Marlena Compton posits If you do testing, you need more monitors.
Au contraire, I say, but I mispronounce it because I do not speak French.
I use a single monitor (across multiple machines, no less, through the magic of KVM).
Ms. Compton says:
Having more monitors leads to better testing because:
More supported browsers are open and easy to compare
More sessions are open so it is easier to see cause and effect problems
I can have more than one or even two or three users signed in with different permission levels.
Even though there are still several browsers open, I can also have some terminals open for grepping through log files and taking notes or logging bugs.
Of all these things, the only time I’ve found multiple monitors to be a worthwhile solution is while running automated tests on a number of machines. Each machine had its own monitor (14″ CRTs back in the day), and the master control monitor (17″ CRT, probably) launched the scripts and displayed a -tailing log while the scripts ran. In the automated environment, where you’re watching the scripts (and maybe the GUIs), this makes sense.
But in my world of manual testing, especially exploratory and ad hockish testing, one monitor is better. A big monitor, to be sure, so you can blow everything up really big, but one monitor just the same.
The reason: Focus.
Ms. Compton says:
In the world of web application testing, this is the difference between noticing something and having it obscured behind too many screens where you will never see it.
The principle extends to across too many screens as well as in open windows that don’t have focus. It’s hard enough to catch one little bit of squirrelly behavior in one little spot in an application page or an application window when it happens right in front of you. If you’ve got to turn your head or rely on your peripheral vision to catch it, you won’t.
Personally, I focus all my attention on one browser/window at a time. If I could put a photography hood over my head, I would. Come to think of it, maybe I ought to get one. Because I’m zoned in on that thing I’m looking at or testing.
If I need multiple sessions open at once to have different users interacting, I’m still focusing on looking for bugs in one of them at one time. I can do that with multiple browsers open on one machine.
Compatibility testing? Let me tell you how I did it when I was a printer: I took the print sample I was supposed to match and I put the new print sample over it, and I held them together against the light. The Web testing equivalent is to maximize the browser windows, load the pages to compare, and use ALT+TAB to switch between them quickly. Misplaced items will jump around visibly.
So more monitors isn’t necessarily better, especially if your attention has a tendency to