Who uses their Macbook Air for web development?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by tzhu07, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. tzhu07, Jul 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2012

    tzhu07 macrumors regular


    Nov 12, 2008
    Can you speak about your experiences with it?

    More specifically, I'm a front-end web developer, so I code HTML/CSS/JavaScript, and do some slicing and exporting in Photoshop of web design comps (which are typically not very large files).

    I potentially need a laptop for work purposes, but I'm not sure that it's necessary to go for a Macbook Pro since this will NOT be my primary machine. I already have a workhorse desktop for heavy lifting, so I'm thinking that if the Air is sufficient, then its balance of speed, portability, and battery life could possibly be more ideal than a Pro.



    Also, I'm thinking about the 13" base model.
  2. msullivanxi macrumors newbie

    Sep 11, 2010
    You should be more then fine at times I work with 50+ mb files on Ps and Ai sometimes close to 150 on Id you should be fine with small files as the only time I see it stutter is when I go crazy and even then its more like a hiccup.

    I also use Dw for front end web development and design and never had any issues but my Dw usage is not as extensive as the previous programes I listed
  3. Beau10 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 6, 2008
    Downtown San Diego
    I use an 11" as my only machine and I'm a Rails dev.
  4. jinesh macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2011
    I'm a frontend dev too & have been using a 11", 1.6ghz macbook air for a year without any performance issues.

    Eclipse, Xcode, Windows 7 (on VirtualBox), Photoshop CS5, Dreamweaver & Coda all run smoothly. Just be sure to think about a good backup policy since I'm sure you'll run out of storage space before processing power :)
  5. mikeray macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    I do web dev on a maxed out 11" 2012 machine, it's been a dream. You might want to max out your RAM so that you can run virtual machines for testing.
  6. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I used to do front end dev on a 2006 MBP, and excluding VM's for testing it was more than adaquite. The 2011 MBA (what I have now) is faster, has more RAM, and a faster SSD. I wouldn't worry.
  7. Hexiii macrumors 65816


    Jun 30, 2011
    Prague, Czech Republic
    The 11" base model is fine, I am running Coda and photoshop without any problem. :)
  8. Red Wolf macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2012
    I also use my MacBook Air 13" for webdevelopment. I can recommend it. Just be sure to buy the 8Gb Ram config. I have most of the time around 6-7Gb ram usage when I'm working.
    I don't own my Air that long yet, but I travel a lot and the battery life hasn't dissapointed me so far.
  9. tzhu07 thread starter macrumors regular


    Nov 12, 2008
    Well, it looks like from the feedback here that Apple's "consumer" laptop is definitely good enough for professional web dev work.

    I'm not big on running lots and lots of apps at once, so I don't think I really need to spend the extra $100 on the RAM upgrade to 8GB. But then again, if I'm spending $1,200 already, an extra $100 doesn't really matter.
  10. fraser1980 macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2008
  11. raftr macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2007
    I use Photoshop, Illustrator, Coda2, Lightroom, Windows via Parallels for browser testing. All works fairly smoothly on a 30" Apple Cinema Display hooked up to a 2011 13" i5 MBA.

    As long as you don't do 3D or intensive video editing, you will be fine.
    One note: You don't need the fastest processor (although it wouldn't hurt) but I'd advise you to get 8GB RAM, especially if you're going to use Parallels or a similar Windows virtualisation solution, just to have that edge.

    I am going to upgrade this year to get the 8GB and a faster processor (and USB3.0).
  12. ckorhonen macrumors regular


    Sep 18, 2008
    I would strongly recommend the extra RAM. My work machine is the 2011 13" with 4Gb and I have a maxed out 2012 11" at home with 8Gb - the difference is certainly noticeable, and it's also cheap as far as RAM upgrades go.
  13. Titanium81 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2011
    I have a new 2012 13" MBA with 8 GB Ram that I use as my primary web development machine. I have yet to see any slow downs, even while doing tests in Windows 7 & Windows XP that are running in VMWare running at the same time.
  14. Mac_Max macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2004
    I do mostly backed Perl dev but when I need to edit templates my 11" air does the job just fine. I use Nano and TMUX for editing however.
  15. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    If you really need 8GB of RAM, go for the MBP.
  16. sugardrum macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    No problems

    I use a 2012 11" Macbook Air with i5 and 8Gb Ram for web development and it works great. I use the following web dev tools if that's any help: Photoshop, Sublime Text, Firefox, Safari, Codekit, Virtualbox.

