Friday, November 28, 2008

OSX still less mature then BSD, Linux, Windows

There's something to be said about Windows being the most used OS on the planet even if it is not the best OS out there. While Unix and it's variants (BSD, Linux, etc.) are the most developer friendly OS, the sheer number of users for Windows mean that there are a lot of developer that write applications for it. This include programmer's editors which is a class of software that I've always been interested in.

When I started to use OSX, one of the first things I looked for is a good editor. On Windows, the sheer number of choices (and there are many good ones) can be overwhelming. The competition on the Windows world is fierce which has helped to weed out the weak. What I found on OSX was that the most mature editors were the result of Apple using the BSD kernel and thus able run Unix editors such as EMACS or VIM and when it came to advanced IDEs, they were ports from other platforms such as Eclipse.

There are some native-OSX editors such as TextMate (commercial), Smultron (open source) and BBEdit/TextWranger (commercial), but while its users tout how advance they are, they are still behind what is available to Windows programmers. Features such as pretty printing, snipplets, split-screen views of files, etc. are either non-existence or just starting to get introduced to the Mac world even though they've been there since the days of DOS. It can be argued that those feature aren't needed and I'll admit that a lot of features I only use once-in-a-while. However, the decades of work that has been put into them has allowed them to be part of editors without being intrusive and when I need them they are there.

As a Windows/DOS and Linux user, I've been spoiled by these features and it surprises me that Mac developers not only do not have these, but that they don't even know they exist.

For those interested:






    Eclipse (IDE)


I'm not sure yet... I'm going to give Smultron a try and I've been using TextMate on-and-off at work.

Eclipse IDE


  1. I'm liking aquamacs a lot so far actually, it's a lot more than just an emacs port to OS X.

  2. While I agree there are some things about the dev environment that could be better (no rpath support and the need to use third party package management like MacPorts pop into mind), I've been really happy w/ OSX's editing - specifically, having a decent version of Vim OOTB (well, I run a MacPort version of Vim w/ the +python bindings, but the included version is totally serviceable unless you have a crazy vimrc).

    The aquamacs equivalent for Vim is MacVim, which is a full Cocoa port that is similarly nice.

    Eclipse and IntelliJ both work as well on Mac as on any other platform, and some of the XCode tools (particularly the FileMerge app) are quite nice as well.

    Personally, I'd say if you're coming from a NIX background, there's no reason to switch off of what you know. I program primarily in A few things that are useful: Clipmenu is a great, free, advanced clipboard. TerminalColours is SIMBL plugin that is a must for adjusting terminal colors (unless you're gonna skip completely and just use X11), and of course, Quicksilver (even if it is slowly bitrotting...).