2013-06-21

Dork Side Tips: Keyboard Navigation


Flight of the Keyboard Navigator

If you are old-school like me, you might always keep one hand on the keyboard. I habitually keep a few programs and many drawings open and like to navigate using typed commands:

Use Alt + Tab to toggle between open files and programs
Use Ctrl + Tab to toggle between different open AutoCAD files
Use Ctrl + PgUp & PgDn to toggle between layouts / modelspace – Page Down to move right, Page Up to move left
Use Ctrl + R to cycle through viewports


Using the keyboard when Coding VB.net

The above tip reminded me of something from my programming classes back in college. We used Visual Studio, but, none of the instructors directly covered the various ways to progress after making your autocomplete options. I noticed that all of them chose one method and used it over and over, rather than switching between them, which I found to be more efficient. When you're typing out a bunch of code, you don't want to move your hand off the keys to click an option with your mouse or the arrow keys or hit an unnecessary space if one could be added for you automatically.

When using Intellisense (like AutoCAD's command complete feature), you type a couple of letters, and objects/commands/variables etc pop up.
  • Pressing SPACE will fill in the selected item and insert a space after it. 
  • And, of course, hitting ENTER will fill in the selected item, and move your cursor to the next line. 
  • Obviously, you don't want a space after every single component of your code, so, hitting TAB will fill in the selected item, and keep your cursor at the end of it, so that you may continue typing.

 You can also toggle between the Intellisense tabs (Common and All), using the keyboard ALT< and ALT> (not that you need it with the simple example given in my code, but, trust me, it can come in handy).

I haven't spent enough time programming to have picked up any other keyboard navigation tips in Visual Studio. But, if you've got some additional to share, I'd love to learn them, too.
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