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Moom 3.2.9 released

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Moom 3.2.9 has been released, and it includes one major change (in addition to some other minor changes) from the prior release: A new full-screen grid option is the default for grid-based resizing; hexagons are still in place, but they’re the non-default choice.

Moom now uses the entire display as the grid. You can still specify your grid dimensions, but you’ll be selecting regions of the entire display, instead of on a slanted hexagonal window. One advantage of this approach—besides not dealing with hexagons—is that you can drag a grid on any connected display, not just the display where the window currently resides.

App Store users should see the update in the App Store very soon now, and direct users can update via the in-app updater, or by downloading a new copy from our site.

Moom 3.2.8 released

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Late yesterday, we released Moom 3.2.8, which has only one change from Moom 3.2.7, released the day before. The update is available directly from us (via in-app updater, or by downloading it from our site), and it should be available in the Mac App Store app shortly, if not already.

The one change was to the grid, which switched from rectangular (with the circles of 3.2.7) to the new hexagonal layout, as seen at right.

Why did we change the design? Late last week, we learned there’s a US patent that covers resizing windows using a rectangular grid in a miniature preview image. We learned this when the patent’s owner told us they believed Moom’s grid was infringing on their patent. For now, we have redesigned the grid in such a way that no infringement claim can be made, and we’re working on further improvements.

Note: Comments are closed on this post, as we wish to inform you as to what happened, not to start a debate on software patents in general, or this patent in particular.

Moom 3.2.6 snaps into existence

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Moom 3.2.6 has been released with a few bug fixes for snap-related actions. Users had reported some issues with snapping when working with zoomed displays and when customizing toolbars, and some reported decreased responsiveness in certain apps. We have addressed all of these issues in Moom 3.2.6; you can see slightly greater detail on these changes in the official release notes, if you wish.

App Store users should see the update shortly, if not already, in the App Store app. Direct users can update via the in-app updater, or by downloading a new copy of the app from the Moom page.

The new Many Tricks’ end user license agreement

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Ever since Peter and I relaunched Many Tricks in 2010, we’ve never had an official software license agreement. The closest thing we’ve had is this blog post, which explains limits on the use of our apps across multiple Macs (tl;dr: Use them on as many Macs as you personally use). However, we’ve never had an actual end user license agreement (EULA) that spells out the legal license you agree to when you purchase one of our apps.

Well, we have one now—it’s also permanently linked in the sidebar here, and will be accessible from within our apps. And a really big thanks to Rich Siegel at Bare Bones Software, who generously agreed to let us use his document as a starting point. I found the Bare Bones EULA to be well written, brief, and easily understood; hopefully our version, which has only minor changes, is still all of those things.

After six years, why did we suddenly need an EULA? The truth is we probably should have had one from day one, but never really felt the need. Recently, however, we’ve received inquiries from government agencies and larger companies interested in buying our apps … and many of these customers aren’t allowed to purchase our apps unless we have an actual legal license agreement. So now we do.

Note that this doesn’t change anything relative to the usage of our apps; we still allow you to use one license to install our apps on as many Macs as you personally use. We just needed to have a formal legal software license for larger customers and government agencies.

Moom and Name Mangler updated

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Final update: Moom 3.2.5 has been released on the App Store; this fixes the drag-to-display bug and all App Store users should now update.

Update: If you have the App Store version of Moom, and if you use multiple displays, then please don’t update to Moom 3.2.4—we just found and fixed an issue with moving windows to other displays. The Moom version on our site has been updated to 3.2.5, and we’re in the middle of submitting an App Store update.

As mentioned in the release notes, I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience. This was entirely my fault. —Peter

Hot on the heels of our recent Time Sink and Keymo updates come two larger updates: Moom 3.2.4 and Name Mangler 3.3.6.

These releases re-sync the versions numbers between the App Store and direct versions, and both feature some bug fixes and general improvements. You can read the details in the release notes for Moom and Name Mangler, respectively.

The big news in both versions (and coming soon to all our other apps) is our totally rewritten help system. You can read all about the new help system in the linked blog post, but the key bits are that search and navigation are now much nicer, and the window is a real (non-floating!) OS X window that’s visible to apps like Witch.

Direct customers can get the Moom and Name Mangler updates via the in-app updater, or by downloading the full versions from our site. App Store customers should see the updates in their App Store app—if not now, then shortly.

Announcing our new in-app help system

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Starting with our recent update to Keymo, we rolled out a new help system. We developed this new system to solve some aggravations we were having with Apple’s built-in help system, and to provide our users with a better help experience. This new help system will be rolling out to all our apps in the very near future.

Here’s a quick peek at the first screen of Moom’s new help:

Moom's new help

There are many aspects to our new help system that should make in-app help work much better for our users—some new features, some existing features working better, and a revamped look and feel.

