The Oculus acquisition got me thinking about the impact it would have on software development. We currently have a slew of editors and IDEs that are making us more productive and I wonder whether there’s a place for VR. I don’t think it’s going to be as extreme as Minority Report (at least at first) but I do expect some things to get much easier.

Typing is currently much quicker than any other form of data entry and I don’t imagine VR making this any better. While writing this I took a break and tried looking at the letters making up this sentence on my keyboard and it was slower - not to mention the mistakes that will likely occur during transcription. The only thing that would make data entry faster would be a direct neural connection which isn’t going to be happening any time soon.

Navigation and context switching might become easier. I currently spend a fair amount of time tabbing through windows until I find the right one - a visual approach might make this process much better as long as it’s implemented well. I’m also significantly more productive with an additional monitor - if VR is able to increase my working area I suspect I’d be more productive.

Debugging should get better. Being able to quickly examine various states during the course of debugging is extremely useful and I haven’t seen a tool that makes this simple. An interesting, scifi-like solution would be to somehow provide a three-dimensional view of code execution and be able to view your code from an additional dimension. Being able to quickly go back and forth through time would make tracing code significantly easier.

Everyone’s expecting VR to have a huge impact on gaming but I’m more interested in seeing the unforeseen use cases emerge. These will have an impact not only on entertainment and consumption but also on creativity and productivity.

Read more!