seem to help their productivity much. I can only think of one person who made real use of it, but she spent lots of time comparing large spreadsheets and compiling data. For most of the non-programers, it was just a "I want two monitors to look cool and busy too" kind of thing.

Re:Yes (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144126)

I have never had two monitors, but I have seen it done. Actually, I agree with this alot. Screen is a precious and limited resource. Right now I have 10 windows on this desktop, and 5 on another. Just shuffling through the pile on this one takes a few seconds, a few seconds where I can lose a train of thought, or get distracted. If I had more desktop, I would totally use it.

Its especially the case when you have an IDE open, which really needs to take up most of the screen much of the time and is painful to be constantly resizing.... and a web browser, also taking up much of the screen and sometimes, multiple terminal windows on top of that... never mind email and IM etc.

Not everything needs the fullness of the screen and virtual desktops can definitely help but, when looking at both code and its output result, I am unsurprised that it would be helpful.

How much does a monitor cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143890)

Or to put it another way, how much of an upside does it need to pay for itself? I would say very little...

Re:How much does a monitor cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144144)

It's an interesting /. economics lesson. A second monitor at $200 - $400 is cheap.... The question is how much upside would it need to pay for itself? Yet spending the same amount on proprietary software is considered an outrage! Perhaps spending the same amount on MS Office or Windows has a bigger upside (at least to sales people or customer service).

How big's your desk? (2)

01101010001010001010 (694010) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143896)

Ask a non-developer how big their physical desk is, and whether a 18inch desk would be big enough for their work. Surprise surprise - it isn't big enough for a developer's work either.......

Larger/Higher Resolution Monitor for me... (1)

tsnorquist (1058924) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143898)

I'd much rather have a larger higher resolution monitor than two smaller monitors.

Re:Larger/Higher Resolution Monitor for me... (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144016)

That is exactly my thought.

Re:Larger/Higher Resolution Monitor for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144170)

I'd much rather have a larger higher resolution monitor than two smaller monitors.

It's easier to organize two screens with small space than one screen with large space.

You can divide each screen into two parts (especially easy with Windows 7) instead of dividing one screen into four corners.

Of course, for example, KDE and GTK+ workspaces work just as well as multiple monitors, but are a bit slower and bulkier to manage, not to mention keeping track of which windows are in which workspace.

The second monitor is pretty vital to me. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143900)

That accounting department might really have needed it.

I *don't* code, I build spreadsheets for a government finance office. Usually I'm translating a spreadsheet that's been helpfully locked into .pdf form by another government agency back into a usable spreadsheet, and being able to glance back and forth without sacrificing the full screen view is sanity preserving.

Re:The second monitor is pretty vital to me. (5, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144108)

That accounting department might really have needed it.

I *don't* code, I build spreadsheets for a government finance office. Usually I'm translating a spreadsheet that's been helpfully locked into .pdf form by another government agency back into a usable spreadsheet, and being able to glance back and forth without sacrificing the full screen view is sanity preserving.

I'd wager anyone that uses a computer for work would benefit from a second monitor.

The real issue, as I see it, is that Accounting needed a monitor so instead of ordering one they took it from an employee that already had one. To the submitter of the story, as a project manager, why aren't you removing the developer's obstacles? Using a term like "wailing" makes it pretty clear what you think of the lowly developer on a personal level, but why are you asking us if they really need it instead of enabling him/her to do their job as they see fit?

Maybe, maybe not? (0)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143906)

Coders? Perhaps not. It is however a must for any kind of graphic design, video editing, 3D modeling, etc. Having your full, finished product up on one monitor while you edit and tool around on the other makes for a more productive experience.

Real or virtual? (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143910)

Actually, regardless of how many physical monitors you already have, I'd say you could get even more benefit by organizing all your stuff across a few virtual desktops as well.

I kinda miss my WindowMaker setup with named workspaces and workspace-specific dock/clip.
Also kinda miss the multi-desktop app thumbnailing I had with e16 (or to some extent the gnome 1.x panel)... useful to keep an eye on what the other virtual desktops were doing.

Monitors are cheap, so why not? (4, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143918)

I bought a 24" monitor a few years back for $170, and a 23" last black frideay for $109. Why fuss about such a minor expense? If two monitors make developers 1% more producrtive, or just make developers feel "pampered" then why not?

