aka The slippery slope.
Some 6 months ago, I wrote a few blogs surrounding the buying of the Mac Mini. Having been a contented little PC user for many years, the main reasoning for getting a Mac was for testing sites on OSX, and having access to Mac only software and file types. Over the past few months I've found that I've largely switched to using the Mac for the more technical elements of the job. The Design parts of the job I still find quicker, easier and more productive in Windows7, but with the majority of webdesigners I have contact with being Mac only, a lot of the software and work processes they use involve programs that are Mac only - Git Tower being a very good example.
Building Version Control into our workflow has been a long overdue step for Moogaloo. Whilst many people still happily work on live files, for me I know its a disaster waiting to happen, so I've spent a fair bit of time the past few months learning how to move this part of the process to a fully version controlled workflow. Now it's an established part of each and every job we now start. It's also meant I've got a base install of Expression Engine that I can use to kick-start a new project, reducing development time and therefore project costs.
Working locally has also sped up the prcoess. Instead of relying on net connections and online databases, I can use MAMP Pro to work completely offline. This work can then be pushed (automatically using Git Tower and Beanstalk) to development servers at regular intervals, and then onto live servers where appropriate. Whilst a lot of this can be done in Windows, it's the support I can access for this stuff that makes the Mac the platform of choice here - knowing that there's a whole community of people using the same tools as I am, helps no end when something goes over my head.
The design part of the job I still find preferable on Windows, largely due to the way I access shortcuts in Photoshop. Cropping an image in OSX involves using the mouse to go to the top of the page, click on Image, then scroll down and click on Crop. On a PC its as simple as Alt, I, P. There's loads of these shortcuts I use in Photoshop that simply aren't there because you can't easily access the title bar menus via a keyboard.
Admin is something that can be done from anywhere. All our email is held centrally on Google Apps. Bea's and my calendars are also held on Google along with our contacts so they can stay nicely synced with our Android phones. Dropbox allows us to place all our shared documents in one place. FreeAgent handles all our accounts, project management and invoicing admirably. We've even used Google Docs to write proposals and so on at the same time. In many ways, it doesn't matter what we do our admin on, with a large proportion of it actually done from our phones.
Which brings me to the reasons then for getting a Macbook Air. Since I've no longer been working from home for work, all the computers (the PC and Mac Mini) have moved with me. This has been great in many ways. When I'm at work I have less distractions and can get more work done in the day. It also helps me be at home when I'm at home without always having part of my mind on work stuff, sat upstairs in the home office.
But with that comes the inability to do anything away from the office. Sometimes I do need to do some work from home. Whether this is a personal project, something new I'm trying out, or doing some extra client work in the evenings / weekends, it's been too difficult to handle this remotely. When you factor in the version controlled workflow it's not as simple to just be working on the same live files from whichever computer you're working on. Having a portable computer is also very helpful for getting out of the office for work too. Whether this is admin stuff, content, technical development or just surfing, I'd come to the conclusion that a Macbook Air seems the obvious choice:
- It's incredibly thin so way more portable that a typical laptop that has a big hard drive whiring away inside it.
- With a 256GB Solid State Drive in it, It's dead quick at booting up so its great for getting started working or showing people things quickly in a social situation.
- It's a full OS so I can install my usual programs like Git Tower, FTP clients, HTML editors and so on and actually do proper work on it, unlike the iPad.
- I'm not likely to be doing any signinifcant design work on it, so a large screen and high spec graphics card is not relevant.
- I can do all the admin I need to using the same interface and apps I use in day to day work.
- I've got a main computer with a huge hard drive so I don't need to store lots of photos or project files on there so the relatively smaller memory capacity is not an issue, whilst a lot of cloud based programs will handle media content through wifi.
So that is pretty much the main reasoning behind getting a Macbook Air. It would of course be cheaper to buy a Windows7 laptop, but with it's main work focus being on the technical end of the workflow spectrum, and the portability favouring a SSD laptop, the Macbook Air seemed like an approporiate choice.
Just need to wait for it to arrive now.