Jason Snell, reporting from Çingleton:
I’m in Montreal for the Cingleton conference. On Saturday Rich Siegel of Bare Bones Software gave a presentation in which he announced that the next version of BBEdit would not be sold in the Mac App Store. (The existing version will remain, and existing Mac App Store customers can upgrade to the next version directly with Bare Bones.)
Siegel’s talk was notable for its restraint and care. This was not a scorched-earth denouncement of the Mac App Store. In fact, at the end, he admitted that it’s not impossible that BBEdit might return to the store someday, if conditions change.
When the Mac App Store launched over three years ago, many of us thought that it would be a panacea for independent Mac software – designed after the success of the iOS App Store, it would provide a unified marketplace with all the benefits of Apple's infrastructure.
For thousands of developers, that was absolutely the case. But, at this point, it's clear that all the problems of Apple's infrastructure couldn't be sustainable for developers of apps that weren't simple utilities or games. I noted this in 2012 after popular indie developers had already exited the Mac App Store. I wrote:
I am thus going back to my initial point: developers seem cautious about the future of the Mac App Store and the restrictions that Apple could, in theory, bring up again. The numbers and facts speak for themselves: developers are still using the Buying Direct option. And when the download numbers of the Mac App Store aren’t so great, who can blame them? And when you start adding Sandboxing, iCloud, and Top Charts dominated by Apple apps (and the operating system itself, listed under “Productivity”) to the list of complaints, who can blame an indie development company for their decision to sell software through the good ol’ Internet?
The departure of BBEdit from the Mac App Store is yet another example of the platform's limitations and it's sad, but it's probably for the best and everything will be okay. The Mac App Store isn't meant for apps like TextExpander or BBEdit, and Apple doesn't seem to be willing to change its underlying nature.
It is disappointing to conclude that the Mac App Store can't be the unified marketplace for everyone, but at least web browsers can still be used to buy software.
Panic announced yesterday that they will be moving away from the Mac App Store for distribution of their popular and Apple Design Award winning Coda app. Panic has been working for a number of months on a significant 2.5 update for Coda but have been struggling to resolve issues with maintaining adherence to the sandboxing requirements of the Mac App Store. Instead, Panic has decided to revert back to distribution of Coda outside of the Mac App Store so they can release the update shortly.
As we continued to work on Coda 2.5—a significant update that we’re really excited about—we continued to discover new corners of the app that presented challenges under sandboxing. Coda, to be fair, is a very complex developer tool and is something of a sandboxing worst-case scenario.
Panic makes this move despite the fact that they had a notable degree of help from teams within Apple - but it seems that ultimately it just was not enough. They write that Apple "to their considerable credit, spent a lot of energy assisting us with ideas, workarounds, and temporary exemptions we might be able to use to get around some of the issues". The move also comes more than a year after Panic successfully made the decision to change the way Coda worked in some ways so that it could be sold on the Mac App Store despite the, new at the time, sandboxing rules.
The new version, which will be available from Panic's website upon release, will automatically detect if there is a Mac App Store version of Coda installed and unlock the app for use. As a consequence of moving away from the Mac App Store, it also means the Coda can no longer use iCloud Sync and as a result, Panic have developed their own sync service - Panic Sync. This new service will be free and work across Panic's apps, including Coda and Diet Coda.
Panic write in their announcement that they will always "evaluate the possibility of sandboxing with each future release of Coda", with the hope of one day returning to the Mac App Store. Finally, Daniel Jalkut made the point on Twitter that Coda will no longer be eligible for the award it won last year, the Apple Design Award, because it is leaving the Mac App Store.
Cactus speeds up web development by creating a project folder on your Mac, where you can create websites locally without having to install a local development environment like XAMPP. With Cactus, you can get a head start on your blog or portfolio page by selecting from a variety of templates, which establishes some basic site structure for what you want to accomplish. Cactus supports languages like Markdown, SCSS and SASS, and CoffeeScript, and lets you add functionality to your site with simple python scripts (or plugins). With your site developed, Cactus sets up your domain and deploys to Amazon S3. Alternatively, you can export your finished project if you're hosting the website yourself.
Cactus is $29.99 on the Mac App Store, and a demo is available to download.
StorageStatus keeps you informed of when your internal and external drives spin up and spin down, when devices have been connected and disconnected, and how long drives have been active or sleeping. It's designed to be a modern replacement for Apple's SpindownHD utility, making it useful for monitoring power consumption when mobile, or diagnosing why hard drives might start up when they're not supposed to. The app is $0.99 through February on the Mac App Store.
Friend of the site Erica Sadun recently released Folderol, a Mac app that simply lets you change the color of your folders on OS X. Of the many changes in OS X Mavericks is how labels are displayed; now being tags, small little colored dots next to file and folder names are all that differentiate how your stuff appears. Folderol brings back some visual distinctiveness, a feature that Apple once offered on classic Mac OSes, starting with System 6 for color Macintoshes. Folderol's default color palette smartly pair with Apple's tags, but you're free to choose your own with the built-in color picker. Download Folderol for $0.99 from the Mac App Store.
It was just over a year ago that CEO Ken Case of The Omni Group outlined the company's plans for 2013, following a successful "iPad or Bust!" campaign that allowed the company to bring all five (well okay... "four") of their desktop productivity apps to the iPad. So it was back to the Mac as it were, with OmniFocus 2 being at the forefront of the company's plans with OmniOutliner 4 due afterwards in the first quarter. As an app that was first released in January, 2005, OmniOutliner 3 was in need of an update. As Ken Case said himself, "... other than a few tweaks to the inspectors and toolbars, its design has mostly stayed the same: it’s starting to feel a bit long in the tooth." 2013 came and went, and as they say, all good things take time.
OmniOutliner 4 is a big update. For posterity, we'll call it Outliner for the rest of our overview. And honestly, I really don't know where to start.
Duo is a browser with no settings and no search functionality, specifically intended to show websites in desktop and mobile views next to each other. It's handy for Webkit development, includes dev tools, and can be launched from a bookmarklet via your browser of choice. You can't change the user agent, and it doesn't automatically refresh as you edit webpages with your favorite text editor, but it's an otherwise inexpensive tool for testing responsive designs on the fly. You can grab it for $4.99 in the Mac App Store.
The second update for Evernote's line of products makes life easier for Mac owners who are working on Retina displays. Skitch has been updated with an option that can turn off hi-res images, which halves the DPI and makes the image easier to send over mediums like email. Cleverly, Skitch will still retain the original image size client-side, syncing the full version with your Evernote account.
Grab the Skitch update from the Mac App Store.
Twitter 3.0 for the Mac sort of brings the Mac app up to date with its iOS counterpart, adding inline images, inline tweet convos and stats in the details view, profile photos, and a refreshed look and feel all around. The app lacks sending and viewing photos in direct messages (which was just announced), but I'm guessing that will come in a future update. I was hoping the Mac app would get a complete redesign since the current design is past its prime, but all things considered it's the iOS for iPad equivalent of Twitter's experience on the desktop. ... Also, is it just me, or does scrolling the timeline feel off?
Download Twitter 3.0 on the Mac App Store.
[Twitter via @sandofsky]