Programming on MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Catdog12349, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. Catdog12349 macrumors newbie

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    #1
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    So I'm debating about what MBA to get, I'm looking at all of the models and various upgrades, and I will probably wait until after the refresh but not so sure( see below). Money isn't really an issue.

    I would use it for basic word documents, email, Internet stuff, light photo editing, maybe a game or two, all of which, from what I understand, could be easily handled on the entry level MBA 11". But my problem arises in the fact that the other and most demanding on the CPU would be that I want to do programming on it.
    I am just beginning to program and I can do fairly basic java, but I plan to learn and use alot in the next few years more advanced java, objective C and Xcode. I don't know if the current specs on the 11" are enough to handle that considering my current 4 year old Dell desktop running xp with dual 1.86 and 2gb ram occasionally crashes while do basic things in netbeans. Will the 11" 1.6 ghz, 4 gb ram be enough? Or should do 13"? Or should I wait for the refresh( Once that happens this should be a little easier) and get the 11"? Ideally I want the 11" for the portability and ease of transport, but I'm worried about CPU.
    Thanks!
     
  2. darknite38 macrumors regular

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    Nov 18, 2010
    #2
    Wait for the refresh, definitely, and you would fair better with the 13" due to its higher resolution and larger screen size which would be better for programming :). After the update, the baseline 13" would be fine for your needs, most likely!
     
  3. MacForScience macrumors 6502

    MacForScience

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    #3
    If I were you I would go for a Mac Book Pro it will last you longer especially if you really get into programming. You can get a bottom end 13" MBP which will blow the Mac Book Air out of the water. (MBP has Core i5 and Thunderbolt meaning way more power and better connectivity) Cost ~$1200

    Cheers
     
  4. kryca macrumors member

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    Jul 6, 2010
    #4
    CPU is not the real issue. For programming you need RAM, screen real estate, and plenty of these two. I would recommend a MBA only if you have a large secondary monitor (27") for the bulk of your programming efforts and a 4GB RAM model. The CPU should be sufficient if you go with the fastest one, however, which is the 2.13 GHz in the 13".

    Also, I'd invest some money in a good mouse because I find selecting text is just a tad bit easier with it.

    Real programming also takes a Saratoga keyboard which is so load it will break up any relationship yet so nice to type on, but I think that's more of an anectode these days. :)
     
  5. torbjoern macrumors 65816

    torbjoern

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    #5
    It's even easier to select text with the keyboard once you know the combos.
     
  6. endhalf macrumors regular

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    #6
    What are you all talking about? For beginner programmer, it is OK to use even older and slower machines. 2 years ago on high school, I programmed program solving equations on Via processor 1.6Ghz (slower, than Atom with same speed) and with 1024x600 screen resolution in Java. Don't tell me that Xcode is so heavy that it needs MBP processor.

    Now granted, with 11" you may find that not comfortable, but that's just about your personal feelings. Even C2D 11" baseline should rock Xcode no problem.
     
  7. 2IS macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Exactly this. I've been curious about IOS development so I downloaded xcode, bought an Objective C book, went through youtube tutorials and wrote/compiled some code. My MBA did not have an issue with it.
     
  8. Catdog12349 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
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    My only problem with a MBP is that except for programming I wouldn't need all the extra CPU, so I feel like I'd be wasting alot of money for something I didn't use. Also I want a MBA because it's more portable, and suits my needs fine.

    Thanks everybody, and I can only quote one person at a tine but whoever said his/her computer that was a few years old could handle java I agree. I asked the people at apple once and they said the 11" with 1.6 upgrade could handle Xcode , but the 13" 1.86 could do it more easily. I don't know much about CPU's and such but it seems to me as if Mac CPU's with the same processing speed and RAM as a pc perform alot better.
    I know this sounds funny but can someone explain to me what exactly thunderbolt is, I gets that it's an I/O but I don't understand like, in a few years will our flashdrives be thunderbolt??
    Thanks
     
  9. Catdog12349 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    2IS, What kind of MBA do u have? And how advanced are you in programming Xcode?
     
  10. endhalf macrumors regular

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    #10
    If I understand it correctly, Thunderbolt is kinda ultimate port for everything. New Mac Cinema Displays should get TB, new flash drives should be on TB etc. For now, usability of TB is 0.
     
  11. Catdog12349 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Ok, thanks
     
  12. kapolani macrumors regular

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    #12
    I have the 13" with 4gb ram.

    I use it to code at home in front of the tv with a beer in hand.

    It has no problems doing anything I ask of it.

    Running Win7 (virtual machine) and use:

    Netbeans, Eclipse, MSV2010 (QT addons etc).

