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Sandboxing follow-up

The day after I wrote about removing Clipstart from the Mac App Store, Apple announced that the sandboxing requirement would be delayed again. In that announcement was also a new twist: sandboxing would not be required for bug fix updates to existing apps.

This is welcome news, but I stand by my post. I still plan to transition Clipstart away from the MAS. The difference now is that I can do it at my own pace, providing a new version or two to MAS customers that will make the move easier.

I've already gotten started. Clipstart 1.4 just shipped with a few new features and better support for recognizing MAS receipt files. I've also submitted it to the Mac App Store, where it is waiting for review.

It's not clear where we are going to end up with sandboxing. Quoted in Macworld's coverage, Paul Kafasis suggests that sandboxing is so flawed that Apple should just scrap the whole thing.

Michael Tsai talks about all the work that is required to stay in the store. He closes with something that I've been thinking about:

"At each step of the way, it looks like just a little more work to get into the Mac App Store, or to stay there. Until the next issue pops up. And then, if you're successful, you're sort of locked into it due to the reasonable expectations of your many customers."

This lock-in creates two immediate problems with leaving the Mac App Store:

  • What about customers who may have originally bought the app directly from me, but decided to "upgrade" to the Mac App Store version? I'm sure I only have a few of these, but it's still unfortunate if someone bought the app twice. I'm just glad I didn't follow the lead of MAS-exclusive developers, such as Pixelmator's effort to encourage customers to switch to the MAS.
  • How do current Mac App Store customers get notified that there is a new version available outside the store? Sparkle is not allowed in the MAS, but I think the right thing to do here is provide a similar notification in the app. It would link to a web page with instructions for downloading the app directly.

I'll admit I have some regret leaving the Mac App Store. It's just so convenient for purchasing and installation. If I'm going to make this work, I'll have to redesign my own rather clunky purchase and activation experience. And I'll have to do a much better job of marketing, something that has not been easy with Clipstart.