As you stroll through the SmartFile offices, you will notice that our developers have a different desk setup than our other team members. In between desktops full of Pop Tarts, action figures and SmartFile coffee mugs, you’ll see that developers look at things a little differently.

Say hello to the developer’s friend — the vertical computer monitor. While the 90-degree shift may seem odd to some, the use of vertical monitors is commonplace among code-writers. I sat down with two of our developers to weigh the pros and cons of this desk setup. In doing this, I also found out how to display 82% more code, so keep reading to find out how!

The Sources

Tucked back in the humble development corner, Joe and Taylor work laboriously on SmartFile’s platform.

Meet Taylor: SmartFile intern, turned graduate, turned full-time employee. Taylor first made the big monitor tilt during a coding internship. He hasn’t looked horizontally since.

And Joe: “that guy” in his degree program who enjoyed fiddling with code more than working on his actual degree; he discovered his love of vertical monitors during college.

Joe’s final project (a mere 360 pages) called for additional screen real estate. He turned to vertical screens so he could view and edit two full pages before scrolling. This worked better than the horizontal half-page view he formerly used. When it comes to monitors, both were ready to explain why vertical reigns supreme.

The Pros of a Vertical Monitor

Vertical Computer Monitor
Long Code on a Vertical Computer Monitor

1. View More, Do More

The perks of a vertical computer monitor are attributed to one thing: more space. With vertical monitors, developers can see more code. For Joe, the vertical screen can preview 84 lines of code versus the horizontal view of 46 (an 82% lift). Some developers try to circumvent the big tilt by using two horizontal monitors and splitting the screen. While this may work, you now have less room for other open programs.

2. It Comes Naturally

For Joe and Taylor, having a vertical screen allows for more natural eye movement. It is easier for them to read code like they would a book. Neck movements are also less strained when moving vertically.

3. More Fluid Functions

Just like seeing more code allows for increased productivity, seeing more functions means enhanced fluidity. Using a vertical screen, Joe can see three average sized functions, yet with a vertical orientation he can see five. This allows easy editing and consistency along his functions.

The Cons of a Vertical Computer Monitor

1. What’s that Smell?

Some developers are not accustomed to using a vertical monitor. In this case, it is easy for them to fall into the trap of code smells. This technical cousin of the run-on sentence creates difficulty for engineers and developers. When outside developers review longer functions on horizontal screens, there is some hesitation to implement changes. This is because the functions are so large that changing one element could negatively affect code buried elsewhere. Because vertical monitors allow more code, this may be a temptation to create longer functions.

vertical computer monitor vs horizontal computer monitor

2. Vertical in a Horizontal World

For most vertical screens, the ability to catch glare from light sources is increased. This is because the adjusting angles for the screen are less than horizontal. The up-and-down range of motion is less than the left-and-right counterpart.

Additionally, a vertical computer monitor can cause an asymmetrical appearance in a workstation. Some companies do not allow vertical screens because they lack consistency and uniformity. Developers can adjust their workstation to overcome this dilemma. By stacking two horizontal monitors, they can offset a single vertical screen’s height.

3. Money, Money, Money

Not every computer monitor can be rotated. This limits the selection of monitors. Dual orientation monitors can typically be pricey. Exclusively vertical screens can cost more than horizontal. For example, a Dell vertical screen costs $209 versus the horizontal equivalent of $179. For higher end models by Asus and Dell, expect a price range of $300 to $500.

The Final Call

For Joe and Taylor, the increased productivity outweighs the cons. Since trying the vertical computer monitor, they are happy with their choice. As affordability of vertical screens increases, developers will continue to adopt this productivity solution. So developers, have you made the big tilt?

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About Victoria Shaw

I'm the Marketing Intern at SmartFile, and a Junior Marketing major at Anderson University. I enjoy crafting content while listening to musical theatre soundtracks and eating sushi (or chocolate). Thank you for reading my post! P.S. I graduate in just over a year, so if you need a high quality marketing team member, I'm your gal;)

1 thought on “Vertical Computer Monitor: Making the Big Tilt”

  1. Great pro and cons list, our developer really likes having at least one screen vertical because of coding display. It’s nice to see all of the different cons you’ve listed, like buried code. Nice job.

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