Going Commando - Put Down The Mouse

Jeff spake thusly:
Try “finding” an image you need to click on, for example.

If the page’s author used proper /alt/ (?) tags, then you just have to mouse over the image…oh. ;^)

Instead of using Internet Explorer or FireFox, use Lynx – the text based web browers – for browsing (http://lynx.browser.org/).

I don’t know what the current state of development is, and it doesn’t work with a lot of the websites. But, one of the nice features was the way you could quickly zero down to a particular part of a webpage without tabbing through the whole thing. It was great for filling in forms.

I still use VIM as my editor of choice for development. I have yet found another editor that’s faster. Version 7 does syntax highlighting and smart syntax indenting. Plus, VIM uses regular expressions in its find and replace function. What more could you want?

Another obstruction to productivity just as big as ONLY using a mouse is a qwerty keyboard. …although a switch to dvorak is somewhat more painful than learning the basic keyboard shortcuts.

You wouldn’t make fun of someone who used a crutch to walk (or would you?)

No, but it’s sort of amusing since Jon moved to the keyboard precisely because the mouse was causing him RSI pain.


And voice interfaces will make us hoarse. I guess you can’t win.

Go vim. I’m 5x more productive than in VS. I’ve created a script that’ll even do my laundry. It’s pretty gnarly. out.

Mouseless browsing is very well possible on most websites when using the Opera webbrowser. It has ‘spatial navigation’, this means that you can focus links and form elements by holding Shift and pressing the arrow keys. Opera then finds the next focusable item in the arrow direction. Not as fast as using the mouse, but much more usable than the endless Tab parade.

Opera uses the Tab key only to move focus between form elements - this makes it much easier to navigate forms that contain lots of links with the keyboard. Like, for example, a webmail interface with checkboxes for each message.

I’m not a programmer, but as a tester I’ve looked up certain keyboard shortcuts in order to make my life easier since I test web applications that require a lot opening/closing browser windows and a lot of logging back in and copying username/passwords from another program.

A friend has shown me some mouseless software that makes the life easier.
For example the Conkeror extension to/modification of Firefox. I think its the most elegant way to navigate a website without the mouse. Every link on the page gets a little number you just type the number and the browser brings you there. Textfields and buttons also gets a number so its easy to get to them too. (get it at http://conkeror.mozdev.org/).

Also Emacs and Ratpoison can make the day a lot easier. There is simply no need to use the mouse when you use these.

At the end of the day it’s just an interface mechanism. I’m all for agile physical interface mechanisms - but at the same time - the number one problem in software development is poorly thought out code spew. I have seen too many poor programmer’s proud of their ability to pour out mindless code at mind-numbing rates.

Even though the question of optimized physical interfaces is fun in itself; I have never seen a situation where keystrokes over mice have slowed down/sped up the time needed to hit a milestone. Programmers could also learn touch-typing, but this wouldn’t help them get their job done any faster.

The basic point is that thinking and reading code are what good programmers spend most of their time doing. If a programmer is creating several hundred new lines of code each day this is generally way too much.

Any time a programmer is proud of the sheer mass of code they have written you can be sure they have completely missed the point of programming altogether. And any belief that physical interface mechanisms are helping get your job done faster as a programmer is probably equally unsound.

Programming is one area where less is very often more.

For all of you that like using the keyboard, checkout Launchy (www.launchy.net). It lets you pick a directory to index (typically your start menu) and then you can press alt+space and type something in and it will search for it (as you type) and you press enter to launch. It’s open source, too.

That’s nothing, they do it on tv shows on movies all the time. Ever watched CSI ?

  • “could you zoom in on that part of the photograph ?”
  • “sure.”
    (clickety click)
  • “there.”

Konqueror browser has a nice feature called Access Keys for keyboard navigation of websites. If you press and release ctrl without any other keys the first 36 links and form elements on the page get a small rectangle with a letter or a number displayed beside it. When corresponding key is clicked that element receives a click event. (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/pip/81113206/ for a screenshot) It could use some improvements in both the usability and eye-candy department, especially for the sites that try to fit the sitemap on the sidebar, but it’s actually quite nice to use.

(This post is brought to you by the letter P)

Very interesting…and I use commando tactics all the time. However, for web sites thats quite annoying.

For instance, try going to “October 2005” in your archive when you first load your site.

Now thats a lot of tabbing. If only the Tab “boundary” was clearer then maybe it would be easier to just hold down tab until you see it go to some place.

Also if you want to go Navy Seal - Black Ops, try turning your monitor off and running a screen reading software like Jaws. NOW THATS TRULY HARDCORE!!! (I used it a lot for research and I liked it so much I would use it for reading text at a really fast speed).

A company called Humanized makes a great program for Windows that makes working without a mouse easier: http://www.humanized.com

It works a little like Quicksilver, but it’s a lot more, too.

Leaving the mouse/keyboard argument alone for a while (Plan 9 lovers also trot out the Apple study cited above, and given the programming interface in Plan 9/Inferno (Acme) was designed around a three-button mouse, it’s worth checking out if you’re curious to see a completely mouse-driven programming interface).

I find a Wacom pen interface to be much faster than a mouse – the tablet maps well to a widescreen monitor, so there’s a very strong physical association between position with the pen and position with the cursor. You can hold it in your hand (the pen, not the tablet) while you type some keys, so hybrid tasks are easier.

Such a pity Web pages are absolutely not sutable for mouseless browsing. I’ve planned once a plugin for the browser, which would associate each link with a number, let’s say after pressing a special magic key. Like Win+G – all links gain numbers – you type the number. Alas, it’s still a dream. Maybe anybody else can make it?


(Someone already has…)

I second the ratpoison comment. It’s a great wm. That plus gnu screen and vim results in very little mouse usage. The only things I use it are for using my browser and my mail reader (although I’ve been meaning to get around to using mutt)

Oops! Should have read all the article first and check the links. Anyway, no such plugins for Maxthon yet AFIAK.

In firefox you can hit your ’ key (the single quote) to only search through the links on the page.