I missed Growl's 2.1 update when it was released two weeks ago on the Mac App Store. The new version comes with pretty powerful new automation features for AppleScript: you can now specify rules that will be run automatically every time a new notification arrives. Check out the documentation and examples here.
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Previously announced by its developers, a major update to Growl — a third-party notification system for OS X — has been released today with official Notification Center integration. Among various bug fixes, improvements to the display of some built-in themes, and separation of Action displays from Visual ones, Growl 2.0 also brings Prowl and Boxcar support.
The biggest news in this update is support for Notification Center on Mountain Lion. How it works is rather straightforward, too. If users decide they want to keep using Growl while consolidating the Visual displays in Apple’s Notification Center, they can open Growl’s Preferences, and set “OS X Notifications” to “On” under General. This will add Growl to the apps listed under Notifications in System Preferences, and it’ll effectively use Growl as a bridge between third-party apps and Notification Center.
In my tests, it worked reliably: as soon as an app with Growl support triggered a notification, that was forwarded to Notification Center immediately. The obvious downside is that, because of Apple’s restrictions, Growl won’t be able to apply its custom themes to Notification Center, or use third-party app icons for banners. So every Growl notification will carry Growl’s icon, not the one from the third-party app that triggered the original notification.
Update: For apps to show their own icons, they will need to support the Growl 2.0 SDK.
Another important addition to Growl 2.0 is the separate handling of Visual and Action displays. For instance, you can set, say, Dropbox to trigger a Smoke display (or Notification Center banner) and the MailMe or Prowl action at the same time. This is a powerful new feature that should allow for deeper customization of Growl notifications, which are handled on an app-by-app basis in Growl’s Applications tab.
While applications like Hiss have enabled users to route Growl notifications to Mountain Lion’s Notification Center, the stopgap should become an unnecessary appendage provided that developers take advantage of Growl’s new SDK. From Chris Forsythe on Growl’s Posterous blog, the Growl 2.0 SDK will give developers the ability to use the Notification Center if their apps are already using Growl to show alerts on the desktop. While Growl won’t necessarily be supplanted by the new features in Mountain Lion, the Growl team has acted quickly to provide a way for Growl apps to transition into Apple’s new notification system.
The Growl team wants to give developers the ability to “transition from Growl to Notification Center on their own terms,” responsibly embracing Apple’s latest features while helping developers answer the needs of their users. The team also makes the case that users who will remain on older operating systems can still get notifications on their own terms — theming, frequency of notifications, and what apps send notifications are all still definable in Growl’s preference pane and are still accessible without the Notification Center. And as mentioned back in June, Growl plans to supplement the Notification Center for those with Mountain Lion by handling actions and visual notifications separately.
Developers can download the Growl 2.0 SDK from Growl’s downloads page.
Developers of Growl, the popular third-party notification app for OS X that received a major update with version 1.3, announced today their plans to embrace Apple’s Notification Center on Mountain Lion, and allow developers an easy integration with the Mac’s upcoming native notification system.
With a blog post published earlier today, lead developer Chris Forsythe laid out plans for a future version 2.0 of the app:
For Growl 2 we’re simply going to add a Notification Center action display as well. This is going to make it easy for anyone who wants to see notifications in Growl, and also in Notifcation Center. We don’t know of any downside to doing this, and see it as sort of a simple yet powerful way to get what you want done. There may be some caveates to doing this that we can talk about once 10.8 is out, but there may not be. We’ll all just find out together.
This will be achieved with a new architecture that will enable Growl to handle visual notifications and actions separately:
Also, for Growl 2, we’ve done some really neat things. One of the really neat things that we’ve done is split the action and visual notifications, so that both could fire at the same time.
Let me give you an example of how this would work. You could have a Smoke display, and the MailMe action fire from the same notification if you wanted. This is great and makes things really powerful.
As we’ve already written, the introduction of Notification Center won’t necessarily “sherlock” Growl as a notification alternative for Mac users and developers. While Notification Center will undoubtedly provide an excellent native solution for developers of Mac App Store apps — ultimately serving the average user with a notification system that works out of the box, — Growl will still remain a capable third-party app that offers fine grained controls over notifications with several customization options.
Furthermore, because Notification Center will only work with Mac App Store apps but Mountain Lion will still support external software through Gatekeeper for enhanced security, Growl will also be a fantastic way for developers of apps sold outside of the Mac App Store to enable desktop notifications in their software.
In February, design agency Yummygum posted a exciting Dribbble shot presenting a design idea for a new Growl notification. The tanned leather-styled design, which got inspired by a (also very cool) Growl theme idea of Manu Gamero, was designed in order to create a completely new and innovative theme, which would be different from any other Growl theme:
“The goal was making something else than a (what seems to be the default) semi-transparent dark or light box with tooltip.”
After publishing roundup with 10 really gorgeous Growl themes last month, they’ve now finished their own. It’s called David Leatherman, was coded by Patrick van Marsbergen from Mimbee, looks a bit like a leather credit card, and definitely fulfills the aim of being unique and stylish, though I think it won’t fit everyone’s taste in design.
