Anyone using MBA for software development ?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by gihad, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. gihad macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2011
    Hi all,

    I just got my MBA from the Eaton Centre apple store in Toronto. 13" I ended up with the Samsung LCD and SSD, the screen has 1 dead pixel which only comes up on red.

    But anyways, does anyone else use/will use the macbook air for development ?
  2. tomaseriksson macrumors member


    Oct 3, 2010
    Stockholm, Sweden
    I do development on my 2011 13". Mainly node.js and HTML5-development, will also do some simple iOS and android stuff.
    I had a macbook alu before and my new air is a big step. HDD speed and the higher res screen made a big difference.
  3. mikethebigo macrumors 68000

    May 25, 2009
    I have a friend developing iOS apps on an 11" MBA. He seems to like it fine. The system can certainly handle the load.
  4. richpjr macrumors 68030


    May 9, 2006
    I just bought one last week for this purpose to use when not in front of my iMac and so far it's been great in the limited time I have used it.
  5. VMMan macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    I use my MBP 17" for iOS dev (Xcode 3 & Adobe CS5) with also an external 24" display at home and think it is pretty awesome. The Sandy Bridge Core i7 is really fast. Compile times are so fast that I rarely use the simulator and will instead build to the device.

    I also more recently use my MBA 11" i5/4/128 for Xcode 4 which always keeps me wondering how I could reconcile my feeling of what should be a screen that is too small with the reality that the screen is plenty big enough for serious coding.

    Even when I have both machines available with me, I'll often choose to code on the small MBA. I haven't done any graphic design work on it though. I use the MBP for that since I have the external display and graphic tablet all set up and plugged into the MBP.
  6. tinkori macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Dont you miss the 8GB on your MBP and possibly a faster SATA3 SSD?

  7. VMMan macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    My MBP is a stock 2.2/4/750.

    I was planning on upgrading the MBP to 8GB RAM before I got it, but once I realized how fast the machine already is with 4GB, I realized 4GB is fine for me.

    But now that I got used to an SSD on the MBA, I definitely want an SSD for the MBP.

    Since there may be a major update coming, I don't feel like making the SSD upgrade on my MBP.

    Even if the MBP were even faster, I still would use the MBA more often. It's just so mobile and fun. A lot of my coding is pretty straightforward. I still use paper and pencil to draw object diagrams and write pseudo code. Once I'm typing, I only need a fairly small window to type.

    Graphics are probably different, and I haven't even bothered with installing CS5 on the MBA. It might handle it fine, but I just haven't tried it.
  8. DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    Does he use an external monitor though at all? Or is does he design/develop and type/mouse solely on the 11"?


    So you type and use the trackpad on the 11" itself and without an external monitor when doing work on it? Do you have to curl your fingers a bit to keep your fingers on keyboard home row (F and J) and type while still maintaining your wrists/palms above the edge so that it doesn't cut into them? And do you find that you narrow the gap between your fingers and thumb when using the smaller trackpad in order to move the pointer and click comfortably, as opposed to a larger trackpad like on your 17"?
  9. VMMan macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    Trying to find the right way to have the MBA sit on your lap or whatever is sometimes comical but not that bad. It's so mobile that I often will sit in bed and use a Logitech laptop cooler underneath it as a sort of desk. The typing is fine for me, but the trackpad is a little too small when using the three finger drag gesture for me to move files around in the finder or to Xcode.

    Also, when I first started using the MBA with Xcode 4, I changed the preferences to use a much larger font, like Monaco 14. This made the screen hold much less text at a time. Once I got used to finding the right position and distance to have the MBA from my eyes, I realized that I could start back again in using much smaller font sizes. I'm now using Monaco 12 and may even go to 11 or use Xcode 4's default Menlo 11, which is even more compact.
  10. DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    So you're saying it's so small on your lap that its hard to get it to position itself comfortably to work on? Hmm... May be a deal breaker for me there since I expect to use it without a desk most of the time, if not all the time. The times I'll use it in bed will likely be fine but I'm mainly talking about actual working conditions and usage so if it wont sit comfortably on a lap for a long while (maybe 2-3 hrs or more). Although you also say its not that bad? But if it is, it may be an obstacle :\

    You also say the typing is fine but if you actually compare your 17" keyboard and your 11" (side by side) by placing your hands in a comfortable typing position on your 17" and then move your hands, locked in that position, over to the 11", it's not realistic/comfortable in maintaining that position to type on the 11", is it? The biggest reason being the smaller size of the palm rest and its bottom edge digging into your palm/wrist; and then subsequently needing to curl your fingers a little to raise your wrists above the edge and type comfortably. Do you find this to be the case at all? Or is it truly not like this for you whatsoever?
  11. VMMan, Aug 14, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011

    VMMan macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    I am impressed by the level of granularity in your concerns.

