The future looks all Sparkle-y

As I noted in the Name Mangler 2.1 announcement, all future Many Tricks products will include support for in-app updates via Sparkle.

If you’re not aware of Sparkle, the reality is you’re probably aware of Sparkle. If you’ve ever run an app that let you download and install an update directly within the app, chances are good it’s using Sparkle to do that behind-the-scenes magic.

This amazing tool is open source, and supported by donations—and we’ll be doing some stuff in the future to support the project, as we think it’s a great addition to our code base.

Because you do lose some control over your machine in Sparkle-enabled apps (when they automatically download an update you didn’t ask for), all of our apps will include a simple on/off toggle for automatic update checking. If you’d rather check manually, just turn off the automatic updates. Personally, though, I leave Sparkle enabled in all the apps I use that include it; it makes product updates incredibly simple.

I’m thrilled we’re taking this step, as it simplifies what was a too-complex task for our programs—clicking a couple of buttons beats going to your browser, downloading and expanding an archive, quitting the original program, finding the original and new versions on your disk, and replacing old with new. Instead, Sparkle does all the heavy lifting ; you just click a couple of buttons and your app is up to date.

So thanks, Sparkle, for making our users’ lives simpler!

12 Responses to “The future looks all Sparkle-y”

  1. Tom says:

    A good decision, IMHO, this makes life a lot easier for the user, thanks.

  2. Andy says:

    Please try raising the relevance of your blog posts.

    Post to your blog when there’s something actually relevant — e.g., new releases. Remember that most people are already overwhelmed with information.

    Maybe instead of several short posts, ala Twitter, make a bigger one, with all the relevant announcements.

    And remember that this a blog for customers, not for other developers. This is a mistake that all-to-often companies make.

    On a side note: I am very happy that ManyTricks is working actively on their products again! Thank you!

    • Rob Griffiths says:

      This won’t be a huge volume blog, but after many months of no updates at all, we do have a few things to communicate, and the blog is the best way to do it. So far, we’ve posted six items in three days; that’s hardly an overwhelming flow of information. Of those six, one was due to a mistake I made in announcing Name Mangler 2.1, so it’s really just five. And going forward, I don’t expect we’ll be publishing two blog entries a day, every day.

      Combining things in one post isn’t necessarily the best solution, because (a) that one post would be so long that nobody would read it, and (b) it makes searching for a tidbit of information in the future much harder.

      As for the customer-focused nature of the blog, that’s certainly the main role. But in that role, other developers are among our customers, so a developer-related post wouldn’t be off topic (that’s why there’s a Developer category). I’m a bit confused, though, by how a post discussing how integrating Sparkle helps the users is anything but a customer-focused post. Yes, I had to mention a bit of technology, but other than that, the post was about how this change will benefit customers.


  3. Andy says:

    Rob Griffiths:
    “So far, we’ve posted six items in three days; that’s hardly an overwhelming flow of information.”

    Rob, you are making precisely the mistake many bloggers do in overwhelming people. You are forgetting that people subscribe to many blogs, not just yours.

    In my case, I subscribe to over 100 blogs, so the daily posts do add up, and 2 per day (on any one of them) would be overwhelming indeed.

    I imagine that if your other subscribers buy Mac software frequently, and subscribe to their company’s blogs, after 1 year they’ll have subscribed to about 100 blogs too (and this is only in the Software category), so I’m probably not alone here.

    Please try to understand this situation instead of being so defensive I do not want to unsubscribe and, furthermore, am trying to help you guys here.

    Posting too frequently can be as deadly as not posting at all, from a subscriptions standpoint.

    That said, if you intend on making an average of less than 3 posts per week, that’s OK with me. And it is, anyway, what most other Mac companies do.

    I hope this can be helpful and that I didn’t sound too harsh.

    Thank you for your apps. I love them! :)

    Congrats on your new beginnings! I wish you all the success!

  4. Rob Griffiths says:

    I wasn’t trying to be defensive, but to explain why we were posting; sorry if it came across as defensive.

