What hardware do you like to program with?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by MarkSTi04, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. MarkSTi04 macrumors regular

    Nov 18, 2008
    Illinois Side of St. Louis, MO
    What is the most used Mac to write programs with? I'm going to be using my MBP for a long time to write programs, and I was curious if anyone or how many people are using Mac Pro, or an iMac to program? I'm not going to be stepping up to a Mac Pro until sometime later when I have all the money saved up for the exact one I want.
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I've been writing software now for a few decades. It used to be that when you stared up a compiler you'd go get some coffee or leave for lunch or wait overnight. But now ALL computers are fast enough that speed durring complie is a non-issue. You do need a computer that can run our program, the one you are writing.

    Once you have the above, I think the screen maters the most. Programmers tend you use a lot of windows and terminal sessions all at once. I'd go nuts on a 15 inch screen. 20" is about the smallest I'd want and 24 is bettr but I do like the 30" LCD screens we have in our lab.
  3. lee1210 macrumors 68040


    Jan 10, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    #1 in my view is monitor size/resolution. I would recommend 1 or 2 external LCDs. At work I program on 2 19" displays. You might be able to get by on the internal display (especially if it's 17", you didn't say) and 1 external, but if you can afford 2 externals, I'm sure you'd appreciate it.


    EDIT: just noticed your sig says your machine is 15". External display(s) is/are a must, IMO, if you're programming more than a couple of hours a day.
  4. Catfish_Man macrumors 68030


    Sep 13, 2001
    Portland, OR
    I write most of my code on a 2GHz Core 2 Duo Macbook.
  5. savar macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2003
    District of Columbia
    Me too!! (Except mines a Core Duo -- the original)

    The speed's actually not bad. I have a 24" monitor at home and 2x19" at work.

    Screen space and RAM, that's really what it comes down to.
  6. kainjow Moderator emeritus


    Jun 15, 2000
    I used a 13" MacBook (without external display) for 2 years and am now on a 15" MBP without an external display. I've tried using a 24" ACD once but I dislike how OS X handles two monitors. My windows shift around too much going from the laptop to the external monitor. I had a MP for a while and loved the 4 CPUs which really help in Xcode, but for me a laptop is the best. Not being constrained to a desk to work is awesome.

    Anyone use SSD? I'm thinking about getting one but am hesitant on the write speeds for compiling.

    Spaces and Expose make it fairly easy to work on a smaller screen. I can find what I want quick enough.
  7. iSee macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2004
    For a different perspective, I don't find a need for external displays. In fact, I prefer one decent-sized one (20" - 24"), though I find working on my 15" mbp fine for most things.

    I'm not sure what is at the root of our different preferences.
    I do like to focus on one thing at a time and I prefer to switch between things with keyboard shortcuts as much as possible. Perhaps you prefer to "glance" to switch focus to something else, so you need room for one window for each thing you are working on.

    So, OP, perhaps how much screen realestate you need depends on your UI preferences.
  8. lee1210 macrumors 68040


    Jan 10, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    My workflow generally involves 2-4 source files in as many shells, another "free" prompt for quickly looking things up, maybe a document (spec, problem description, etc.), a text editor at times for quick note-taking, and sometimes other things. In a perfect world all I would do is code, but I also need to be in communication with colleagues, aware of my schedule, etc. so I need a PIM, and generally an im client. I use my phone for music, so no media player needed. Oh, also some browser windows for ticket tracking, googling, etc., but they're normally minimized.

    Everyone has a different style, that's mine. I need to be able to see everything at once.

  9. Catfish_Man macrumors 68030


    Sep 13, 2001
    Portland, OR
    I actually use the internal display mostly. Used a 24" external at work though... probably will again once I have a job again ;)
  10. Animalk macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2007
    Montreal Canada
    I have stopped looking for bigger monitors.

    I find the ability to assign spaces/desktops to each application extremely powerful. That is to lock an application to space/desktop and switching to the application will automatically switch to it and its assigned space/desktop.

    Now if I could find a way to lock different windows inside an application, like xcode (or any application that uses several windows at the same time) for example, to a space/desktop then I'd be in heaven.

    I would also say that screen size important. A keyboard with a good tactile feel. But most importantly, I need a desk and a chair that can allow me to sit for several hours at a time comfortably while programming in a location with healthy lighting.
  11. liptonlover macrumors 6502a

    Mar 13, 2008
    I use a 20" desktop Mac, 4gb ram. Speed isn't an issue, I've coded on older mac laptops too and it's still fine. The big things for me are screen real estate and keyboard size. 20" isn't quite enough for me, but it's the best I have. I've tried using spaces but I wasn't able to do it. I just can't do it efficiently.
  12. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    I use the MacBook in my sig to program.

    I find multiple monitors slow me down quite a bit.

