Despite being disappointed with the options available, I need to upgrade my development environment at home.
Omni provides a generous hardware budget, so we can stay up-to-date with the lastest tech. That helps us build support for Apple’s newest OS features. I’ve been limping along on a mid-2013 MacBook Air, but with a 5-year anniversary hardware bonus in hand it’s time to shop.
I have two main use cases for my development set up:
- I want a portable machine for Tuesday nights at NSCoders and weekend mornings in the coffee shop. In this environment, I’m generally working on side projects to research APIs, experiment with new approaches, or prepare talks. I can get by with less power. Portability is key since I often walk or bus.
- Conversely, I want as much power as possible for compiling Omni projects at home. Omni’s code base is large and framework rich. When working on bugs or features that require changes to our frameworks Xcode really likes to do full re-compilation of the entire app. On my maxed 2015 MacBook Pro at the office, a clean build of OmniFocus for Mac takes somewhere between 8 and 12 minutes. On my current Air at home I can easily get in a 3 mile run before the build finishes.
Apart from those use cases, my old eyes seem to want a bigger font size every year. I’d really like to get a big, wide-color retina display.
I’d been holding off on making any changes until Apple updated the product line. I figured there were two likely outcomes this fall:
- Apple would rev the iMac. In this scenario, I’d get a fully loaded 5k iMac for doing Omni work at home. I’d also pick up a MacBook Adorable for coffee shop coding.
- Apple would ship a significant upgrade to the 13″ MacBook Pro along with a 5k display. In this scenario, I’d use the new MacBook Pro for both coffee shop and home.
Apple chose to let the iMac stagnate. I really don’t want to drop four grand on an iMac with year-old specs.
Apple focused the improvements to the MacBook Pro on size, weight, and the Touch Bar gimmick, leaving performance largely unchanged, and far below a maxed iMac.
Despite that, I think I need to split the difference on my use cases for now. I’ll get a 13″ MacBook Pro plus $100+ worth of cables and dongles to keep my existing USB and Firewire (!) accessories working. Then I’ll wait and see if LG ships Apple’s new 5k monitor in December as promised. Or maybe I’ll decide that the MacBook Pro isn’t up to the task for my home use case. Then it’ll be back to waiting to see if Apple actually cares about Mac performance.
One thing I do know, I’ve never been less happy about ordering new kit. This is the most first-world of first-world problems, of course. On the other hand, a craftsperson relies on their tools. It’s frustrating to only have dull blades to choose from.