March 31, 2008

Is Mac “Perfect” for Rails Development?

Filed under: IDE, Linux, mac, rails, Windows — oomoo @ 5:32 pm
I’ve never been a Mac fanboy. I never actually “owned” a Mac either. In fact, it has always pissed me off the way that many of the Rails development blogs just assumed you were using a Mac or possibly Linux, but never (he whispers) “Windows”. The snide little way they would say “Okay class, open your terminal window and type: /script generate blah blah blah”, just assuming that I had a friggin terminal window and that I didn’t have to type “ruby” first.
Microsoft and I have been joined at the brain for quite a number of years now. It’s not the perfect relationship, I’ll admit. Bill doesn’t really listen to what I have to say like he did when things were all new and exciting. He is not interested in my “feelings”. He never asks, “So, how was your development day today?” Although, for a while, he did ask “where do you want to go today?” There have been times when he has gotten me excited about working on a personal project, just to pull the rug out from under me. Sometimes, we would find something to do together, then he’d just lose interest and walk away. I’d yell, “Oh sure, just walk away. Just like you always do when you aren’t the profit center of attention. Bill… look at me, Bill.. why won’t you even look at me!” But he would just keep on walking, leaving me sitting there with a lap full of J++, RDO, Visual InterDev, or our precious love-child Visual FoxPro.
It wasn’t long ago that Steve really started to entice me. He really shined up his Apple with that IPod, then started wearing down my defenses with the MacBook, the iPhone, then we got to a little bit of iTouch, and finally to OS/X. But, I couldn’t make the move, I had too much to lose and the price of change was just too steep. Then one day, we snuck out and were in the computer store, and he kind of nonchalently steers me over to the Mac section; “just to take a look”, he says. Well, it was all clean and nice, so I walk on over and he starts grinning like a schoolboy. There sat the cutest little machine, “it’s a Mac Mini”, he says to me as he is dropping to one knee, “and it’s cheaper than most PCs… besides Bill will never have to know”. I admit that I was swept up in the emotion of it all, and we ended up walking out there hand-in-hand around an extended 3-year warranty.
Now, Bill and I have been really trying to work things out. He showed me that Steel Sapphire has developed one of the slickest IDE’s available for doing Rails in Visual Studio. Just this afternoon, Bill asked me, “Just what does Steve have on his Mac that I don’t have in my Windows”. He stood there pushing his glasses up waiting for an answer. I sighed, then said “It’s just plain ‘easy’ Bill. You always make everything so complicated, and the Mac is fully loaded for Rails development right off the shelf. I don’t have to slave away installing and configuring over a hot CPU all day long, just to find out that everyone can’t agree on what they want. “
No, I’m not leaving Bill, not yet, I’ve got too much invested. But, now that I have Steve, I just can’t give him up. We have too much in common and we really enjoy being around each other. He just “gets” me. And it may be my imagination, but I think he really listens.  Somebody que the screensaver…
So, if you are new to Rails, or are thinking about learning Rails, you don’t “have” to get a Mac. But, if you want a seamless, easy, and enjoyable experience, if you want peace and harmony between your computer, your O/S, and your development, you owe it to yourself to give one a try. In fact, you could probably go down to your local computer store and create a working Rails application right on the demo machine. Try that on any of the non-Mac models! Ruby, Rails, and lots of Gems are already installed and configured. It just works (the first time)!

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