Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mac = Awesome Dev Machine

This one will be short, but to the point. Two weeks ago my trusty Toshiba Satellite decided it didn't like starting up anymore (it would crash halfway through the boot). I'm still not sure why that happened, but being in the middle of a development push for my startup I didn't feel like spending time trying to nurse it back to health. So, I formatted the hard drive and started with a fresh install of Windows Vista, and steeled myself for the lengthy task of getting my machine back into the development state it had been in before this catastrophe. Thinking ahead, I realized that this could happen again in the future, and decided to get out my wife's MacBook Pro and prepare it as a development environment as well so that I would have a machine to work on in case mine died again during a critical time period. Now I've never been a Mac user; I've been a windows hacker for many years, and have worked on *nix systems for some projects, but I'd always considered a Mac to be a way-too-expensive media machine.

I don't have time this morning to go into the gory details, but here's the summary: The Mac took about 1/4th of the time to get development-ready for a rails project (mostly because all the necessary Ruby and Rails stuff comes pre-installed), so I started working on my next few development items (using textmate) and was pleasently suprised to find that I truly enjoyed working on that machine.

For one thing, the tests ran super-fast. You almost can't test-drive your work on Windows at all because the tests take at least 30 seconds to run which means that you just can't afford the time to run your tests before and after making each incremental change. Running my automated tests on the Mac was like a small taste of heaven, and having that experience just serves to make me more disappointed in my windows environment when I'm using it. Additionally, TextMate was like a dream come true. On windows, I'm using RadRails, which works OK, but all the built in macros in TextMate are really cool, and it's intellisense (autocompletion) seems to be much better. Oh, and one more thing, Windows Developers are second class citizens on the Ruby-On-Rails help forums. This isn't necessarily because nobody likes them; it's more due to the fact that there just aren't that many people developing rails apps on windows (for obvious reasons, I now see). On the other hand, if you're driving a Mac, you will find all the help you need and more.

For all these reasons, I will proudly purchase a Mac for my next development machine. And now, my farewell letter to windows:

Dear Windows,

We've had a good run, you and I.
So many games, so many hours...it
all seems so empty now.
Remember when I first started learning Java?
We would spend hours together,
sure that we could continue on that path
forever. How naive we were.
It's nothing about you, really, it's
just that we've started to grow in
different directions. I've changed,
and I don't think it would be healthy
for me to cling to you when we really
are starting to have
less and less in common.
I don't want us to lose touch, now.
I'll be back to hang out for a
while whenever I need some C# support,
but I think it would be best
for both of us if we took a break and
really took some time to focus
on ourselves. I'll miss you, windows;
and I'm sincere when I say
"Have a great life".

Your friend,

~Ethan Vizitei


Steve Asher said...

The mac really is *the* superior personal computing platform today. I bought a macbook a few weeks ago and have since pronounced it 'even better than Linux'.

Ethan Vizitei said...

@steve asher

High praise, from an expert in linux-fu such as yourself.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to believe this guy a little more than I believe your blog....


Ethan Vizitei said...


Hey, that was a pretty funny clip back in 2004. That being said, it doesn't speak much to the current state of the macintosh as a software development machine (or in any sense, really). Maybe, before you decide who you believe, you should check out some other credible individuals who also are impressed with the macintosh.

jeff said...

I developed on windows for years, getting into Rails for maybe the last year of my windows-life. Had been using linux somewhat during the time too. I was *blown away* by how fast my test suites ran on the mac. Sometimes by a factor of 10.

that's a funny video, saw it before i had the mac... now that i've used it for a year, i can say i've experienced perhaps one or two things the guy talks about... nowhere near the disastrous experience he makes it out to be. more pleasant than windows IMHO