MacBook Air for software development?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Klae, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    #1
    Hey I was wondering if a 2012 maxed out 13 inch MacBook air would be ideal for software development? Or would I be better off getting a 2012 15 inch MacBook pro? Or even the retina MacBook? Or is the 15 inch retina just overkill. I'm a college student studying software development and want to gets what's best. Thanks!
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2004
    Location:
    Seattle
    #2

    You will go insane trying to develop on a 13 inch air. There is simply not enough screen real estate. However, the rMBP will be very good for this, and will get better I am guessing based on what I have seen.

    There are several ways a program can be written for the retina. One way is to have tools and a full res work area. This will work very well in many programming environments. (I don't think Xcode does this yet, but will be really surprised if it doesn't).
     
  3. macrumors 604

    ZBoater

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida
    #3
    That's why they invented monitors. :rolleyes: Besides, the 1440x900 Air screen is not bad to work in at all.
     
  4. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #4
    Perhaps I'm not sane then :) ... because I've developed several iOS apps on my MBA11 with no external monitor. But a large display does make it easier and more ergonometric.
     
  5. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    #5
    One option you didn't mention is to get a regular mac pro or Air and combine it with a Thunderbolt display. When you upgrade in a few years to a new machine, you will still have the large display and docking station, and may be able to spend less on your next machine knowing you only need processing power to go with your very capable display. Just a different angle to consider......
     
  6. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    #6
    My setup @ Home

    A picture :
     

    Attached Files:

  7. macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Pa
    #7
    As a CS student who uses a laptop with a lower-resolution screen than the 13" Macbook Air, I can assure you that you're wrong. For the first few years of school, your programs aren't much more advanced than System.out.println("Hello World");

    The only time I have trouble with my 1366x768 screen is when I'm trying to develop for tablets, as having an emulator open pretty much takes up the whole screen - but you'll have that issue no matter what screen size you use, so just be aware that developing for an iPad will require you have a 2nd monitor unless you wanna have fun switching back and forth all of the time.

    Of course, my roommate who has an internship was given a laptop with a 1080p screen. Seriously, that's an extra 180 vertical pixels.

    Of course, one of my professors uses a macbook air connected to an apple display in his office as his main computer.

    In all honesty, just make sure that the air you get has a 256GB SSD, minimum. If it's your main computer you'll run out of space faster than you would expect. Especially if you put a game or two on it.
     
  8. macrumors 604

    ZBoater

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida
    #8
    Really? With all that technology and you STILL cross out days on a wall calendar?

    Classic. ;)
     
  9. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    Location:
    Minnesota/Wisconsin
    #9
    I'm a senior and honestly, I'm tired of my 15" MBP. I'm planning on buying an 11" MBA and an iMac. It's an expensive solution, but you could also get away with an MBA and External Monitor.

    1440x900 is what my 15" has and I got by just fine developing on it (You get really good at utilizing Spaces). With whatever you get, I wouldn't get less than 8GB of RAM (You'll probably use VMs in college) and I would consider the processor bump.

    The only time I ran into screen issues is Xcode. Such a clunky UI.
     
  10. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #10
    I am a Ruby on Rails and Android developer. I went to the apple store last week and installed the Eclipse IDE, Android SDK tools and the RubyMine Ide on the MBA 13" base config and played for about 1 hour.

    I had the eclipse ide, ruby mine ide and the android emulator loaded all at the same time and I did not see any performance hit when running some Android samples. Everything ran fine. Only issue I noticed is that when I have all those apps loaded there was only 44 MB of free memory. So I think 8GB RAM is better if you intend to software development (especially Java development)

    Like others mentioned it came down to 13" vs 15" for me. But since I had an external monitor both at my home and office, I chose the base 13" MBA with 8GB RAM. I will receive it between Jun 21 and Jun 25. ;)
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    #11
    The 11" is awesome for school, in the sense it's very portable. Takes no space / weight at all, and works great for taking notes, doing minor assignments and so on.

    That said, if it's your ONLY computer you will probably need a separate monitor as it's not great to sit with an 11" for long periods. I frequently work (= programming) while on the road with me 11" Air, and while it works ok, it's just so much better when connected to a bigger screen. With a large monitor attached at home it doesn't feel much different than my 27" iMac.

