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Old 09-19-2009, 04:12 AM   #1
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Developers...large format reader to review your code and annotate changes?

Just a thought for fellow developers out there but I could see a really nice use of the large format readers like the mythical Plastic Logic Reader as a way to just splat over your code files and get out of the office, make your reviews and note any errors or changes then just make your changes when you get back to your workstation.

Sure a tablet PC makes a lot more sense as you can run your whole development environment but I could see the benefit of just getting out and away sometimes where you can feel more relaxed and make notes, jot down ideas, draw a diagram or two, even rough out new code.

Of course nicely formatted output is a must for this to work so either a 'pretty printer' plug-in or just printing the code to a PDF would be a must. I think the ability to work in landscape mode is needed as well. But even that could be worked around on just a Sony 600 or 900 reader.

So, any coders/developers/designers out there using a reader device for this task? I admit I am, these days now 'old school' after 25yrs as a developer so when I am forced to get my hands dirty with actual code, I still drag out my colored pencils, highlighters and get a hard copy when figuring out a module or troubleshooting. I was weened on these tricks and dunno why an ereader never crossed my mind as a tool for this until now, but I really like the idea...even if a touch display means either a Wacom type touch display OR a glossy passive touch display. Since I have hand probs due to RA I am leaning away from a Wacom device since it's very difficult to hold a thin teeny stylus for more than a few moments. But with a passive touch I can use my fatter pens from Avery that 3-n-1 (pencil, pen, stylus) as the stylus.

Anyway, just a thought as an alternative to debugging and designing the modern way in the IDE...

{btw, I have no idea where this thread belongs, I don't see another place but please move it elsewhere if I goofed! }
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Old 09-19-2009, 05:38 AM   #2
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I haven't used a lisøse ... lizues ..... reader for that yet. But I have a good eye on the prs-900 for that purpose.
I think the tall form factor will be great for code review.

Now if only I could get a reader that can use my Safari subscription ... it would be an instant buy for me!
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Old 09-19-2009, 03:43 PM   #3
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My dev environment has live links with database, app server, web context, auto-generated documentation, reference docs, class hierarchies, schemas, spell check, version history, build status, code coverage, style checking, integration and unit tests.

In comparison, code on paper (even fancy electronic paper) is 'dead'. The main things I'd be able to review in such a format - style and structure - are already fairly well covered by automated tools that keep a team of over eighty people 'singing from the same sheet'.

I'd still welcome a large format reader - my main reason for jumping into e-books was to reduce the number of two-inch thick reference books I accumulate each year - but the quality and complexity of navigation through code is not something I'd ever expect an e-reader to support.
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Old 09-19-2009, 05:08 PM   #4
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Agreed Tuna. We already have a protable device for writing code, a laptop!

There are some uses that e-book readers (or tablets) will never be good at. Like hammering nails.
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Old 09-19-2009, 05:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Tuna View Post
My dev environment has live links with database, app server, web context, auto-generated documentation, reference docs, class hierarchies, schemas, spell check, version history, build status, code coverage, style checking, integration and unit tests.
Who's IDE doesn't have all that and a bag of chips? That was not my point in the post.

Quote:
In comparison, code on paper (even fancy electronic paper) is 'dead'. The main things I'd be able to review in such a format - style and structure - are already fairly well covered by automated tools that keep a team of over eighty people 'singing from the same sheet'.

I'd still welcome a large format reader - my main reason for jumping into e-books was to reduce the number of two-inch thick reference books I accumulate each year - but the quality and complexity of navigation through code is not something I'd ever expect an e-reader to support.
Not looking to have a reader support code files natively, then again such a tool dedicated to a given language and/or IDE might be a really neat tool...PixelQi on a tablet anyone?

Last edited by brecklundin; 09-19-2009 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 09-19-2009, 05:40 PM   #6
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Agreed Tuna. We already have a protable device for writing code, a laptop!
hardly useful outside, is it? If a bud (or in the past employee) sends me code to help track down an issue I often want to get out of the office to have a look. Less distractions but pretty much restricted to indoors.

No crap??!!, you can use a laptop for coding? great wooly jebus...THANK YOU FOR THAT INFO!! WOW, who the heck knew that much? ...then again been using nothing but portables and latops since about 1983, but sure glad you could point it out that there are laptops to use. gimme a break.

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There are some uses that e-book readers (or tablets) will never be good at. Like hammering nails.
one day you will learn, nothing is out of the realm of possibilities...that is how what we do evolves and improves.
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Old 09-19-2009, 08:42 PM   #7
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Just thought I should add that I was being snarky "on porpoise" with my comments. I completely hear what you both are saying. But at the same time, I felt your comments are reactionary rather than thoughtful.

I really do know that IDE's have become vastly better than the "old days" but do not take my reference to those days to mean I am not current and up to date. I will admit I decided this will be my final year keeping all my IDE/dev environs current.