    I usually have it hooked up to a LG 23" monitor but have also found it fine using it out and about without the external monitor. On the rare occasions that I find text or an image too small to see clearly on the smaller screen I just pick the laptop up with one hand and move it closer to my face for a closer inspection :)

    Battery life is great too. My machine before this was a 2007 MBP which had the ram maxed out to 3Gb - I frequently found this running out of memory so am glad of the extra Ram in my new laptop. The keyboard and trackpad were broken, fans were blowing all the time and the hard drive was on the way out - it's amazing how much quieter and faster the MBA is.
  17. jon123 macrumors newbie

    Jun 27, 2003
    I'm also looking at the MBA 13" for web development (among other uses), but I'm trying to hold out till October to see if the 13" rMBP is released.

    I'm concerned that a non-retina 13" screen would be too small/cramped for graphical web development. I use a 1440x900 screen now, but in a 14.1" laptop.
  18. NeonBible macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2012
    I use a base 13" MBA mid 2012 for web development (Espresso 2, Transmit, MAMP etc.) and also the latest Adobe Creative Suite – and it work like a charm! Worth to mention is that I mostly connect it to a full HD external monitor and it runs without any sign of hickups. I had the same workflow with the base 13" MBA mid 2011, too, and it also ran pretty well.
  19. macash macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2012
    how about 2Gb MBA for development?

    Is there anyone doing development on 2Gb i5 MBA? If you do, please let me know how do you feel about it? I have this base version and not enough balance to upgrade. :(
  20. Titanium81 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2011
    Which OS are you running?
  21. Red Wolf macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2012
    In my personal experiece this would be impossible. I run at 6-7Gb ram usage average. Depending on your needs it can be possible, but I really don't recommend it.

    If money is a problem I'd say just save up a little longer and then go for 4Gb RAM at least, because you cant upgrade the ram later. On the Air the RAM is soldered to the motherboard in case you don't know.
  22. raftr macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2007
    I wouldn't write it off so fast. My 2011 4GB i5 Air is doing a brilliant job of managing virtual memory swaps.

    In Lion, there was always around 1GB free no matter what I did, out of its total of 4GB.

    In Mountain Lion, it's no less than 1.5GB at all times.

    SSD makes the swaps transparent, if there are any lags they are minimal. I just opened Lightroom, Photoshop with a 1GB panorama, Firefox with almost 20 tabs open and it took Windows XP via Parallels to bring free RAM down to "only" 1.2GB.

    Activity Monitor shows the swap file is at 5.35GB and I don't see signs of slowing down in any of the apps.

    If you have a choice, go for as much RAM as reasonably possible but if 2GB is what you already have, I suppose it will work.

    This said, I want to upgrade to an 8GB Air but it's mostly because I want those half-to-one-second "Loading from previews" in Lightroom to be gone.
  23. macash macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2012
    I am running LION on it. Normally I have 700Mb to 1Gb of RAM free. It would be great to know how much RAM does app development processes and applications take.
  24. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    I'm also doing web development on the Air, and it works flawlessly. I would, as others have recommended, go for the 8Gb option though. From experience I've noticed that when working, I keep lots of apps open - Coda, Photoshop and/or Illustrator, Thunderbird, Firefox + lots of tabs, VLC for checking some video clips, Word or Excel for todo-lists or similar, and so on. While I could do that on my previous 4Gb 2010 Air, it didn't take very long for it to start swapping. Not that it's really noticeable, but I prefer having enough RAM and save wear and tear on my SSD. Also, sometimes I run VMWare to check how a site looks in IE or similar, it's nice to have room for that as well without excessive swapping.

    I work on an 11" Air, usually hooked up to a 27" display + mouse + keyboard. When using that setup, I really can't notice any difference in speed from my 27" iMac doing web development, since it's really light use in 99% of the case. However, it works like a charm to work on the Air on the built-in screen too when travelling. I just love the size / weight of it, incredibly sweet for such a professional working machine :)

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