The Future of the Butler (Butler 4.1.6)

Roughly half a year ago, we started distributing Butler as what we called a transient version, which basically meant it would stop working at some point in time, namely tomorrow. We did this because back then, we weren’t sure where we would be going with Butler. Similar to Witch, Butler had been distributed as donationware for years, and we knew we couldn’t really afford keeping that up, as detailed for Witch in this blog entry.

So when we converted Witch into shareware, we also did that to test the waters for Butler 5. We wondered: How are the users going to react to this transition? Will they be willing to update, or will they just continue using the old version?

I can honestly say that I was blown away by the response to Witch 2.0 — going shareware solicited nothing but positive feedback, and I think it’s safe to say it was an economic success as well. Given that experience, we knew: Butler 5 will be shareware. As always, past donators will get free licenses once we start distributing Butler 5 licenses; but still, this decision meant we had to raise the bar some more. If we’re going to make people pay a shareware fee, the product should be worth it.

That’s why we can’t give you a Butler 5 beta today. We’re aiming high, and we’re determined to shoot high, so there’s still a lot to do in terms of user interface and underlying technology improvements. Some tasks are easy yet time-consuming (e.g., commissioning new, larger icons to replace all those old 16×16 pixels icons), and others are just hard to get right (e.g., redesigning Butler’s configuration window to make current Quicksilver users feel more at home). In fact, we even decided to stop working on Butler 5 for a while in order to complete and release another application named Leech first, just to make sure we wouldn’t run into funding problems while working on Butler 5 as long as necessary. And that worked out really well.

There’s another thing we learned from the above-mentioned Witch transition, though, and that’s trusting our loyal users. Witch’s transition was a great success even though we didn’t force anyone to update by means of a transient version or anything like that.

So let’s ditch the whole “transient” concept. Today, we’re releasing Butler 4.1.6, which features two noteworthy improvements:

  • The status window (the one that’s shown in response to your entering hot keys or requesting iTunes information, for instance) no longer captures mouse clicks. In other words, you can click right through it. If you want to move the status window via click & drag, do so while holding the command key.
  • Typinator no longer confuses Butler’s pasteboard history.

But the most important change, as alluded to above, is that this version is no longer transient or deliberately limited in any other way. And it’s still donationware. Once Butler 5 is ready, we’re quite confident you’ll want to upgrade.

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