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Switching to an evolutionary app update model

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

Many Tricks has been in business a long time—Peter’s first shareware Mac app was released in 2003 (I joined Many Tricks in 2010). Over those nearly 20 years, the software business has changed dramatically—programs are now apps, Apple decided that “free with ads” is a good business model for developers to pursue, and the Mac’s operating system is now free.

While we’ve adapted our business a bit over that time (we do call them apps now, usually), there’s one thing that feels very out of date: How we keep our business in business. Up until today, that was done through an “old school” software business model that relied on new customers and occasional paid upgrades.

First things first: We are not moving to a subscription model, which seems to be all the rage these days, as neither Peter nor I are fans of software subscriptions. So what is the new model? Here’s the tl;dr version:

In our old model, features were held back to create major updates worth purchasing. In our new model, features are released when they’re ready, and you decide if and when to pay for an update.

As for why we’re making the switch and how it’ll work, read on.

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Keymou and Key Codes updated…and a birthday!

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Keymou 1.2.9 is now a universal app built for both Apple Silicon and Intel Macs. It’s also got a shiny new icon, and its interface now feels more at home on Big Sur.

Key Codes 2.2.1 also has a new icon, which is really all that’s changed in this update.

Direct users can update in-app, or by downloading a new copy of the app(s) from our site; App Store users should see the updates in the Mac App Store app, if not yet then very shortly.

Oh wait, did I say something about a birthday?! Yes, I did. No, not a person’s birthday, an app’s birthday: Moom is 10 years old today!

In celebration of this milestone, Moom is on sale for 50% off (just $5.00 in US currency) for the next five days. So if you or someone you know has been thinking about buying Moom, these next five days would be an excellent time to do so.

So happy birthday, Moom…and many more!

Leech 3.1.5 and Time Sink 2.2 released

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Leech 3.1.5 and Time Sink 2.2 are out. These are minor updates in that there aren’t a lot of changes in either app, but the big news for both is that they’re now native on both Intel and Apple silicon Macs.

You can read the release notes for both (Time Sink release notes • Leech release notes), but really, there’s not much more there than what you’ve read here.

As always, direct users can update from within the app or by downloading a new copy of the app from our site (you won’t lose your settings). App Store users should see the update in the App Store app—if not already, then very shortly.

Leech 3.1.4—the pi release—is out

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Leech 3.1.4 is out with a couple of fixes. First, certain web servers were accepting URLs that didn’t lead to a file, but didn’t return an error. As a result, Leech would think the download succeeded, yet all you’d see in your Downloads folder was a file whose name ended with .leech—and if you have Leech set to clear successful downloads, it would also vanish from the window. Leech 3.14 is smarter about this, and no longer considers a successful connection the same as a successful download.

The other fix involved a scrolling issue in Mojave where part of the list would disappear on scroll, at least until you resized the window a bit.

Direct customers can update within the app by checking for updates, or by downloading a new copy of the app from the Leech web page. App Store customers should see the update in the App Store app soon, if not already.

Leech 3.1.3 released

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Leech 3.1.3 is out now; this is primarily a bug fix release—see the release notes for the gory details.

There is, however, one new addition to the Safari extension: You can specify a regular expression to help filter matches when using the extension’s “download all links” feature. You set the expression on Leech’s Advanced tab, and Leech then applies the filter so that only matched items are downloaded. (There are a couple examples of how to use it in the help file.)

App Store users should see the update in the App Store app; direct users can update in-app, or by downloading a new copy of the app from the Leech web page.

Butler 4.3 released

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Butler 4.3 is out now, with some bug fixes and a couple new features:

  • Chrome bookmarks can now be imported.
  • Deactivate defined hot corners by clicking the active radio button; it will deselect.

Check the release notes for all the details. You can get the new version via the in-app updater, or by downloading a fresh copy of the app from the Butler web page.

Witch 4.2 released

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Witch 4.2 is now in the wild, and it contains a lot of goodies for a little “dot one” release. The release notes page has a summary of everything, including some nice new features. Here’s a brief summary on how to use a couple of the new features—the help file has more detail, including screenshots.

See active app’s icon in the menu bar: If you’re using the “Show in menu bar” checkbox to see Witch’s actions in the menu bar, you can now have the icon reflect the frontmost app, in place of the standard Witch icon. Hold down the Option key when selecting the Witch menu item, and the Preferences entry will change to Reflect Frontmost App. Select that to see the frontmost app’s icon in the menu bar (and a checkbox next to the frontmost app in the list).