    I'd recommend the 11" IF you have a separate monitor at home to do homework / assignments / study. If you're using the computer as-is with the built in screen, go for a 13" for the larger screen and resolution.
     
  12. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2004
    #12
    I think it depends on what kind of software you're working on. I picked up a maxed out 11" for work/play. I most work these days with Perl & iOS. For the former, the small size isn't a huge deal. For iOS, I have an external monitor and might even pick up one of those USB external monitors for Coffee Shop Driven Development ;).
     
  13. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    #13
    Dont ask what the countdown was for....you dont want to know, lol
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    #14
    This topic has been really enlightening for me (just switched into CS)...but still can't choose between the 13 Air or the RPro

    D:
     
  15. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    #15
    Love it ! :)
     
  16. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    #16
    On my 11'' MBA, I've developed tons of apps in Eclipse and .NET running in a VM. I've also worked extensively in XCode, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Logic Pro, Lightroom... etc without an external monitor.

    Having an external monitor to plug into when home is a fantastic - and highly recommended - option, no doubt providing a productivity boost, but I've had no problems writing a LOT of code on my little 11'' powerhouse without one.
     
  17. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    #17
    The Monitor on the far left and the one hanging on the wall (on top) are for my Windows box..... I am a Microsoft Engineer by day so I can afford my Apple toys by night, lol
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Location:
    Downtown San Diego
    #18
    Fellow 11" Air dev here (primarily Rails).

    Keep in mind if you have an iPad you can use it as a second monitor with Air Display.
     
  19. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    #19
    I have been developing Windows and Mac apps on a Macbook Air for 3 years now. During the day, I'm tethered to an Apple cinema display, but for at least 2 or 3 hours a day, I use the MBA all by itself.

    Let's not forget that the resolution of the MBA is the same as the MBP unless you get the hi-res option... not including the recently released rMBP.

    My biggest problem has been the 4 gigs of RAM, but the 2012 edition can be maxed out at 8 gigs.

    I am now using a 2012 MBA that I picked up last week at the Apple store. For me, I just love the size and weight and more than willing to sacrifice the small difference in speed and CPU.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    #20
    So what im gettin is its good to have an external monitor ex: apple cinema display so i could do macbook air 13inch with 256gb ssd and cinema display? Or get the 15inch retina macbook pro? Thats what I think im between. Keep in mind I also have the baseline mac mini with 8gb of ram and an ssd.

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    Nice setup by the way! Is it an 11inch?

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    I didnt know that! Thatscawesome!

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    Im with you its a tough decision haha
     
  21. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    #21
    So what type of degree did you get?
     
  22. macrumors regular

    zMacintoshz

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Location:
    NY, FL
    #22
    Klae i intend to do the same at college and also have purchased a MBA. i realized that a MBA wouldn't be the best thing for thing for college, but i did realize that it would be great to use during class and in the library. taking notes and going to class with a 2 lbs computer will be great. but i also will be purchasing an iMac for heavier use, i talked to a professor at the university that i will be attending and he said that you will be most likely working with multiple OS's, and a 128ssd wouldn't get the job done. an iMac would have the hours power and storage you will need. that the set up I'm going with.( 13"MBA 2012/i5/8gb RAM/128GB SSD + 27" iMac/24gb RAM/256GB SSD+1TB HDD)

    cheers
     
  23. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    #23
    Alright thanks do you think that i could use my mba for all of the stuff you said but hse my upgraded mac mini with 8gb of ram and 256gb ssd for all of the heavy lifting? I also plan to buy an ipad at some point. But im goimg to put parallels on my mini so i can run multiple os's. Am i crazy?
     
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #24
    Save yourself the headache. Don't buy a iPad if your going to have an Air and a Mini. Your Mini will be more than suitable, if you run out of space install another HDD/SSD or get an external. The iPad will be pretty useless for coding, so unless you have a specific need for the iPad I don't know about, skip it and use the money to update your Air or Mini.
     
  25. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    #25
    Ok yeah your right it would be quite pointless, the air would be my portable machine. I just want something I can take notes on but is still powerful enough to do cs work on. I want to get the 13inch MBA with 8gb of ram and the 256gb ssd. I have the external cd/dvd drive for my mini so disks won't be a problem. Would I be best to use the money saved on the MBA to get a cinema display or are there better monitors out there for cheaper?
     

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