Re:Monitors are cheap, so why not? (5, Insightful)

mseeger (40923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144072)

Even simpler, the search&removal, the complains, the complain handling: all probably have cost more than another monitor....

Re:Monitors are cheap, so why not? (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144152)

You can never have too much screen space as a developer. It is that simple. Even if it to run the Debugger in one and the application in the other. As many people pointed out that a monitor costs what? $150? $200? That is how many hours of pay for the Developer?
Even worrying about it a clear case of Penny Wise Pound foolish.

No, one 30" monitor (resolution 2560 x 1600) ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143922)

...will do nicely.

Which is what I have at home. Great for games, too.

Disclaimer: At work, my stingy employer would not buy me a 30" monitor. I'm making do with two 20" monitors side by side, both VERTICAL.
This also works, but the 2" gap in the middle is annoying.

Re:No, one 30" monitor (resolution 2560 x 1600) .. (1, Insightful)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144064)

$80k Programmer * 5% increase in productivity = $4k in gain for the company.

Second monitor clocks in at around $300 + energy costs.


Re:No, one 30" monitor (resolution 2560 x 1600) .. (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144112)

Meh, I've worked places with 4 of those monitors attached to one machine. It was sorta useful for monitoring several 1080p video streams and the audience and status displays, but I think it was still kinda slightly overkill. Just slightly, though.

How About 4! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143924)

I am actually using 4 monitors in my current situation. I don't know how I could work with less than 2. I have tried but I get lost in the apps i have open.

Re:How About 4! (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144088)

Virtual desktops, I couldn't work without them.

Yes. (0)

lumpenprole (114780) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143930)

..anything else?

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143932)

They don't.

Absolutely not (1)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143938)

However a third is indispensable.

Re:Absolutely not (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144204)

Amen. First is email and documentation, second is web browser (IDE for a developer), third for the system/application you are currently working on. Monitors are so cheap that a triple head setup could even be justified for an intern making near minimum wage, why is it even a question?

Well (5, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143940)

The company down the street seems quite happy to shell out another $200-$300 to keep that $120,000/year developer happy. If your developer is any good, maybe he'll just go work for them.

Second monitor is for /. (5, Funny)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143946)

The second monitor is extremely useful for keeping a browser open for reading Slashdot while I 'work.'

I don't like two monitors (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143948)

It should be up to each individual person, but speaking for myself, I don't use the second monitor. It starts to hurt my neck when I have to keep moving back-and-forth (or worse: a window popsup and I don't know where it went). I'd rather overlay all the windows, and then use "tab switching" to bring forward different windows as needed.

In fact even as I type this, I'm only using half the screen available to me (the window is shrunk to 2/3rd vertical and 2/3rd horizontal). I like to have everything directly in front of my eyes.


Is it better to have one big or two? (1)

ldardini (1004023) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143958)

I think having two (monitor) let you work more comfortable and you'll get less stress in closing/opening windows. At home I have one big one, 1920x1080 while at work I have 2x1280x1024. Two monitors are really better. Leandro

vdesk.exe (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143962)

Some old, OLD resource kit for windows nt, faffy to set up but best virtual windows app I've used. CTRL F1/F2 whatever to jump around screens so can put the email/browser on one screen, dev tools on another screen, vnc views on other screen, one spare as needed.

For dual screens, I find a second machine with a monitor, vnc server, and win2vnc works well to be able to have more things going on too (though it's usually hulu/netflix during calm times...!).

Slashdot (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143964)

I keep a browser open to slashdot visible all the time. if I didn't have a second monitor, how would I get work done?

Can`t live without 2 (1)

flibuste (523578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143976)

Juggling with windows when you have to read specifications, code them, check the result, etc. while monitoring a server to see if your data goes through - I had enough of this. Most of developers at our company have 2 monitors but that`s only because we`re on laptops. I still find 2 monitors a bare minimum at home. Mostly because I run VMs, emulators or read Slashdot and listen to music while I have zillion of Eclipse windows opened. If one monitor is enough for you, then you`re not working hard enough! :-)

It enhances productivity. (4, Insightful)

TheGeneration (228855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143984)

If the company wants the programmer to be more productive they'll give them two monitors. That way they can run the application on one screen, or documentation, and have the IDE open on another. Having to toggle between windows while cutting and pasting, or looking for fine detail differences between output, and code is a real real real suck ass aspect of coding.

