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Web 2.point.Mac: Developing software on Apple computers

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There seem to be some misconceptions about Apple computers. Some of the common questions that come up, at least when thinking about for-University laptops, are along the lines of “Will I be able to write programs on a MacBook?” and “I thought Macs were just for arts…”. I will try to challenge that view.

Note: This is not a OS X vs. Windows vs. Linux argument. There are plenty of those just about everywhere else. If you really feel like repeating any of the arguments that have already been mentioned many times before — try the forums instead.

The use of Apple computers among the software developers is actually quite common. And with a plethora office snapshots available on Flickr, this calls for a visual case study!


Adobe Office
Original photo by: tskdesign. That’s totally a Mac. See the original image for higher quality. Though having made Photoshop, the Apple application, there isn’t much surprise here.


Digg’s Kevin Rose with his Macbook
Original photo by: Mrs L. Digg’s Kevin Rose loves his MacBook. There’s more of this at just about every Diggnation episode.


Facebook office with macs
Original photo by: Zach Klein. This Facebook office comes with a couple of Apple workstations.


Flickr office with macs
Original photo by: roozbeh-a-brojeni. Searching for Flickr on Flickr is so meta…


GigPark office: also with iPhone
Original photo by: GigPark @ Flickr. GigPark is all Mac and iPhone. Those aren’t even available in Canada yet! (Also, is that Facebook.com on the screen? Slacker.)


Google office with a boat for a couch
Original photo by: Anil Chopra. I don’t understand this, but one of Google’s offices has a boat for a couch. There’s also a MacBook.


LinkedIn office with a mac
Original photo by: LinkedIn Blog @ Flickr. Look, it’s iMac. From another angle it’s actually a Cinema display attached to a MacBook Pro.


Microsoft Office with a Macbook Pro on premises
Original photo by: jeffwilcox. That’s right, a MacBook Pro on Microsoft’s campus. Actually those are not nearly as uncommon as one might think, as Microsoft develops plenty of software that runs on Macs as well.


Mozilla’s new Toronto office
Original photo by: stuartp. Mozilla’s new Toronto office is all Mac (and a cardboard box for a coffee table).


Twitter office is full of macs
Original photo by: kohtzy. I suspect that just about all of the computers at Twitter are Macs. Though other than the few marked in the image, event at high resolution cited, I can’t say definitively.

So there you have it — a bunch of Apple computers used by real developers at real software companies (likely using real programming languages). There are, obviously, a lot more tech companies, but I’d leave them to the comments section.

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  1. Posted by Gianni Chiappetta | May 7, 2008, 10:02 pm

    Great post Tony! I have to agree with you on every point, except the Adobe side of things. They clearly don’t care about mac users or the apple platform. I’ll have a post to back that up … soon.

    Reply to comment

  2. Posted by Mike Huang | May 8, 2008, 12:09 am

    WOW! Who would’ve thought that MAC is finally coming back to hit all of us in the face…literally :)


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  3. Posted by Gianni Chiappetta | May 8, 2008, 12:18 am

    Also, I wasn’t slacking … I was clearly helping build the Facebook application ;)

    Reply to comment

  4. Posted by PHP C C Objective-C Programmer | May 8, 2008, 2:06 am

    My shop is almost all Mac (using real programming languages!)

    Reply to comment

  5. Posted by HippieDippy | May 8, 2008, 7:12 am

    LOL I love the MAC in the Microsoft office!!

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  6. Posted by CastMetrix | May 8, 2008, 4:26 pm

    We are a 50/50 windows mac shop. With new virtualization technologies we are able to work seamlessly together.

    Reply to comment

  7. Posted by jamez | May 8, 2008, 5:05 pm

    Well ive only recently got a mac, now this is really is a big deal for me as i have only been involved in the PC and only the PC since its conception. This was purchased for me primarily so that i could have a system the was small and light this is the ..Apple MacBook Air / Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz / 2GB / 80GB / 13.3″ / Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard / Notebook / Laptop .. now as i spend much of my time administering websites and answering email this seemed ideal. A replacement for my dell xps laptop that over heated and as per windows.. reset and blue screen of death. .. now too why im so impressed.. im lucky enough to admin my site from the beach or a beach café in Cornwall, and after talking to dell techies about the continual snags with my laptop.. i was informed that the laptop could not cope with the extreme temperatures on the beach.. errr this is a beach in the uk.. so not all that hot… anyway after the dell was duly returned i was given the mac.. all i can say is Wow the system is so smooth, it has not crashed ever.. not even glitches. i am a total apple convert and will never use a standard laptop again… rock on!!

