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Update Expectations

Published on Fri, 5 September 2008

I’ve recently upgraded from a Power Mac G5 to a Mac Pro. Since this upgrade also includes a switch of processor architecture I’ve been making a point of re-downloading all the apps I use, instead of just copying them from the old Mac. I’m doing this for two reasons. Firstly it ensures the apps are all up to date1 and secondly I ran Xslimmer over a lot of apps on the G5, which removed the Intel binary from Universal apps.

This process has made me somewhat aware of a few apps that have seen little or no updates in quite a while. For some reason I have an expectation that applications will see periodic updates, say every six months or less. This expectation seems to stem from the fact I’ve paid for all these apps, which seems to bring with it some expectation of updates. Whether or not this expectation is justified or not is certainly up for debate. I clearly purchased a tool at some point and it performs its job fine, so I got what I paid for. I guess the expectation comes from not wanting to think you’ve bought abandon-ware and that software is one of those things that tends to continually evolve.

In some cases I think the authors of the software fuel these expectations by explicitly indicating that there will be future development or by implying there will be updates. The following are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Disco (Disc burning software)

Disco had a very hyped public beta prior to its release but since then has remained almost untouched feature wise. Its seen three maintenance releases since 1.0, which mostly centred around bug fixes and minor tweaks. Yet the application’s home page advertises the following:

There are some amazing things in the works for Disco. First and foremost, as Apple adds support for Blu-ray to their computers we intend to be right there with them. As soon as possible, Disco will support these new media technologies to the fullest. We’re also planning on introducing more innovative features in the vein of Discography, Spanning and the new Disc Naming.

Obviously we’re still waiting for Apple to bring us Blu-ray however despite the claims of future enhancements in the last sentence there have been no significant new features since the 1.0 release over 18 months2 ago. The last maintenance release was six months ago.

AppZapper (Application removal tool)

AppZapper is a well designed minimalist app that takes care of deleting applications and their associated support files. Whilst it works ok. There’s definitely room for improvement to become comparable with some of the newer apps in this area like Forklift, which I also own. Forklift tends to find more files, such as log files, that AppZapper misses. The AppZapper home page proclaims “Free upgrades for life”. This seems like a good selling point until you discover that the last time it saw an update of any kind was well over 18 months ago3.

Xtorrent (BitTorrent client)

Xtorrent is written by the infamous Dave Watenabe. His combined search tool and torrent client saw frequent, if not frantic updates leading up to and beyond the 1.0 release. Followed by a feature release of version 1.1 not far off one year ago4. The kicker with this one is that when you purchase Xtorrent you can pay an extra US$15 to get lifetime upgrades (which I did). That would be money well spent if there were frequent upgrades.

Now I’m aware Dave can fly off the handle at times so in an attempt to avoid that I will mention that he does have a lot of apps on his hands for a single developer. I guess the main gripe here is Xtorrent can be a little flakey at times, particular when clicking the delete search button5, plus I’m led to believe it uses the open source Transmission BitTorrent library so there could potentially be updates just to keep Xtorrent in sync with that.

So there you go, maybe I’m being greedy and expecting too much or maybe there’s room for improvement from these app’s authors, either way lets hope the apps see some love soon.

See also, the followup to this post, Updated Applications.


  1. Although this is taken care of by built-in updaters like Sparkle and derivatives in a lot of cases.
  2. http://discoapp.com/releasenotes.html
  3. http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/20306/appzapper
  4. http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/22815/xtorrent
  5. I probably should admit here that no, I haven’t reported this to him. I’ll get on it after this post.

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