Macbook for programmers

cossie

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 8, 2006
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Apologies to the Moderators if i've posted this in the wrong forum but i thought it would be better here than in "Programming".

I'm looking at getting a Macbook for college - i can avail of a University/Apple Higer Education deal :)

At the moment my wallet is telling me that a Macbook is what i can afford best as I want to get a 19" monitor to go with it, and I can get both for roughly £980.

My plan is to use the monitor when i'm in my room on campus, and then have the Macbook for when i'm travelling around/in lectures - i won't really be doing a lot of moving around.

Does anyone use the Macbook for programming or would an MBP be a better option? I'll be doing a Masters so I'll be spending a lot of time coding and writing papers.

Thanks in advance
 

Mitthrawnuruodo

Moderator emeritus
Mar 10, 2004
13,798
167
Bergen, Norway
For coding a MacBook should be more than adequate... unless you want to code and test cutting edge 3D stuff... ;)

The 13" screen might be a little cramped with a comprehensive IDE running, but with an extra screen there shouldn't be any problems... :)

The MacBooks are also very portable - not quite as portable as the 12" iBook/PowerBook, but still very easy to drag around and it should fit nicely even at limited desk space in large lecture rooms.
 

cossie

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 8, 2006
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0
danielbriggs - Cheers! I had been looking on dabs.com for monitors, i found a deadly 19" but that 20.1" is looking mighty fine, thanks for that! :)

Mitthrawnuruodo - I don't have a lot of experience with the XCode IDE.

As i'm a potential switcher MS Visual Studio and Net Beans are the only IDEs i have experience with, i've read a few complaints about XCode being "cluttered" compared to VS' more "coherent" display.

But i'm still doing my background reading on XCode.

Actually do you know if XCode supports multi-monitors? That was a great thing about VS when i was in work, i could split things between two monitors - one for the visual aspects (forms, controls etc) and the other monitor for the code.
 

Mitthrawnuruodo

Moderator emeritus
Mar 10, 2004
13,798
167
Bergen, Norway
cossie said:
Mitthrawnuruodo - I don't have a lot of experience with the XCode IDE.

As i'm a potential switcher MS Visual Studio and Net Beans are the only IDEs i have experience with, i've read a few complaints about XCode being "cluttered" compared to VS' more "coherent" display.
I was referring to any IDE, really, with all their extra menus and boxes...

NetBeans will run great, and if you're used to that there's no real reason to switch (even if the Eclipse followers will claim Eclipse is so much better).

You shouldn't have any problems getting into XCode since you have experience with others, really. It should be fairly easy...

I don't programme much C/C++ or Java, but when I do it's just small command line apps and I prefer to just use TextWrangler for coding and Terminal for compiling/running. I'm more into PHP/MySQL at the moment. :)
 

generik

macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2005
4,116
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Minitrue
The keyboard on the MB isn't that great though, if you are looking to do lots of coding on it you better get a good external keyboard.
 

Mitthrawnuruodo

Moderator emeritus
Mar 10, 2004
13,798
167
Bergen, Norway
generik said:
The keyboard on the MB isn't that great though, if you are looking to do lots of coding on it you better get a good external keyboard.
What...?!?

It's probably the best keyboard I've had... ever... don't mock it until you've tried it...
 

NextTuesday

macrumors member
Aug 31, 2006
86
0
Cork, Ireland
Mitthrawnuruodo said:
What...?!?

It's probably the best keyboard I've had... ever... don't mock it until you've tried it...
I'll agree to that, I used to be using a QWERTZ keyboard on my PowerBook, but when I went into the UK Apple Store to play with the MacBook, the QWERTY/keys felt great, it really is a great design by Apple.

Though some people just don't like them, its really personal preference, so I reccommend you try it instore before deciding to buy an external keyboard (get a Microsoft or Logitech keyboard, the Apple ones are only mediocre)
 

MIDI_EVIL

macrumors 65816
Jan 23, 2006
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UK
There are a lot of issues at the moment with Apple portables.

You might want to wait at least until the end of this month, a new revision is imminent.

Rich.
 

deepy

macrumors regular
Jun 28, 2006
160
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I'm planning on getting a Macbook for just this purpose - programming at university and writing my dissertation. i'll be using netbeans and matlab for coding and office for the writing part. I think it should be fine. I've already got a 17" monitor with my current PC so i'll be hooking it up to this if/when I need more space.
 

MIDI_EVIL

macrumors 65816
Jan 23, 2006
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UK
deepy said:
I'm planning on getting a Macbook for just this purpose - programming at university and writing my dissertation. i'll be using netbeans and matlab for coding and office for the writing part. I think it should be fine. I've already got a 17" monitor with my current PC so i'll be hooking it up to this if/when I need more space.
What about a Mac Mini?

Rich.
 

MacsAttack

macrumors 6502a
Jul 2, 2006
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I bought a G4 Mac Mini to play around with X-Code (a whole machine with dev ools for less han the price of visual studio - cool!). It was more than up tho the job and many others (especially after I upgraded to 1GB of memory). I alredy had a very good 20 inch CRT, but went with an apple keyboard.

