Mac Dev Tools Worth Having
For a lot of people, the Mac is seen as the PC for a “creative person”. Very “artsy.” Now, I’ve spent years (decades) developing code on Sun workstations, DEC equipment, and PC’s – the Mac, and the tools that are available on it beat all that stuff by a wide margin.
For starters, Mac OS X is itself a Linux environment. So no more shoe-horning a WAMP environment onto a PC. It’s not needed (although I do use MAMP for the Mac because Apple chose not to install some of the standard PHP extensions as standard, but for most developers this may not be needed).
But what IDE does one run? Sure, you can install the ever-present Eclipse platform. Which is capable of pretty much anything and everything if you locate/install/configure/incant the right stuff. For me, Eclipse was just too much work to get running, too slow, and too idiosynchratic to use on a daily basis.
Thus enters Coda, by Panic. Coda combines a solid code editor, a rock-solid FTP client, a terminal, a CSS editor, Subversion, and site management in one package. If you code in Rails or work with CMS-based sites, the inclusion of a SSH terminal which remembers passwords is a life saver. No more neededing to reach for Terminal or iTerm when you need to launch mongrel or change some folder protection – just open a tab, hit the button and you’re in.
Most of my daylight hours are spent as CTO/lead-coder/graphics-monkey of a start-up I’ve been with for a couple of years: Dialed In. This is a Ruby On Rails application and that means we hit the usual problem with Rails of finding a good hosting service. There aren’t a whole lot of top-shelf options in this area yet and, back when we started, there were even fewer. At that time Engine Yard (“EY”) had a waiting list of a week or more to get service and we didn’t have the time, so we went with another provider who was technically as good, but could fulfill our server needs more or less same-day.
Now fast-forward a couple of years. Our provider starts to have some performance issues, one of which ends up costing us half a week of down-time to move our server image to a new physical server. Support starts to get slow and, while responsive, we get the impression that they’d rather we figure stuff out on our own. They have great technology and, if we were a large company with a full IT staff, it’d be great fun to play with.
But we’re not. We’re a small outfit where everyone does 3 or 4 or 20 jobs and messing around with complex server configurations is simply not good for business. Every hour one of our developers spends trying to configure the server is an hour they’re not spending writing code.
So we just recently moved the whole deal over to Engine Yard. In a word, I was astounded by the reception we received. For starters, their slice hosting comes with free accounts on GitHub (Git hosting), Beanstalk (SVN hosting), Lighthouse (ticket/project-management system), and New Relic (application analytics). So basically all the services we needed, or were paying for elsewhere, were now included in our basic hosting fees. Email is hosted on MailTrust – which works pretty well, even though it’s based on a Microsoft platform. But using MailTrust we can suddenly send email to people on AOL, so that’s a good thing.