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Programming on the Macbook

I'm currently looking for a new laptop and am seriously thinking of getting a macbook. To macbook owners I'm wondering how it's like to program on it?

Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
I'm pretty happy with mine. I do Cocoa/ObjectiveC stuff in XCode under OS X, and C# .NET stuff using VC# Express and VWD Express in Parallels/XP.

I've got the original Core(Not2)Duo model w/2Gig of ram and the 80Gig HDD. You definitely need the extra ram if you're going to use Parallels. The screen is just right for me. 1280 gives enough width for toolbars and a code window.
Aaron
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
Obviously, you can run Windows on it too, with BootCamp, and have the benefit of being able to write Windows Apps using Visual Studio. 

I am probably going to get a MacBook Pro and use it 80% of the time for Windows.  The hardware is good.
Meganonymous Rex Send private email
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
I'm in the same boat. My concern was how Parallels runs on it, since I still have to do Windows stuff on occasion.

I was thinking about waiting for the MacBook Pros to be updated, but these new MacBooks might work out. I don't need anything for gaming, higher end graphics, etc., just coding in XCode, Textmate, etc.
thinking the same way
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
It's nothing like programming on the Commodore 64.  :)

Less flippantly, the MacBook is a pretty decent laptop with a premium for design and generally speaking, better quality. Note that I'm referring to the hardware itself. You can buy cheaper laptops and if you're a good responsible owner they will last as long as a MacBook or a MacBook Pro. While I love my MacBook Pro, I'll freely admit it's not like you're limited to buying a Ford Escort or a Chevrolet Corvette.

As for what you do with it, the MacBooks and Pros make it easier to try out more things.  For example, you can write Visual Basic code in Visual Studio (using Parallels), run the code, dump the results to a log file and then use standard UNIX tools to work with the log files. Sure, you can use Cygwin, but you have to explicitly set it up and configure everything to work with Cygwin.

For someone who's purely a VB.NET guy, I wouldn't recommend a MacBook. For someone who likes to hack and experiment and use multiple languages, sticking with a pure Windows laptop means you're limiting yourself to just those tools and ignoring everything that Linux/BSD/UNIX has to offer.

Changing the subject, before you actually do buy one - go to an Apple store and try them out. The MacBook's keyboard in particular has very little travel; I know a lot of touch typers get annoyed with it and prefer the Pro version.
TheDavid
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
"My concern was how Parallels runs on it..."

Sorry, I came into the thread late.

Parallels runs beautifully on it. For just about everything I do, there's no performance penalty. I've actually connected a windows dumb client to Windows 2000 Server on Parallels (on a MacBook Pro), and it was still faster than running the application locally.
TheDavid
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
I'm using a MacBook as my main programming platform and I like it a lot. Parallels runs beautifully (I'm running both Windows 2000 and Slackware Linux under it) and the native development tools (XCode/IB and gcc/g++/gdb on the command line) are pretty good as well.

My only complaint is that the display is a little small. I overcome this limitation by using an external monitor in spanning mode when I'm at my desk. On the road, however, I just have to suffer with a realtively small screen (1280x800 isn't quite big enough to have all the windows visible simultaneously that use during development: code, docs, debuging tools and executing app).
Jeff Dutky Send private email
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
Developing on the Mac is a lot better now than it was some years ago when documentation was almost nonexistent. I don't think XCode is all that, but some people like it. I think it's a step down from the MS tools. The Cocoa framework is neat in that it's different and much better that Java, but it's not as nice as C# and .NET.

MacBooks come pretty tricked out and are a good value for the money. They just revised the specs too so you finally get a tolerable 1G of memory on the cheapest model.
Meghraj Reddy
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
Since the Macbook only has a single mouse button, how do you right-click when you're running it in Windows?

Does that two-finger thing fire the right message to the Windows driver?
Wayne B Send private email
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
"two finger thing" == "two finger tap" =)
Wayne B Send private email
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
"MacBooks come pretty tricked out and are a good value for the money."

To me they look like they cost 2x the equivalent Dell.  I suspect that they buy components mostly from the same people, so why the difference?
old.fart.the.cheap.bastard
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
Because they're not equivalent.

You're looking at the specs. Those are equivalent. Dell however has a much more lax quality standard than Apple does. Actually, let me take that back...

