We all know the Macbook is a capable machine, thanks to its many features and functions. Apple’s approach to the build quality, display, battery efficiency, and software makes it one of the best devices out there. However, we can safely say that the Macbook is traditionally most popular among video and photo editors. It’s great for content creation, there is no doubt about that. Programmers, in turn, mostly stick with Linux or Windows, or both at once.
Let’s be honest, Mac also has a number of serious issues, including a small(er) user base, limited applications, and a higher price tag. These factors prevent Apple’s laptop from being as widely accepted, as the Windows machines. While there are people who like to code on their Macbooks, they are rather a ‘vocal minority’. Microsoft is obviously the most preferred option, thanks to the sheer number of programmers on the platform alone.
That’s why we think it could be interesting – and useful – to explore the competition. Not to find which system is better – most users will know the answer right away. But to see if the Macbook could be a decent replacement for programmers, or is it absolutely necessary to go for either Linux or Windows to avoid the limitations?
Before we dive in, let’s talk about specifications. Yes, this is not something absolutely necessary for a programmer. Yet we all would prefer a machine that can meet our requirements. There is no need for a powerhouse, but there should be enough capabilities to handle multitasking and whatnot. That’s where the Macbook shines. Even the cheaper, most basic models provide enough performance to achieve these goals. The most expensive, perhaps, offer too many resources, that in most cases will simply not be needed. And ask anyone who works on a Macbook Pro about how good the retina display is. It’s not only the resolution that makes it so good to look at. Vivid and natural colors are just as important.
The key issue here is, of course, the price point. Needless to say, it’s much steeper when compared to Windows or Linux machines. It’s the most common reason people prefer other platforms over the Macbook. Especially when you know Windows devices can offer the same raw power at a much more attractive price. Even the sleek design of the MacBook lineup cannot beat this fact. The world of Windows laptops has caught up with Apple in this department too anyway. Samsung, Dell, Asus, Lenovo and other brands all offer eye-catching design nowadays.
Development environment: Macbook vs Windows
We should not even say, the Macbook is not the best choice if you want to develop applications for Windows. Microsoft is leagues ahead when it comes to the level of support it provides for software development for its own operating system. It’s really a no-brainer, but does it mean we should automatically rule out Mac in general?
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MacOS does have a native UNIX environment, used by the most web servers nowadays. That’s why the Macbook might be a viable option for software development if your server will run UNIX or Linux. The apps you create on a Macbook will run on the machine like they will on the actual server. This includes web applications, developed using PHP, Node.js, or Ruby on Rails. They will work exactly as they would on the production server as will MySQL and Postgres.
Macbook users have access to the 3 popular web browser. This means testing apps on them will not be a problem. Apple’s browser Safari also has the Web Inspector feature. It can connect to an iOS simulator, which allows developers to test their apps on the iPhone and iPad like interface.
The Macbook also has other tools at its disposal, like text editors TextMate, Atom, BBEdit, SubethaEdit and some others. The laptops support specialized tools as well – source control GUIs, file merge and comparison tools, file transfer tools, quick-lookup documentation viewers and so on. Should you need a different environment, there are VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktops – virtual environments for you to use.
There are other tools too. Devs who come from Windows, there are tons of alternatives to the resources they might miss. That’s why the Macbook could actually be a decent choice for software developers if they haven’t heavily invested in the Windows platform. Or if they have no problem paying more for a laptop they need.