The MacBook should be more than adiquate from a performance point of view. More memory may make the experience a little better. May be work considering that in place of a monitor at the start.

As others have said, screen size and keyboard could be an issue, but those are things that can be added later if your usage ends up justifying them.
 

cossie

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 8, 2006
74
0
if you are looking to do lots of coding on it you better get a good external keyboard.
I've already got a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse setup that i use with my Windows PC, and they are both Mac compatible (thankfully!) so i'll use them if the MB keyboard isn't great.

Although i have to say, you are the first person to bring this point up - thanks, it always helps to get all the possible views on something!
 

MacsAttack

macrumors 6502a
Jul 2, 2006
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Scotland
cossie said:
I've already got a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse setup that i use with my Windows PC, and they are both Mac compatible (thankfully!) so i'll use them if the MB keyboard isn't great.

Although i have to say, you are the first person to bring this point up - thanks, it always helps to get all the possible views on something!
I had to do a programming project on a laptop once. Had a good keyboard - for a protable. Just about trashed my wrists though.

YAMMV
 

breadz

macrumors newbie
Aug 26, 2006
23
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i do only programming. if you plan on keeping this mac for awhile, id suggest the MBP. forget the laptop in class and write notes the old fashion way. the extra real estate space is well worth it even though the mbp is much bigger than the macbook. heck, i was using the MBP and a 16 inch LCD, now i am looking for a 30incher!

but i do have bad eyesight so they may actually be the problem! lol
 

danielbriggs

macrumors 6502
Jun 13, 2006
291
1
Manchester, UK
cossie said:
danielbriggs - Cheers! I had been looking on dabs.com for monitors, i found a deadly 19" but that 20.1" is looking mighty fine, thanks for that! :)
No problem!

I use them alot (eBuyer) and they are spot on!
I usually go for the LG's but that was too tempting :)

Let me know how you get on with it! (If yo DO go for it)

Dan :)
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,596
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deepy said:
Well Macbook is right for me - i need portability.
MacBook plus external monitor would be great for programming. The advantages of the MacBook pro are: Bigger screen (not very relevant if you buy an external monitor), the lighted keyboard (really nice when you use it in the living room at night, with not much light, but that is irrelevant in your case) and the faster graphics (only relevant for gamers, or for programmers developing 3d games which you are most likely not).

The advantage of the MacBook is that it is smaller for carrying around, and of course it is a lot cheaper. You should get a MacBook, a 250GB harddisk, and a monitor for the same price as a MacBook Pro.
 

cossie

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 8, 2006
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0
if you plan on keeping this mac for awhile, id suggest the MBP
I was thinking about that alright and if i should "future proof" myself a bit -
you know, pay the larger price tag with a view to a few years down the line.

But i don't really have a lot of cash to get the MBP plus the other things i
want to get - monitor (and some unrelated music recording gear). I can get
the MB + all the others for less than the basic MBP package.

I'm taking the fact that my University recommends the MB as a reason too, although they recommend the 1.83GHz CPU.

...the faster graphics (only relevant for gamers, or for programmers developing 3d games which you are most likely not).
I am actually a hobbyist games programmer, but it's nearly all java games in my spare time so it's all good!

While the 64mb gfx card doesn't really thrill me, I have an x-box for playing games if i want to - even though i'm a code monkey i like to get away from my machine whenever i can, so playing games is not a major concern for me.
 

cossie

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 8, 2006
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I didn't want to start a new thread as there are a lot of Macbook Vs Macbook Pro threads going and i wanted to keep it within the scope of my original post.

Is the Macbook durable? It's made of plastic right?

I mean if I want a laptop that will last me a while would I be better off buying a MBP as it has an aluminium casing? I would feel more comfortable paying for something I know will last - plus I really want to treat myself to an MPB, as i've been saving solidly for 2 years and working in a pretty mind numbing job so I can pay for Masters.

It might sound like I have my mind made up with that last point, but I also don't want to waste my hard earned cash, so I'd appreciate any opinions on the matter.
 

FFTT

macrumors 68030
Apr 17, 2004
2,952
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A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
I would hold on for another week or so to see what happens if anything on
notebook processor/ VRAM upgrades.

I would personally feel better about the MBP's if they were running cooler with
the upcoming Santa Rosa's.

If Apple updates both notebook lines to Core Duo 2, then I'd go for a BlackBook
loaded with RAM or the base MBP if you want the extra VRAM.
 

cossie

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 8, 2006
74
0
FFTT - i plan on holding on til the very last moment before making a purchase, i have 3 weeks until i have to head back to college.

It's been agonizing waiting to see if Apple will upgrade, as i would really like to make my first Apple purchase soon!
 

FFTT

macrumors 68030
Apr 17, 2004
2,952
0
A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
It's good that you are taking the time to properly research your next purchase.

Any machine you buy today will be leapfrogged rapidly, so just try to
cover your needs as best as you can to get you through school.

Hopefully, we'll know more by next week, so you'll be able to buy with complete
confidence.