First off, there’s a new navigation system, as seen in the image at right. Click the “hamburger” menu on any page, and this handy drop-down makes it simple to get wherever you need to go.

The current section is always marked with a checkmark, so you’ll know exactly which page you’re on when you activate the menu.

The help window is also now a normal OS X window, not the “I will block everything!” floating window of Apple’s help system.

Our new help window is also visible to apps—like our own Witch—that list open windows; the built-in help viewer windows aren’t visible to Witch.

Like the built-in help viewer, the text in the help window is resizable—just press ⌘-Minus (smaller) and ⌘-Plus (larger) to resize. The help system will remember your preferred size even if you close and reopen its window. (It will reset to the default size if you quit and relaunch the app.)

Our help system features two types of search. The first, and to me the most useful, is the ability to search the entire help system from within the app’s Help menu. (Note that you must be running the app in “normal” mode to use this search—otherwise, it won’t have menus!)

To use the help-wide search, select the Help menu within the app, then just type in the search box. You’ll see matches for any menu items, and then any help pages that contain your search term:

Search all

Select one of the matches from the Help Topics section, and help will open to that page, with the matching term already highlighted.

You can also search the current help page by pressing ⌘-F; this drops down a standard OS X search box. Type your search, and the first match will be highlighted on the page:

Find on page

Press ⌘-G and help will jump to and highlight the next match; repeat as necessary until you find the section you need. One nice bonus feature here is that if there are no matches on the current page, the help system will display a list of other help pages that do contain a match:

Find on other pages

Right-click on any open area of a page, and a handy contextual menu appears. You can use this to go back and forward between previously opened pages—though it’s easier to use the arrow buttons at the top of the window, or ⌘ and the left and right arrows if you prefer the keyboard.

There’s also a Reload button—this is there primarily for our use when writing help, but if you find yourself looking at a blank page, this may force the content to be reloaded.

But really, the important thing in the contextual menu is the ability to print help pages. Select Print… from the contextual menu, and a standard OS X print dialog appears:

If you’re an admirer of dead trees, click the Print button to send the output to your printer. But you may find it more useful to click the PDF button, and save a copy of the help page to PDF format—you could then add it to iBooks to read anywhere, for example.

We hope you find the new help system, well, helpful. We have plans to enhance it further in the future, but for now, it’s already a great improvement (for both us and you) over the old system.

Do not sync our apps’ prefs file across Macs

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Many users, myself included, own more than one Mac. For people like us, the concept of syncing an apps’ settings across those Macs, so they’re always the same and always up to date, is enticing. But unless the app has been specifically written to support such syncing (i.e. TextExpander, or the snippets/presets portion of our own Name Mangler), this is generally a Very Bad Idea.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve received emails from a few users, complaining of lost settings in a couple of our apps. After some back-and-forth, the common thread among these users was the use of an open source tool called Mackup.

Mackup claims that it will:

  • Back up your application settings in a safe directory (e.g. Dropbox)
  • Sync your application settings among all your workstations
  • Restore your configuration on any fresh install in one command line

If you browse the Mackup page, you’ll find a number of our apps—Moom, Name Mangler, and Witch—listed in the Supported section. This may make you think that we’ve been consulted, and that those apps have our blessing to be used with Mackup. This is not the case at all.

Supported apps are just apps that Mackup itself supports in its configuration; there’s not necessarily any involvement with—or approval from—the app’s original developer. That’s certainly the case with us, as we were never contacted about including our apps on Mackup’s supported list. At present, we do not support preference files synced across multiple Macs for our apps. (We have asked to have our apps removed from Mackup, but so far, there’s been no response from the Mackup developer.)

We do not recommend the use of Mackup, or any other such tool that syncs our apps’ prefs files across multiple Macs. You may lose all your settings, or introduce some sort of command conflict that could cause problems using our apps. Please revert to locally-stored non-synced prefs.

The way preferences files work in OS X now, syncing any apps’ prefs via a sync service is probably not a good idea anyway, unless the app is specifically designed for such sharing. Why not?

In modern versions of OS X, a process called cfprefsd manages preferences. When you launch an app, cfprefsd caches the prefs file values into RAM, and from then on, it’s in charge of how and when prefs changes get written back to disk. There are times when, even after changing a prefs file on disk (say via a Terminal command) that those changes aren’t reflected in the app, even after relaunching it. That’s because cfprefsd overwrote your changes when it wrote out its cached values.

Even if you weren’t to lose your preferences file due to Mackup, it will lead to conflicts that have no easy resolution. Consider Moom being used on two Macs, with a shared preferences file. Moom is an always-running kind of app, so it’s likely to be running on both Macs at the same time. On one Mac, a user adds a custom control; on the other Mac, a short time later, the user creates a different control, but accidentally uses the same keyboard shortcut as they did on the first Mac. What happens when the prefs file is synced between both Macs?