    I must admit that I avoid programming in Mac OS X though.
  13. MarkSTi04 thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 18, 2008
    Illinois Side of St. Louis, MO
    I'm actually wanting to get a 24" display. The 15" MBP display is alright for now but the addition of a larger screen would be great.

    All of the different configurations is interesting. I know if I do get an iMac or Mac Pro, that at least a 24" display will be with it. A 30" display would be nice but the price of a nice one? The Apple displays are pricey.
  14. mward333 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 24, 2004
    I think that the keyboard is especially important for me. I use a Matias Tactile Pro 2.0. It is not perfect (for instance, the USB port only works if two USB connections are made to the Mac), and I have broken the legs on it several times, but Matias sends me some new ones free. This keyboard was expensive..... but despite all of these things, I think it is priceless. I really enjoy it.

    Here's a link:


    (I use the white one, which is not available right now, but version 3.0 should be released next year.)

    I program on the Mac Pro described in my signature.
  15. aliher macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2009
    Pb G4 12.

    I'm using a PowerBook G4 12". Screen space is a bit small after usual multimonitor setup at work, but expose and hotkeys usually solve the problem. I must note mac programming is a hobby for me. And with a light laptop you can use it on train while commuting.
  16. NRose8989 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2008
    I must admin that I'm a young programmer, with that being said I've only used notebooks, and now the chicklet keyboards that Apple has.

    I sometimes have to use one of those dell Multimedia keyboards (at my school) and I find that the key stroke is way to long for me to type fast at all.

    I'm sure it's just because I'm so used to using a keyboard which requires a lot less force to to type.

    What do you like about this keyboard? is it because of the special characters or is it the feel?

    BTW I use a 24" iMac at home with a 22" Dell ultrasharp in portrait mode and a 15" MBP whenever I'm not home.
  17. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Right now I have a 24 inch monitor at work w/ a windows machine I use if I ever get any downtime.

    Back in my living area I have a macbook pro hooked to a 24 inch monitor I use or when I travel I'll *gasp!* program on my 10 inch eeePC screen :D
  18. Virtuo macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2009
    Boston, MA
    I'll play around on anything that can run a terminal, python, and vi; I don't ask for much :). I prefer my 15" MBP, (C2D 2.33MHz 2GB RAM), but when multi-tasking with programs such as terminal, CSSEdit, Espresso, Photoshop, Safari, etc..., management of precious screen real-estate becomes somewhat problematic. However, it rarely happens that I'm actually using these all at once.
  19. Peter Maurer macrumors member

    Oct 9, 2008
    Here's another vote for the plain old 13.3" MacBook. Currently working on a year-old white 2.2 GHz model. Will upgrade to a 2.4 GHz unibody MacBook within the next few weeks.

    And I don't even use an external screen, because I don't like changing my workflow when I'm on the road vs. working at home. Besides, Xcode (which I'm using pretty much exclusively) works remarkably well on a small screen.
  20. Sijmen macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2005
    I like the screen real estate of my 24" screen. It happens to be an iMac but a 24" on a MacBook or Mac Mini would also do for most stuff.

    I've put Xcode in the MDI mode, so at the left I've got my project window and then I've got a code window or two open. When concentrating I don't want overlapping windows, and enough whitespace. Only then it feels right.


    Also very true! It's very usable on my 12" PB as well. The Xcode interface is pretty much why I prefer it over most other IDEs, even if they may have better code completion or refactoring tools.
  21. blkdogb macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2009
    Sorry to bring this old thread back up.
    For those who are using larger monitors to do programming work, do you have any issues with the fonts being blurry? I hooked up my 13" MackBook to the 19" LCD at work. And I found the fonts to be blurry. I tried this setup for a day and it already gave me headaches. May be it's just the external monitor? It's 3 year old 19" ViewSonic, btw.
    I'm thinking of investing a 24" external for development work, but am hesitant to do so if the fonts on the large screen's gonna be blurry and cause me headaches.
  22. NRose8989 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2008
    This may seem stupid but...

    Did you by chance adjust the contrast settings on the monitor?
  23. blkdogb macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2009
    Yes, I did. But that didn't help.
    I noticed the fonts on 13" MB are also a little blurry, but when "blown up" to a larger screen (same 1280 horizontal resolution), the blurriness becomes much more obvious.
  24. thingsis macrumors newbie


    Oct 25, 2008
    I usually use my white MB for XCODE. Speed doesn't really matter much these days. I also think screen size doesn't really matter much if using XCODE. But sometimes I switch to my Mac Mini with a 22'' Samsung display - and that is when I am working with IB for longer. You do need a larger screen to build interfaces in my opinion.
  25. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Generally I use my Mac Pro with a 24" monitor. Although I must say that the power of the Mac Pro is completely wasted on programming really.

    Xcode runs fast enough to do just about anything.

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