Workflow With Synergy

As a web developer working in lots of different areas, I have to use lots of different programs to perform various tasks. Terminal for SSH, Eclipse for php, etc. Chrome for all things web browsing, including Gmail. Eventually, the number of tabs I needed to keep open during the day caused my gmail tabs to get lost pretty easily, even after using the pin feature. Then I stumbled upon Mailplane. Mailplane is a stellar program that turns gmail into a desktop app.

After adding yet another app to my stable, it seemed necessary to divide my screen real estate into spaces. Part of the problem of having so many different programs is the problem of context. Once situating the necessary programs in a way that makes sense for the particular task, changing context can completely knock me out of my flow. For a period of time, it didn’t even make sense to use Mailplane, as it was easier to actually switch over to my phone, and read / respond to email there.

Then it hit, why not just bring in my laptop, and deal with email there. So I started bringing my laptop. This was awesome, as it allowed me to deal with email on relatively normal sized screen and keyboard. The next issue was dealing with links in emails. After asking the twitterverse and stackexchange, I finally settled on Synergy. Synergy allows you to seamless share your keyboard and mouse between any number of machines. So I started running Mailplane in fullscreen mode on a laptop situated next to my desktop. To get to my email, I just mouse all the way to the left, and voila, I can use a full keyboard / mouse with a laptop. If I need to open links on the big screens, I just copy and use Chrome’s paste & go feature.

This works tremendously well, as I can leave any development task as is on my desktop without having to worry about shuffling things around. It also helps tremendously when applying pesky software updates, as you always have one machine that will be up and running.

Rig at the Behance Office

May 26th, 2012