Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

Yet Another Religious War: Keyboard vs Mouse

OK, I admit it. I’m a keyboard zealot. I run my Visual Studio environment almost entirely with keyboard shortcuts. I have all of the docking panels collapsed and can open any of then with a keystroke. I prefer gvim to notepad because then I can use the ‘h,j,k,l’ keys to navigate and don’t have to take my hand off the home-row.

I wasn’t always this way, however. I used to be firmly in the point-and-click camp (back in the heady days of Windows 3.11 and VB3). But then I saw a few different developers who absolutely amazed me with their ability to “drive” using the keyboard alone and I decided to switch.

I have successfully “converted” a few others to my religion along the way, although I have to say I never actually resorted to my favorite threat: “I’m going to cut every mouse cord on this team.”

But there are also people, some of whom are actually very good touch typers, who swear by the mouse. In fact the reason I’m writing this post at all is because of an article I found on CodeProject called Go Back Add-in for VS.NET 2003. I surfed over to the article after seeing James Avery’s blog post about it. James’ comment stating that&nbsp_place_holder;“the author of the tool is pretty passionate about what he wants” peeked my interest so I went to take a look.

While the add-in is interesting and is in fact different than the built-in Navigate Backwards command, imagine my horror when I saw this:

The Navigate Backward command is the replacement for the “Previous Location” command in VB6. It is an improvement, but has several quirks (that I don’t like). Specifically:

  • It is not available on the editing context menu (so it’s either move the mouse pointer up to the top of the VS window to the standard toolbar or take your hand off the mouse to type Ctrl+-), which is inconvenient.
  • Every text insertion point is recorded, so the navigation history gets rather long as you click around in a source file

Wow. I admit that I’m being a bit of a keyboarding hard-liner, but I can’t believe people work this way.

I should know better, of course. I once worked with a guy who actually taught himself to use the mouse left handed&nbsp_place_holder;and learned to type with his right hand alone. “That way,” he said, “I don’t have to take my hand off the mouse to type.” He pointed me to the site aboutonehandtyping.com&nbsp_place_holder;where the author claims, “I do from 40 - 80 wpm (depending on how much coffee and sleep I’ve had) with just one hand on a standard NORMAL keyboard.”

Now that is cool. I must admit that if I could use the mouse in one hand and type 80wpm with one hand, I might consider doing it. But how likely is that? I’m having a hard enough time getting past 40wpm with two hands. But, of course, I only learned to touch type this year, so give me a break.