Control frontmost window’s tab handling: Hold down the Option key while clicking the Mode pop-up in the “List tabs” section of an action, and the pop-up menu changes to indicate that the selection will only affect the frontmost window.

For example, if you want the frontmost window to always treat tabs as windows (i.e. list them separately in the switcher), hold down the Option key, click the Mode pop-up button, then select Frontmost Window: Treat Tabs as Windows from the pop-up menu. You can then select a different behavior (by not holding the Option key) for non-frontmost windows.

On the bug fix front, Witch 4.2 should resolve the occasional crash issue that a small number of users were seeing, gets rid of the annoying phantom Login item some of you were seeing, and greatly—and I do mean greatly—improves the quality of the mini window previews, if you use that feature. There’s lots more goodness in this release, so check for updates and install Witch 4.2 today.

Name Mangler 3.4.1 released

Monday, April 9th, 2018

Name Mangler 3.4.1 has been released, and should be showing in the in-app updater (for direct customers), or in the App Store app (for App Store customers). Direct customers can also download a full copy of the app from our site.

While only a tiny bump in release number, there’s actually a lot of goodness in this update, including…

  • Hold down the Shift key then click to select Files, Folders, and Folder Contents from the “what to rename” pop-up menu—in one click. The clicks you save will help extend the life of your clicking device!
  • Free spacing mode—for regular expression users—can now be toggled off or on in the preferences.
  • You can change Name Mangler’s default action, even setting it up with a series of Actions if you prefer. Set up the Action(s) you’d like to use, then hold down the Option key and select File > Save Default Configuration.
  • Name Mangler’s “traffic light” indicators, which let you know whether a given file was going to be cleanly renamed (green), renamed but with a note (yellow), or not renamed (red) are now distinct in both color and shape.
  • If Name Mangler is scanning a massive (hundreds of thousands of files) folder and you want it to stop, click the Rename button while the scan is in progress, and it will stop.

There are a few other goodies in this release, so check out the release notes for all the details.

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.

How Apple’s security system broke some Mac apps

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Feb 28 2017 update

Apple has responded quickly to address this issue. Their Developer ID page, which I believe is brand new, specifically addresses provisioning profiles and their relationship to the Developer ID certificate. Here’s what they say (emphasis added):

For apps that utilize advanced capabilities with a Developer ID provisioning profile
Gatekeeper will evaluate the validity of your Developer ID certificate when your application is installed and will evaluate the validity of your Developer ID provisioning profile at every app launch. As long as your Developer ID certificate was valid when you compiled your app, then users can download and run your app, even after the expiration date of the certificate. However, if your Developer ID provisioning profile expires, the app will no longer launch.

That section addresses the crashes seen in PDFpenPro and 1Password: It is now documented that an expired provisioning profile will prevent your app from launching. That’s not necessarily good news…but the good news is that this will, going forward, be a much rarer event:

To simplify the management of your Developer ID apps and to ensure an uninterrupted experience for your users, Developer ID provisioning profiles generated after February 22, 2017 are valid for 18 years from the creation date, regardless of the expiration date of your Developer ID certificate.

So any app that uses a provisioning profile created after February 22nd of this year will not crash due to an expired provisioning profile—even if the developer does nothing and lets their Developer ID certificate expire—until February 22, 2035. That’s effectively forever in the world of a macOS app (it’s longer than macOS/OS X itself has existed, in fact.)

Thanks, Apple, for the quick response! We’re leaving the original article posted as a non-techie overview of the Developer ID system; keep reading if that’s of interest to you.


Recently, some well-known Mac apps, including 1Password, PDFpenPro, and Soulver, had a big problem: They all failed to launch. Nothing had changed with these apps (i.e. no updates had been released), and yet they simply stopped working.

So what happened? All three of these apps (and probably some others we haven’t heard from yet) contained an expired code signing certificate. That expired certificate prevented the apps from launching, though no developer would have expected that, based on Apple’s own documentation. And an expired code signing certificate can’t just be renewed to extend its expiration date (like you would a driver’s license); it needs to be replaced with a new non-expired certificate, which requires distributing an update to the app.

Follow me now, if you wish, for a somewhat deep dive into the world of code signing, as I attempt to explain—from a consumer’s perspective yet with a developer’s hat on—what is code signing, why these apps broke, why the breakage wasn’t expected, and other related questions and answers.

Update: AgileBits has a very detailed blog post that covers this issue in even more depth—well worth the reading time.

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