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I'm a pretty big fan of Sublime. One of my favorite features is the ability to scroll through your file by using the compressed image of your text on the upper right hand corner (minimap). My gut feeling is this does positive things for productivity:

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Does having this minimap to scroll through actually improve productivity?

P.S. - Side question: Did Sublime invent this idea, or did they take it from another text editor?

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It's called the minimap, and Sublime seems like it was the first one to have the feature, though there are plugins now that implement the same feature for things like Visual Studio 2010. –  birryree Jul 11 '12 at 3:48
    
Thanks, updated the question to use the correct terminology. –  Casey Patton Jul 11 '12 at 3:52
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The Visual Studio Productivity Power Tools (VS 2010) has had this for a while... not sure if it pre-dates sublime though. It's baked right into VS11 now as well. –  Steve Evers Jul 11 '12 at 4:12
    
SmartBears Code Historian had a similar feature before sublime even existed, see blog.asmartbear.com/creativity-over-optimization.html dunno if they borrowd it somewhere or invented it –  marc.d Jul 11 '12 at 10:00
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3 Answers

I find myself using it in three situations:

  1. When I need to make changes throughout a file, like replacing a name and reviewing the changes to make sure they're correct. The minimap gives me an idea of how much of the file I have left work through.

  2. As a replacement for the vertical scroll bar. The minimap is easier to click, because it's wider.

  3. If some plugin (like SublimeClang for C/C++) can highlight problems, the minimap lets me see them on an almost file-wide level and allows me to quickly navigate to them.

The actual productivity gain is rather small, but I like the feature. I don't have the feeling that it really gives an overview to the code since the text is rather uniform. But I suppose if you have distinctive structures in your source or can somehow color-code it, the minimap could actually help.

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I like number 2, I did not realise until now that I seldom use the actual scrollbar, but instead "drag" the focus on the minimap. –  michelpm Jan 17 '13 at 14:26
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I can partially answer your sidequestion: DrRacket (the development environment of Racket; formerly known as DrScheme and PLT Scheme respectively) has a contour view that works exactly the same.

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There was a plugin that provided this exact same functionality for IntelliJ that started back in 2004: http://plugins.intellij.net/plugin?pr=idea&pluginId=160

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While this plugin may be useful, your answer doesn't really answer the question. Please expand your answer. –  Walter Dec 10 '12 at 22:00
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@Walter: Question asks "Did Sublime invent this idea, or did they take it from another text editor?". This points to an answer - Sublime Text was released in 2008, this plugin from 2004 has the same feature. –  Chris Dec 10 '12 at 22:49
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@Chris - it might well point to an answer. But we have to follow the link to find out and if the link goes dark we'll never know what it said. A good answer would have the information here with a link as a reference. –  ChrisF Dec 10 '12 at 23:51
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@ChrisF: The link only provides further information. The salient details are in the answer's text - IntelliJ provided the same functionality in 2004 via plugin. The only unstated part is the age of Sublime Text, but I expect most people realize it isn't 8 years old. –  Chris Dec 11 '12 at 17:28
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