Originally published at: http://www.sitepoint.com/set-mac-development-machine/
Two recent articles here on SitePoint talked about how people set up their development environments. Zack Wallace talked about setting up a Windows development environment, and Shaumik Daityari talked about his experience working with Ubuntu Linux.
In this article, I want to talk about how I set up a development environment on Mac OS X. But first, a little bit of background.
I’m a freelance software developer and technical writer. Given that, I need a wide variety of tools on a regular basis, whether they’re for software development, research, writing or experimentation.
It definitely is demanding having to cover everything from managing code, accessing remote servers and managing databases to writing and reviewing content. However, the great thing about the Mac is that there are so many tools available for it.
The Basic Tools
New Macs come with the iWork suite, Safari, Preview and The Unarchiver, amongst a range of other GUI tools. On the command line, they come with various open source tools, such as SSH, Wget, and cURL. However, these alone aren’t enough. To do proper web development, and technical writing, we need a number of others. Specifically, I regularly use a combination of the following:
- Dropbox and Google Drive
- Firefox, Google Chrome and Chromium
- Pixelmator and Skitch
- Colloquy, Skype and Slack
- Evernote and Wunderlist.
These tools are pretty much indispensable on a day-to-day basis.
Dropbox and Google Drive allow me to share files with clients. I could use the in-browser versions, but installing the apps makes syncing even simpler.
And no web development environment would be complete without all of the modern browsers. As Internet Explorer isn’t supported on the Mac, like Zack, I use a range of tools – such as BrowserStack – for testing sites in IE.
Pixelmator and Skitch make it simple to edit and make annotations to images. Pixelmator isn’t free, but isn’t that expensive either. You could use GIMP instead, but I find its interface leaves a lot to be desired.
For making and storing notes, I use Evernote. It’s definitely got that space nailed. And all I need for project management is Wunderlist. With it, I can stay on top of all the work I have to do for each client, as well as keep notes about conversations we’ve had and what I still have to do.
But now let’s get in to the more serious stuff: editing. I do two types of editing – content and code – so my discussion of editors will reflect that. Regardless of which one you’re doing, there are several very good editors available for the Mac.
When I write, I write in Markdown format. It lets you write structured content in any text editor, without the need for special software (such as Microsoft Word) which can leave you at the behest of one vendor or another. Using tools such as Pandoc, you can export your content to nearly any other file format.
For writing in Markdown, there are several great native apps available, including MacDown, iA Writer and Writer Pro and Mou. Heck, you could even use TextEdit, though it’s not really well suited to the task. In addition, there are various online Markdown editors, including Gingko, Draft and Bruno Škvorc’s favorite, StackEdit.
I’ve tried and can vouch for all of these, though I don’t use them on a regular basis. For me, the best tool to use is Vim, ideally MacVim. It does take a little bit longer to set up and configure. But once done, it’s amazing. What’s more – it’s free. If you’re keen, or struggling, checkout my Vim configuration repository on GitHub.Continue reading this article on SitePoint