Some days ago I read on Reddit about John Resig’s setup:
Redditor : What is your development setup? (Software)
John Resig : I use OS X on an iMac with an extra monitor. For coding I use VIM in a terminal and have a screen session open to IRC in another terminal window. I then have a plethora of browsers open (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera – a VMWare with IEs) for testing. That’s pretty much all that I use and need to use (I have a very similar set up on my Macbook Pro, as well).
So, John Resig actually develops on a mac. Also, down the same thread, some other redditor points out that 95% of the web conferences audience he goes to owns a MacBook or a MacBook Pro.
Well, for the last months I’ve been developing on a mac too and here’s some of the things I’ve had to deal with:
- There is NO del key : the Macbook/Macbook Pro has no del key. That leads to an array of Hm, now delete / ack, there’s no delete / rightarrowrightarrowrightarrow / backspacebackspacebackspace, which is incredibly annoying because it completely kills the flow. Even worse, you unlearn to use the del key so when you switch back to a normal machine the tendency is to keep using the right arrow/backspace combo or (god forbid) the mouse.
- Apple key instead of CTRL : on macs, the function that is normally accomplished by the CTRL key is instead done by the Apple (command?) key, which is located pretty much where the Win key would be on a Windows keyboard. This is annoying because it forces you to unlearn the convention which you’re used to (for no apparent good reason) but the worst thing is that the behaviour is NOT consistent from application to application, meaning that in some applications (example :
nano) the CTRL key is behaving as usual and the Apple key does nothing (or does something completely unrelated to what you want to do).
You can’t cut a file on Finder : it seems that there is no way to cut a file and paste it somewhere else in finder. Even if there were a way to do that, there’s no keyboard shortcut for it (ctrl-x and apple-x do nothing) and there’s no mention of a cut option in the context menu. Also, since there’s no DEL key, if you want to delete a file you have to use the option in the context menu to do that.
- Git is very slow :
git committakes an eternity to complete, for no apparent good reason. A commit which takes a second or two on my old laptop running Kubuntu or on a Windows machine will take 30-60 seconds on a Mac. Also
git pushis sensibly slower but not as much as
Since it takes an eternity to commit my work, I’ve started to commit less frequently. That lead to a big loss of work on a couple of occasions.
- Limited customization: I really don’t like the dock (that panel with all the applications icons) and I wanted to recreate something similar to what I use on Kubuntu, so one bar on the left with all the program launcher and a taskbar on the left. Turns out I can’t have a taskbar at all and the only thing I can do with the dock is to choose which side of the screen it has to be on.
On top of all this, my impression is that Apple machines are very slow compared to PCs with similar specs: a colleague of mine needed to clone a remote git repository so I’ve asked him to open a terminal – it needed a good 30 seconds for the terminal to start. On my Kubuntu laptop (which shares similar specs with my colleague’s MacBook) I can open a dozen in five seconds or so. Also, sometimes applications freeze for some seconds, again for no good apparent reason, and you have to wait until they come back up.
All in all, my experience with macs so far has been far from positive: I guess that if you’re a “normal” user you wouldn’t care one bit about all the things I pointed out but, as a programmer, I find all of this extremely annoying.
But anyway, since I have to work on iPhone/iPad applications, I thought that I could well pay a 100/200 € more for a mac machine and then dual boot linux – that way, I could both work on my mobile projects and still have linux on the same machine for everything else. I’ve wanted to change my laptop for a while now and this is what I had in mind, so I went to the online Apple Store and made myself a MacBook pro with similar specs. And I was once again surprised at the outcome:
The ACER AS594, my original choice – € 749.99
A MacBook Pro with similar hardware – € 2.149,00
That’s almost 3 times the price. John Resig thinks it’s worth it. 95% of web developers think it’s worth it. Do you? If so, would you please tell me why? Because, in all honesty, I don’t understand what’s so special about Apple products.