Mac-based Web Development

MacBook Pro

A few people have asked me what I use for web development on the Mac. I dabble in PHP, (x)HTML, CSS, and Javascript all day long, as well as poking my head around MySQL databases and checking in and out code from SVN repositories. I do all of this from a 15″ MacBook Pro (late 2007, pre-unibody). Since Mac OS X is UNIX-based, I could do all of this from the command line with vi, nano, svn, mysql, etc.

But being a Mac user, I like to take advantage of the gorgeous graphical user interface. Here are the applications (all free!) that I use for developing on Mac:

  • FTP/SFTP/WebDAV – Cyberduck
    Cyberduck is an open source FTP client that feels right at home on Snow Leopard. There are a ton of features, and seamless integration with many text editors. I’ve heard that Transmit is the best FTP client for Mac, but it’s not free, and Cyberduck has everything I need, including a duck for a Dock icon. Because I need that, you see.
  • Text Editor – Fraise
    Fraise is an open source text editor with syntax highlighting for nearly every language, a snippet library, advanced find and replace (in all open documents, even!),  split window and function bookmarking. If that sounds like a lot, it certainly is, but Fraise still feels like a lightweight, simple text editor. It’s based on the now-defunct Smultron. That’s the wonder of open source – stop developing your project, someone forks it and continues for you!
  • MySQL Editor – Sequel Pro
    HOLY AMAZING COW, Sequel Pro (which is open source and free, despite the name) is a game-changing SQL browser that maintains a list of all your MySQL servers/databases, and allows for extremely fast editing and maintenance. If you hate phpMyAdmin with a passion (as I do), you’ll love Sequel Pro. The only downside is that your webhost must support remote connections to their MySQL servers (GoDaddy doesn’t, for example, but DreamHost does).
  • SVN – svnX
    svnX is probably the best free GUI-based SVN client for Mac right now. It’s interface isn’t extremely intuitive, but it’s definitely better than the alternatives, and a little more fun than remembering all the svn command line options. Make sure to download the latest stable release from Google Code (that’s what I linked), not the developer’s website that shows up top in Google searches.
  • File Comparison – FileMerge
    Apple’s FileMerge is included with Xcode as a part of the Apple Developer Tools. It provides a graphical interface to the traditional diff command, letting you compare two different versions of the same file for changes, as well as file ancestry comparison. Before I discovered FileMerge lying around on my hard drive, I used the open source DiffMerge.
  • Command Line Tools – Terminal
    The built-in terminal emulator in Mac OS X is comparable to similar offerings from Ubuntu and other Linux distros. Nothing special, but you’ll feel right at home if you’re familiar with *nix systems. I use Terminal for SSH, SCP, and scripting tedious tasks, like backups or disabling comments across an entire WordPress network.

Photo by Peter Fuchs, via a CC License

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Philip Cain

Ninja Master of the Series of Tubes, musician, audio engineer and geek. More about Philip...

2 thoughts on “Mac-based Web Development”

  1. It’s a $29 upgrade to Snow Leopard. It’s already 1 year old, and in Mac OS years, that’s like 10.

    So the Snow Leopard requirement should be an easy barrier to clear.

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