    Reply to comment

  8. Posted by engtech | May 8, 2008, 5:30 pm

    Interesting, I was going to submit this to Digg and I got:

    This URL has been widely reported by users as being regularly used to spam Digg’s submission process and cannot be submitted at this time.

    Reply to comment

  9. Posted by Tony | May 8, 2008, 5:36 pm

    I know, the domain has been banned from Digg for maybe a year now. At least almost a year. It’s surprisingly easy to get blocked, since the system is entirely automated. You just need to have someone dislike your domain enough to have a couple of their friends (or alternate accounts) systematically click “burry/spam” on your submissions. Heck, they could submit your entries on their own and burry themselves, you still get blocked.

    Reddit and StumbleUpon are still good alternatives :)

    Reply to comment

  10. Posted by wtd | May 9, 2008, 12:57 am

    The LinkedIn photo doesn’t feature an iMac. That’s a Cinema Display. :-)

    Reply to comment

  11. Posted by Tony | May 9, 2008, 12:58 am

    @wtd — you’re absolutely right. Though I found another picture that shows that Cinema Display to be attached to a MacBook Pro.

    Reply to comment

  12. Posted by Matt | May 9, 2008, 4:14 am

    Thats really impressive, of course it makes sense but it makes you think doesn’t it, Apple is making money and bringing out a load of great products so people who know their stuff would obviously want to be on the best platform

    Reply to comment

  13. Posted by Jess | May 9, 2008, 7:33 am

    I am a converted PC user and I have to say that I will never go back. I love my Mac it just works. I have had it for a year now and it’s still purring like a kitten. No viruses, no death screens or fried hard drives here!

    Reply to comment

  14. Posted by Hellas | May 9, 2008, 8:12 am

    unbolivable! man would think that there is more macs outthere then pcs

    Reply to comment

  15. Posted by Prabhakar Ragde | May 9, 2008, 9:28 am

    In my limited experience at the Googleplex, the grunts were walking around with standard-issue ThinkPads.

    I’ve been a Mac user for fifteen years, but I do wonder if Macs in publicity photos are there just because they look so much better.

    Reply to comment

  16. Posted by SMS laen | May 9, 2008, 10:16 am

    But as we know Windows can be installed on Macs too :)

    Reply to comment

  17. Posted by zork | May 9, 2008, 1:55 pm

    Great post. I am happy to see an very intelligent Earthling. All of the bickering between PC/Linux/Mac humans/developers gives me a headache. Mac is a highly intelligent product. I have studied mac from 8.0 to the latest OSX. Love it all.

    Reply to comment

  18. Posted by David | May 9, 2008, 3:38 pm

    I knew macs were getting powerful, and they got me to switch (which coming from a Linux/IBM/Desktop world was a hard sell), but that’s crazy!

    Glad to see so many people giving it a go. What would be really interesting to me though is how many of them are still using Mac OS X on their machines. Pretty hardware doesn’t = Mac Fanboy. :)

    Reply to comment

  19. Posted by Mark | May 9, 2008, 5:10 pm

    That’s great… I’ll be using that as further weaponry in my sibling rivalry with a brother who loves all things PC.

    Reply to comment

  20. Posted by James Christensen | May 9, 2008, 8:01 pm

    Mac Fanboy = Pretty Hardware? Call me fanboy

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  21. Posted by Ben | May 11, 2008, 10:08 am

    Because macs are so much more powerful. Look at the mac powerbook. (or whatever its called). I would love a mac. Sure as hell would dump the OS for Linux though since all i would use it for is virtualization.

    Reply to comment

  22. Posted by Strife | May 12, 2008, 4:53 pm

    For a while now I was wondering about MAC computers. Looks like they’re starting to bust out some nice equipment. May not be a bad idea in the future.

    Reply to comment

  23. Posted by George | May 13, 2008, 6:32 am

    That posting really helps. I was thinking of buying one of the new Mac Notebooks to enter the Mac world. I have seen Mac notebooks running Vista pretty good but I believe that just using the MacOs will be equally good.

