Cycling 74: Dedicated Resources and Platform Flexibility with Mac mini

By Jason Davis|

September 29, 2020

MacStadium’s Mac mini customers are using dedicated Mac minis in the cloud in unique ways that improve how they do business. Our mini customers vary from large brands to hobbyists (and everything in between), and we wanted to highlight some of our customers, like Cycling '74, who are leveraging this flexible platform to develop software. If you’d like your project to be featured, let us know.

About Cycling '74

Cycling '74 is a software company that started in 1997, specializing in audio and video programming tools. As of 2017, it is now part of Ableton. Their flagship product, Max, enables the programming of audio and video elements using a visual workspace.

The pre-cursor to Max originally was built for the Macintosh in 1985. They now maintain both a macOS and Windows version of the software and an iPad app called Mira.

Team and Workflow

Being a project whose origins reach back more than 30 years, the developers of Max maintain a large repository with many dependencies. The primary software is written in C and C++, but relies on many other languages, libraries, and resources. This means they are constantly juggling a large amount of dynamic assets required for the test, build and deployment pipeline, keeping the build machines in sync with these disparate resources.

Adding to the complexity, the team produces cross-platform builds for both Mac and Windows. Setting up this complex build environment on individual developer machines would be cumbersome and prone to failure—instead, using VMware Fusion, the team can send binaries to a Windows virtual machine and compile builds on a single, shared device.

Dedicated Resources and Platform Flexibility with Mac mini

The complexity and resource requirements of the Max codebase make the Mac mini platform perfect as a build machine. MacStadium provides full root access to a private machine allowing the Cycling '74 team to fully customize the environment to suit their needs. Having a machine dedicated to building software means the team can keep their machines configured as they wish and minimize build failures due to a lack of resources or environment configurations.

Additionally, the Mac mini provides platform flexibility. The ability to run Windows VMs and compile C/C++ on a Unix-based platform is what the team needs for its cross-platform software that supports musicians and visual effects artists worldwide.

Working with MacStadium

“It’s really nice to have static machines. I know there are many different options, but for us, it works really well,” said Ben Bracken, Build and Release Manager for Cycling ‘74.

Using a CI service would mean downloading a multiple-gigabyte repository and setting up a toolchain every time.

“To be honest, before MacStadium we had these machines networked in our CEO’s garage. The transition to MacStadium was effortless, and I’ve got to say, I’m always surprised how quick your support gets back to us,” said Bracken.

In Good Company

Cycling '74, like many of our cloud customers, develop software for multiple platforms using cross-platform languages. Having a large codebase and developer toolchain makes having a static, pre-configured build machines the right choice to make their workflow as smooth as possible. Learn more about our bare metal Mac minis and Mac private clouds for more info.

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