Mac finally says "I do" to Microsoft
As a developer on the Microsoft stack for most of my career, I have long been tied to a PC to create sites and applications. I have used various versions of Visual Studio through the years. New tools have come and gone …. but one thing remained unchanged: I was always working on a PC. Now I must confess: My heart belonged to Apple! Forget Eve’s original sin - if God designed the world, surely he did it on Apple?
I have used Visual Studio through various versions and product levels, but always on a PC, enviously eyeing other creatives around coffee shops with their MacBooks, effortlessly creating websites in PHP. Was there a support group I could join? (“Hi, I’m Marc, and no, I don’t even own a Mac at home - not even an iPhone.”).
I also have to admit a certain jealously mixed with confusion when the latest breed of developers start talking git and bash. I’m perfectly comfortable with TFS, having wrestled plenty of battles with Visual Source Safe back in the days (I still bear those scars). But Git seemed like another world, and one I was determined to join.
Then Visual Studio started offering Git instead of TFS, and Visual Studio Online (now Visual Studio Team Services) was quick to follow. I took my first steps onto the other side, immediately regretting the steep learning curve, but enjoying it nonetheless. Then I discovered the continuous integration options in Azure! Deploy by pushing my changes to a different branch? Couldn’t be easier. A demo at home went flawlessly, followed by some live projects for clients at work going off without a hitch. It was now official: I was in love! A quick Slack integration into BitBucket (we’re a JIRA house at Metia, despite our ties to Microsoft) and my project teams can now see all work completed by developers wherever in the world they are. They also know when the latest changes have been hoovered up by Azure and are ready for the client to see.
In the meantime, I had finally wedded myself to the cult of Mac, and had a MacBook for work and personal life. It was my playground for everything but writing code in my stack of choice: Microsoft. Sure, I’ve dabbled in iOS (mostly in Swift) and, trust me, it’s fun, but my career would never swing into that field. So, I basically had a shiny aluminium notepad that was great for my photography and cementing my status as ‘cool’ in certain cafes. But I still couldn’t write and compile my C# code with the ease I was used to on my work and home PCs.
Drumroll! Then came Visual Studio Code. Yes, I’d seen the likes of Sublime and played around with the first cut of Brackets. Yet here was the same kind of offering ... but from Microsoft. And, like many recent Microsoft products, it wasn’t dreamed up by a bunch of people who were never going to use it - it was great! I tried it out on a couple of HTML-only projects and really liked the interface. Sure, it was quite similar to a lot of the more mature text editors that developers know and love, but having used Visual Studio for so long, it felt familiar faster.
I also really fancied the integration with my local Git repositories, and it soon became my editor of choice for HTML-only projects. Now, I write code using Code on my PC, and if I want to move about, I do a quick commit and push, and then a pull on my MacBook. Ta daaa! I can then continue where I left off with the same interface. I can also hide behind my sexy Mac in London’s hipster coffee shops, secretly coding in a Microsoft toolset. Oh how subversive (Move over 007).
The freedom to join the cult of Mac aside, it’s actually a pretty good tool. It behaves the same across both platforms, which is reassuring. I love the split screen functionality, and the ability to open a folder as a “project” without having to have solution or project files. Now that I’m on my way to becoming a Git guru, I love the integration with the local repositories, especially when working with a site hosted on Azure.
It’s brilliant to have my development stack of choice truly unshackled from the operating system. I have the freedom to develop the sites I want, regardless of the hardware I’m carrying around at the time. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress of MVC 6. The ability to code, build, test and deploy an MVC site from my MacBook will make me completely hardware agnostic. So I can smugly sip my flat white as I write my C# and casually sit among the other PHP developers in the coffee shops of London. Time to grow that beard…