I've been writing NodeJS on a 2016 Macbook Pro since well... 2016. And the experience has been gr8. Except for one small problem....
I am an avid PC gamer. And I'm not holding my breath for a "Gaming Macbook Air" to come out any time soon... Beyond that, I also love building PCs. I know each and every component in my gaming rig because I hand picked everything. There is a certain craftsmanship aspect to it that has always intrigued me.
When I come home at the end of the day and need some time to decompress 2 things come to mind. Do I want to pwn N00bs, or work on side projects? Depending on my answer I'll be on entirely different hardware, which SUCKS. So for years I've been trying to make my experience at home with gaming & writing Node just a bit smoother.
The fact remains that beyond gaming there may be many reasons why you are interested in moving to Windows. This is my journey 🚀.
The alpha solution is one I'm pretty sure many reading this article already do or know... I call this solution "Cordy McCord Face". What you do is buy a nice laptop stand, a display switcher, and a USB hub that connects to a central keyboard and mouse. That way you can dock your MacBook, press 3 buttons total (switch display, switch USB, power on device) and BOOM. Now you're cooking with avocado oil, and can 👏 "seamlessly" 👏 switch 👏 between 👏 your 👏 gaming 👏 rig 👏 and 👏 mac.
If you like to re-arrange your office, ever move, have the ports on your laptop change, or have lots of dongles... it can just be a huge pain. Cable management also sucks if you need to have your office look "clean".
Dual boot Ubuntu (or some other distro). The thing that makes NodeJS development so great on Mac is because Linux & Mac are so closely related. After all, MacOS is Unix based. I love using tools like
zsh, and most of the dependencies I need for app development are available via
homebrew or a simple
apt-get. So I felt like I would feel right at home on Ubuntu.
Let's face it. No matter how good the Linux desktop environment is getting, it will never be as polished as Mac & Windows. Maybe that will change some day. I hope so. I personally ran into an obscure issue with Grub, where it would reset my Ubuntu OS instance to a fresh install whenever I switched between operating systems. Ugh... I'm sure there was a solution. But I dont want to spend time debugging those things. Those are issues I know I will never have on Windows or Mac. And if I'm going to write code on my PC the development experience needs to be just as good as Mac otherwise I know I won't do it.
For me to go all in on Windows I needed a few things to happen.
- I needed to be able to use
bash, or even more preferable:
- I needed all of my editor settings to seamlessly transfer over.
- I needed Node through Node Version Manager
- I needed Yarn for package management.
- I needed Docker.
The best part about going all in on Windows, is that I actually bypassed Windows all together. My development environment is totally isolated from my gaming environment.
- Download the Ubuntu app from the Windows Store. Once this install is complete, you will have the Windows Subsystem for Linux running on your PC. (WSL also supports a handful of other distros, I just prefer Ubuntu)
- Install the new Windows Terminal app from the Windows Store.
The new terminal app is sleek. It's minimal, it stays out of the way, it actually supports re-sizing (cough cough command prompt), and here's the best part... If you have WSL installed it has automatic support for WSL. Just open a new WSL tab and boom. You're running Linux bois.
Please note that the Terminal app is still in Preview. I haven't had any issues with it as of 08-28-2019.
- From there the rest was history. I could fly free. I followed the Ubuntu specific guides for installing docker, git, yarn, node version manager, and all my other dependencies.
sudo apt-getworked great with no hiccups. I tried to find things to poke at, but in my personal experience things worked exactly the way they did when I was using the terminal in Ubuntu natively.
I use VS Code. But I had so many small details configured just the way I wanted on Mac that I didn't want to have to setup again.
I discovered a handy extension in the marketplace called Settings Sync that has worked wonders.
Because all settings in VS Code eventually become some sort of
json object. What Setting Sync does is save your VS Code Settings to a Github Gist. You can then push settings up to a gist and pull settings down to a new editor instance on a different machine. It's a thing of beauty.
- If you're coming from Mac/Ubuntu then all of your line endings are
LF. VS Code uses
CLRFon Windows by default. You will want to make sure you go user settings and set
codecommand works great inside of WSL. If you are using Webstorm, or a different IDE, it can be a bit tricky to setup commands in your path to be able to open up the IDE from the command line.
- You may want to set up symlinks from
/mnt/c/**-> your User directory in Windows so that you can find your files inside of the File Explorer.
- Use WSL
- Use the new Windows Terminal App
- Use VSCode.
- Switch between gaming & coding like an absolute bad ass.
I had such a great experience switching to this setup that I was even able to generate a super small portfolio site completely in windows with my Mac tightly closed in my backpack. I took plenty of Overwatch breaks because for the first time... I could.