Any Developers Use MBA for Coding?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by wickerman1893, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502


    Dec 16, 2008
    I am an ingoing CS student and just ordered an 2.0 i7/8GB/128GB 11" Macbook Air I am planning on using for college. I already have a 20" iMac for my primary machine and 2 iPads for all my media consumption and small use like that. Now, I ordered the MBA for in class development work and basically all of my coding work and maybe a little graphic design or web surfing when I'm not on my iMac.

    I was just curious if any developers or students use an 11" MBA for this use? If you are...are you enjoying it and does it seem to do the job and is it convenient enough for coding? The only thing I'm wondering about is the screen real estate but that's about it. Other than that I think it'll be a great computer for computer science and coding.

    BTW I will be coding mostly in JAVA and C, and OBJ. C if that helps at all.
  2. macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2012
    I've been studying CS for three years now (about to start my fourth) and I've done almost all my work on a 11.6'' (1366 x 768) Windows-laptop (+external 1080p monitor), so I can say that for myself the 11'' screen have been sufficient for coding sessions in school.
    The screen is small so I would recommend using an external monitor, or your iMac, when working at home.

    I've mainly worked with Java & C in school, and with simple editors I've had no problems with screen real estate, but when I've worked with eclipse/VS10 it has resulted in a lot of window-switching and "wasted" time.
    Since xCode seems to be similiar to VS10 when it comes to its complexity and space I would think that you'd have to be switching a lot of windows.

    So personally I think you'll be fine with a 11'' for coding but I would suggest that you use a larger screen when you can so you don't make a habit out of switching windows all the time.
  3. mousouchop, Aug 2, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012

    macrumors 6502a


    Oct 22, 2008
    New York
    If I were you I'd've gone for the 13". You can never have too much screen real estate when it comes to developing. Personally, I always use 2 monitors when developing at work and at home. If I am away from my external monitors, I at least have my 15" screen on my MBP.

    I am looking at getting a MBA so I can leave my MBP as a dual monitor desktop setup 24/7. 13" is ALL I will be considering.

    That being said, I have seen several users in this sub-forum speak of developing on an 11" successfully. If form factor is valued higher than screen size then go for it. In reality, the 13" isn't THAT much larger though.

    Edit: Agree with below commenter, speed on any size/model 2012 MBA will not be an issue. The limiting factor will be screen size IMO.
  4. macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2012
    Well I am using an old MBP for development at work. If the benchmarks are correct then the new MPA is faster. We do native development of about a 12 million line product and it works fine. I do use a second monitor for more room to work. It should be fast enough, if not optimize your code :)
  5. macrumors regular


    Mar 18, 2010
    13" is really a lot better for coding. I like using the Air for development, it is very fast and handles everything I throw at it just fine. 11" is probably too small for full screen IDEs though. In fact, I use my 13" plugged into a 27" Thunderbolt display most of the time.

    The MacBook Air is a great development machine and 13" is about right to be able to use a full IDE.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Barna Biro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Luzern, Switzerland
    I did not yet receive my 13" MBA, but for sure a MBA is enough for your needs. I work on enterprise level applications for the finance sector and do some game development in my free time ( web mainly + mobile / tablets ) + many "random" coding. The 11" MBA I personally find too small ( not that the 13" is that bigger ), but if you have an external monitor to hook it up to, then it's totally cool.

    I like the card reader on the 13" MBA ( handy when occasionally taking photos and such )...
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2012
    St. Louis, MO
    If you plan on using any Mac for software development you will need the following:

    XCode with the command line tools installed.
    Java JDK

    I do believe that XCode includes Objective C.

    I use my MBA for some software development in Java. I use the Netbeans IDE.
  8. macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2012
    Keep in mind that you may take some courses that do not involve coding. Granted you do have two iPads, but for these other classes, you might find yourself wanting slightly more screen real estate for viewing documents or whatnot, not to mention better battery life.

    That's why I'll throw in my two cents for the 13" variant, as you'll get better battery and more screen. I'm not sure if your coding habits are like mine, but I use my desktop to do most of my serious work or when I'm in my room, and only use my notebook for when I'm not in my room, but need to do work.
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 2, 2008
    Heard on the mean streets . . .

    I know a full time iOS developer (independent) who does most of his coding on an 11" MBA. I expressed incredulity, but he assured me a couple of times that he's been using it for over a year and it works great for him.

    I personally go with a 15" MBP for occasional hobbyist programming and am loving it.
  10. macrumors 68000

    Jul 3, 2005
    I have the 11 inch MBA and it's mostly okay for coding. With Xcode it can be a bit annoying when using iPad Storyboarding, or assistant editor with a xib file, but otherwise it's good.

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