Antiquated Technology Making Developers Faster

This is an update of a post that originally appeared on November 7, 2014.

I often wonder when I create a blog post whether the technology I’m describing will stand the test of time. In this case, I asked whether the reader would like to be able to type application code faster and with fewer keystrokes. The article, The 100 Year Old Trick to Writing at 240 Words Per Minute, probably has some good advice for you—at least, if you’re willing to learn the technique. It turns out that stenography isn’t only useful for court typists and people who print out the text for the hearing impaired on television, it’s also quite useful for developer. Yes, your IDE probably has more than a few tricks available for speeding up your typing, but I guarantee that these tricks only go so far. My personal best typing speed is 110 wpm and that’s flat out typing as fast as my fingers will go.

Since that original post, someone has come out with a book called Learn Plover! that describes how to use this stenographic technique in more detail. There is also a site devoted to Plover now.

Naturally, I haven’t ever used one of the devices mentioned in the article. However, a stenographer named Mirabai Knight has tried one of the devices and reproduced a 140 keystroke Python application using only 50 keystrokes. By the way, she has produced a series of interesting videos that you may want to review if you really think that Plover is for you. I don’t know of any IDE that can provide that sort of efficiency. Of course, it’s one thing for a trained stenographer to produce these sorts of results, but I’d like to hear from any developer who has used the technique to hear about how well it worked for them. Please contact me about your experiences at [email protected]. (Oddly enough, I did hear from at least one developer who uses it successfully.)

The part that interested me most though is that the system, called Plover, is written in Python. (If you want to see Plover in action, check out the video at A number of Beginning Programming with Python For Dummies, 3rd Edition readers have written to ask me how they can use their new found programming skills. The book contains sections that tell you about all sorts of ways in which Python is being used, but many of these uses are in large corporations. This particular use is by a small developer—someone just like you. Yet, it has a big potential for impacting how developers work. Just imagine the look on the boss’ face when you turn in your application in half the time because you can type it in so much faster? So, Python isn’t just for really large companies or for scientists—it’s for everyone who needs a language that can help them create useful applications of the sort that Python is best suited to target (and I describe all of these uses in my book).