I'm a pretty big fan of Sublime. One of my favorite features is the ability to scroll through your file by using the compressed image of your text on the upper right hand corner (minimap). My gut feeling is this does positive things for productivity:

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Does having this minimap to scroll through actually improve productivity?

P.S. - Side question: Did Sublime invent this idea, or did they take it from another text editor?

closed as primarily opinion-based by user40980, Dan Pichelman, gnat, m3th0dman, Bart van Ingen Schenau Sep 24 '14 at 7:45

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • It's called the minimap, and Sublime seems like it was the first one to have the feature, though there are plugins now that implement the same feature for things like Visual Studio 2010. – wkl Jul 11 '12 at 3:48
  • Thanks, updated the question to use the correct terminology. – Casey Patton Jul 11 '12 at 3:52
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    The Visual Studio Productivity Power Tools (VS 2010) has had this for a while... not sure if it pre-dates sublime though. It's baked right into VS11 now as well. – Steven Evers Jul 11 '12 at 4:12
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    SmartBears Code Historian had a similar feature before sublime even existed, see blog.asmartbear.com/creativity-over-optimization.html dunno if they borrowd it somewhere or invented it – marc.d Jul 11 '12 at 10:00

I find myself using it in three situations:

  1. When I need to make changes throughout a file, like replacing a name and reviewing the changes to make sure they're correct. The minimap gives me an idea of how much of the file I have left work through.

  2. As a replacement for the vertical scroll bar. The minimap is easier to click, because it's wider.

  3. If some plugin (like SublimeClang for C/C++) can highlight problems, the minimap lets me see them on an almost file-wide level and allows me to quickly navigate to them.

The actual productivity gain is rather small, but I like the feature. I don't have the feeling that it really gives an overview to the code since the text is rather uniform. But I suppose if you have distinctive structures in your source or can somehow color-code it, the minimap could actually help.

  • I like number 2, I did not realise until now that I seldom use the actual scrollbar, but instead "drag" the focus on the minimap. – michelpm Jan 17 '13 at 14:26

I know this is an old question, but I just found a case where I'm glad I got the minimap. Here's a generated file (search results), I could instantly see where I should scroll to.

sublime screenshot

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    Doing the same for big files like logs. For me it really helpful to find things like stack-traces in logs or just skip the common patterns I'm interested in. – Jauhien Nov 18 '14 at 20:52

I can partially answer your sidequestion: DrRacket (the development environment of Racket; formerly known as DrScheme and PLT Scheme respectively) has a contour view that works exactly the same.

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