This could of course be fixed by giving them a larger monitor and fixing the way maximize works in the OS.

not necessary, but helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143990)

First off, I'm not a coder. But I do work in enough different programs to know how useful a second monitor can be. I have a 17" and a 22" LCD at home, and it's very nice. I currently have a 27" iMac at work, and frankly, I'd kill to have two smaller screens than one gigantor screen. Because of the glare off this screen, I literally have to move my head around to read things in windows that are on one edge of the screen or the other. With dual monitors, I could just angle one (or both) in towards me a little.

Re:not necessary, but helpful (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144222)

I left coding for the more profitable managing job I'm doing now (I'm far less productive but get more money for it, go figure). And I still wouldn't want to part with my second monitor. There are times when I wish for a third.

It's simply very convenient to read the audit rules on one screen while writing your audit report on the other one. I would like a third for mail and some audit tools.

Easy answer (4, Insightful)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143992)

No, but monitors are cheap and programmers time is expensive. A second monitor will usually improve productivity at least to a small degree so it should pay for itself pretty quickly.

Re: Your sig (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144140)

Any technology is indistinguishable from magic for someone insufficiently advanced.

Depends on the person (1)

naroom (1560139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143994)

It can help a lot, or it can be a distraction.

Right now, I have an IDE open, terminals to two webservers on the second monitor, and a browser window open on a third. This allows me to see the code, debug outputs, and a user interface all at once, which is more efficient than switching between them. Over the course of a day, little things like that add up to a lot of time and attention saved.

Of course right now I'm reading Slashdot. (Excuse: My code is compiling.)

Don't be an asshole. Get him his second monitor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144010)

If he needs a second monitor, he needs it. That's the bottom line. I use 2 monitors at work. Code + output, Code + Code, Code + API Docs. Code + Slashdot. Whatever, I need it. I'd bitch if it was taken from me too.

Gotta go with 2!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144012)

The reason is simple.

Alt+tab between different TASKS right?

Well sometimes my single TASK requires multiple different applications/windows.

I first started using 2 monitors as a CS major in college.

1 screen for my code. 1 screen for what I needed to reference for my code - documentation/research/email/etc.

As a manager it was similar - spreadsheet:reference. As an analyst its similar yet again - rdp-manager:references.

My 2c.

One widescreen please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144022)

With Windows 7, you can drag the window to the edge of the screen, and have it take up half the screen space. My home computer has one large widescreen monitor, and I use this feature all day long. Much better than dual-monitor setup, imho, because you can look straight ahead and not be staring at a huge crease.

Total Screen Size (1)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144024)

To me, it's not about number of screens, but the total amount of available screen space (both pixels and inches).

I regularly use one large screen (26" widescreen) for most of my work. I find this screen large enough to do side-by-side work when necessary. If I needed to have 3 items open at once (code/documentation/google search?), I would probably find it easier if I had more space than I do.

That said, when I'm really in the groove, I don't want anything but what I'm working on visible on my main screen. If I need a reference document open to glance at once in a while, I do find it better to have it on a separate screen, where it doesn't interfere with my concentration, but still lets me see both at once if I need to.

Not just developers (3, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144026)

It's not just developers. I originally discovered the benefit of having a second monitor at a coding job in college - one screen for code, another for a browser to test the code and read documentation, etc.

After that, I bought myself another monitor for my desktop. Two came in great handy for translation - one monitor for source document and reference works, other monitor for your translation. It came in handy for reading electronic documents and taking notes/outlining. It's great for any job where you deal with lots of text, and need to be able to compare different documents, synthesize them, etc.

I'm now up to three. There are diminishing returns, obviously; the third isn't strictly necessary for me, but highly convenient. Any more than this would be tought for me to use effectively, though I suppose a square arrangement of four could be useful for some people.

Troll article (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144028)

First, kudos to Slashdot. This troll article will get a lot of page views.

Second, as a former developer and current manager, the answer is an unqualified yes. I cannot imagine going back to one monitor. The benefit is huge and the cost is incredibly low. I have developers who cost the company in the low 100k range and even if a second monitor cost me $500 (which it doesn't), I need a 0.1% productivity to justify the cost over a coule years. From experience, it provides a heck of a lot more than that.

yes, they do.... (1)

Nex6 (471172) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144034)

i was on one monitor for a long time, once I went to two. its a huge difference. sure, some folks probley dont need them but most do. when doing code compares, or having a test environment up in the 2nd window. it matters.....