Apple has only one quality level.

Dell has multiple quality levels and they bucket sort them according to things like hard drive failure rates. So the cheap Dell gets the 160GB 7200 RPM drive that they believe will fail in two years. The expensive Dell gets the 160GB 7200 RPM drive they think will last five years.

Keep in mind that they'd rather sell you two laptops at $750 each in a four year span, than to sell you one laptop at $1,2000 in that same span.

The last time I checked, when you compared the same quality laptops, Dell was only about $200 or so cheaper than the equivalent Apple laptop. When you compare Dell's cheapest laptop when Apple's laptop, that's when you see the $1,000 price difference.
TheDavid
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
Economists refer this as the good shoes argument. You can buy a quality pair of shoes for $100 that will last you for three years.  You can buy a cheap pair that looks exactly the same and has exactly the same purpose which is to protect your feet, for $25 but will only last for six months.

If you only need a pair of shoes for six months, the cheap pair is obviously the better deal.

If you would like to keep them past two years, the expensive pair is actually the better, cheaper deal.

As an interesting side note, the very rich stay very rich because they a) never buy something they'd only use for six months, and b) they always buy the expensive quality stuff that will last for decades.
TheDavid
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
"As an interesting side note, the very rich stay very rich because they a) never buy something they'd only use for six months, and b) they always buy the expensive quality stuff that will last for decades."

No so... have you read the book The Millionaire Next Door?
Potato Peeler
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
Should be "Not so..."
Potato Peeler
Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
 
I agree with David on this. Tires are another example. The ultra discount tires last about 1/4 the miles of the next grade up that costs 30% more, and both of them require installation and disposal fees. It may not be worth it to get the most expensive ones, but the cheapest stuff is usually a very bad value in most circumstances. Likewise buying tools from China. You buy that screwdriver over and over and over again and spend a lot more than the guy whose great grandfather bought some quality tools 100 years ago and since then none of his descendants have had to buy tools.
Meghraj Reddy
Friday, May 18, 2007
 
 
The primary reason I didn't buy a MacBook when I was in the market for a new laptop was because Apple amazingly refuses to build a docking station for it...

Which I find essential since I'm in running around the office all the time and I don't want to have to dis/connect my mouse, network connection, 2th monitor, speakers, power, external USB harddisk, etc... all the time just for that...


I went for HP and I'm happy about my choice ;o)

Friday, May 18, 2007
 
 
"The primary reason I didn't buy a MacBook when I was in the market for a new laptop was because Apple amazingly refuses to build a docking station for it..."

You mean like this...

http://www.bookendzdocks.com/Docking_Stations-Docking_Station_for_13_MacBook_White.html
Potato Peeler
Friday, May 18, 2007
 
 
> Does that two-finger thing fire the right message
> to the Windows driver?

Yes it does, and you very quickly get used to it!
John Conners Send private email
Friday, May 18, 2007
 
 
>>Keep in mind that they'd rather sell you two laptops at $750 each in a four year span, than to sell you one laptop at $1,2000 in that same span.

Yow!  That better be one damn good laptop for 12K!  ;-)

Anyhow, agreed with theDavid's comments about Dell and quality parts.
SM Send private email
Friday, May 18, 2007
 
 
Actually, that was a typo on my part.  :)

Since I wrote those comments yesterday, I've been thinking. Technology advances fairly quickly that it's probably not worth buying a laptop "guaranteed to last" five years. You could make the argument that if you're a university student, it's perfectly reasonable to buy the cheap $750 Dell laptop at the begining of the academic year, throw it away at the end, and buy another $750 laptop next year.

Keep in mind that you'd probably spend that much money in textbooks every year.

If you're trying to target multiple operating systems, including multiple versions of Windows (going back to Windows95), I do have to admit it sounds appealing to have a Win95 era laptop in the closet that you can bring out, install your software on, test, and put back into the closet as needed. One disadvantage of a virtual machine like Parallels, is that it can't simulate Win95 era hardware beyond the basic cpu-memory-hard disk in use then.

Ultimately, I think you need to decide on a personal basis how often you want to upgrade hardware, and then buy the quality components that give you a reasonable chance of reaching that planned lifetime.
TheDavid
Friday, May 18, 2007
 
 

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