17 Aug 2006
Back in the early days of commercial web design, Macs were used to produce most commercial sites, thanks to Apple’s dominance in print design. But OS 7/8/9 seemed clunky to me, Macs were expensive, and you’d have to constantly use a PC anyway to check gamma and test in browsers used by 95%+ of the audience. I didn’t even consider buying a Mac when I set up my business.
Then OS X made the Mac a warm and friendly place for Unix-orientated developers. If you bought Virtual PC you could even test things from a PC owner’s point of view, with a little patience.
Now Apple’s moved to Intel processors, and for web developers there’s a strong case for getting a Mac, at least for those not fully immersed in the Microsoft ecosystem. The prices aren’t outlandish for what you get, the hardware’s great, the software’s good, and you can run pretty much any operating system within your desktop using Parallels to make testing easy.
So even though there are things I find irritating about OS X, including Apple’s persistently poor quality control, I’ve made the switch to a 20" iMac for my main development machine. It’ll take me a while to shift everything across, but I’ve configured a lot already, including a copy of this site (getting Apache/PHP/MySQL running smoothly was tricky, I’ll cover that soon).
Micro-review based on initial impressions: hardware is lovely (great screen, quiet fans, surprisingly good speakers), quality control is still an issue (various app crashes, including DVD Player dying due to broken file permissions), Rosetta works well (Photoshop etc. are usable), and there are loads of great little apps to play with.
If Apple can start fixing bugs faster than it’s creating them, and Adobe can get Intel versions of its products out before we all retire, then I reckon Macs will dominate web design/development once again, and this time for the right reasons.