I am a big fan of attending local Ruby groups and/or conferences. There are a number of advantages to attending them, but one of the biggest personal advantages I get is exposure to new tools and new ways to get my development done. It’s interesting to me how the addition of a new tool to your work flow can almost make the entire process feel new and fresh again. Today I’ll talk about a new tool call Visor.
For anyone who ever played the game Quake, Visor is based on the command line concept used in Quake. In a nutshell, the command line was always available to you with a single quick keystroke. Once you hit the key, the console would immediately drop down and cover half the screen. If you hit the key again, the console disappears. Visor is an OS X extension for the Terminal.app to give you that same functionality. Visor is from the same guys who make QuickSilver, so you can expect the application to work very well.
The benefit to me is the ability to drop into a terminal window while I’m coding without having to think about command tabbing to the window. It’s nice to have certain keystrokes that are guaranteed to bring up certain applications. If you find yourself working on the command line a lot and would like quick guaranteed access too it, check out Visor.
The one drawback I’ve noticed when using Visor comes when you have multiple terminal windows open. When doing Rails development, I find I typically have three or more open at a time. One terminal to start the web server, one to start autotest, and one to do script/console or script/generate depending on the circumstance. The third one is the one I like to use in Visor. The drawback is that if you are in TextMate and activate Visor you will get the drop down terminal just like you expect, but when you deactivate it you find yourself dumped into one of the other Terminal windows, instead of back into TextMate. The best solution I’ve found so far is to simply minimize your other Terminal windows and you will then be dropped back into TextMate as expected.