Coding Without a Mouse : 6 Important Lessons I Learned
Last Updated on Dec 24, 2022
I’m sure you’ve been on a situation that you had to experience coding without a mouse.
Or you’ve heard all those “fast” programmers keep talking about keyboard being faster and “more professional”, so you wanted to give it a shot.
This is my experience with coding without a mouse and the lessons I learned from it.
Why I tried coding without a mouse for 3 days?
Most of my day I’m working on Laravel projects and use PhpStorm. There are so many useful options in PhpStorm and I use my mouse to find and select them, mostly.
My mouse broke last week. I could not find the mouse I like, online. I didn’t even have time to go out. The nearest computer store is 1 hour away from me. That is, if there is no traffic.
I was googling shortcuts and realized that there is a challenge called “coding without a mouse”. I decided to try it.
Lesson 1: Make Sure The Shortcuts Are Suitable For Your Hand
Based on the size of your hand and its structure, make sure you choose the right shortcuts. Especially for the ones that you are going to use often. Otherwise, after a while you will feel pain in your hand.
For example, I don’t like it when I have to use both of my hands to press a shortcut. And with one hand, it’s very hard for me to press Ctrl+Shift+Y. So if a shortcut is like that, I will change it to something easier.
Lesson 2: Choose The Keys Based On Your Preferences, Not Others
I was looking for a shortcut in PhpStorm and ended up in a forum. Some people were almost fighting to prove the custom shortcut they’ve chosen is more reasonable and better than the others.
Others are not going to program for you. You are. So don’t listen to others. If you think pressing Ctrl+Alt+Shift+F7 is what you are comfortable with, do it.
Also, make sure you write your shortcuts somewhere. So you could check it out whenever it’s necessary.
What I do is that I download the list of shortcuts, then go through them and write notes on them. Things like:
– Very useful. Make sure it’s easy to press. Preferably with 2 keys.
– Useful. 3 keys should be close.
– Useful, but I rather get to it from another way
– Not useful at all.
I’ll do this whenever I start working with a new software, but for coding without a mouse it turned out to be an essential step for me.
Lesson 3: Happy Accidents Happens
I accidentally realized I can move the whole function in PhpStorm with pressing Ctrl+Shift+Up/Down arrow keys. Until then, I didn’t know how much I needed this.
Lesson 4: Enjoy It, Don’t Force It
The second day, I finally found the mouse I was looking for. I ordered it and in less than an hour it arrived at my door. But I didn’t use it.
I was enjoying finding new functionalities and making my brain confused. From the very beginning of the first day, I thought it would be a good idea.
I did not have to try coding without a mouse. I could wait for my new mouse. but then I decided to do it and I knew that I would enjoy it. So every time that I made a mistake, or I accidentally removed a controller (it happened) I wasn’t angry. I was enjoying it.
If I hadn’t done it by choice, I would have been banging my head to the wall by the end of the day.
Lesson 5: Brain Is Not That Fast On Picking Up New Things
I knew that it was going to take a while for me to be able to code as fast as I used to. But I didn’t know it would take this much.
For the first few hours, I spend most of my time, closing the windows that I opened accidentally by pressing the wrong keys, or trying to bring back the things I accidentally deleted.
But by the end of the third day, I didn’t even notice my fingers reaching out for keys while my main focus was on the code itself.
Lesson 6: The Most Important Lesson
I’ve learned a lot of things in those 3 days, but the most important thing I learned is that, none of it matters.
I’ve seen people bragging about how fast they write the code, but it doesn’t matter. Coding without a mouse or with a mouse doesn’t affect your solution for the customer. The only things that matter are:
– your code does what it’s supposed to do
– it is correct and testable
– you finish your project before the deadline
I’m sure you’ve heard about the people who can type really fast, like 170 words per minute. But does it mean they are a good storyteller?
Programming is the same, you can write on a piece of paper and then code it, you can use the on-screen keyboard and type everything with the mouse, you can type 1 word per minute, none of it matter as long as you’ve done the 3 things I mentioned above.
Now you know why I decided to do it and the lessons I learned from coding without a mouse.
I recommend you try it today. Put away your mouse. Challenge yourself and share the lessons you learn with me and others.
If you have any suggestions, questions, or opinion, please leave a comment below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
- Make sure you choose your shortcuts based on your preferences, not others
- Consider your hand when deciding on a new shortcut
- Don’t force yourself into doing something you don’t want to, but if you decide to do it, enjoy it.
- Coding without a mouse or with a mouse doesn’t make you a better programmer.
- The code and its functionality are the most important part, not the tools and the shortcuts you use to write it