Usher will be stepping aside

After many long conversations, we have decided to retire Usher, our media management app: Effective March 1st, 2017, Usher will no longer be available for purchase. We will update it to fix issues that arise, but no further development will occur.

If you’ve always wanted to own Usher, you’ve got about two weeks left to make the purchase. (It’s not being abandoned, we’re just retiring it from active development, so you will be supported. However, please read the Q&A before you decide to purchase Usher.)

So what does this mean for you as an Usher user? We figure you might have questions, so we’re going to do our best to answer them here. Anything we don’t address, please feel free to bring it up in the comments, or by emailing us directly.

Why are you retiring Usher?

Usher does its video magic through QuickTime. Not the newer-and-current QuickTime X, but the original QuickTime. This lets Usher do all sorts of neat stuff, but also means it can break due to an event that crashes QuickTime—most Usher crashes are actually QuickTime crashes which then take Usher out, too.

QuickTime is very old, and obviously no longer updated. (It’s so old that it’s not even 64-bit code.) Newer video formats may cause issues, and we can’t resolve those issues in Usher because they’re actually in QuickTime. Given these age-related issues with QuickTime, we’re no longer comfortable selling and supporting Usher to new buyers, so we’ve decided it’s retirement time.

Why not make Usher work with QuickTime X?

As much as we’d love to work on integrating QuickTime X into Usher, the unfortunate reality is that we can’t presently justify the time investment it would require. Even when new, Usher served a niche audience of people who obsessed about their video collections and found iTunes/iPhoto weren’t sufficient for their needs. Unfortunately, this niche started small and has only gotten smaller over the years, and the move to streaming media instead of physical or electronic-but-owned media files has only made it worse.

Beyond the market size, we can’t just delete “old QuickTime” and insert “QuickTime X” and be done with it. The two are very different, so much so that we’d need to totally rewrite the engine that drives Usher. And that’s a huge job…and one that wouldn’t ever be paid back in sales, due to the limited market size.

The double whammy of a lack of potential customers and huge time investment to rewrite Usher mean we can’t presently justify the work required to make Usher use the newer QuickTime X.

What happens to my copy of Usher?

Nothing at all. Like all our apps, Usher is a standalone program, so it will continue to run just fine in macOS Sierra (or whatever release you’re using it in).

Going forward, we’ll work to fix any bugs that crop up, and do our best to keep Usher working with new releases of macOS. We can’t make any promises, of course, but both of us use Usher, and we’d like to keep it working for as long as possible without investing a huge amount of time in the project. (Of course, if Apple breaks “old QuickTime” at some point, that will be the end for Usher. Let’s hope they never do that.)

I bought from the Mac App Store, what happens to my version?

All Mac App Store buyers are encouraged to crossgrade to our direct version—it’s free, and you get a permanent Usher license so you never need use the App Store version again. The App Store version should get any bug fixes we release, but we’ve never tried updating a removed-from-sale app before; migrating to the direct version will ensure you always get these bug fixes. By migrating, you’ll also be able to reinstall at any time by downloading the app again from our server and applying your license file.

Can I get a refund?

If you bought directly from us, you can get a refund within 60 days of purchase. If you bought from the App Store, Apple’s official policy is no refunds, but they’ve been known to offer them if you ask nicely (and rarely).

But again, the app will continue to work fine, so there’s no need for a refund on the basis of non-functionality. But if you’d like your money back and you’re within the 60-day window, just ask.

Why aren’t you open sourcing Usher, instead of retiring it?

We can’t open source Usher because it contains code that we share between many of our apps, and we’re not willing to make that code public at this time.

Why not give it away for free?

In short because we wouldn’t be able to support the users. Yes, we could say “no support included,” but if someone has a problem with Usher and they lose their library, neither of us would be comfortable saying “Sorry, no support, it was free.” That’s not how we work. So we’d wind up with a crush of free support requests for one of our largest, most complex apps. That’s not a sustainable model.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to an application, and Usher is no different. Unfortunately, between the old QuickTime technology and small (but very enthusiastic) audience, we cannot currently justify the work required to make the program into what we know it could be.

10 Responses to “Usher will be stepping aside”

  1. Eduardo says:

    Are there any apps that you’d recommend to look at to replace Usher?

    • Rob Griffiths says:

      Honestly, I haven’t looked, but I know there’s not a huge list of options. Many people use Plex, which isn’t quite the same thing.


  2. Scott H says:

    I’m very sorry to hear that you’re ending development on Usher. I used it as an annotated video clip database–the integrated video playback was completely unimportant to me. I’ve invested many days of work adding descriptions and custom tags to my collection of over 1,100 clips. Is there some way I can get all this information OUT of Usher in a file format that I might be able to use in another program? There must be some way to get an export of all that data. It seems like the least you could do for your longtime users, who may have invested hours and hours entering that data, is give us some way to get it out to use it elsewhere.

    And would you have any suggestions for a replacement program that serve as that database? I need no video playback capability at all.

    • Rob Griffiths says:

      We’re looking into finding a way for you to get data out. Keep in mind, though, that Usher isn’t going anywhere; I fully expect it’ll run for the next several years, at least. We’ll fix bugs as they occur, and we’ll update it as needed for new OS releases. We’re just not going to develop a next major release.

      In addition to Plex, noted in my other reply, you might check out DVDpedia; it’s a movie catalog app, which seems to be what you’re looking for. I haven’t used it myself, though, so I can’t comment on how good/bad it might be.


  3. Denis says:

    I’ve been using Miro (free, open source) for the last week or so and it does the job for me, once I got used to it. It allows creation of Playlist folders and playlists to group/organize your videos, and it remembers the last place you left off when watching a video. To date, it works for me.

  4. Telstar says:

    In december I was told you’d been working a lot on Usher, and a major update was to be released soon. What will happen to all this work, and why don’t you release it?

    • Rob Griffiths says:

      That work is in Usher 1.1.15, which I described like this when we released it:

      “Usher 1.1.15 has a ton of changes, most of which aren’t directly visible. But we’ve improved memory usage, speed of previews, crawler performance, and more.”

      We also touched up the UI in lots of places to make it more modern; between that and the crawler improvements, this really was a ton of behind the scenes work.


  5. Rudi says:

    Thats sad news. I would have thought there is a much larger user base for offline video collections. I mean its not like an app for hobby palaentologists. Movies, everybody likes movies and I know many people who have digital collections.
    What’s particularly uncomfortable about this news is that, I, and I assume others too, don’t use the program to watch movies (there are 25 free and good options for a movie player, would never have bought usher for that) but as a catalog, database, collection with a very HIGH amount of metadata being assigned to each movie and many smart folders/playlists. I spend on average 10-15 minutes per movie assigning metadata, such as movie critics, nice artwork, ratings, genre information, country etc.
    I am now quite reluctant to do this anymore .. as if it breaks one day, I might not be able to get that data out, unless we speak copying one field after another to another software. Maybe enable a feature of spitting out a text file with metadata, named exactly like the movie file?
    I know you say there are very few users. I am sure some would be willing to pay a yearly subscription for the app. I certainly would. You could ask and maybe this way the app can survive.

    • Rob Griffiths says:

      Regarding the export, there is now a way to get the data out—see this blog post for details. As for it’s general role as a manager vs. a player, we’ve had that very discussion, and we’re still having it.


  6. Rudi says:

    Thanks a bunch! While I hope I will not have to use it, it’s great to know I am 2 clicks away from having all my metadata saved in a csv file. And it works perfect, even for custom fields I created such as IMDB rating etc. Stoked! Hope you un-retire usher one day. Cheers!