LearnTesting Heaven

Ryan
writes on December 10, 2006

If you’re in the business of building or designing web sites and web apps, you need to be using my current setup. A brash thing to say? Not once you see it.

New Parallels Beta changes everything

I switched from a PC to a MacBook Pro about three months ago. One month ago I bought Parallels ($79) and last week I upgraded it to the new Beta (Parallels Desktop for Mac Build 3036 Beta).

It is freakin’ amazing. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to a perfect computing experience. Seriously.

Here’s why: You can simultaneously view IE 6/7, Firefox PC, Firefox Mac and Safari (and any other browsers you want, whether they’re Mac, PC or Linux) on your OSX desktop.

No switching back and forth between virtual desktops – it’s all right there (click for larger image).

Here’s another screengrab to help you understand how it’s working (click for larger image).

In the above image, I’ve got IE7, Firefox PC, Safari and then Firefox Mac.

In addition to this amazing capability (called “Coherence Mode”), its got these great new features:

  1. You can share the clipboard between OSX and XP/Vista
  2. You can drag and drop files between a XP/Vista window and an OSX window
  3. No need to “click into” the XP/Vista window. As soon as the mouse is over the XP/Vista window, it’s active (if you’re in Normal Mode instead of Coherence Mode).

How to set it up

Convinced? Here’s how to get rocking:

  1. Buy a MacBook Pro
  2. Buy and install Parallels
  3. Download and install Parallels Desktop for Mac Build 3036 Beta
  4. Install XP/Vista (you need to buy a legit copy)
  5. Boot up XP/Vista
  6. After it’s booted up, go to “Tools > Install Parallels Tools …” (click for larger image)
  7. Once Parallels Tools in installed, open up the browsers you want to test
  8. Go to “View > Coherence” (click for larger image)
  9. You’re done! (Click for larger image)

Still not quite perfect

As with most things, this setup is not 100% perfect (but it’s very close). If you don’t use the XP/Vista windows for a little while, the screensaver starts up and takes over the whole screen behind the active OSX window. However, you can deal with this by turning off the screensaver in XP/Vista (click for larger image).

Time to switch

There are strong feelings on both sides of the PC/Mac debate, but this is the clearest and most compelling reason for switching to a Mac. You get all the benefits of the beautifully designed and executed OSX interface, with all the access and testing you need on XP/Vista.

I know that not everyone can afford to go out and buy a MacBook Pro, but if you can, what are you waiting for?

0 Responses to “Testing Heaven”

  1. Hey, got a question about your blog. I noticed it loads pages lot faster than mine. Do you host your blog on dedicated server? thanks.

  2. FINE ARTICLE….
    Thanks

  3. Very nice article. Thanks for taking the time to write it down.

  4. Thanks for the article.

  5. Great article! Thanks for your great work…

  6. Update…
    Parallels beta is perfect for my rig Ryan. The PC has been retired for good. The installation is painless too. Unlike VMware virtual machines on the PC, getting up and running was as simple as installing a native OSX app.

    What I really like is the fact that I can now sit down with a client and show the performance on all browsers from one machine.

  7. I think I just turned into a Mac fanatic… When christmas gifts for mum and girlfriend is set, that will be my next buy. Thank you for the report!

  8. Check out Cross Over, you can run IE 6 (Windows) natively on your mac now.

    http://www.codeweavers.com/products

  9. That’s it, I’m getting Parallells today. Thanks Ryan.

  10. You can also run it on a Mac Mini, for those of us who don’t want to shell out mondo ££ (or $$) on a new laptop/desktop.

    I’ll be getting a Mac Mini within the next few months, with Parallells being the main reason, for sure.

  11. You convinced me! I’ve been thinking about making the change to mac for a while now, but seeing how you can run both Mac and XP os’s side by side swung it…just waiting for my brand spnking new MacBook Pro to arrive so I can get going. Sweet.

  12. (I sometimes consult and to me the white looked a little cheesy for corporate meetings although thatâ€s more personal opinion than anything)

    Perhaps someone should tell Apple to make a beige version to fit in with all those dull PC boxes 😉

  13. Well, I would love to have a Mac, I’m actually loving the idea of Mac OSX and I’d love to ditch M$ Windows, but the thing is… there is no Tablet MAC.

    I use TabletPC for my everyday work and it’s really hard no to scribble on your screen once you’re used to it. I ditched the mouse completely – I use the pen.

    So Ryan, to your question: “What are you waiting for?” – my answer is: “Tablet MAC”.

  14. Ryan Carson on December 11, 2006 at 12:20 pm said:

    What I really like is the fact that I can now sit down with a client and show the performance on all browsers from one machine.

    Great point!

  15. Be frugal and by the Parallels Desktop for only $68 (http://www.lightsparkle.com/product_page-1640.htm)

  16. Ryan,

    That new beta certainly looks great. My needs are a little different as I spend most of my day on a PC and then use my Mac in short bursts throughout the day (to do customer support, test, etc).

