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Developing with Desktop Paging and Multiple Monitors

At home I use desktop paging sometimes to separate tasks. Desktop paging is something from the Linux world that allows you to organize windows (and in Linux, desktop icons and other stuff) into separate “desktops”, showing only the stuff from the one desktop and allowing easy switching between them. Apple introduced this with their Spaces a point version or two of their OS ago, albeit in a less polished and functional way. When I began working at Cogneato, I began using desktop paging a lot.

For developing with desktop paging, I separated my desktops by task/application type. I develop mostly using four basic tasks: coding in a text editor; working with the image files that make up a design in Fireworks or Photoshop; viewing my sites in numerous web browsers; and looking up various information in a web browser. There’s also the frequent task of dealing with files in a file browser and occasional working in a CLI shell, as well as even rarer other tasks. My most used setup has a desktop for text editing, one for image editing, and two for browser testing and information gathering. The second browser testing desktop is not to split up browser use between testing and information gathering, but rather for testing Windows browsers in Parallels: I prefer to run it full screen rather than in native windowed mode. I develop first for one browser, Firefox, and then test in others, so I look up information related to a site in Firefox in a tab of the same window I have the site itself opened in, one window per project. This can get cluttered at times, with a lot of projects and many tabs for each, but at least keeps the information connected to the project. I assign each application to its designated space and usually keep them there. I also share the Finder, Terminal, and a secondary text editor (for notes mainly) between all spaces.

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