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I'm currently using a single monitor, since I see no value in something like this Three monitors, one for each kid? mentioned in this answer. It may be a good exercise for my neck, but besides of this I see no use therein at all. This amounts to 5760x1200 pixels, which is nearly 7M pixels, just fantastic, except for me not being a cyklop-han. The ratio of 24:5 is IMHO too bad for this to be usable. I don't even think that two 16:10 monitors side by side is a good idea. I never tried so I may be completely wrong, but I suppose that the 4:3 ratio would be much better for this. Or even 1:1, but no such thing is available (with some exceptions, either very expensive or very low resolution).

Does anybody use

  • two monitors arranged vertically (resulting in 16:20)?
  • or two pivoted monitors side by side (resulting in 20:16)?
  • or another such variant?
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closed as not constructive by gnat, GlenH7, Rein Henrichs, Bart van Ingen Schenau, Kilian Foth May 3 '13 at 8:39

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You did well on not mentioning any of the following (from the FAQ): Software engineering, Developer testing, Algorithm and data structure concepts, Design patterns, Architecture, Development methodologies, Quality assurance, Software law, Programming puzzles, Freelancing and business concerns –  Jonathan Khoo Feb 16 '11 at 22:02
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Please check the FAQ and Good Subjective, Bad Subjective blog post to learn what makes a good question. –  ChrisF Feb 16 '11 at 22:07
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You don't see the value in three monitors?! Shame on you. ;) –  John Feb 16 '11 at 22:17
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@Jonathan That is not an exhaustive list of topics allowed here. –  Anna Lear Feb 16 '11 at 22:27
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@maaartinus: Don't turn your head. Shift your eyes. When I'm working with two monitors, my head usually ends up pointed at the divide between them, making it easy to look back and forth without any head movement. –  Anon. Feb 16 '11 at 22:39
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15 Answers 15

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There are a lot of ways to use multiple monitors effectively. But the most important rule is: Don't put one behind the other.

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One on top of the other can work well though - especially for larger screens –  Alister Bulman Feb 17 '11 at 20:08
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Once you seriously start working with multiple monitors, there's no way you can go back.

I currently use two monitors, and I'm really aching for a third. One monitor contains the code I'm currently working on - the other monitor has the rest of the IDE, including various other code windows that I use as a reference. Add a third window and that would be for online docs and the like - as it is, I'm alt-tabbing away to look things up.

I also have a bunch of console windows floating around the place, for various reasons. You can never have too many console windows.

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Agreed. It took years of whining, cajoling and outright lies to finally get my boss to finance a triple-head setup. Now that I have it, I can never go back. –  Joshua Smith Feb 16 '11 at 22:57
    
I use the same setup, with the code window of the IDE in front of me and various debugging windows of the IDE stretching off to the right. The boundary between the windows lines up with the physical boundary of the monitors. For this to work the best, the two monitors should be the same size, so when moving your mouse back and forth between them it doesn't the cursor jump up or down because of different vertical resolutions. –  tcrosley Feb 17 '11 at 0:44
    
Just imagine how much fun I have with the various "workspace/page/desktop" thing that's in most modern nix desktops: ubuntuclips.org/videos_30.html -- I have two monitors, this effectively makes it 8, because I can quickly scroll between desktops with a flick of my middle finger, and quickly back again. –  Incognito Feb 22 '11 at 18:31
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Obviously one monitor is for *.stackexchange.com and the other is for your IDE.

Seriously though, I recently won the battle at work to get second monitors installed for our department, and I will never give it back.

The time saved by not having to flip back and forth between different windows to read references and the ability to see the UI and Code at the same time is invaluable for what I do.

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I found as you that three monitors give too wide an area.

I have Eclipse running on a pivoted monitor and all the rest on a smaller unpivoted next to it. Works well for me.

If you code a lot I can highly recommend pivoting the monitor - allows you to see more lines at once.

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Yes, the vertical place is a scarce resource on my monitor and with more of them in the standard arrangement it gets much worse, of course relatively. –  maaartinus Feb 16 '11 at 22:37
    
I have recently pivoted on of mine, it was a good idea. Good for reading code, stackexhange and other sites. –  StuperUser Feb 22 '11 at 16:41
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Having multiple monitors is great, but you really do need software to take full advantage of the screen space. KDevelop is bad for this (at least, the version I installed, newer versions may have fixed this). You have this:

KDevelop IDE

This is a single window IDE. All those panels slide in and out and generally take up space that the code should have.

Eclipse and DevStudio have interfaces that work with multiple monitors, i.e. those various panels can be made to float and can be placed on any monitor, not stuck inside the application's main window.