    The 11" screen may be too small to fit everything you would like to see on the screen. When needed I go into Coherence mode and use a 27" monitor for the visual editors etc.

    The MBA is very capable. Compile times may take a little longer, but YMMV.
     
  13. rlu929s macrumors regular

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    #13
    As a heavy PHP coder, I can tell you the screen real estate makes a huge difference. So, if this is going to be your only device for programming then I'd go 13".

    My desktop is a windows box with 3 x 23" monitors and I wouldn't change a thing. It's so great to code in one window and refresh your site in another and edit graphics in yet another.

    So as other have said when coding it's all about screen size.

    I'm probably going to pick up a 11" MBA either refresh or old once they make their announcement.

    I'm going to use it to carry around with me, so I can go do a little work etc on my lunch breaks. So for my purposes...I think the 11" will be more than fine.

    Would I want to sit down to code for hours on it....probably not.
     
  14. sgtalexmom macrumors member

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    #14
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1037403

    have a look at the link above. there are screen shots of using the sdk/simulator on an 11"

    i went with the 13/4gig for extra screen space, but that's just me.

    i've never had any issues coding for the iphone on my mba :)
     
  15. 2IS macrumors 68030

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    #15
    I've got the 13" 1.86GHz/4GB/128GB

    Not advanced at all, not even writing my own code yet, just going through sample code and understanding the logic behind it.
     
  16. hssky97 macrumors regular

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    #16
    If money isn't an issue why not just get a macbook pro? A Macbook Pro would be a better machine for development, but if it's a size factor go w/ the MacBook Air.
     
  17. torbjoern macrumors 65816

    torbjoern

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    #17
    Programming goes perfectly fine on a MacBook Air! But if you're going to run heavy, recursive algorithms on it and solve complex differential equations, you might want to consider a more powerful processor.

    I use my 13" for programming in Eclipse and Xcode, but if it were an 11" (which has only 768 pixels in vertical direction), I would certainly need an external display.
     
  18. Catdog12349 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #18
    money isnt really an issue in that i will get whatever model i feel is best for me, but i know if i were to get an MBP i would wanna max it out. Besides i know i will be getting a MBP in 2 years probably 15 inch after my current desktop completely dies. and as i mentioned earlier i dont (think that i) need all the extra processing power of an MBP. portability is important in my decision, and many of my friends have MBP's and they take up a lot of space, and are quite heavy. and if i want an ssd on a MBP it costs a lot more(comparatively)
    @torbjoern, ya i dont think ill be getting into that for at least 2 years so ill have a MBP by then

    A question to everyone, regardless of processing power, based mainly on screen size for coding, 11" or 13", keep in mind cost on this one and keep in mind portability, ive held the 11" and its pretty darn small...
     
  19. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #19
    Considering the fact that he's just starting to learn how to code in java, I don't think he is planning to write an algorithm to solve the towers of Hanoi any time soon. :)
     
  20. firewood macrumors 604

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    #20
    I do heavy iOS and Mac development on an MBA 11 Ultimate. Super fast and tons of screen real estate, even without an external monitor connected...

    But then again, I learned to program in C on 80x24 dumb terminals connected to a shared minicomputer that was well over 100X slower and had 100X less memory than an iPhone 3G.

    Something is seriously wrong with Java if it needs over 4GB to run decently.
     
  21. torbjoern, Jun 3, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2011

    torbjoern macrumors 65816

    torbjoern

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    #21
    I learned that in my second semester of CS actually. But I don't have a computer that can solve the original problem (with 3 towers and 64 disks) during my lifetime, though.


    I don't know anyone who has set the limit higher than 256 MB as stack/heap memory for JVM (if configured at all).
     
  22. DarwinOSX macrumors 65816

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    #22
    No it won't. Not for what he is doing.
     
  23. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #23
    I learnt the same thing well over a decade ago in my CS classes at university. The point was that an MBA is plenty enough to learn to code on. Hell, I started writing code on a zx spectrum. We used to also walk through the snow for 6 miles back in those days. :D
     
  24. firewood macrumors 604

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    #24
    Then why would a Java developer worry about any machine with 1GB or more? And the Sun Sparcstations and Ultras that Java was originally developed on only ran 100 MHz to half a GHz IIRC.
     
  25. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    #25
    We have a few production servers with JVMs set for 1024 MB of stack/heap. Of course, these are running entreprise grade code made to handle a metric ton of simultaneous connections and operations.

    Funny how that is still far from the 4GB quoted earlier, and yet it still handles way more load than the OP's MBA will ever see.

    Programming just isn't that intensive of a task. Running the programs you code might be, but the actual act of writing the code and compiling it sure isn't.
     

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