    Personally, I subscribe to something approaching 300 blogs and sites, so I’m well aware of information overload — that’s why I use an RSS reader to try to keep it all in control. With an RSS reader and well-written titles, it’s easy to see if you need to be concerned about a particular subject or not. I’ll do my best to always make sure the titles are clear so that you can simply scan those instead of having to read the story to see what something’s about. (This post, ironically, is a violator of that rule, but I really wanted to use ‘Sparkle-y’ :) ).

    This blog isn’t going to be used for any personal postings of any sort; both Peter and I have our own blogs for those needs. However, for any news related to the company or the products, the blog is still the best place to put that information, and that’s what we’ll do. Twitter is great, but 140 characters doesn’t go very far.

    Thanks for the advice, and we’ll try to keep the flow at a reasonable level.


  5. Tom says:

    Mh… while I can understand what you mean, Andy, because I, too, read a LOT of RSS feeds, I for one appreciate it greatly that Many Tricks is being this verbose after a long hiatus. And I especially appreciate that Peter and Rob show themselves … how to put it … as humans, as individuals, not just some coding and marketing ‘bots. I like it when such “small” developers tell a bit more than just the business blurb.

    And reading both Entry and Comments RSS feeds for Many Tricks in the wonderful RSS reader Vienna I can quickly scan and decide whether I want to surf over here and comment or whether I just move on to other feeds, very efficient.

    Greetings, Tom

  6. Nathan says:

    Just another voice that I appreciate the renewed communications. In fact, the Sparkle update is great and I’m glad to know about it. I’m not sure how/why it is that readers now feel like they get to dictate the agenda? If you publish more posts than I care to read, I’ll just stop reading them. Not really a big deal. Anyway, looking forward to updates with Witch and your other products.

  7. Allan Smithee says:

    Andy, you need to stop hanging out at SXSWi and worshiping at the altar of Web2.0-echo-chamber “New Media” d-bags like Robert Scoble. A virtually unmeasurable percentage of users actually subscribe to over 100 blogs, let alone actually use an RSS reader to begin with. I happen to subscribe to over 350 feeds, but it’s not ManyTricks’ fault that I often struggle with “information overload” because of this. I dont NEED to be subscribed for 350+ feeds.

    The fact that MT is blogging at all is something you should be grateful for, considering that given the complete radio silence for over a year, it wouldnt have been unfair to have cast off MT as purveyors of abandonware at best, and ripoff artists at worst.

    I applaud the new level of communication that MT is now striving for. Please keep it up!

  8. MuppetGate says:


    If you say they should blog less because you read a lot of other blogs, then I could equally say they should blog more because they don’t.

    Should folk tweet less because some folk subscribe to hundreds of twitter pages? I think it’s up to the individual to manage their own intake of information – that’s pretty much how the internet has always worked.

    And as someone who has never written a line of code for the Mac, I was very interested to hear about Sparkle support because I know it’ll make updating the application much easier. But that’s just me…

  9. MuppetGate says:

    Damn! That first sentence should have read:

    “If you say they should blog less because you read a lot of other blogs, then I could equally say they should blog more because I don’t subscribe to a lot of other blogs.”

  10. Scott Rose says:

    PUH-LEEZE, EVERYBODY. if you don’t like the volume of blog posts, then UNSUBSCRIBE!! I personally LOVE receiving all of these blog postings from Rob, PARTICULARLY after Many Tricks went AWOL for 2+ years.

    Rob, please continue 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 blog postings a day! I read them all, and appreciate all of them!!

    NOW — back to the topic at hand — which is the Sparkle framework: Sparkle is so incredibly awesome. I wish every single app used Sparkle. In fact, I’m quite surprised that Apple doesn’t offer something like Sparkle for its developers because updating (and uninstalling) apps is still just too difficult for users.

    Heck, even INSTALLING apps for users is way too difficult, as I discuss in my excellent blog posting here:

  11. iæfai says:

    @Scott Rose, I find it most interesting that even Apple uses Sparkle – the Webkit nightly does in any event.