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In electronics design, there’s an inherent need to increase productivity whenever possible. To that end, electronics designers also tend to have an inherent affinity for technology that will help them to do that. They’re willing to invest money in the most up-to-date tools, training, and other bells and whistles, if it means saving time and money in the long run. However, there’s another area that’s often overlooked--and which doesn’t cost very much, either. Screen Real Estate.
TOPICS IN THIS SOLUTION
Having a single monitor is no longer enough. Your standard configuration should be two monitors. In fact, depending on how much information you tend to need at a glance, or the number of editing windows you need open and visible at any given time, you may even decide to invest in three or four monitors. This simple, relatively inexpensive upgrade can improve your productivity by leaps and bounds.
Let’s begin by looking at the most immediate and noticeable benefits from working in a Multiple Monitor environment. These are the little things you do every day, that can be done faster with more screen real estate.
These are just a few of the many examples of how increased screen real estate can save time and increase productivity in tiny ways every day. Having two monitors instead of one may save you only a few seconds each time you perform these tasks, but over time they add up. Seconds turn into minutes, hours, and even days over the course of the year.
If you had a two-monitor system only to handle the tiny, everyday tasks detailed above, it would still be well worth the ROI. But there’s an even more important reason to invest in more screen real estate. Modern applications, especially professional tools, must provide robust support for varying monitor configurations. In doing so, they can actually understand how much screen real estate you have, whether you have too little, or an abundance. Moreover, the best of these printed circuit boards are designed to take full advantage of as much screen real estate as you can provide, whether it’s one monitor, two, or even more. An application built to utilize available screen space efficiently should, at minimum, be able to perform the following functions within the UI:
When you’re working with EDA software, there is quite a bit of information you may want available to you “at a glance,” and a variety of tools that you’d want easy access to, having them within reach at any given time. Having multiple monitors allows you to review schematics on one screen, while laying out the PCB on another. If you have a third screen, you can use it to display an important datasheet, or Bill of Materials. How many screens is enough? At least two are an absolute necessity, and three are preferred for most tasks. There are times when even having three seems constrictive, and for optimal functionality, you need four.
Having three or four monitors might seem excessive, even greedy, but the productivity gains are immediately noticeable. What’s more, these monitors don’t cost nearly as much as a lot of other upgrades your company makes, and the price of the equipment is negligible in comparison to what you save in time and money. After working with 2-4 monitors, you’ll quickly begin to wonder how you ever worked with only one.
Altium Designer was architected in such a way as to take full advantage of multiple monitors. With the introduction of Native Multiple Monitor support, the advantage of configurable and expandable screen real estate was able to be fully realized. Features within the environment were then built around this technology, to take advantage of it. And over the years, these features have continued to be refined and improved for optimum functionality. Some of these features include, but are not limited to:
Multiple monitors have been proven to increase productivity in any situation. But when used with an application that’s built to take advantage of expanded screen real estate, you increase your productivity even more. The question is not, “Do I need multiple monitors?” The question is, “How many do I need? Two, three, or four?”