Design Software Productivity Hints

Two low  cost ways of improving productivity using design software.

I regularly train people to use the SketchList 3D design software.  We do this over the internet and chat on the phone as we design.  I was online recently with a user – in this case on a Mac laptop – and did not have the most productive experience.  Finally we called a halt to the session and took some time to regroup.  What frustrated of us was the result of a small [like 15 inch] screen and using the touch pad on the laptop keyboard.  Just after that session we received an email from another user – questions about managing the screen, how to view things, and so forth.  Again the user was on a small screen laptop with a touch pad.

So if this describes you – go into the garage and dig out that old monitor and connect it to your laptop.  You may need to get a cable – depending on your computer’s needs.  OR go out and buy a big flat screen monitor.  [One of my flat screens is also touch enabled – Planar PXL2230 MW – which is cool because I can manipulate my designs with my finger tip – rotating and selecting boards. The touch costs a bit more – but it is handy.]

With two monitors you get more design space which means two things.  1. Bigger design areas are easier to see.  2.  You can slide the spreadsheet onto another screen and make it much bigger – again giving you access to more rows without scrolling.

It looks like this.

design software screens

In fact on my setup I added two screens to my laptop by using an external USB connector called a Display Link and the regular HDMI connector.  I use the SketchList 3D design software on the two large screens and keep the laptop screen open for email and such.  The nice thing about the touch screen monitor – on the left – is that if I am working on the spreadsheet on the right – rather than scrolling the cursor to the design image area – I can just tap it with my finger.  Faster!  Someday I will replace the other screen so it is also a touch input device.

Speaking of scrolling — and don’t miss this one — that turtle looking thing near the bottom center of the picture is my trackball.  GET ONE SOON.  It makes moving the cursor to where you want it fast and easy.  And now with red dot and blue dots making the cursor a bigger part of the SketchList 3D interface – having a trackball is great. I was looking into new trends in user interfaces and found a Microsoft write up that said tests show trackballs are 30% faster that touch pads.

AT LEAST get some sort of mouse.  And you Mac users – make sure, make sure, it has two buttons.  Right click is a big part of fast design in SketchList 3D.

One other thing – communicate, communicate, communicate.  If you have a problem or question – send me an email.  I  will get back to you.


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