Ushering in a new era

For those of you who use Usher, you’re probably well aware it’s a 32-bit application, and will stop working when macOS Catalina ships this fall. This was a key factor in our decision to retire Usher back in 2017.

But since its retirement, all has not been quiet with Usher—at least not privately. We’ve stripped out the old 32-bit QuickTime engine and replaced it with the modern AVFoundation (a.k.a. QuickTime X). This wasn’t a trivial change, but we’ve reached a point where we’d like to invite Usher users to help test what we’re calling Usher 2.

Usher 2 is a 64-bit app, ready to run in both macOS Mojave and Catalina when it ships this fall. We’d like all current Usher users—as well as others interested in the media management and playback features of Usher—to download the Usher 2 beta and give it a spin.

We’re very interested in feedback, of course. Not just does it run (we’re quite confident in that one), but what do you like, what don’t you like, what key feature that used to exist is now missing and you absolutely must have it, what other features would you like to see, etc.

What’s new in Usher 2, other than the entire engine that runs in? There’s a full list in Usher’s release notes, but here are a few highlights…

  • If Usher can’t directly open a file (that is, QuickTime X doesn’t support its codec), Usher will fall back to opening the file with its default app.
  • If you use VLC, Usher can monitor VLC’s playback progress and start the next movie in an Usher playlist when the first is done.
  • Dark mode support
  • Play movies backwards, and/or at double speed.

There’s a ton of other stuff, so do check out the release notes! We’ve also tried to predict which questions you may ask us about Usher 2…

Is Usher going back on the market?

At this time, we haven’t made any decision about returning Usher to sale. How Usher 2 does in this public beta will be a factor in our decision.

If Usher does go back on sale, will it be in the Mac App Store?

Since we haven’t yet decided if we’re going to sell Usher 2 at all, this question is unanswerable at this time.

Do I need an Usher license to test the beta?

No. Anyone can download and use the Usher 2 beta. It will expire at a certain point in the future, at which time it will revert to demo mode if you don’t have an Usher license.

Do you really want my feedback?

Yes, we do. This Usher is very different from prior Usher, and we want to know what you think. If you’re a prior Usher user, do you miss any features we weren’t able to carry over? Is there some feature you always wanted but still isn’t there? Does everything work as you expect it to work? Whatever it is, we want to hear it. If you’re a new user, is Usher an app you’d use? Why or why not?

I use Usher 1…will the Usher 2 beta change my library structure such that I can’t go back?

There is no problem switching between Usher 1 and Usher 2—the library format is identical. If you try the beta and decide to revert to Usher 1, there are no steps required; just launch Usher 1. Just remember that Usher 1 won’t work in macOS Catalina.

Will the Usher 2 beta run in the macOS Catalina beta?

Based on our testing, it seems to run fine. However, Catalina is a beta, and we do not advise using a beta macOS release as your primary OS—there may be a bug in the OS that causes an issue with Usher’s library file, for instance. We strongly recommend using Usher 2 with macOS Mojave or earlier, not with the Catalina beta.

3 Responses to “Ushering in a new era”

  1. Scott says:

    I’m very happy to see this! Although I don’t have any immediate plans to move to Catalina when it’s released, I’m a regular Usher user and glad to see it “alive” again in development. The ability to edit metadata fields directly from the context menu is nice, although it does mean “Edit Metadata” is now one step lower on the menu (but I can get used to the keyboard shortcut). I have noticed that in dark mode, the leftmost column where the rows are numbered (in List view) are still black, which means they’re pretty much invisible on the black and dark gray rows.

    I haven’t looked into all the features, but it seems to me like Usher 2 does everything I expect it to. Maybe give people an option to switch out of dark mode in the Preferences? Possibly a way to show a slightly larger display font in list view?

    I hope you make the decision to bring Usher 2 out of beta and offer it for sale. I’ll be buying it the day that happens. Thanks for not giving up on the program!

    • Peter says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Scott! Some replies:

      – “Edit Metadata” being buried: This depends on how many properties you have overall, and the threshold is an esoteric user default you can set via Terminal. That user default, along with the context menu’s structure in general, is subject to change, so I’d rather not document it here and be married to it forever, but feel free to send me an email (peter at this web site’s domain).

      – Index column invisible in dark mode: Oops. This will be fixed in the next beta.

      – Opt out of dark mode as a preference: macOS has a user default for this that you can set for a given app: defaults write com.manytricks.Usher NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance -bool YES

      – Slightly larger font for lists: Right click on the source list (the left part of the main window that has the Library and Playlists). You’ll get a context menu option that will increase the font size by a point or two. (Ideally, we’d adhere to the system standard, as defined in the “General” system preferences, for this. Some day.)

  2. I just downloaded and tried Usher 2. Very nice. Kept all of my folder structures and videos. One feature that seems gone is that it doesn’t seem to be able to start playback at the last place I stopped a video? Other than this, it seems great. I’ve been using Usher for a very long time, and in preparation for Catalina, I actually created a VM of Mojave using Parallels. Works ok, but can be a bit slow to start. Not the ideal, but I didn’t want to lose Usher since I use it regularly.

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