Nevertheless, it’s pleasant to see that the Growl community is still alive. If you like its style, the David Leatherman theme can be downloaded for free.
Last week Apple revealed its new Mac operating system, Mountain Lion, due out for this summer. While not a complete overhaul, 10.8 is a polished update that adds many similar functionalities from iOS 5. Among these changes, and one of the most important pieces, is Notification Center. As the name suggests, it is basically Notification Center ported from iOS, running at a system level on Mountain Lion. Besides having the same UI elements we see on our iPads and iPhones everyday, it also has a badge mode much like Growl, our favorite open source notification system for OS X. It’d be fair to say that almost every OS X die-hard uses Growl, as it’s very customizable with function and appearance. Last year, the Growl team overhauled the app and submitted it to the Mac App Store, where it quickly became one of the most popular utilities in the Top Paid charts.
Following Apple’s announcement, some people have said Notification Center will create a problem for Growl, as Apple’s own solution could hurt Growl by replacing its functionality on OS X. Now, as far as I know, Mountain Lion’s Notification Center will only work with Mac App Store apps, so Growl could still have a place for third-party apps that are installed outside of Apple’s storefront, as allowed by Gatekeeper.
Growl doesn’t seem to think Notification Center will immediately hinder installation or usage of their app, either. In a blog post from February 17th, the developers say Growl still has room in OS X to play with. They have listed some points as to how Growl will continue to go forward:
- The developers are investigating options for integrating Growl with Notification Center.
- Growl will work whether your application is from the App Store or not, as long as it supports Growl.
- They’re still on schedule to release Growl 1.4 and 2.0.
- Growl is great for customizable notifications.
- Development of other applications will continue, such as HardwareGrowler, GrowlTunes, and Capster as Mac App Store apps.
The Growl developers are optimistic even though they are going to have to compete with Apple. With Growl 1.4 already in beta testing (with many great improvements) and work on Growl 2.0 underway, I wouldn’t say Growl has been been “Sherlocked” by Apple’s announcement.
As a side note, developer Collect3 released Hiss today, a free app that sends all Growl notifications directly to Mountain Lion’s Notification Center. So, if you have an app that supports Growl, not Notification Center, you’re in luck. This could be the first step in both Growl and Mountain Lion’s Notification Center working together in some way (much like Notification Center hasn’t hurt the extensibility of Boxcar), albeit Connect3 was quoted on The Verge as saying that “(Hiss was) just a result of us being impatient to start seeing Notification Center become useful.”
[image via Macworld]
Developers Explain Changes in Growl 1.3
Speaking of Growl themes, the developers of the popular notification system for OS X have seen a bit of confusion after the release of version 1.3 on the Mac App Store. They have published a post with a summary of changes, and here’s the most important point:
Growl is still open source and under the BSD license, but version 1.3 is sold at $1.99 on the Mac App Store. This paid model allows the developers to work on Growl full-time.
So why upgrade to Growl 1.3 when the old version might still work? First off, to get the new features. More importantly, for a reason I didn’t know about:
Growl 1.2 and older will not work with Sandboxed applications – Sandboxing is meant to protect users from bad things happening (which is a good thing!), but it has consequences for applications which are doing good things too (like Growl). Apple announced this summer that Sandboxing is a requirement for all applications in the Mac App Store. As our developers who went to WWDC this year quickly realized, the impending Sandboxing requirement would have broken Growl entirely for applications in the App Store, for everyone, without a large amount of changes. Growl 1.3 introduces support for Sandboxed applications.
We may debate on the pros and cons of sandboxing, but the point is that, eventually, the old Growl will stop working with sandboxed Mac App Store applications. If new features and compatibility aren’t compelling reasons to upgrade, then I guess the problem is with those users not willing to spend $1.99, not Growl. The Mac App Store charts, by the way, seem to indicate Growl 1.3 has been pretty successful so far.
I use Growl on a daily basis and I like the new version a lot. Another thing I didn’t know about: apps written with the Growl 1.3 SDK will be able to display notifications even if Growl 1.3 isn’t installed. The system is called “Mist”, and a comparison table is available for developers here.
iOS 5 Notification Style for Growl
Back in September, MacThemes forum user SkyJohn created an iOS 5-like notification theme for Growl, which was recently released on the Mac App Store as version 1.3. A few days ago, following feedback from the MacThemes community, SkyJohn updated the Growl theme to include the same “cube” animation seen on the iPhone or iPad. The effect is very nice, as you can see from the screenshots above.
The latest version of the theme is available for download on deviantART, and it includes black and white variations. Being a Growl theme, you can’t expect the notification popup to roll down from the menubar exactly as in iOS 5, but the result gets very close. Make sure to check out MacThemes’ thread as well for suggestions and other modifications.
And if you don’t like the iOS 5-like banner style for notifications, check out this iOS 5-inspired translucent theme for Growl by Philipp Rappold (via). Growl is a $1.99 download on the Mac App Store.