Tools for Development on the Mac

 In developer, mac, os x,

I’m often asked about the best tools for Salesforce admins and developers who live on the Mac. Here’s what I recommend:

Browsers: Chromium and Firefox

If you’re working in Salesforce, you know your browsers. My favorites are Safari and Firefox and Opera.
I’m also a fan of Chromium — the open source version of Google’s Chrome. Being open-source, I’m comfortable that any tracking software Google may include in Chrome has been stripped out.

Development: Maven’s Mate and Atom

While I’ve tried the Developer Console and experimented with the IDE and Eclipse, I keep coming back to Maven’s Mate and Atom. The wrinkle is MM is no longer supported so at some point it’ll stop working, unless someone picks up the opensourced code.
The new thing is Microsoft Visual Studio Code which I’ve heard works exceedingly well with SalesforceDX. As DX becomes more popular, that’ll certainly come to more popularity.

Text Editor: Atom

Programmer’s editors are like opinions (or something else), everyone has ones they’re passionate about. I prefer Atom. Why? Because it’s easy, intuitive and extensible. Speaking of which, there’s a package to download for highlighting Apex and Visualforce code. First runner up is CodeRunner since it includes its own environment for running JavaScript. Second runner up is TextWrangler. I’ve tried Sublime Text but wasn’t enthralled enough to pay $70, which seems like an awful lot when there are so many excellent alternatives that are cheaper (or free).

Data Loading: Data Loader

Salesforce geeks on the Mac certainly know the Apex Data Loader for the Mac. It looks identical to Lexi Loader, with the key difference that it’s officially supported by Salesforce.
I’ve also worked a bit with Jitterbit’s offering and was impressed. I know there are a bunch others out there. This is just a rhythm that works for me.

Querying the Database: SoqlXplorer

Need insight into your data and how it interrelates? Try the amazing SoqlXplorer. This tool has saved my butt so many times by giving clear insight to what data really looks like in Salesforce. Try it! You won’t be sorry.

Data Munging: Excel

For data munging there are few tools out there better than the old standard – Microsoft Excel. It makes it super easy to manipulate and see the shape of information. Plus you can easily eyeball and correct wide swaths of data at a time. It’s a long-time favorite.

Hard Core Data Munging: MS Access

Despite my love for Excel, there are times when I need more. More power, more complexity, programability, etc., etc. That’s when I turn to Microsoft Access. I bet you’re thinking, “I didn’t know Access was available for the Mac!” It’s not. I like it enough to run a virtualized Windows environment on my Mac.
Of course I’d prefer to use something native to the Mac, but I’ve not yet found anything that meets my needs as well as Access. I’ve tried the Open Office variants of Base and have been underwhelmed. They’re not as functional as Access and tend to crash when offered complexity.
I also like Menial’s Base 2 – it’s a great tool. It’s a command-centric SQLite database engine that has no relation to the Open Office product. When compared to Access’ scripting and visual querying though I just don’t find I’m nearly as productive in it as with Access.
If you have a great native Mac tool suggest, please let me know.

OS Virtualization: Parallels

Yes, I run virtualized Windows on my Mac. As much as it pains me to do so, I just need MS Access enough to do it. Of the virtualization tools I’ve used, Parallels is my favorite. I also like VirtualBox but find I have to mess with Parallels less.

Programmer’s Notebook: Quiver

When you’re developing for many clients in lots of orgs, you need a good programmer’s notebook. I’ve recently switched to OneNote. Why, because I’m always using it for something and it’s just handy to have everything in one place.
That said, I think Quiver is a better product, mostly because it lets you store code snippets from multiple languages within a single note. This is perfect for Salesforce where you want to keep your Visualforce pages with their CSS files and Apex controllers in one document and along with commentary using rich text. I just chose convenience over perfection

APIs: Paw

One challenge of developing to external APIs in Salesforce is debugging when things go wrong. Working problems through all the layers and nuances of Salesforce is hard enough without having to factor in the complexities of an external system. Enter Paw. Paw is a REST client for the Mac that lets you work out your API calls and their responses outside of the Salesforce environment. I’ve hardly gotten into it yet, but have heard fantastic things.

Deployment: Ant & the Migration Tool

I’ve also heard great things about Ant & the Migration Tool but have yet started to use it. Yes, Ant’s an investment to know it, but I hear it’s well worth the effort, especially compared to endless iterations of deploying change sets.

If you find this useful – please give me a shout out, or at least an email from the contact page

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