To this day my heart is with Borland's Turbo Pascal 3 compiler. It was not near what we have today but it also set the table for what we have today. Then, believe it or not was the IDE for the original FoxPro when it was from FoxSoft not post MS destruction of the language, which lead to most of the way IDE's work today. First thing MS did was merge the FP IDE with the VB IDE in the early/mid 90s to create a pretty nice, at the time, dev environment. Borland's Turbo C++ was super as have been others over the years...and today it's amazing what is out there free for people learning or doing small projects.

My point of the thread was really to open the idea to spitball the idea of break the current conventional wisdom that such code evaluation and even debugging (to a lesser degree because of the built-in syntax checking, etc...) But there are still a lot of people in my age bracket who do still get our hands dirty with code rather than "just" design work. To my thinking these devices could be a boon to developers, coders and designers alike. I am not expecting code to actually run on them but just the design aspect offers a nice way to investigate that design in a way many are still happy with...

I was hoping the idea that devices with a (or just all of them) language's lexicon in firmware plus even various modeling tools could be embedded as well. I have no idea where it could eventually go...if it helps remember there is/was an iRex device designed specifically for pilots that worked quite well from what I read...no reason a device could not be created in the same spirit...

In the mean time, just remember that actually seeing the sun, is a nice thing and unless a person has a very high end transflective laptop there is no reasonable way to work outside or even in the shadows.

And remember how often have some of your solutions to a problem come from working away from your workstation...it can help to shed the overhead of the development environment during certain parts of the creative process that software engineering/development is today...and also not all software is done in an assembly line fashion.

I was hoping there would be those who could see past the sterile antiseptic world that coding has come...in many ways the idea of team projects has ruined creativity. Today it is do it the way of the collective or go away...that is NOT the world I come from...then again it can depend on the company one works for, if you are not a freelancer that is, which is all I do now a days...never was a cubicle or AmeriCorp sorta guy anyway and walked out on several pretty nice situations because of the politics designed to force conformity.

Last edited by brecklundin; 09-19-2009 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 09-21-2009, 01:45 AM   #8
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Look, reading devices are built for certain uses. Code writing is not among those. In order for a reading device to support what is needed for code writing, it would become a laptop.

I agree with you that we need a better screen. But that is what Pixel Qi is doing.

Of course, I live in Seattle so that screen wouldn't see a lot of use anyway!
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Old 09-21-2009, 02:57 AM   #9
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This question has drawn me out of lurcking (mainly becuase today I was going though a few hundred page printout of some really nasty code trying to make some fixes).

I would love to be have a reader I could use to work on code, but none work work well for my needs. I would need one that actually allowed me to make the changes to the file then export it to something I could work with on the computor (I would be happy with a rtf file), ability to make a copies that are synched (one with my changes, one with my notes) and some method to easily convert the various modules into an easily navigated file on the reader...

Yes, I can do much of this on a laptop - but it is a mental thing and I often work best completely away from the computer and on paper
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:05 AM   #10
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I don't see how I can effectively read the code on ereader. May be if I was doing procedural language programing, like scripting...
But in my development, I have to navigate across at least 5 classes and 2 interfaces to read any process in it's entirety. More often it is much more then that. One thing is to click on the type and say go to declaration, another is to go to the list of files and try to locate something that looks to have the same name, god forbid if you have partial classes or put collection and type in one file.
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Old 09-21-2009, 12:26 PM   #11
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For me, a reader would be useless as a programming tool. I want a good keyboard, an IDE of some sort to help highlight parts of the code, and a debugger right there.

When I code, I frequently make quick little changes that I want to check. Also, readers tend to have slow processors, which make for bad times when you're working on complicated code.
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:13 PM   #12
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I don't see why not, a simple IDE with some context assist (something like ctags) should be easy depending on the device. Even vi could be considered an IDE. A port of a IDE is probably the best option but then you have the issues of compliers and development libs eating space.

The main issue is the syncing of src trees particularly if the device does not have lan capablity.
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:30 PM   #13
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I don't think it would add anything to the workflow where I work. When code is shared we usually just get it out of SVN individually, add comments and commit.

When it's collaborative it's usually about database structure or more abstract programming (structure of an app, or logic) and we have a whiteboard for that. PERHAPS there could be a collaborative virtual whiteboard app.

That might be the kind of thing where an Apple tablet succeeds. A shared whiteboard and voice chat, so you can sit in the sun and move UML around while chatting to other coders about a problem? EBook readers are no where near the functionality required for that kind of high end dialogue (involving real time collaborative documents and voice chat). That will come from the netbook side of the industry. Ebook devices have too much focus on price constraint.
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:25 AM   #14
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FWIW, I've done a bit of development on pen computers and Tablet PCs --- works fine, and they're quite inexpensive if one is willing to purchase a used machine.

I've been buying used Fujitsu pen slates since the Point 510 was coming off-lease w/ Nabisco --- the great thing is they all use the same AC adapter connection and (for the most part) IR keyboard.

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