Setting Up Mac OS X Tiger for Web Development

Setting up a new Mac as a web development workstation takes a little bit more work than just installing Textmate. These are my notes of the process (mainly for myself to make future installations faster).

The Basics

  • Install TextMate
    • Configure Finder to open ALL possible coding-related documents with TM
    • Install also the terminal extention. Test by running mate foo.txt in terminal
    • Install or sync (with other machines) all necassary bundles. They are located in ~/Library/Application Support/Textmate
  • Install Transmit
    • Copy settings from other machines ~/Library/Preferences/com.panic.Transmit3.plist
    • Sync bookmarks
  • Install SSHKeychain
    • The Universal binary is there. Just not very well in sight.
  • Install Subversion
  • Install MySQL
  • PostgreSQL, if needed
  • Install PHP for bundled Apache 1.3

Setting Up Python

Setting Up Django

I like to live dangerously. So:

 svn co django_src ln -s /path/to/installation_directory/django_src/django /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.4/lib/python2.4/site-packages/django

That’s it. Django works. Now add export PYTHONPATH=/where/you/develop to your .bash_profile and finally copy django_src/django/bin/ to somewhere in your path (for example in /usr/local/bin).

Localization issues

Are We There Yet?

Unfortunately that’s just the nerdy part of the setup-process. Next up is installing browsers, browser plugins (did I hear Firebug?) and all that jazz. I’m not going to get into those in this post, though.

I recenty listed all my favourite apps in (you can log in via OpenID). Please share your comments, suggestions or own favourite apps in the comments.

I Want My Preferences Online

Yet another interesting video from Google: this time it’s Guido talking about a code reviewing app that he’s been developing for Googles internal use. What’s interesting about this, is the fact that he used Djangos templates for building the UI.

During his presentation Guido mentioned a very common usability problem in modern software: it’s often very hard to use an easily configurable program on other persons computer (because it behaves very diffrently than what you are used to). In his example, Guido mentioned Emacs, I was thinking about TextMate.

I absolutely love TextMate, but I hate the fact that when I’m using it on somebody elses computer, it feels like using a totally different program. And it’s not just text editors. Nowadays, I find it very hard to use Mac OS X withouth QuickSilver. And what can you do with QuickSilver that is not trained to do exactly the things that you want? Not very much. This problem of adaptive software is quite universal.

This is hardly news to anobody. Usability people haven been talking about this for years, but why is it that nobody haven’t come up with any decent solution for it yet? Come on, it’s not like we’re living in eighties anymore. We have this web 2.0 thingy with the tubes and all.

Give me a way to use my TextMate with my own settings and preferences from any computer. Well, at least on any computer running on Mac OS X 🙂

My Space

On the matter of spaces versus tabs our BDFL says:

If it uses two-space indents, it’s corporate code; if it uses four-space indents, it’s open source. (If it uses tabs, I didn’t write it! 🙂

I hate spaces (within source code) for some reason. Fortunately TextMate makes working with tabs and spaces trivial. I can easily convert spaces to tabs and vice versa so this really isn’t a problem with any sane file that uses either consistently.

But what I’d really like to see, is a control character for indenting source code. It shouldn’t be too hard to implement it to any modern editor and it would eliminate all (or at least most of) the whitespace-hassle if it would be mandatory. And for an added bonus, it would force using of unicode.

Use The Tools, Luke!

I’m sometimes amazed how little people pay attention to the tools they’re using. This applies to many aspects of life, but especially well for IT-work.

I switched to Macs couple years ago. I did it mainly because I noticed that my productivity kept deteriorating with Windows. Fairly soon after the switch I felt the joy of workin again — thanks to the new (and right) tools. After that I’ve been actively monitoring my work habbits and trying to shake off any old and worn ones that might need some re-thinking.

For example, Macromedia Dreamweaver was one of my most precious tools for basic Web publishing for a long time. And I mean a long time. Everything worked quite nicely with it so I just got used to fixing its not so good code and to its other annoyances after a while. Eventually I bumped into TextMate and asked myself “why couldn’t I just use TM and some small ssh/ftp-client instead of DW?”. Well, turns out I did. I sold my DW license (which is hundreds of euros) and bought a TM license for 39 euros. I’ve been happy ever since.

So what’s the lesson here? Go and buy a Mac and live happily ever after? No. The lesson is that you should always use the right tools for the job in hand. You should also be aware what is happening elsewhere. Don’t get stuck with that familiar environment. Explore and experiment! 🙂 By using right tools you’ll be more happy and more productive. It’s Good Karma.

PS. TextMate really is an awesome text editor. This post was inspired by this recent screencast. No wonder why almost every Rails and Django screencasts have so familiar looking editors.