I'm starting a new development job in a week or so, and when I was there to under-go code testing, I was shown what would be my desk. I noticed it only had two monitors, both 19 inches. This, for a developer, is very little screen space and can be quite a pain to work with.

How unprofessional would it be of me to ask for a new set of monitors within the first few weeks? It'll greatly increase my efficiency, so it'd definitely be worth it. I'll also be the first in-house developer at this place, so would it be wrong of me to ask for paid-for software. I develop in ASP.NET and use Visual Studio 2015, however there are licensing laws against a large company using the free version.

I don't want to go in asking for this, that, etc, but a lot of it will increase productivity/make my job 100x easier.

  • 22
    I noticed it only had two monitors, both 19 inches. This, for a developer, is very little screen space. Kids these days... :-D
    – SJuan76
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 14:26
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    Only 2 19 inch monitors? I'm working on a contract at a very large telecom helping to build an app that processes literally billions of dollars in invoices. I'm working on a laptop with a 15" screen. In my considered opinion, you're being a prima donna or diva. ONE screen is a pain, but workable. 2 is sufficient. 3 is a luxury You'll survive. It will only significantly increase your efficiency if you're unwilling to adapt to what the rest of us mere mortals work with.
    – Chris E
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 14:43
  • 1
    Have they already told you what software they're expecting you to use?
    – BSMP
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 14:50
  • 1
    Please clear up if the company currently has the free version installed?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 15:35
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    james, is this your first development job? Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:54

3 Answers 3


There are many aspects to this request that you need to be aware of.

For example, what sort of screens is everyone else using? If people who've been there for 5+ years are also using 19" screens, and you come along asking for larger ones, then you're practically guaranteed not to get them.

If, however, you're the only one who has small screens, then perhaps they will buy you new ones. Remember, however, that you're not even past your probation, so your request isn't likely going to carry much weight.

Furthermore, the fact that they're not bothering to buy professional software should be a big warning sign to you that these people are not prioritizing your needs or wants as a developer. (if this is because they just don't understand the difference yet, they you should explain it to them ASAP)

At the end of the day, if you do decide to request new screens, be very polite and respectful. Ask to meet with your manager/supervisor, and express your opinion. If you can find some sort of study recommending screens of a certain size for development purposes (is there such a thing?) then you can maybe show it to management at that time.

An aside based on personal experience:

I've worked a co-op in circumstances very similar to what you're describing. I was the only developer in a small company where I was expected to program in the free edition of Visual Basic, and my desk was a folding table.

My advice to you is to get some decent experience (finish a project or two for them), and then bounce as soon as you can (after a year or two at the most).

In this sort of environment you won't have anyone else mentoring, or guiding your growth as a programmer, and it's very easy to stagnate, or pick up bad habits. These people are probably not used to working with developers, and will not understand why you might need to take your time setting up the foundation for a piece of software, taking your time to design something before implementing it, etc. (and no one will be around to teach you how to do it properly either)

These sort of places are usually characterized by a constant pressure to get something on screen, in order to demonstrate progress to managers who don't know the first thing about development, and think it's synonymous with IT support.

  • 1
    Your second paragraph has some good meaning behind it. I've been working IT at a company for 5 months now, and I still have a tiny, slow Macbook Air. It's just not my time to ask for something better yet, and it does what I need it to anyway. Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 14:34
  • and my desk was a folding table I had to laugh at that. Working onsite in the manufacturing industry having a desk of any sort can be luxury. And that's not even talking about chairs - which can range from none to wooden crate totrash can to metal folding chair (if you are lucky)
    – Peter M
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 14:51
  • @PeterM Really? A dev without desk or chair ? They must don't care at all for your job.
    – Carlos2W
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 15:09
  • Where do you get they are not using licensed software?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 15:18
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    +1 for the aside. It was awful for my personal development being the only dev at my first dev job.
    – Kathy
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 16:08

AndreiROM's answer is excellent and to the point, but I'd like to give you another perspective : if you are programming GUI, and if your users have far worse screens than you have(not unlikely, unfortunately), then your screens are already a danger for being too nice.

Our GUI developpers have very big screens, the best money can buy. Some of our customers often have 10-years old crappy machines, with 13" screens, 15" when they are lucky. And they suffer from having scrollbars everywhere on their screens, which makes some of important features very tough to use. When the developper does not feel the pain of the end-user, he might program it happily, without realizing he's doing bad.

So it's a trade-off. Of course better stuff(not only screens, whatever) allows for better productivity. But if it makes you think that everythng is nice, while the result on end-users's machines will be catastrophic, then it's useless to be more productive.

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    Please tell your GUI developers to go back to School benches. if they dont even care about the main part of their Job: makeing the GUI useable for the user (s). Then why do GUI development at all? Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 15:01
  • This. "Responsiveness" is a thing outside of the browser too. If they hardcode all sizes and positions in px etc., they are the worst possible kind of GUI developers
    – deviantfan
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 15:08
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    @NoloProblemo Guess what? Many car manufacturers actually are like that.
    – deviantfan
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 6:49
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    At one place we had customers paying us lots of money who used an arrangement of six monitors (two rows of three monitors) so we had to buy that to be able to support them properly...
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 8:45
  • 1
    Akin to dogfooding.
    – user
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 16:26

I'll also be the first in-house developer at this place, so would it be wrong of me to ask for paid-for software. I develop in ASP.NET and use Visual Studio 2015, however there are licensing laws against a large company using the free version.

Now techically you are allowed to use it as free Software in small development Groups.
I have no idea how this works for larger company's IANAL.

You should definitly Point this out in a team/personal meeting or write an email.

I noticed it only had two monitors, both 19 inches

Ask around what the Standard Office Equipment is you might be lucky to even have 2 Monitors.

Larger Company's with minimal/no IT personal are more likely not to have 2 "big" Screens. Reasoning could be to save Money as 18 Inch are probeply cheaper than 20-30inch.

I to would prefer to work with 2 big Monitors, but I would never fight for a bigger Monitor as I feel that doesnt make or break a workplace.

Also if your work has anything to do with web development or visual development for users with larger Screens you could Argument to get atleast one Screen of the biggest size available in the Company.

  • About your last paragraph, I asked for an iphone, because I was tasked to make an iOS app. They never bought me one. I still test on an emulator.
    – Carlos2W
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 15:12
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    Uh, no, the Visual Studio Community Edition licensing is quite clear, if you are solely developing opensource applications, any number of developers in the business can use VS Community. If the business has less than 250 employees and has revenue that does not exceed $1Million in annual revenue, then 5 employees within that entire business can use VS Community for development of non-opensource applications. If your business exceeds any of 250 PCs, $1Million in annual revenue or 5 active developers working on non-OSS, then you need to fork out for VS Pro at a minimum for all developers.
    – user34687
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:10
  • @Carlos2W: That's actually ridiculous, because there are things that you cannot test on the simulator. Like what happens if the user switches from WiFi to 3G. There are actually things that you cannot test unless you take your iPhone out of the office. How does your app behave when you are at Starbucks with a captive network? How does your app behave when you take your app on and off the underground?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 12:05

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