Black Box saves my day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144038)

Well, as long as I can run my trusted Black Box, even Windows can be acceptable (multiple desktops, one physical screen).

Haven't had the actual need for dual monitors for a long time, but sure, it'd be fun...


Needed? No. Useful? Possibly. (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144040)

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).

Why the needless troll for accountants? You don't think keeping track of the money in a company is an important task? You really should wake up to the notion that business is a team sport and ALL the jobs matter. Accounting, maintenance, marketing, sales, production, engineering and the rest ALL matter. Only an idiot thinks that their job is somehow the only one that matters.

But is this just the posturing of pampered coders, or is this much screen real estate really a requirement for today's developers?"

Is it needed? No. Is it useful? Frequently. It also depends on how high the resolution of your primary monitor is. If you have a 2560X1920 monitor, odds are a second monitor is more or less superfluous. If you have a 1024x768 monitor, a second monitor could be very very helpful.

Couldn't do it without it (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144042)

I find that I now have a hard time working if I don't have a second monitor. There are just so many scenarios where it is helpful:
Debugger in one window, running program in the other
Email in one, thing I'm writing an email about in another
Word in one, thing I'm writing a document about in another
Website with how to in one, thing I'm working on in another.
It saves so much time not having to swap windows.

32 inch tv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144046)

my 32inch tv has plenty of screen real estate. I think 2 might be distracting.

No Islands (1)

tarsi210 (70325) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144050)

For the most part, unless you're a programming grunt and do nothing except hack code all day long, you're multi-tasking. Email, IM, a work order system, CVS system, perhaps ERP, CRM, DMS, etc. Any number of systems that may require constant or frequent monitoring. That is where developers (and most other computer jockeys) need a 2nd monitor.

Now...if you're lucky enough to be able to say, "Look, I'm coding this afternoon and I'll be unavailable entirely until I get done," and then you can close everything, open up your project, and hack/slash at it for a few hours interrupt-free, that's wonderful, and you probably only need one monitor. But I don't know of too many positions like that these days, where so many people are called to be Jack-of-all in most positions.

In the end, monitors are bloody cheap. If the developer wants one, GET HIM/HER ONE. The cost is extremely minor compared to the value it'll bring to their attitude if they think their needs are being met. It'll pay for itself easily.

Have you ever actually written code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144058)

This article reeks of ignorance. How many ways does having a second monitor make me more efficient? Let's see:

1) Docs on one monitor, Coding on the other.
2) Running environment on one monitor, debugger on the second.
3) Server side of an app on one monitor, client side on the other.
4) Server app on one monitor, logs tailing on the other.

If you're even asking this question with a view towards eliminating the second monitor, you're too ignorant or inexperienced to hold an opinion worth listening to.

No brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144060)

I am not a seasoned coder by any means, but from what i've noticed through the years is that quality of code is not really related with screen size or resolution.

I'd rather have 2 displays than an ultra-fast box (1)

unimacs (597299) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144074)

Besides, two moderately sized monitors are often cheaper than one huge one. In any case more screen real estate is definitely helpful.

Depends on your needs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144076)

Multitasking's always going to benefit from having the extra monitor open. Ditto if what you're doing has a strong visual component, which you might want to see as a follow-up on what you just wrote. If you ever have to reference something while working, your second monitor is invaluable. Workplaces guilty of conducting business through email practically demand each employee have one eye glued to a full-screened window of their mail reader.

I need two monitors (2)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144078)

I would go crazy trying to develop on only one monitor. In fact, I could use a third, but it's not worth getting a new video card for it.

Also, from the article, the idea of a second monitor being a "perk", comparable to a free lunch, is stupid. A second monitor is a tool to do work that directly affects productivity. A free lunch is just another way to get paid. The two are completely unrelated.

I have four (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144080)

Every time we have a layoff, I scrounge up hardware from the empty cubicles. Four monitors is nice, because I get extra exercise when I roll my scrounged $800 Herman Miller chair over to see the farthest monitor. No one counts those extra health benefits.

Yes, a second monitor is required. (1)

AnswerGil (891222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144084)

We frequently have to refer to documentation or examples when developing and having both the code and the reference side by side really helps. There's something very nice about having two fully separate contexts of information to look at. For some reason, it's a lot less distracting to me than having it on one screen where I have to worry about other windows covering it up, etc. If the developers want another monitor, spend the couple hundred bucks and get them one. These are skilled workers/artists that should be given whatever reasonable accommodations (and the occasional unreasonable ones) they need in order to perform their job functions in a comfortable way. Any place that would call me a pampered developer for asking for a second monitor really doesn't sound like a very good place to work as a developer. Is $100-$400 really that much money given the type of work?

