Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Mac, a Viable .Net Development Platform?

If you know me, you know I'm an avid Apple fan. This might seem a bit odd considering I pay my bills as a .Net developer, however, I am going to argue that the Mac is a fantastic .Net development platform. About six months ago I picked up a new Intel-based MacBook Pro. Combined with a copy of Parallels I began doing my development work in this environment to see how well it stood up. Now, six months into this experiment, I have to say I am happy with the results. I'll try and outline some of the specific benefits of doing this.

1. Environment Separation

Working as a consultant I often have multiple clients. Parallels lets me create separate Windows instances for each project. It keeps things separate and once a project is complete I can archive the VM off onto an external drive in case I need to bring it back later (this has saved me more than once).

2. The "Best" of Both Worlds

Parallels Coherence mode makes working in both environments nice and seamless. This is great when you are using sites that required Internet Explorer (I'm looking at you MS CRM and Changepoint). What I really like about this mode is the ability to open documents in applications on the Mac side when I prefer a Mac based tool such as TextMate, or the ability to take advantage of the UNIX core of OS X and quickly grep a text file.

3. The Hardware

Hands down the MacBook Pro is the best piece of computer hardware I have owned. Even when taking OS X out of the picture and running windows with BootCamp it is fantastic.

4. Performance

Overall performance of Windows within Parallels is really good. As expected there can be slow-downs. When installing SQL Server within the VM performance can be effected, I tend now to avoid installing the full blown SQL Server and stick with SQL Express or connecting to external machines unless it is absolutely necessary to have it local.

Now, of course like most things this hasn't been completely smooth sailing. Parallels has had some ups and downs with there recent releases, but as of the latest it seems to be pretty solid again. And since I don't often install MS Office within the VM (unless I need it) I use Office for the Mac and it definitely falls short, especially since it is only built for PowerPC (I can't wait for 2008). But overall I am very happy with the outcome and I will definitely continue to work this way.

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