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south70's avatar

Got a Macbook for programming, did I make a mistake?

Asked by south70 (53points) March 4th, 2010

I’ve used Windows all my life, I loved Vista and everything but I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about Macs, too. I generally only program in C++ (game programming) and I can’t seem to find any good compiler that works on Mac. Anyone have some suggestions? I’ve tried Xcode (too confusing), Eclipse (getting weird errors) and Netbeans (can’t setup C++ in the IDE). I miss the simplicity of downloading an IDE on Windows and having it work the first time without further hassle. Am I missing something? And out of personal preference, which OS do you prefer for programming?

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13 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Xcode is it. You will have to work past the confusion. Programming isn’t always easy, but it is always logical (and a lot of fun.)

south70's avatar

I was afraid that was my only choice, as it was the only compiler that actually ran my program. I’m open to coping with Xcode, but my fear is that I’ll spend more time learning the IDE rather than actually programming.

DarkScribe's avatar


You’ll get the hang of it – it is just a matter of becoming familiar with it.

monkey28rb's avatar

Use vmfusion and run windows that’s what i do.. Devc++

jerv's avatar

I find that Linux is best overall if for no reason other than it already has damn near every programming language and tool already (or in the repositories) for free.

The problem with Macs for programming (especially the older ones) is that they were intentionally closed. They are somewhat open now, but they are still a little squeamish about letting anybody outside of Apple Inc. do anything resembling true programming. The thought is that if you need it, Apple has already provided it. Couple that with the simplicity and the “It just works, right out of the box!” thing Apple lauds and you wind up with something that was meant to be left alone; a mysterious black box.

Accordingly, there are relatively few programming tools compared to Linux or Windows. However, one would think that any OS running a kernel with so much BSD code would have pretty much the same stuff available, even if only in CLI form only accessible from a console.

I wouldn’t say you made a mistake really, but you did make your life a little more difficult than it needed to be.

andrew's avatar

No, just install the xcode cd, you can run gcc from the command line if you want. Not a problem. Or just run vim if you want to “actually do programming”.

If you really want to have a package manager, you can get MacPorts working.

Having coded on a windows box, it’s horrible. Cygwin is such a crappy PoS.

So. You have a Mac. If you really don’t like any of the ide’s (though textmate is good, and we use Komodo), just dual boot into linux.

Which IDE are you familiar with?

ratboy's avatar

SubEthaEdit is a nice editor.

jrpowell's avatar

A small word of advice. xCode gets a lot of updates and the normal software update mechanism doesn’t look for them. Luckily you can download a new copy of Developer Tools from Apple for free. It is about 2Gigs.

blister's avatar

My theory is that you should use this opportunity to expand your horizons. Mac OS X is an absolutely amazing platform to use for software development. But you have to be willing to put in the week (or two) that it will take to get things set up the way you like it and get things working and compiling.

The only thing in your question that makes me think you MIGHT have made a mistake is that you said that you primarily use C++ for game development. While it is absolutely possible to do game development on a Mac, it’s really only suited for (out of the box (and this is a huge generality, so bear with me)) building Mac games.

Without some really complicated setup where your have an intermediary sitting between your code and the compilation process (think along the lines of a build machine: you check in your source code to source control (hosted on the build machine) and then run an application to check out the most recent branch and build all of the binaries). But this kind of setup may be a little too complicated for a hobbyist. Thought it would probably be a lot of fun to set up.

I primarily develop applications for server-side unix, so my options of desktop OS are pretty open. I’m very happy with Windows 7 right now, but I used a Powerbook for about a year and completely loved it. But I wasn’t compiling on my workstation, so your mileage may vary.

Anyway, tl;dr: Macs are GREAT workstations, but you have to be willing to invest the 1+ weeks you’ll really need to learn how to use a Mac OS as it was intended to be used. You’ll really be spending all your time forgetting all the weird things that Windows forces you to do. And as far as C++ development on the Mac is concerned, you’re always probably going to have a fairly intricate setup process, no matter what IDE/compiler package you finally end up going with.

And if all else fails, there’s always g++/gcc.

ratboy's avatar

NetBeans IDE is another alternative.

south70's avatar

Okay, thanks all for your answers. @andrew, my favorite windows IDE was Dev C++, although I didn’t mind Visual C++. There were never any odd errors like the ones I’m getting on the Mac. Setup was pretty easy, too.

andrew's avatar

@south70 Ok. So. If you really are heartset on Dev C++ and aren’t interested in OS X programming or iPhone app programming or objective C, then dual boot into linux when you want to code and download Dev C++ for linux.

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