Followup on Sandboxing and the Mac App Store

After being quoted by Ben Brooks and Mac Stories, I’ve been getting some attention for my apparent singling out of TextExpander. So, for the record, I DO trust Smile not to do anything evil with my keystrokes. They’re not Google. And, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I do use the Creative Suite and VMWare, both App Store “hold outs”. I trust all of these apps not to be evil, but that doesn’t mean they should get to be in the store as is. Apple doesn’t do exceptions. If they let TextExpander in they’d have to let an Angry Birds strategy guide that installs a keylogger in. If they let disk utilities in, they’d have to let that same “strategy guide” have block level access to the disk, and that’s not what anyone wants.

To all the Mac developers out there, if you’re app doesn’t “fit” into Sandboxing guidelines for a good reason (like your app has no functionality with those features removed) then go ahead, sell it on your site, and the additional traffic from blogs proclaiming you a white knight against Apple might just make up the difference in revenue from not being more discoverable in the store.

However, if you have one little feature (like you’re an email client that can’t scrape my iPhoto library anymore but can still do everything else) then please, PLEASE take a page from BBEdit and just make two versions and explain the difference to users. It’s really not that hard.

Today my Retina MacBook Pro arrived so I’m having all the fun of installing everything on a new machine. The App Store stuff was easy to install, but going around the web finding everything else (or using my archive of DMGs and ISOs) is less fun. While I love the pricing on CS6 cloud, now I have Adobe’s crappy update daemon installed. VMWare might be too close to the metal and they don’t complain when you redownload so they get a pass for now. But it’s nice to keep the list so short. I’m glad I’m not going around to Panic and BareBones and Pixelmator’s websites and digging up keys from some archive. Those days are over.

One more point I’d like to address is that when these apps “leave” Apple, not the developer, is screwing the users of those apps.

How many of these apps have free upgrades from 1.0 to 4.0? That’s what I thought. Current users “not getting a new version” is exactly what these developers want because the App Store doesn’t have upgrade pricing. If someone buys SomeApp 3.0 on the Mac App Store, then the developer says “4.0 is our site only” they’re still getting their upgrade money. And if they really wanted they could give users a way to prove owning an App Store copy to receive a discount (or just hold a 50% off sale when the new version comes out like VMWare does).

A year from now Apps aren’t going to be “leaving” anymore, they’ll be long gone since Sandboxing will have become “normal” rather than new. I bet the Mac App Store with it’s pro apps will be doing just fine, and I bet there will be (at least some) Microsoft and maybe more Adobe titles.

Finally, Sandboxing was not some secret. Apple has made it clear that this was coming. If it takes until you get that rejection email to realize this then one has to wonder about the developer a little.

If anyone from Smile is listening, I would use a TextExpander app for all my text expanding needs and have no problem pasting. We’re all pro users right? Pasting isn’t a big deal to us. You should still be on the App Store, and offer downloads to install the background service from the web, like BBEdit’s app store version does with their command line tools.