So I have one monitor with just the text editor (I prefer MDI over tabbed) and project windows, debugging windows, on-line help, etc on my second monitor.

Another advantage to multiple monitor use is debugging GUI applications, you can see both the GUI and the code as it's being debugged!

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I do use two 24" vertically oriented monitors and find that I can effectively use the space well. With the vertical orientation, I don't end up looking like I'm watching a tennis match while working.

Where I really find the vertical orientation works well is when I have source code up (I can fit 80-column windows of code perfectly, or four if I divide up in quarters), and when reading documents. It really nice to have a full page show up at a reasonable size.

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My ideal is a 30" monitor with a 20" monitor each side in portrait, for a desktop that's 1200+2560+1200 wide by 1600 high. I run the IDE in the centre, with help on one side and app/email/SO/more help etc on the other. Unfortunately that's my home setup and I haven't been doing much developing at home for a while.

At work I have one widescreen monitor in landscape with the IDE and app, on the right is another widescreen in portrait with the code window on it (100 lines visible). Unfortunately widescreen monitor stands often don't rotate, so this one is sitting on the desk propped against the wall. Widescreen is not as good as standard for this as there just aren't enough pixels.

Once you actually try multiple monitors it is really hard to go back. There just isn't enough screen area. The saving from having everything visible at the same time is hard to describe, but it's very real once you have it. Instead of bringing up a window list and looking for the window you want, you just see it on the screen and well, there it is. Times however many hundred times an hour you move between windows.

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I have three 16:9 monitors across my desk, I use the center one for what I am currently working on. The left and right are used for tertiary programs like Email, DB, reference docs, etc. Things that I just need to glance at, maybe spend a minute or two actually work in, and then I go back to the center screen.

I have a hard time going home to two screens. And I can't develop on just a single screen anymore. I stopped developing with the laptop because of this.

Maybe I'm spoiled, but I wouldn't mind another couple screens for the terminal sessions I have open and work in as well.

We actually have two screens for everyone in the company. Not just developers. Everyone. Accountants, Marketing, etc. It pays for itself many times over in the reduced printing costs.

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I currently use two wide-screen monitors.

For a while, I had one rotated vertically, but I've generally found that width is more useful than height. Now I can get up to four different source files open side-by-side (two on each monitor). I find I need to reference quickly from one file to another more than I need to scroll up and down in the same file.

Alternatively, I sometimes have my source code open on one monitor, and my browser open in the other (for web development).

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I've got almost exactly the configuration pictured except mine are at 1280x1024 rather than 1600x1200. I absolutely love it. Sure, there's a bit of head-turning but it's a lot easier to turn your neck a bit than drag the window out from whatever got on top of it--even more so if the window is frozen (as your application window(s) are when you're stopped at a breakpoint.)

I would like a setup that provides more height but I haven't found any practical way to do it. Monitors that aren't perfectly matched will drive me nuts when the mouse crosses the boundary so I can't have a bigger one in the center and rotated ones on the sides like some people.

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I have cheap 19inchers at work. I keep three text windows open, I hate overlap, but it is unavoidable as text windows less than 80characters in width are a hassle. Each of my text windows has 5-8 tabs, and I rigorously keep the given tabs in their own home directories, with their own purposes. That way I instantly know which window/tab I need to open to perform a given function.

When I'm programming. I like to leave the editor open, use another window to compile and make tests. Two windows for editing if I have chunks of text to mouse from one file into another.

I don't feel I'd like three monitors, but I'd sure like two monitors each of which is at least 23inches. I am a boomer, and I'm starting to like larger font sizes (and contrastier options), than a few years back when I would use tiny fonts to squeeze more characters into the window. I want the moniter area to increase at least as fast as the font size......

I wish monitors were taller (I haven't tried "portrait" mode however). Especially with two side by side the movie style wide aspect ratio is definitely inoptimal. I wish they would make um 4:3 (or even 1:1).

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If your goal is to optimize real estate you should work on your own customization around what you do. I suggest the following:

Heatmaps

Get eyetracking software and set up a webcam.
Get mouse tracking software and set it up.

Try to even out your heat impression so you're not hiding windows behind other things, using unused real-estate.

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Just use certain monitors for certain purposes, I have a 2 monitor set up, and do something like this:

monitor 1: Text/ File Editing

monitor 2: Web browser / whatever you're working on

monitor 3: Misc. (IM, Email, Other Tools, flash games, etc.)

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So you're using a laptop with 2 monitors (3 total?) –  Shawn Strickland May 14 at 2:05
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2 monitors is great for C++ work.

Header on the left, implementation on the right.

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With large monitors I recommend Windows 7's snap to size feature. For earlier version I use WinSplit Revolution.

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