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.
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.
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.
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.