    I actually wrote a similar piece on this 3 screen setup a few weeks back which from experience has worked much better for me than a Parallels or Bootcamp setup:

    http://www.freshview.com/thoughts/2006/11/the_ultimate_3_screen_setup_fo_1.html

    I run the exact setup you mention on my MBP at home though and agree it’s almost perfect.

  17. Update…
    Parallels beta is perfect for my rig Ryan. The PC has been retired for good. The installation is painless too. Unlike VMware virtual machines on the PC, getting up and running was as simple as installing a native OSX app.

    What I really like is the fact that I can now sit down with a client and show the performance on all browsers from one machine.

  18. James Deer on December 10, 2006 at 11:45 pm said:

    Thanks for that Ryan, got my new MacBook last week, i will certainly be trying this. Will make my life alot easier, maybe i can then get rid of my big chunky Dell XPS!

  19. This is great, but only if you’re already running a mac. If you’re running a PC, you can test between IE and firefox using that firefox extension which lets you open IE as a tab in firefox. As for safari, its just not that important for testing. Besides, you make it sound like all we web developers/designers do is test it on different web browsers. There are more important things to do, like marketing and customer support.

    I don’t see why i NEED this (unless I’m already running a mac).

  20. Marc Köhlbrugge on December 10, 2006 at 11:09 pm said:

    @Colin Ramsay
    You can play games on a Mac too. Games like World of Warcraft are available for Mac OS X too and you can always boot up from Windows XP if it’s not available for Mac OS X.

    And when Parallels gets 3D acceleration working, you’ll be able to play Windows-only games right in Mac OS X.

  21. For people who can’t afford a MacBook Pro, check out the MacBook. Even after paying $200 for the black paint job (I sometimes consult and to me the white looked a little cheesy for corporate meetings although that’s more personal opinion than anything) it was still very good value.

    The other benefit is a smaller form factor (I find the crrent MBP’s too big after my 12.1″ Dell sub notebook – the MacBook was “just” small enough). If you have a separate LCD at home and at work, only real reason to spring for the pro is if you need the separate graphics card.

    I agree that it’s worthless for PC gaming, but in my book that’s probably a benefit (talk about a time sink!) but other than that, especially for web professionals it’s a no brainer. I have Windows servers and test my apps running ColdFusion and MSSQL on Parallels fr compatibility, but when I want to play with Apache on Linux or install Ruby, I love having the usability of OS X, the power of BSD and the compatibility of XP. Also, I am NOT looking forwards to Vista. For me this is the first step away from the sinking ship that is Vista.

  22. Yes, Parallels is certainly amazing. I even installed Windows 3.11 in a VM the other week just for a laugh. That baby boots in less than a second on my 2 GB Core 2 Duo iMac!

  23. I love OS X, but I’m waiting for Apple to create a laptop that runs substantially cooler. I bought a MacBook Core 2 Duo in November and sold it to a friend of mine after three weeks of being annoyed with the heat and noise issues. I tried underclocking it, controlling the fan speed (hence the greater noise), and I just wasn’t satisfied with it. That, and Parallels Tools doesn’t exist yet for Linux Guest OSes (though that should be done in February, I hear).

    Still sticking with my Sony laptop and Linux until Apple gets more aggressive about heat issues.

  24. I think I just turned into a Mac fanatic… When christmas gifts for mum and girlfriend is set, that will be my next buy. Thank you for the report!

  25. Browser screenshot services, or the Webkit on Windows initiative at http://try.swift.ws/. Besides, using that as a justification for switching of a developers primary operating system is a bit backwards surely?

  26. Ryan Carson on December 10, 2006 at 4:27 pm said:

    I cannot see any justification to switch to a Mac under these circumstances, no matter how slick Parallels is.

    How can you test in Mac browsers (or other platforms)?

  27. I take of it none of you guys are gamers then? Counterstrike or Half Life 2, World of Warcraft or the upcoming Supreme Commander?

    I’m running a two year old PC with Vista and it can play all of those, and it runs my IDE of choice: Visual Studio 2005. It runs them well. I cannot see any justification to switch to a Mac under these circumstances, no matter how slick Parallels is.

  28. Ryan Carson on December 10, 2006 at 3:55 pm said:

    Thanks folks 🙂

  29. A year ago I wouldn’t have given this post a second glance. A friend of mine convinced me to get a MBP and I”m happy to say I’m a Mac fanatic now. Parallels is the first software I bought for it and I agree it makes testing a breeze.

    Great post Ryan!

  30. Thank you very much for this post!

    I just filled out a support request because I couldn’t find the coherence mode anywhere in my Parallels installation — although I updated to the latest build some days ago.

    Now I know, it’s beta… I’m downloading it at the moment.

  31. Ryan Carson on December 10, 2006 at 3:23 pm said:

    No problem Greg. Glad it was useful.

  32. I made the switch about 10 months ago Ryan. One thing that has bugged me since switching is that I still have this clunky PC sitting next to my 17″ MBP that never gets used except for IE/FF tests on the PC. For $79 Bucks, I think I’ll retire this PC or hand it off to the wife and kid.

    Thanks for the report!

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