Excluding certain parts of Name Mangler, none of our apps are written assuming that they will have to manage a shared settings file. We have no idea what will happen if something like the above Moom scenario were to occur. But whatever the outcome is, it’s not something we have anticipated, because prefs file are expected to be local, and to only be modified by one instance of the app.

Future versions of some of our apps may support some version of pref syncing. But until they do, please keep our apps’ prefs files local to each Mac. (You can get a head start on configuring a new Mac by copying your apps’ prefs files from another Mac. But copy them, don’t sync them.)

Avoid an OS X text-to-speech bug that affects Moom

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

In “OS X El Capitan and tvOS still a bag of hurt for people with motion sickness and other vestibular disorders”, Craig Grannell mentions an odd bug he discovered that affects Moom and other window management apps:

I also recently discovered an issue with window manager Moom, where windows wouldn’t snap, but would instead skid around the display, triggering motion sickness. It turns out other window managers are affected, and the trigger is activating text-to-speech.

Basically, if you use text-to-speech and then use Moom within the same app, you’ll find that Moom behaves in strange and ugly ways: windows slowly wander to their new positions, and you can’t resize and move (i.e. use the grid), as only one of the two operations will complete.

The issue, unfortunately, lies in OS X not Moom, so it’s not something we can fix. There are two workarounds, though:

  • Use text-to-speech via the menus, instead of the built-in hot key. Use Edit > Speech > Start Speaking to start, and Edit > Speech > Stop Speaking to stop. When invoked via the menus, the bug mysteriously vanishes.

    To make this easier to do, you can assign global keyboard shortcuts for Start Speaking and Stop Speaking in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts:

    The defined keys should work in any app that supports text-to-speech.

  • If you quit and relaunch the app in which you used text-to-speech, Moom will return to normal, at least until you again use text-to-speech.

We’ve reported this bug to Apple, so hopefully it’ll be fixed in a future OS X update. Until then, though, if you use Moom (or another window manager) and text-to-speech, you’ll have to rely on one of these workarounds.

All direct apps updated to improve update security

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Yes, that’s right, we’ve updated the updater in our direct apps. Our direct apps rely on Sparkle to inform you when there are new versions available. Over the weekend, we were made aware of a potential vulnerability in how we implemented Sparkle. Basically, if your network is already compromised by what’s called a Man in the Middle attack, then it’s possible an attacker could use the Sparkle update mechanism in our apps to remotely execute code on your Mac. That’s bad.

Although this is a relatively small exposure (as you must already be on a compromised network), we felt it was important to act on it right away, so we’ve updated all of our apps to use Sparkle over secure HTTP (HTTPS). Please update any directly-purchased Many Tricks apps immediately.

Important: There’s a bit of a Catch-22 here … in order to get you this update, it must come over insecure HTTP, because that’s how Sparkle in the app you’re using is configured. If you are concerned that you might be on a compromised network, please do not update using the in-app updater. Instead, just download the relevant app(s) directly from our site, which uses HTTPS.

If you have any questions on this update, please leave a comment or email us directly, and we’ll do our best to address your questions.

Note: Although our App Store apps don’t use Sparkle, we know they’re out of date with some of the other minor bug fixes that came with these releases. We’ll be submitting updates to the App Store next week to get App Store users current.

The Many Tricks holiday sale event and charity drive

Monday, December 14th, 2015

People ask us all the time, “When are your apps going on sale?” And we always reply “We don’t know,” because, generally, we don’t know. But we know now: Our apps—when you purchase directly from us—are on sale for the remainder of 2015, and there are two ways to take advantage of the sale.

Option One: Own Them All

First off, you can own them all for just $50—that’s $62 off the normal price of $112 for all 10. All ten apps, fifty bucks total. These are fully licensed versions, not some special one-off, so they’re all eligible for upgrade pricing when major new releases come out.

On the charity drive front, we will donate $10 for each bundle sold to the United Nation’s refugee fund, to help with the ongoing global refugee crisis. And to get things started, we’ve already donated $500 to the fund.

Option Two: Save Some Coin

If you don’t really want all our apps (we don’t understand such thinking, of course!), you’ll want to use option two: Every purchase is 30% off for the remainder of the year.

We will donate 10% of our net proceeds from any individual sales to that same UN refugee fund.

About the Mac App Store

You may have noticed that this sale is only available to customers who purchase directly from us; our App Store app pricing is unchanged, and we can’t create a bundle of apps there anyway.

So why aren’t the individual MAS versions on sale? Quite honestly, we feel Apple has ignored the MAS for too long, and as a result, the customer experience is not what it should be. Add in the recent snafu with certificates, and we would like to reward those who choose to purchase direct. That’s why this sale is for direct customers only.

So there you have it, the Many Tricks year-end sale event and charity drive.