Noel Rappin Writes Here


Posted on September 7, 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 The 80 character habit came from I think a combination of Code Complete where it’s recommended on the (outdated now) premise that that’s as many characters as you could print on a line, plus doing the books, where you generally do have to cut the examples off at 72 or 80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.


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All opinions and thoughts expressed or shared in this article or post are my own and are independent of and should not be attributed to my current employer, Chime Financial, Inc., or its subsidiaries.