Obviously not a necessity (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144086)

I mean seriously, if you can't do your job with one monitor, there is something wrong.

On the other hand, if you can't gain enough productivity from a second monitor to justify its purchase, there is also something wrong. My second monitor easily saves me 2-3 minutes of tabbing a day, minimum. Most good coders cost at least a dollar per minute. That's say just $2 per day, so a second monitor pays for itself in 100 business days or less.

So a company that won't pay for a second monitor if you want one is likely run by idiots who are wasting your time and their money. Move on to another job.

Depends on what you're developing. (1)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144090)

I'm doing web testing using Selenium. I have my log file up on one screen and the other screen is where my 13 firefox browsers for the app suite show up. Yes, I do use a single screen (when I VPN to work from home and I'm using my home laptop) to Rdesktop into my work machine. When I run my tests on the single montior, I have to just run the tests,then wait until they're finished to look at the log file.

No. (1)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144092)

I focus on one thing at a time. I'm an old fashioned compulsive maximizer. More screen is not always better. I've seen people use multiple monitors, they have to micromanage the windows themselves. I doubt there is a difference in productivity with two monitors. More stimuli does not necessary mean you'll perform better. I like to do one thing at a time, keep all alerts, email alerts and anything that could pop up off. It keeps you in the zone. I do the same with my phone. It's on silent and makes no noise. Check your email every 15 minutes or so, don't wait for it to pop in the corner of your eye. That context switches in your head are not worth it.

I bet there are window managers that micromanage windows it for you or let you have a different workspace on each screen. Windows is rubbish with multiple screens, always puts things on the wrong screen.

Obligatory Dilbert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144094)

Obligatory Dilberts...
1) http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-11-04/
2) http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2008-04-17/

duh, of course. (1)

nblender (741424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144100)

Without my second monitor, I can't easily get to my 3rd or 4th.

Thank god for Synergy+ ... My corporate PC with Outlook is far right... 2 middle monitors are my coding monitors, and consoles to my embedded targets, jtag debugger window, etc... Far left monitor is web browser and datasheet displayer. I might even pull up a logic analyzer window on the far left.

My cows used to make fun of me but I see they all now have at least 2 monitors and some of them 3 or 4...

Requirement? No, but useful (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144104)

It's not an absolute requirement, but if you do a lot more than coding (writing documentation, tailing logs, remote desktopping into Windows machines, etc.) it's certainly useful.

And given prices of monitors these days, it really only needs to save a developer a few hours a year to pay for itself.

Sure, I could live without it. I could write code in vi instead of Eclipse, too, but why?

Yes I need two monitors (1)

pornserver (1565445) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144110)

I use it mostly when debugging an application. Walk through the code on one monitor and see where it is in the application on the other monitor. I also have a system where I keep applications that I don't need often like Email, TextEditor, or Source Control on one monitor and applications that I use a lot on the other monitor like Code Editor, SQL Editor, and of course a Chrome Browser.

Yes. Especially when using a new tool or API (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144116)

One for coding, one for documentation reading.

Or how about debugging, one for output, one for code?

Or just to read the specs of your new product in one window while designing the interface or GUI in the other.

There are times when there's no need for a second monitor. But there's also a lot of times when two monitors simply help a lot. Plus, considering their cost, it will have paid for itself when it saved you about 5 hours of work. It simply is a no-brainer to have one.

Virtual vs Real world (1)

ed1023 (861273) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144128)

My personal thoughts is yes two monitors are necessary. It is very useful to have log windows open on one monitors and code on another. It is just like the real world the larger desk the more you spread things, and in my world it is easier to organize my work flow with things spread out where i can see them.

Oh yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144130)

Dunno about developers, but as a network engineer working & troubleshooting through numerous ssh sessions, the 2nd monitor has become a necessity for me. Best thing though is the new monitors wide-aspect-ratio which allows for longer lines and therefore easier navigation through the countless debug pages

Second monitors lead to increased productivity (3, Interesting)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144160)

So, apparently, says the research to come out of Microsoft's User Interface group. [microsoft.com] 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.

