Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I'm curious -- how do you set up your screen in your text editor when you are programming?

Based on people I've worked with, I seem to do two things in my setup that are unusual. I use fairly large fonts (16-18 point, if I can) and I'm aggressive about cutting off lines at 80 characters. The upshot is that I'm showing less text on the screen at a time than most programmers I know.

Good? Bad? Not sure. The 80 character habit came from I think a combination of Code Complete where it's recommended on the (outdated now) premise that that's as many characters as you could print on a line, plus doing the books, where you generally do have to cut the examples off at 72 or 80 characters, plus some nasty HTML bugs where somebody tried to do a whole table in one line, and there was a missing </td> in column 436 or something. I'll stretch beyond 80 characters, but I really don't like having code hang that I
have to scroll right to see.

The bigger font I think is more of a aesthetic choice (and not, say, a vision issue). I do like that it tends to focus me on one method at a time, and encourages me to keep methods shorter to stay on one screen.

A couple of years ago, I did a little internet search on fonts for programming. Among other things, I found there are people who really like programming with a 7 or 9 point font. Anyway, I picked Bitstream Vera Sans Mono (and also the open source twin Deja Vu Sans Mono) because it is a bit heavier weight than Courier, a lot prettier to look at, and it's specifically designed to differentiate between similar characters.