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How many monitors do you use? Why? How they are used?

With inspiration from this question, I thought I'd ask my own concerning monitors.

Some monitors you can turn 90 degrees so that it stands vertically positioned. I've also seen this setup be used in some offices. But which is better for programming? The way I see it, horizontally you can fit more documents side by side, but vertically you can view more code of the same document. Which setup do you prefer? How does this scale with multiple monitors?

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You should also consider the ergonomics of your setup. For instance, does one configuration or the other cause you to move your next out of it's natural position more than the other? –  Pete Oct 4 '10 at 18:06
I know an analyst that likes vertical screen to work in Word. I never tried, but he was very happy. I guess that for us, programmers, horizontal is better. –  user2567 Oct 4 '10 at 18:47
@Pierre 303: Hm, it makes sense. Having it that way makes the whole document fit on screen. Dunno if that's an advantage or not, though. ^^ –  gablin Oct 4 '10 at 18:53
Definitely horizontal position is most reliable as MOST produced monitors have horizontal sub-pixel ordering and antialiasing for DPI less then 300 doesn't give smooth picture. If you care about nice looking fonts with enabled subpixel rendering - horizontal. –  gavenkoa Jan 3 at 13:37
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marked as duplicate by Mark Trapp Oct 23 '11 at 3:22

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6 Answers

I have two widescreen monitors, one of which is positioned horizontally and the other vertically. This way I get the best of both worlds. I place my IDE window in the vertically positioned monitor. This way I can see much more code at once without the need for scrolling. Code flows vertically, not horizontally. So do web pages. I found it to be a huge productivity-booster. Before I did that I was wasting a lot of screen real-estate. I never had my IDE alongside other windows on the same screen anyway. I use the horizontally-positioned monitor for mail, directory searching, etc., where I can place several windows side by side.

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my monitor can't rotate vertically :( –  Jason Oct 4 '10 at 18:39
@Jason: Sure it can. You just need to make your very own custom-made footstand. ^^ –  gablin Oct 4 '10 at 18:47
@Jason: You can always get swing arms. They will rotate any monitor :) –  ysolik Oct 4 '10 at 19:05
If you had a 3rd monitor would that be vertical or horizontal? :D These are the questions that keep me up at night. –  TWith2Sugars Oct 5 '10 at 8:17
@TWith2Sugars That sounds like a pretty sweet setup :) Two horizontal and one vertical is what I would go for –  ysolik Oct 5 '10 at 13:45
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I work on a notebook, so I have to use its screen horizontally, which is fine for using Visual Studio as it has a high resolution (1680x1050). I have a secondary monitor, in portrait mode (vertical), for the serial debug output and for viewing documents.

I tried to code on the vertical monitor, but it doesn't fit to me. The quantity of code that fits in the horizontal monitor is quite enough to fit a function/method, and this is a rough indication of the code quality: if a function doesn't fit, it is probably too long and has to be refactored and splitted in shorter code blocks.

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+1 for if a function doesn't fit, it is probably too long and has to be refactored. –  gablin Oct 4 '10 at 18:48
I just gotta say...your picture makes me want to quote Walter, but I know the moderators will ban my comment! –  Droogans Feb 21 '12 at 2:19
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I have 20-inch monitors and set my IDE (Visual Studio) font to a very readable Consolas type 14. (You don't need to sit right next to me in order to read the code.) This font setting allows me to fit about 110 characters of text to the left of the Solution Explorer. (And I don't like extra long lines of code; 110 characters is my clean-code guideline - same as the coding standard of Microsoft's .NET CLR team, BTW).

This layout gives me about 45 lines of code vertically. If you had asked me in the past, I would have told you how unacceptably tiny this number is (45), because I aligned my coding monitor vertically, used Courier New font size 10 and crammed about 110 LOC on the screen. Back then, of course, I also had the tendency to write long methods and generally less cleaner code than I do now. Right now I have lines 175 through 219 on my screen, five full methods and the beginning of the sixth.

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I've tried several approaches, and in the end ended up with both positioned horizontally. That way I can have several instances of an IDE side-by-side to compare code and work with several projects at the same time.

However, it has also been nice to have one set up horizontally and one vertically. By putting an IDE in the vertical monitor and moving it's tool palettes over to the horizontal monitor, a lot more code is visible and your tool palettes are all available also.

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I have two horizontal monitors (16:10) and two code windows on one and the IDE-windows/log/prompt + web browser on the other.

Having two code listings side-by-side is neat, and it becomes easier with another monitor to put the project/solution explorer and related windows on.

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I have three 24" 1920x1080 monitors. They're all in landscape, on an old monitor arm built for 80 pound CRTs customized to hold them. The result gives me a "wrap around" screen that covers about 120 degrees of visual field - basically "monitor everywhere". An older version of my setup (back when it was 3 17" 1280x1024 displays) is at http://www.drbsystems.com/public/about/tour/tour20.cfm.

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