What is your coding environment

Often neglected is the importance of your physical surroundings when you code, yet I think your environment can have more of an impact on your productivity than a fully tooled IDE. Do you like the lights full glare, half, or off altogether? Do you hate it when the office is cold? Do you use a space heater? Does your chair recline? Is your keyboard the natural type or are you standard layout junkie? Do you absolutely have to have dual monitors? Do you listen to music while you code? What kind?

Personally I like it dark. No lights on at all would be ideal, but I compromise with my office mate by turning on one small light :). Warm -- preferably in the upper 70s or as high as 80. If it won't get that warm I wear a jacket almost all the time (at the moment there's snow on the ground outside, so I'm quite out of my element!). I only use standard layout keyboards (although I'm trying out a mildly natural layout right now, with some humorous results). I prefer to lean back in my chair, pushing my chair as far under the table as it can go so my chest is up against the desk. This lets me rest my arms on the table easily. I definitely notice an increase in my ability to stay focused on the task at hand if I'm listening to music with head phones on, usually some form of ambient or techno. Unfortunately I always forget to put my headphones back on after taking a phone call, guest, or trip to the restroom. Duel monitors aren't a must, but they sure help a lot. I use a dark background color scheme in Visual Studio, it's much easier on my eyes. Because I sit so far into my desk, the monitor is set a ways back.

It's amazing how much easier it is to focus when most of my preferences are in perfect tune with one another. But one person's preferences are another's torture.

What are your preferences?



  • That is funny...our preferences are exactly the same - I have, however, already tried and denied the natural keyboard.

    A few other things I might add - I also like my music louder when I'm coding than any other time. (I also often forget to put them back on after an interruption.) I keep my chair low to the ground to accomodate getting me farther under my desk. It's fun to see someone else "drop" into my chair.

    So, it looks like at least two of us have it right!

  • I tried noise cancelling head phones... maybe I had cheap ones, but they just seemed to make things sound strange. I did notice a big drop in background noise, but then just having music on is enough for me.

    Definitely techno... nothing too crazy though, just a nice deep background beat.

  • Too warm for me. If it gets that warm I get sleep. 68-72 is better. Just a slight chill keeps me awake. All the rest I can agree with (well, we all have our own music prefs).

  • Brian -- I suggest just about any Orbital album, especially In Sides. Then Planet of the Shapes on the Orbital2 album is one of my favorite.

    When its too cold I type slower.

  • Try some isolation headphones - Ultimate Ears has (had?) a discount for MSFT employees.
    +1 for dark backgrounds.
    I like to stand sometimes while coding for a change of pace.

  • Not to digress, but I had a co-consultant on a gig in Miami that used to type dvorak exclusively. I think he could type 200 words a minute or something. Add intellisense to the mix and you can only imagine how much he could shove out rapidly.

  • I tried to learn dvorak once but without much success. But keyboard style and layout is a big environment issue. There are some of my coworkers here that have pretty odd keyboard layouts.

    For example :)

  • Fayette -- I haven't changed my desktop theme, so Textboxes and other UI elements look just like they usually do. The source view is all that is different -- just like in the screenshot in the entry.

    Maybe you should do one at a time -- revert to a standard desktop theme, then you know what is affected by VS and what is not. Generally UI elements, including the VS tools themselves, cannot be styled via VS settings.

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