The Best Hardware For Developers
When most people think of accessories or tools for developers, they think of software. Text editors, integrated development environments, compilers and so forth are the technologies that help developers do their work. But what about computer hardware? Are there devices and platforms that can help developers and programmers be more productive and better at their jobs?
The answer is an unqualified yes. Here are some of the top examples of computer hardware made for developers.
As a consequence of their profession, computer programmers often become extremely proficient typists and also become discerning users of keyboard technology. The tactile response of a mechanical keyboard affects a developer’s workflow in subtle but very real ways.
From an early age, mechanically inclined people are taught to expect certain kinds of sensations when assembling toys, mechanisms and tools. A mechanical keyboard reinforces this sensation and helps condition a developer to experience programming in the same way they might experience working with building blocks. A mechanical keyboard combines the satisfaction of putting a physical object together with writing working code. The effect is transformative and very powerful.
Programmers who develop graphical interfaces for desktop applications, mobile devices and games require pixel-level precision when testing their applications. The venerable mouse, while perfectly adequate for browsing and casual operation of applications, is often quite finicky when it comes to getting a cursor to a certain screen location and keeping it there.
The trackball is a pointing device that takes full advantage of the fine surface sensitivity in a developer’s fingertips. This allows the user to perform very delicate movements of the cursor while also giving them the ability to perform the same operations as casual users. While trackballs are often more expensive and take up more space, the trade-offs are usually worth it.
Multi-Monitor Graphics Hardware
As any programmer, especially my buddy at Stackify, will tell you, screen real estate is at a premium when working on a complex development task. The ability to split the screen and move say, the debugger to one side and the text editor to the other can improve productivity in a variety of ways. The ability to put two entire desktops right next to each other is exponentially more productive.
Many kinds of high-end graphics cards not only allow a developer to display multiple desktops, they also allow for an arbitrarily wide display area, which means two monitors can cooperate to display the same double-width desktop. These kinds of graphics technologies are often used by game developers to test graphics feedback in real time.
Most people would consider software to be the top priority for programming, but as all developers know, all software problems are inherently hardware problems first. When your hardware is top-notch, everything else falls into place.