Misc

Why use a Mac for development?

There are multiple reasons why I develop and test on the Mac. Primarily, it's the platform my company has chosen. But beyond that, over the last two years I have replaced almost all of my Windows machines with Mac computers. I have a Mac Pro at work and at home, along with a Mac mini, a pair of iMacs, and a few combinations of MacBooks. Not to mention my collection of iPads going back to the original model, and a couple of iPod Touch devices.

Well before that, I got my start with the Apple II, a machine I still hold in very high regard. By the time college came around, I was working on PC clones with only occasional stints on a Mac. Then it became all Windows based machines.

I didn't really come back to Apple until the original iPad came out. To me, that device was magical. It was so utterly brilliant in both form and function.

I contemplated switching to the Mac several years ago, but I've always been with Windows centric companies. Now that I'm with a company that embraces Mac, open source, and web technology, I'm not specifically tied to an OS.

After a time, I decided to buy my own development machine. I could have brought a machine from home, a Windows machine with 8 cores with 32GB of ram, which is pretty good. To keep in step with my renewed interest in the Mac, I saw I could get a Mac Pro with 2 physical processors for 12 cores and 128GB of ram. It's an older machine, but those are still impressive specs.

And with that machine I have completed tasks and projects I don't think I could have done on another machine.

I'm able to run multiple instances of Katalon for performance testing, even though that's not quite how it should be done. I can push JMeter to the point of saturating our network. I can have dozens of tools and applications open across multiple screens without worrying about system resources. I have helper applets galore without seeing my system slow to a crawl. I have instances of Firefox, Chrome and Safari running without issue. I've even had multiple VirtualBox machines running for browser testing.

It's not just the machine, the OS has played a very important part in the development work I've taken on over the last two years.

I have found macOS to be incredibly stable. I think the last time I needed to reboot my machine was 6 months ago. I am not a fan of the Windows 8/10 UI and find the macOS style far more appealing and unobtrusive.

Installing and removing apps is incredibly simple. There is no registry or files scattered all over the place or the need to reboot.

Further, the Mac licensing is far more generous so I have the same apps at home as I do at work.

I also feel there is better software that fits my needs. There are simple things like window managers, text expanders, and clipboard editors. But there's also far more calendaring, task management, project management, document management, note taking, markdown and text editing packages available for the Mac than Windows.

It also feels the Mac is more developer centric. Coding for the .NET framework is done on Windows, but it's a big world outside of Visual Studio. When it comes to working with Java, Groovy, Python, you will find more answers that don't involve Windows.

And there is no shortage of development tools for the Mac. Not just IDEs. There are multiple options for storing code snippets, for parsing text, for managing the clipboard, for storing notes and data. As the saying goes "There's an app for that."

Finally, there is the power of Unix under the hood. Terminal offers the hundreds of tools native to Unix as well as shell scripting which can be amazing. The power of grep compels you!

I've had a lot of success with Windows in the past. I'm now taking that further with the Mac and enjoying it quite a bit more.

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