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10 things every Mac coder should know

Lucy Hattersley | | July 11, 2016
Macs make great machines for programmers. But here are 10 things every Mac coder should learn

10 things every Mac OS X coder should know: UNIX

Programming on an Apple Mac computer is a joy, and there is no shortage of eager developers working on OS X. Here are 10 vital things that every budding (and even seasoned) OS X programmer should know.

One of the reasons OS X is such a stable, and widely admired, operating system is because it's built upon UNIX. UNIX is an operating system from the 1970s; that was used by government departments and universities.

UNIX is still in use today, and variations of it underpin most operating systems (except Windows). As soon as you start programming on a Mac, you should be learning how to use UNIX. Open the Terminal app and you will be in the UNIX command line, and can enter UNIX commands directly.

UNIX is used to find, move, replace, create and delete text files, including the ones you create for your programs (and those created by your programs). With some programming languages, you need to compile and run programs from the Terminal command line. Learning UNIX is a must for all programmers, and OS X is the ideal environment to get started.

10 things every Mac OS X coder should know: Xcode

Apple Xcode is the IDE (Integrated Developer Environment) built by Apple for programmers. It's a great program that enables you to write programs in Apple's Swift language, and Objective-C (and other C-based languages).

Even if you are learning other languages, such as Python or C, then you should install Xcode regardless. Xcode also installs a set of tools known as the Command Line Tools, which are used in Terminal for compiling and running other software.

Xcode is a great developer environment too, and you really can't be taken seriously as a developer on a Mac if you haven't at least installed it.

10 things every Mac OS X coder should know: Swift

Swift is Apple's new developer language that replaces Objective-C. It's a wonderful modern language that has a simple syntax (similar to Java or Python) and lots of advanced features. It manages memory automatically and cleans up after itself (allowing you to focus on the fun stuff).

Apple made Swift open source in 2015, and since then you've been able to view Swift code on the Swift GitHub page. This is a big deal because Swift is moving beyond OS X and onto other platforms, especially Linux. We may even see Google drop support for Java in favour of Swift.

Even if you're not learning Swift just yet, it's great to follow Swift on GitHub and see what changes Apple are implementing.

10 things every Mac OS X coder should know: Windows virtualisation

 

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