Pointless (1)

BuckaBooBob (635108) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144168)

Well.. Like so many people these days... rather than do a wee bit of research you resort to the internet without looking into it yourself... Some situations are a bit different but this one is just too simple. Ask him and observe how he utilizes the second monitor.. Is he using it to be effective? can you justify the cost for the man hours that it will save.. (Which is highly likely the ROI will be rather low unless you are really under paying him at which point you should fire all of your developers and get better ones that work for a good wage and do good work rather than crappy work for crappy pay)

What? (4, Insightful)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144180)

If you're unable to splurge 130$ on a second monitor, the company is in trouble.

Another way to phrase this question is "Do you *really* need all those pixels to do your job?"

Graphics/presentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144184)

I have two use cases:

a) LabVIEW: a fully "GUI" language and development environment. If you have 2 monitors, you can create a huge virtual desktop that allows you to see (and probably debug) a lot more code that can be crammed into a single screen. LabVIEW... HAS NO ZOOM! and this is by design, so I gave up expecting the feature as versions progress. In this case, screen real estate is at a premium.

b) LaTeX: I code on one screen, and keep a preview of the document on the other. It gives you an almost WYSIWIG feedback, wile keeping the advantages of presentation-content separation.

yes. it's as necessary as my glasses. (1)

cathector (972646) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144190)

i can code without my glasses, too,
but nobody would suggest they're not necessary.

The real question (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144194)

Is the amount of productivity increase you get for investing in a second $130 display for me worth worth it. I don't have hard numbers but I can't image its not the case. There are periods of boom and bust around here when it comes to work load. Right now its bust but next week after some other major projects on other teams complete it will be boom again. The schedules desired won't leave me much slacktime to spend on Slashdot.

Being able to have documentation on one display be it technical docs on api's or requirements documentation and code on the other does let me work faster. Its way faster to turn my head at look the move windows around. Its nice to be able to mentally step thur code I have just written with requirements in view.

It's depend on developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144196)

Hi folks,
              I think that the second monitor is quite usefull in case when you have to develop Web UI, Eclipse IDE Plug-ins and so on, because you have no the need of switching between different desktops or windows. According to my experience I would say that for this kind of development, the performance could be increased by 10-15%.

Best Regards!

Professional Tools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144200)

As a consumer i have purchased a fairly decent second monitor for under $200. While not great, it was at least as good as any LCD I have seen at work (aside from the graphic design dept.) In terms of technical professions, software developers are pretty low on the expensive hardware requirement scale. Carpenters, plumbers, and automotive technicians require far more expensive tools to do their job and are billed out at much less expensive rates than software developers (to the IT department or as consultants.) A developer could still develop with one monitor just like a mechanic could probably still fix your car with a single crescent wrench and a roll of duct tape.

Answer isn't universal. (2)

DdJ (10790) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144206)

The answer isn't universal -- it depends on what your development target is and how your tools work.

Here's a specific example. Know when having two monitors was awesome for developers? Back in the days when one of those monitors was attached to a VGA card, another to a MDA card, and you were debugging full-screen graphical apps under MS-DOS. You could run the full app on the VGA screen, but run the IDE and debugger on the monochrome screen on the same system at the same time. There was no way to do anything comparable with just one monitor.

But if you're programming for the web? Or for an Arduino? Or for an Android phone, testing/debugging real hardware? Some individual work habits may make some developers more productive with more screen real-estate, but not due to anything inherent in what they're doing.

A little from column A; a little from column B (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144212)

If you've never worked with dual displays, well, you can't miss what you never had.

But once you've had it, and gotten used to having it, it can be hard to get used to not having it.

I'm not one to use full-screen windows, but if I'm working on, for example, a script to process data from a file, I'd like to have the script (obviously), a sample data file, probably Google, and the requirements doc all open at the same time. To have all those windows visible together is just a plus.

That said, if there was really wailing and gnashing of teeth, then the dev was being a prissy little diva.

sama obama pajama scary fairy party extendead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36144218)

the thinking is that the need to improve our terror has resulted in uncle Sam turning over our dwindling pensions to help us afford even more terror, & fatal vaccines, fake weather etc... the zeus weapon is being fired continuously now as the chosen ones holycostal life0cide really takes off, due to our lack of need for our pensions, as the deities have vowed to take up our slack again, so that passover needn't end before the valleys are washed clean away. looks like there's hell to pay as well.

disarm. read the teepeeleaks etchings, please. thank you

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