    Reply to comment

  24. Posted by jernst | May 13, 2008, 9:59 am

    Theres a research lab on my floor at Guelph thats filled with brand new macs, the monitors are huge and they look so nice :) I should see if they will let me take a picture so you can add it up on your post of macs :P . Sadly I am stuck using a cheap $500 toshiba laptop.

    Reply to comment

  25. Posted by James Wilcox | May 13, 2008, 12:52 pm

    I used Windows for years and resisted changing to macs because I believed the rumors that there wasn’t much software for macs. After using a mac at work for awhile, I can barely stand windows so I got a new Macbook Pro a couple months ago and haven’t looked back. WIth Vista bombing, macs are only going to get more popular. There’s less problems when the same company makes the hardware and OS.

    Reply to comment

  26. Posted by Tony | May 13, 2008, 3:33 pm

    @James — lack of software for Macs is another misconception. While it’s true that certain “mass market” software packages are available for Windows only, it’s rare for there not to be an alternative. Furthermore from what I’ve seen, most microISVs (independent developers) actually develop exclusively for the Mac platform, and produce really top quality products.

    Though judging by your blog, you already knew that ;)

    Reply to comment

  27. Posted by "a" | May 13, 2008, 3:36 pm

    Macs really are taking over the computer industry..

    So much for my Windows XP laptop.

    Thats interesting that Microsoft has one – They must want to see what their competition is doing, or they just can’t stand their own bland look :D

    Reply to comment

  28. Posted by Tony | May 13, 2008, 4:01 pm

    Microsoft doesn’t just have one, there’s a whole departments full of them. I think this particular shot comes from a group working with Silverlight — and since that is a web platform, it has to work over all browser/os configurations.

    Reply to comment

  29. Posted by Michael | May 13, 2008, 4:48 pm

    This photo from microsoft office rocks! Although I use Xp on my laptop, I’am considering changing on mac.

    Reply to comment

  30. Posted by Travis | May 14, 2008, 4:20 pm

    Oh sure, I think that a lot of developers are using Mac’s these days. I’ve still not quite caught onto the rage just yet though.

    Reply to comment

  31. Posted by Paul | May 17, 2008, 4:31 am

    At us in Russia Mac practically nobody knows, however Linux collects the increasing popularity

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  32. Posted by Tony | May 18, 2008, 12:43 am

    From what I’ve heard, there are very few people in Russia that own legitimate software. Even businesses, not just personal piracy. At some point Microsoft tried to push a discount version of a crippled variation of Windows, meant to stay within Russian market only, though I don’t think that ever took off.

    I’m really hoping for the Linux initiative to become popular there. If anything, then just for the sole reason to not have a large population running vulnerable systems.

    Reply to comment

  33. Posted by Weekend Reader - blogging, twitter, marketing, funny, lifehacks « // Internet Duct Tape | May 18, 2008, 12:07 pm

    [...] [WEB2.0] Web 2.point.Mac: Developing software on Apple computers, compsci.ca [...]

  34. Posted by AJ | May 18, 2008, 12:39 pm

    Well, I am Comp Sci. student myself and I am thinking of switching to Mac, esp. after reading this blog. :)

    Reply to comment

  35. Posted by Mark | May 21, 2008, 1:34 pm

    Very smart use of photos , the posts really rocks with all the cool photos

    Reply to comment

  36. Posted by SEO Web Tips | May 22, 2008, 3:19 pm

    I agree absolutely. I’m studying Cybernetics here at college in Slovakia and mac laptops are used pretty often – most of the time people even take them to the class and use them for programming (mainly C/C and Java) instead of default desktops we have here (they mostly run on Win 2003 or some linux distros).

    Personally, I’d like to buy Macbook Pro – just don’t have enough money at the moment – hope I can get one for christmas :D

    Reply to comment

  37. Posted by Daniel San | May 24, 2008, 9:06 am

    Looks like the Mac is making big inroads all over the place. I had the pleasure of working on them for most of my career as a graphic designer but since starting to do more search related work I have drifted into the world of the PC. Macs are much better for those who want a peaceful life. XP and Vista can cause some users to over heat where as OSX just makes you chill.

    Thinking of getting back to Mac, I still keep my ol’school PowerBook 333mhz Black Beauty although of late its more of a jukebox that anything else.

