5 Great Mac Tools for Programmers

Diff visualisation: Changes

Changes is a fast and friendly diff tool. You can quickly list files that have changed in a project, and view differences between files. It also works with Subversion and Git (and several other version control systems), so it will fit right into your typical workflow. Oh, and it also has a TextMate bundle.

Changes gets perhaps the highest accolade for a mac application: I like Changes so much it actually has a permanent place in my Dock.

Performance analysis: Instruments

Instruments comes with Leopard, so you might already have it on your machine. It’s a performance monitoring tool, which means you can attach it to a process and analyse various aspects of its performance. This is incredibly useful if you’re looking for memory leaks or working on OpenGL performance in native Mac applications.

You can even watch the performance of any processes that support DTrace, which means Ruby programmers can use this tool to inspect everything from CPU profiles to network usage. The screenshot above is of a Ruby on Rails application.

Whilst we’re on the subject of Leopard bundled applications, check out Dashcode as well. It’s indispensable if you want to quickly prototype a widget or iPhone web interface.

Version control: GitNub and svnX

I usually use Subversion through either TextMate’s excellent bundle or the command line, but in sticky situationsI need to visualise things through a GUI. That’s when I reach for svnX, which is a solid enough Cocoa SVN tool.

GitNub is a pretty new tool for working with Git, and is written with RubyCocoa. It seems like they’re working hard on it, so this could become the default tool for Mac Git users. That is, unless there’s something lurking in the shadows waiting to jump out…

Database visualisation: CocoaMySQL–SBG

It’s getting long in the tooth and doesn’t get updated enough, but even so CocoaMySQL-SBG is still my favourite Cocoa database tool. I really wish something would come along with the pedigree of Panic's software, but there’s been a gap in the market for so long that I somehow doubt it. While there are a few good Java or cross–platform multi–database clients out there, I want to see something with the elegance of Coda that will let me manipulate SQLite, MySQL and Postgres.

Text editing: TextMate, Coda, Vim

I’ve already written a lot about TextMate over the years, needless to say it’s one of the greatest Mac development tools. If you’re more into design or want an alternative, have a look at Coda from Panic. And don’t forget Vim

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