Monday, May 10, 2010

The Lousy Keyboard on the Motorola Droid is Fixed?

Image representing Droid as depicted in CrunchBase 

In November 2009 Motorola and Verizon released the Droid to much fanfare and adoration.  The reviews were generally great except for one glaring problem repeated time and time again. And although I love the phone, I fully agree. The hardware keyboard sucks! 

Touch typing is nearly impossible as the keys are perfectly flat. It’s like someone drew keyboard keys on a piece of paper, slapped it on the phone, tested it on 12 year olds with skinny fingers and called it good.  This one fault make its difficult to convince hard core business users on the Verizon network to try Android.  They refuse to give up their Windows Mobile or Blackberry devices with trusty usable keyboards.  Handicapping their ability to touch type is a deal breaker.

Recently, a colleague decided to take the plunge and give Android a shot.  The HTC Droid Incredible is all the rage but no keyboard equals no go.  Our contract doesn’t have any upgrades in the near future and strangely Verizon doesn’t give the advertised 2 for 1 deal when paying the full $600 for the first device.  To eBay!  In a couple days a slightly used Droid is in hand for under $300.  It’s ESN is clean and the phone is activated through My Verizon within minutes.  However, there’s one strange thing.  Could it be?  The keyboard on this Droid… is… nice?

The keys are rounded raised. They push without frustration. And the screen easily slides into typing position.  I showed other touch typists around the office and they agreed it would be something they would try.  Not one of them said they would give the Droid a shot when they first laid hands on the flat keyboard version. 

Original Droid on left, new eBay’d on right.
OldNewSideBySide

Original Close Up
 Old

New Close Up
 New

Lengthwise View
OldNewSideBySide2

Left: “Old” phone purchased in 2009.
Right: New phone in 2010.  Highlighted areas may indicate the manufactured date.
OldNewSideBySideBack

There’s talk of the Droid 2 coming soon with an improved keyboard being a primary selling point. It seems revisions of Droid 1 may have improved it already. Is this old news or a fluke?  Am I missing something?  If not, these “rev 2” versions of Droid 1 may be cost effective upgrades for people in-contract wishing to try Android but in need of a hardware keyboard. Thoughts?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Do these ReSharper features make it better than CodeRush?

Our Visual Studio IDE enhancer of choice is CodeRush.  I recently hired a developer who gave CodeRush a go after using ReSharper for the last couple years.  He lasted about 2 days.  “It wants me to think in a different way than is natural” was his reaction.  CodeRush’s excellent implementation of templates does force an “unnatural” way of programming to someone who’s never used them.

The examples provided by the developer…

Example of R#’s enhanced intellisense…. I type out ‘Clas’ and it shows me everything containing those letters, not just starting with those letters.

Visual Studio Native Intellisense 

1NativeIntellisense

ReSharper Intellisense

2RSIntellisense

                   

Another example, I type ‘CM’ and it shows all objects where the camel case matches.

3RSCamel

And R#’s object search feature… I type ‘CR’ and I can go to all objects whose camel case contains ‘CR’

4RSObjectCamel

Enhanced Intellisense for method overloads… instead of flipping through all method overloads and seeing one at a time, you get all overloads in view and you flip through the method documentation instead.

Visual Studio Native

5NativeParamIntellisense

ReSharper

6RSParamIntellisense


The developer community is generally split on the CR vs RS debate.  There seems to be a tilt towards CodeRush; moderate as it may be.  Besides pricing, most arguers exclaim “Show me why it’s better!”.  DevExpress recently did just that.  And DX fan Rory Becker followed suit.  Their example may be a little “why would anyone do that?”, but I think it speaks to the speed of the CodeRush engine.

This developer highly values Intellisense and showed why it’s better.  Is there a CR plugin that adds this Intellisense functionality?  Does CR contain a feature that solves the same usability issue and we’re  not seeing it?  Or, if one weighs usable Intellisense above all else, is ReSharper just a better product right now?