    Reply to comment

  38. Posted by Remi | May 26, 2008, 4:07 pm

    We are an IT outsourcing company, with offices in the USA and China. While we have only a very few Mac in China, more and more of our develoeprs in the USA use a MAC to develop applications.

    While still a Windows user, I have to admit that the Mac look a much better machine for someone who spends hours in front of a monitor, jumping from one Window to another all the time.


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  39. Posted by Aaron DM | May 27, 2008, 4:26 pm

    There are plenty of Macs in my school, most of them are for the Media Arts room though, for the graphics designing. Pretty cool too, they aren’t all out-dated like I would have expected.

    Reply to comment

  40. Posted by Anthony | May 27, 2008, 9:02 pm

    Gotta love MAC, I’ve just started using a Mac to build my blogs on, it’s took a while to get used to, but now I’ve got the hang of things I’m thinking of swapping to a mac desktop too. :)

    Reply to comment

  41. Posted by cross | May 31, 2008, 8:12 am

    Great photos :) I saw the Mac notebook only ones in my professional life and it was a great thing, so fast and beautiful, against of a Windows.

    I`m from Ukraine and all companies works only with a Windows systems.

    Reply to comment

  42. Posted by Web hosting blog | June 4, 2008, 3:10 am

    Hahah thats great that they found a mac in the microsoft office. although how can you tell if its legit? But i guess they wouldnt be like OMG you are using a mac you are fired! Never know though lol

    Reply to comment

  43. Posted by Tony | June 8, 2008, 9:33 pm

    It is legit because Microsoft develops software for OS X (Microsoft Office for Mac being the biggest, and as pointed out above this shot deals with Silverlight).

    On the flip side, some Apple developers had to boot up Windows to develop and test iTunes and Safari for Windows. So that works the same way.

    Reply to comment

  44. Posted by Jimy Wong | June 19, 2008, 4:55 pm

    Hey, Tony! Nice post you got here. Trying to expose some scandal? Hehe
    I love Mac Notebook. I had a Mac notebook in Malaysia but the problem i face is most of the people around don’t have one, can’t share the feeling. Everyone likes the look of Mac notebook. Looks cool and sometimes cute by gals. Besides Microsoft don’t have notebook yet, is all right to use Mac. Just hope more software for Mac.

    Reply to comment

  45. Posted by Tony | June 19, 2008, 9:21 pm

    A scandal? Not at all. Just an observation. Though I’m not sure what you mean by your last statement. I’ve already commented that OS X has a lot of top quality software applications, above, in comment #26.

    Reply to comment

  46. Posted by Jimy Wong | June 19, 2008, 10:06 pm

    Really? I really need to go get latest OS X. Thanks

    Reply to comment

  47. Posted by Bashar | June 20, 2008, 3:11 am

    Hahaha… Yeah, I had this thought as well. Until I saw all Ruby developers using it, and the amazing TextMate (The Killer app I wanted Mac for)

    Up till these days, I set with company vendors who claim Mac is used in publishing companies and graphics designers. They just don’t get it. It’s a programming, and also regular end user computer now.

    Reply to comment

  48. Posted by itsalljustaride | August 8, 2008, 2:30 pm

    I run a lab of about 70 macs. I love them. We were a PC lab until a couple years ago, and before we switched I couldn’t make heads or tails out of how Windows networks were configured (via Norton Ghost, Group Policy, etc. Try reading a Microsoft tech article online and tell me how many sentences you get into it before your brain shuts down from the sheer dullness). However, I can manage our Mac network with little difficulty using only a couple admin utilities. I come from an Anthropology background with computers being only a hobby really until I got my current position. If I can do it, most people can I’m sure. Now that I’ve gotten into it more, I program in Ruby and do occasional PHP work on my Mac. There really isn’t much of anything you can’t do on a Mac that you can on a PC unless you have some specific proprietary hardware/software that only runs in Windows.

    I will admit that until about 3 years ago I didn’t really see the big deal with Macs, but that was because I only had experience with the old OS9, which was a pretty ridiculous OS. OS X is a whole different ballgame, and I think some of the criticism is still being lobbed about by people like that who just don’t have any recent experience using them.

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  49. Posted by Dale Kaup | August 9, 2008, 9:02 pm

    First of all lets stop using PC and Windows machines as synonymous. I use neither Windows nor Apple OSs on my computers.

    Reply to comment

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