    The MBA is very small and light, so its final resting position on your lap, abdomen, even single thigh if you sit cross-legged, will vary depending on your body type and sitting posture. I have even found ways to use it while lying supine, flat in bed. I think this is actually a real advantage. It gives your more varied positions than with a conventional, larger, heavier laptop.

    The palm rest is shorter, but this may bother me less than you, because I don't like to type with my wrists touching any laptop. For some reason, I don't like my wrists to be hyperextended, and prefer neutral to slightly flexed at the wrists. Right now, I'm typing on the couch with the MBA, sitting cross-legged, with the MBA on my right anterior thigh, both wrists are actually elevated and not touching the computer, but my hand positions are stabilized with my elbows touching the back seat surface of the couch lateral to my body, if that makes any sense.

    The MBP 17" feels like I have a little desk built-in, for sure, but I really like the freedom of the MBA, and you should just try it out a lot. I found adapting to it quite a joy.

    To experiment, I'm now typing with both my wrists touching the laptop, and the edge is not digging into my wrists/arms at all. It seems fine, but that's because I automatically adjusted the final resting place of the laptop to now be a few more inches in front of me, so that my wrists are not curling up. The LCD is a few more inches ahead of me.
  12. gihad thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2011
    If I'm sitting on the couch with my legs on the ottoman then I have the Air on my legs, the closer part is touching my stomach. I think it's a little too far given the 13" screen, I am often zooming in when browsing pages. the laptop "blade" shape also hurts my wrists but I still love this ultraportable overall.
  13. Tyler29294 macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    How fast are compile times? That is really my only concern with buying a MBA over a more powerful Mac.
  14. karlth macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2010
    I'm using the a 2011 13" i5 MBA for iOS development.

    Everything works flawlessly and I'm very pleased with the machine's performance, display, bootup time and noise level.

    Compile times are very fast. For iOS projects you hardly notice them at all.
  15. merrickdrfc macrumors 6502


    Jan 8, 2011
    I'm also doing iOS development on the 13" i5 MBA, enough screen real estate for Xcode, fast, quiet and long battery life. Absolutely no problems at all
  16. DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    May I ask for both of you - why 13" and not 11"? And please keep in mind the comments I've written so far about the smaller palm rest and trackpad and if it might affect you.


    Haha, very complimentary way of saying I'm nuts ;) Thanks, though.

    I hear you on the more ways to sit with it (eg. on your thigh, etc). Good to know, although I'm mainly concerned with just general usage with your hands and screen size.

    I am also able to type on the 11" with both wrists touching the laptop palm rest without it digging in but to do that I have to curl my fingers inward a bit more to type than I normally would on a laptop with larger palm rest like the 13". Do you find that to be the case or do you not even need to curl your fingers in a bit at all? If you don't, I sort of find it a bit hard to believe... I mean, the shorter palm rest logically dictates that you have less room to rest the palm above the edge, which means you are forced to curl fingers in to type properly with fingers on home row (F and J) -- it just doesn't quite make sense otherwise.
  17. seymores macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2011
    I'm using a maxed out MBA 13" -- absolutely fantastic software development laptop! Let me lay down the pros and cons below:

    - Light weight -- I can go anywhere to work with worry of bagage
    - Fast -- thanks to the SSD and i7 Java and Xcode4 works just fine if not better than my old MBP (i5, 2011)
    - Lion fullscreen mode can be useful, but useless if u got a 2nd monitor
    - Good battery

    - I can't dump all my iPhotos and iTunes music, so be mindful about the space
    - USB port is lacking but it's this is old news
    - Max at 4GB ram though I haven't noticed any performance problem with the same usage so far

  18. LeakedDave macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2011
    I make my living from development for Android, iOS, etc. my MacBook Air 13" is my only machine. Started using Unity3d recently. Works awesomely.

    Eclipse runs like a dream and Xcode is great.
  19. DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    Why 13" and not 11"?
  20. LeakedDave macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2011
    Cause it's my only machine and I felt like 11" was too small to suit that need ;) To each his own. My GF has the 11".

    Not to mention the extra 2 hours of battery.

    If I went out with it more I'd probably have reconsidered the 11" but it's usually just used around the house so.
  21. Evelynds macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2011
    In design, Apple's MacBook Air and Dell's Adamo XPS still have an edge, but for performance and value for money, Toshiba's new Portégé models are hard to beat.In terms of performance, the R700 series machines are as light as a MacBook Air, nearly as powerful as a MacBook Pro, and yet still less than 1in thick with a built-in DVD drive.
    so thanks your shawing what is the macbook.
  22. LeakedDave macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2011
    Only issue is that the Toshiba is bum ugly. And it's not more powerful than a 2011 MacBook Air, either.

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