alacrity in action
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I can still hear J.B. audaciously whispering “Shift+F10“whenever I would reach for the mouse to run a suite of tests in IntelliJ. Although we worked together a while ago the sound of his voice still reverberates in my head and has since prompted me to make a step improvement in the use of keyboard short-cuts in the IDEs.

I used to think keyboard short-cuts where mostly for the black-hat ninja coders who spent their entire lives immersed in code. I was happy enough with Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, perhaps a Ctrl+Shit+B at times. Everything else was there visibly accessible with a swift move of a mouse. I didn’t worry about the pause to grab it, after all we all know typing is not the bottleneck.

What I have now realised, is that using keyboard short-cuts is not only about speed or dexterity. It enables you to tap into a very useful mechanism of our brains – the muscle memory. When you reach the level of unconscious competence executing commands or operations no longer requires a context switch of going from the keyboard and thinking about the problem to the mouse and locating the GUI elements on the screen. You save precious mental cycles and more importantly don’t interrupt the flow of thoughts thus helping concentration and ultimately improving the quality of what you deliver.

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I have been doing quite a bit of grails development recently and used IntelliJ IDEA IDE. In many respects it is a very good environment (as good as IDEs can be), for me more friendly and usable than NetBeans or Eclipse.

One of the features I really like is the clipboard stacking which allows you to paste from your clipboard copy history.

Now I’m back doing some work  in Visual Studio 2010 and I was looking for similar functionality.

Out of the box VS2010 support the CycleClipboardRing option (Pastes an item from the Clipboard ring to the cursor location in the file. To paste the next item in the Clipboard ring instead, press the shortcut again) with CTRL+SHIFT+V and CTRL+SHIFT+INSERT as keyboard shortcuts. I found it slightly confusing and not as useful as the IntelliJ equivalent.

Fortunately I have ReSharper installed (I struggle to do any work without it in Visual Studio anyway) and it has the very same feature as IntelliJ – look in the menu under ReSharper > Edit > Paste.

To take full advantage of it, I just swaped the default Visual Studio shortcut for the functionality provided by ReSharper by associating the ReSharper.ReSharper_PasteMultiple command  with the right shortcut (under Options > Environment > Keyboard).

Now my clipboard is useful again.