My OSX Development Environment



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My work powerbook was out at Apple for a week or so getting a tan, a new motherboard, memory, and processor. While it was out of town I settled in to a Linux development environment focused around Ubuntu Dapper, Emacs 22 + XFT (pretty anti-aliased fonts), and whatever else I needed. Ubuntu (and other apt-based systems) are great for hitting the ground running because you just install whatever you need on the fly only when you need it. I also got pretty in to emacs and all of the stuff that’s there by default with a source build of the development snapshot. My co-worker James helped me get through some of the newbie bumps of my emacs immersion program.

When the powerbook came back I decided it was time to reboot my development environment, so I started from scratch. Here’s what I installed, in the order that I installed it:

  • Updates. Oh. My. Goodness. I rebooted that thing so many times I started looking for a green start button.
  • Quicksilver (freeware): I use it all the time to get at stuff I need.
  • Transmit (commercial, $30): Worth every penny.
  • Firefox (open source): My browser of choice, though I really dig Safari’s rendering engine.
  • Textmate (commercial, 39 euro): I spend all day in this text editor and it rocks, though I do miss emacs.
  • Then I disabled capslock. I never hit it on purpose, it’s always getting in the way. I should really map a modifier key to it, but I’m not sure which one and I don’t know if I can convince my pinkey to hit it on purpose.
  • Xcode: A man has to have a compiler.
  • Subversion (open source): I used the Metissian installer since it has treated me well in the past, and I often have flashbacks of building subversion pre-1.0 from source.
  • Django (open source): I checked out trunk, .91, and magic-removal from svn.
  • Ellington (commercial, starting at $10-15k): I checked out ellington and other work stuff from our private repository.
  • Firebug: Essential for web development.
  • Python 2.4 (open source): I’m not a big fan of the Python 2.3 that ships with OSX.
  • Python Imaging Library (open source): It’d be really nice if this made its way in to the standard Python distro.
  • ElementTree (open source): I usually use either ElementTree or Sax for parsing XML documents.
  • GNU Wget (open source): It’s what I use to download stuff from the commandline.
  • PostgreSQL (open source): It probably hogs resources to always have this running in the background, but I use it often enough.
  • PostgreSQL startup item from
  • mxDateTime (open source): I’ve never really used it directly, but psycopg does.
  • Psycopg 1.x (open source): Django uses this to talk to Postgres.
  • Colloquy (open source): A really nice IRC client for OSX. I’m also rather fond of Irssi and screen over SSH.
  • Growl (open source): It’s not work critical but I like it.
  • Pearl Crescent Page Saver (freeware): I find it indispensable for taking screenshots of entire web pages.
  • Session Saver for Firefox: I hate looking at 15 different forum threads to find the latest version of this, but I love what it does for me.
  • Adium (open source): Best darned IM client for OSX that talks just about any protocol.

While I may have missed an app or two, I think that just about covers my OSX development and living environment. I find the Ubuntu desktop useful enough that it’s still humming under my desk at work. The work LCD has both analog and DVI inputs so I’m able to switch between my two-screened powerbook and a one-screened Linux desktop in a pseudo-KVM kind of way.

I can’t say enough how impressed I was with Dapper, and how productive it kept me. Aside from my emacs learning curve, I felt at home and had the command line and any app that I wanted to install at my disposal.

I hope that this laundry list is helpful, if nothing else it’ll be a place for me to start the next time I’m looking for a clean slate.


15 responses to “My OSX Development Environment”

  1. Andrew Turner Avatar

    Excellent List. A couple of things I would recommend to add/consider:

    AppKiDo – quick access to Cocoa API documentation
    CocoaMySQL – when dealing with MySQL dbs

  2. Matt Croydon Avatar

    Thanks for the links, Andrew. CocoaMySQL blew me away the first time I saw it, I really wish that there were something both functional and pretty available for Postgres. The last time around I installed pgadmin which is functional but far from pretty.

  3. Oliver Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this list of useful develpers tools!
    I’m new to OSX and it’s development, this list has a lot of useful tools I’ll have to try 🙂

  4. August Joki Avatar
    August Joki

    Instead of Session Saver you should try TabMixPlus. It’s got all of SessionSaver’s features, plus better tabbing and it doesn’t memory leak like a sieve.

    If you like irssi there’s MacIrssi.

    Otherwise a very good list.

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