On Migrations (part 1)

A variety of factors combined to cause my wife and I to decide to purchase a new computer about a month ago. After much deliberation, we decided to get a Mac. After about two seconds in our local Apple Store, I was convinced of getting a 24-inch iMac.As a web developer/freelance programmer/dabbler, the iMac seems amazingly ideal. We decided to wait until Leopard’s release date was announced, and ordered it earlier this week, so we should be receiving the new computer around Friday or so.

Now, we’ve been a “cross-platform family” ever since we were married, with a 12″ PowerBook G4 as our designated Mac, a couple Windows machines, and we’ve even used (though didn’t stick with) Ubuntu on one of our computers. This new purchase is notable, however, as it means that I will be moving my primary development work to the Mac. While I used a PowerBook for a few programming projects in college, for the most part I’ve done my work in a Windows environment.

I use a large number of Windows-only tools as part of my work, and this has me worried. Many of them are free/open source, but currently lack Mac-native versions. Some (such as KeePass) have Mac versions, but they are sorely lacking in terms of the UI – they tend to feel very “un-Mac-like” (which I suppose is to be expected of a cross-platform application). I will certainly be using either Boot Camp and some sort of virtualization software, if only for the purpose of testing rendering of websites in Windows, but I’d prefer to use native apps for everything possible.

For reference, here is the list of software that I’m going to miss.

  • WinSCP
    The most perfect SFTP/FTP program for Windows.
    So far, I’ve tried CyberDuck and Fugu, both of which fall short in terms of execution and lacking key features (specifically, live “Synchronization”).
  • KeePass
    A password manager program.
    This is not of the “fill out web forms” variety, but rather an encrypted database designed to hold information about user accounts of various forms.
    I’ve looked at the Apple-included “Keychain Access” application, but I like the additional features/organizational options of KeePass. I’ve also tried KeePassX – the cross-platform version of KeePass – and its interface is horribly non-native.
  • Notepad++
    A very versatile text editor.
    I think I will be switching to TextMate, even though it’s not free, because it looks to be also very versatile and good at what it does. I still have to spend some more time with it before I can be sure, though.
  • ToDoList by AbstractSpoon
    A heirarchical to-do list application.
    Again, there’s an Apple application that sort of does this in the form of iCal, but the implementation doesn’t have as many features (subtasks being the most noticeable).

I’m still looking for replacements for the above tools, but I’m not ruling out the possibility of “rolling-my-own” applications (or, in the case of the open source apps, using the same core but completely re-doing the interface in Cocoa). I’ve been wanting to try out native Mac development for awhile – this migration might be my chance!

If anyone has any suggestions for replacements not mentioned above, I’d appreciate them. What did you use before and after you made the switch?

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