Adventures in Software Engineering

Switching from Mouse to Graphics Tablet

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I still remember the first time I got a computer with a mouse, an Atari ST. A giant leap from the 8-bit world of the keyboard-only ZX Spectrum, it was almost magic. It felt good, somehow more serious and professional. There was so much control over a new and intuitive desktop. The mouse opened up a whole new world of functionality.

As the years drew on though I seemed to spend more and more time avoiding mice. With most applications I use, such as Eclipse, keyboard shortcuts let me keep my hands on the keyboard and prevent a disruption of workflow. Outside of that, the times I did need to use the mouse were becoming uncomfortable. Part-and-parcel of getting old and having spent a lifetime in front of computers I suppose. Something needed to change and so I decided to try a graphics tablet.

Over time this has absolutely replaced the mouse as the secondary part of my workflow, and three are three primary reasons for that.

Comfort

Bending my wrist around and clutching a mouse puts a strain on me over time. With the tablet though I simply hold the stylus as I would a pen, a lightweight pointing device that allows my hand to rest comfortably. Tapping the pen against the tablet is the left click, whilst the middle and right button alternatives are right underneath my index finger.

Precision

Even though I don’t use graphics applications too often, the fact that I can immediately place the pointer is a boon. There’s no more dragging a lump of plastic across a table, picking it up, placing it down and starting again. As the tablet has a direct one-to-one relationship with the screen, time and practice means that I simply drop my stylus on the tablet and the pointer immediately appears where I need it. It is awkward at first but before long, second nature.

Programmable

It depends on the tablet you buy, but I have programmable shortcuts right there on the slab. Tap the pen in one position and the browser goes back a page, tap in another and the application is minimised. More than this the shortcuts can be set for each application, allowing an extra level of flexibility. A mouse just points and clicks but the tablet becomes an integral part of a streamlined workflow, working exactly as is right for me. Working in Final Cut Pro is just so much more efficient.

Whilst it did take some time to become accustomed to the graphics tablet, its overall ease of use and comfort have pretty much killed off the mouse for me. I would highly recommend giving it a try.

 

About the author

Johnathan Meehan
Johnathan Meehan

I'm a software engineer with more years and stomach under my belt than I would like. I have an odd sense of humour and a predilection for junk food, whiskey and beer. My first job was in 68K on God's computer, the Commodore Amiga. Since then I've worked here, there and everywhere being paid to play with all kinds of fun things and once even nibbled around the edges of being an Apache committer. Most time now is spent with Java, and I put a heavy emphasis on quality. When I grow up, I want to be just like Oscar Mike.

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Johnathan Meehan By Johnathan Meehan
Adventures in Software Engineering

Johnathan Meehan

Johnathan Meehan

I'm a software engineer with more years and stomach under my belt than I would like. I have an odd sense of humour and a predilection for junk food, whiskey and beer. My first job was in 68K on God's computer, the Commodore Amiga. Since then I've worked here, there and everywhere being paid to play with all kinds of fun things and once even nibbled around the edges of being an Apache committer. Most time now is spent with Java, and I put a heavy emphasis on quality. When I grow up, I want to be just like Oscar Mike.

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