1 external monitor sufficient for beginning web development?

Just a quick question everyone. I am starting out now in web development learning html and JS. I wonder if I will really need a dual monitor setup in order to be an effective web developer?

I got an awesome Lenovo laptop connected to one 24" external monitor but I keep reading online about other developers using 2+ monitors in their daily work. This would create logistical nightmare for me as the latop doesn’t support multiple monitors which means I will probably need to buy a new desktop leaving little $ left for other things :disappointed_relieved:

Just to come back to my original question: do I really need a dual monitor station in order to be effective in my work? Did you have that set up while first learning/starting out in the field??

Thank you so much for your help and look forward to hear from you soon.

I have an external monitor at work, but often times I just work on my laptop and I have never noticed a drop in productivity nor an extreme inconvenience.

Is an extra monitor handy? YES.
Is it mandatory? NO.

Especially once you get more familiar with shortcuts and accustomed to your own workflow

Allow me the rhetorical question:
Is it mandatory to have the latest, top performance Nike shoes to play Football?
There are less fortunate kids that play it barefoot and still manage to become world class players.

You can learn and become a proficient developer even without the “best” setup, all you need is the dedication and eagerness to improve. :wink:

Wouldn’t worry about this at all. I’ve seen some devs with even 3 or 4 monitors! Like some kind of command center.

It’s a luxury most of us can’t afford. Personally I would think you’re a more skilled developer if you can get away with just 1 monitor or even just your laptop screen.

That said, my monitor is 27" and it’s nice to have so much room for multiple tabs in VScode, plus whatever project i’m working on in real time without having to switch windows around so much.

It’s not critically necessary if you have the possibility of 2 monitors, it’s most comfortable, but you can just dual your workspace on a laptop or monitor it will be enough for the beginning.

Good day @clmre

That’s a nice question.

When I started programming, I didn’t need an external monitor because my screen was a 15 inches laptop. After a year, I started spending most of my time on a bigger desktop screen(23,8 inches).
That was enough to open the IDE and multiple applications at the same time without closing one. That lasted for three years.

In the beginning, you don’t need more than 2 screens. 1 should be enough.
If you can afford it without burning your budget, go for it.

Knowing that you’re starting, focus first on learning web development on one screen max(15 inches laptop or 17 inches laptop).
Once you start getting client projects as a freelancer and need to organize yourself with many apps while being productive, you can definitely think about extra screens.
I’m replying to you on a 13 inches laptop and that is small for my eyes but comfortable when I do go out a coffee shop.

Should you consider some extra screens in the near future, I would suggest the LG 25UM58-P 25" UltraWide Full HD IPS Monitor(https://www.amazon.com/LG-25UM58-P-25-Inch-21-UltraWide/dp/B01BV1XB2K). or Dell S Series Screen LED-Lit Monitor 23.8" Black (S2418H) (https://www.amazon.com/Dell-SE2717H-KYKMD-LED-Lit-Monitor/dp/B01IOO4TDM).
They both have interesting prices.

In summary, you don’t need a dual monitor in order to be effective in your work.

laptop monitor + monitor is just fine.

i have pc + dual monitor, it’s great.

Dont confuse on the job where having additional monitors helps with efficiency and task management, plus the fact the extra monitors are supplied to them from the company so “…why not?” with getting started and learning to code.

I split screen so that I can instantly see my changes as I code. I also use the multiple desktop feature so that whatever Im working on is on one desktop, any research Im doing is on a second, and email /fb / forums etc are on a third. I also have a Lenovo, nothing new and I installed Ubuntu on it. You can split screen and have multiple windows with windows and mac as well. But its not necessary…just an alternative if you really want it.

During my apprenticeship I got 2 external monitors…and they were HUGE. I used one to split screen my code / work, my laptop was open to email / my calendar / slack / teams … and I rarely used the third one…sometimes for research, but mostly to look at my pretty desktop wallpaper.

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If you happen to have an iPad, try Duet - it costs about £10/$12.

It’s an awesome app which runs concurrently on your iPad and PC and allows you to use your iPad as a second PC screen / extended desktop. I was cynical about how effective it would be but I was amazed that it would work so well.

It’s great for laptops especially when you’re designing (even more so when travelling and having to stay in hotels for work). I have my photoshop tools, Skype and Spotify on the iPad side leaving me the entire real estate of my laptop screen for the images/designs.

However like everyone else has said - second/third monitors are very much optional and movies showing hackers and programmers and Youtubers showing off, have popularised the “battlestation” look when in reality they can often be surplus to requirements and a bit of a waste of space.

The guys and ladies in work who monitor our network traffic use 3/4 screens at a time but in that instance it’s absolutely necessary and that definitely isn’t the case for everyone.

Linux and macOS have always worked great fast-switching virtual desktops. Make sure you get used to the gestures or keystrokes needed for that.
I have a big monitor in my room but when I go to the public library I have no problem at all working on my 13" macbook screen.

The main benefit in my opinion of a monitor are two:

  • If the monitor is 4k/5k it is really a pleasure to read documents and code there, so much estate and with such a natural look. It is a joy for me to carry on reading stuff.
  • The screen on a monitor can be raised at eye level, so your neck is not bent over for long periods.

I think that by now it’s clear that 2 monitors is plenty. For a home setup, it’s what I consider ideal. (It’s what I do). I’m one of those people with a battle station at work, so let me break it down just for context.

At work I use 3 or 4 monitors, but at least one of them is usually devoted to very work-specific stuff: email, calendar, workplace chat application, etc. I’m also devoting space to things that I have to worry about as a professional that you don’t have to as a student: requirement documents, company style guides, bug reports, mock-ups, and more. Then there are the things I have up that you might as you build projects. Gotta have a browser, often with multiple tabs, for things like StackOverflow, MDN, library docs, etc. I need my IDE of course. (I work on very large projects with an ungodly number of files, so it’s not uncommon to have 2 windows for this). I keep open a simple text editor for use as a scratch pad. Naturally, I have an instance of our application running with my in-progress work. The other thing I always have up is an SSH terminal into my server(s).

Virtual desktops (Windows 10 has them too) can be quite useful if you have just one monitor. My own setup is a desktop with a single 27" 1440p monitor and a laptop with a 17" display next to the big screen. This is working really well for me currently. If I didn’t have the laptop as a “side screen”, though, I would probably go for a dual monitor setup. I don’t feel that it is essential, just convenient and practical.

Your setup seems fine to me. If you want to upgrade, you could always replace the 24" screen (probably 1080p?) with a larger one (1440p or 4k).

I think it comes down to personal preference. I started coding in my desktop with just one monitor, and while I got the job done, it bothered me having to constantly switch tabs, specially when you are doing video tutorials.
Now I have 2 21.5" monitors (left one in portrait mode) and it’s the perfect setup for me. I have my text editor in the left monitor, and I see the website I’m working on the right one.

Having 2 monitors would be useful, i can’t work with one monitor, it was almost impossible for me and was affecting my workflow. Things were taking longer than expected, having the 2 monitors really helps me keep focused and cuts out switching backwards and forwards with windows.