Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Back in university, we were able to print "unlimited" printouts on wide fanfold paper, (perhaps 128 characters wide or maybe more). I could then unfurl the printed code out across the desks or the room and get a great overview of my code, draw circles and arrows and a paragraph on each one in the wide margin, see if this code matched that code, tweak variable names by seeing their brethren, etc, and I loved it.

Right now I'm using xcode for iOS programming, but the question comes up no matter what editor I've used: how can I get a good code overview that's bigger than my screen?

share|improve this question

Two simple things:

  • only write functions that fit on one screen
  • use a dual screen display (which is quite affordable nowadays)

The last time I needed a "fanfold paper printout" of some code was for a legacy function with several hundreds LOC. After refactoring this monster into small functions I never missed fanfold printouts again.

share|improve this answer
I generally do write short functions; but I often want to compare the functions to each other, or see if they should be re-ordered in a more meaningful way. I have dual screens; maybe I should arrange them physically above one another... – Thunder Rabbit May 22 '12 at 11:18
@ThunderRabbit: perhaps you should try to write even shorter functions, like Bob Martin ;-) – Doc Brown May 22 '12 at 11:49
@ThunderRabbit, have you ever seriously investigated Emacs, specifically electric-diff and the various split-screen commands? It is IDEAL for comparing functions this way? – John R. Strohm May 22 '12 at 12:15
+1 for "only write functions that fit on one screen". Unfortunately, most programmers these days seem to have been taught that run-on stream-of-consciousness code, with routines that go for hundreds of lines, is The Way To Go. – John R. Strohm May 22 '12 at 12:17
@JohnR.Strohm I've been using Emacs for years, though less and less for programming as I go. I've not seen that particular mode (?) so thank you for mentioning it. I'll try to see if it will play nicely with xcode. – Thunder Rabbit May 22 '12 at 12:21

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.