Using TracerPlus software on a Mac
TracerPlus Desktop and TracerPlus Connect are developed for the Microsoft Windows operating system. They integrate deeply with the Windows platform and as a result, do not work out-of-the-box on Apple’s Mac OS X operating system, commonly found on Apple’s Mac computer hardware. Currently, there are no plans to release these TracerPlus products for the Mac platform. However, you can still try running TracerPlus Desktop, Connect, or both on a Mac, with a bit of legwork. This article will document your available options. For the rest of this article, TracerPlus will be used to refer to both products for brevity, but keep in mind that TracerPlus is actually a separate product than both TracerPlus Desktop and TracerPlus Connect.
1) Boot Camp
Boot Camp is a software package officially developed and distributed by Apple with OS X, starting with OS X version 10.5 “Leopard”. It is a utility that aids the user in setting up a dual boot configuration on their system, enabling them to use both Mac OS X and Windows. Once it is set up and Windows is installed, the user can choose to boot into either Mac OS X or Windows at startup (power on) of their machine. The two operating systems work independently of each other. To access the other operating system (OS), the user must restart (reboot) the machine, and then choose the other system.
Although you cannot use both OS X and Windows simultaneously, this is the best option for graphically intensive or resource-demanding Windows applications, because Windows is running natively on the machine, with access to all of the system resources. There is no question of compatibility because Macs are just like PCs, only with Apple certified hardware, so you really are running Windows. TracerPlus is neither graphically intensive nor resource-demanding, but it will be important to consider how you will deploy your TracerPlus Desktop projects to your device, noted further below in the Final Considerations section.
Up until version 4.0 of Boot Camp, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 were supported (TracerPlus works on Windows XP and newer). With version 4.0 released on Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” through OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion”, only Windows 7 was supported. With the latest release, Boot Camp version 5.0, running on OS X 10.8.3 and higher, only 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and 8 are supported. It’s also important to note that you will need a valid Windows license purchased from Microsoft to install it through Boot Camp. Finally, you will need an Intel CPU in your Mac to use Boot Camp; if you have an older PowerPC Mac Boot Camp will not work.
For more information and installation instructions, you can visit Apple’s support website: https://www.apple.com/support/bootcamp/
Once you’ve installed Windows you can simply install TracerPlus normally and use it as you would on a Windows PC.
2) Parallels Desktop / VMware Fusion / VirtualBox
These applications are virtual machine applications. A virtual machine (VM) is an emulation of the hardware and software combination that makes a system. Think of it like this: the virtual machine application runs any number of virtual machines (limited by system resources), which are like “mini” simulated PCs running on your operating system. The applications you run in the VM don’t know any better, they just know they are running on the OS targeted by the VM. The virtual machine application manages the VM so all the system calls and resources are channeled to the appropriate places so that everything runs smoothly. VMs are limited by system resource availability because the operating system is hosting the VM (which itself is an application of the operating system), and the VM needs its own resources just like every other native application, oftentimes even more since it is simulating a real PC. Because of this reason VMs are not recommended for graphically intensive or resource-demanding applications, unless the host Mac has the horsepower to run it (think a powerful GPU or more, lots of RAM, and a fast multi-core CPU).
Parallels is a specialized VM application, because every individual Windows app opens as an emulated Mac OS X app, with the OS X native look and feel (although they are still running through the virtual machine in the background). VMware Fusion and VirtualBox are more like a standard VM application, in that the Windows applications will open within the virtual machine window. Of the three choices, Parallels and VMware Fusion must be purchased (but they can be trialed first), while VirtualBox is free. The paid software has better performance and tighter integration with OS X, so choose based on what is important to you. Please note that just like Boot Camp, you must have a valid license for Windows purchased from Microsoft. Once you have your VM up and running, you can proceed with installing TracerPlus normally through the VM.
You can get more information about Parallels on their homepage, including purchasing options and further information on how to use it: www.parallels.com/products/desktop
If you’re interested in VMware Fusion, go here: https://www.vmware.com/products/fusion
For VirtualBox, go here: https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/VirtualBox
3) Wine / CrossOver
Wine started on Linux but eventually made its way over to Mac OS X. Wine is an emulation layer between your Windows applications and the host Mac OS X environment. Think of it like this: the Windows application sends out a call for a system resource. Wine intercepts this call and translates it to something Mac OS X can understand. Mac OS X will handle the system call, which Wine then translates back to something the Windows application can understand. Because of this interface logic, you do not need to install the Windows OS when using Wine with Windows applications. However, because Wine is FOSS – free, open-source software – compatibility and support of all Windows applications is not guaranteed.
CrossOver is a commercial application using Wine that focuses on ensuring compatibility with the most popular Windows applications. If you contact the development team, they might work with you to support your specific Windows application. Once a new application reaches stability with CrossOver, that source code is pushed back to the Wine open-source project, continuing support for open source software (which in this author’s opinion, is pretty rad).
TracerPlus has not been tested with Wine or CrossOver and is not guaranteed to work or be stable. These options have been documented so that the adventurous readers can try to run TracerPlus using these options if they so choose. If it works, then you’ve just gained the ability to run TracerPlus on your Mac without purchasing a Windows license, and in the case of Wine, without paying for another software package. Heck, if it works on Mac OS X it might even work on Linux. If you do succeed using this approach, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know, as that information can help our future users.
For further information on Wine, check the following link: https://www.winehq.org/
WineBottler is a friendlier “wrapper” of Wine for Mac OS X: http://winebottler.kronenberg.org/
You can get more information about CrossOver here: https://www.codeweavers.com/
So you’ve reviewed your options, what your needs are, and come to the right choice for the job when it comes to running TracerPlus on your Mac. If you’ve chosen to go with Boot Camp, then you are good to go. If you have chosen the VM or Wine/CrossOver route, there are just a few last things to consider. There are a few features of TracerPlus Desktop and TracerPlus Connect that might dictate which option you choose.
Once you’ve developed your TracerPlus applications, you’ll want to deploy them to your device. For Windows Mobile/CE devices, you’ll need Windows Mobile Device Center (or ActiveSync if you are using Windows XP). This software would be installed on the VM. For Android, you can deploy via MTP (mass transfer protocol), ADB (Android Debug Bridge), or mapped drives. In each of these cases, you would be connecting the devices to the Mac hardware, which then must route the data between the device and the VM/Wine emulated application. In our experience, our users have had mixed results with this process; most have had success, some have not. We strongly urge you to try the paid versions of the software if possible so you can ensure that they work for your devices.
TracerPlus Connect supports syncing data through the cradle for Windows Mobile/CE devices, which requires the same software/hardware compatibility as discussed above with TracerPlus Desktop. The same rule applies; please trial the software first if you can so you can ensure it works for you. With that said, thank you for reading this article and best of luck in using TracerPlus on your Mac.