Manual Auto-Updating.. Sorry guys.

I’ve recently spent a lot of time doing behind the scenes stuff to get my development practices up to the state of the art.

I’ve migrated from svn to git version control, I’ve started automating builds and release management. I’m synching my home office with my office machine, etc.. all in the name of working more efficiently and thus getting more stuff done..

The problem comes when things start going wrong.. they kind of spiral out of control.. as they did yesterday.

My first TNG (the next generation) release yesterday just went very slightly wrong.. nothing catastrophic.. A Better Finder Rename 8.15 has a very slight bug that means that the contextual menu item in the Finder only opens the application but does not add the selected files to the preview.. you’ll have to drag and drop them there anyway.. oops.

It took me a while to track down the reason for this and it’s quite simply that the 64-bit APIs in Leopard are not 100% backwards compatible and this caused the problem. I solved it and thought, wow! now I can really use that fully automated build process and do another release in less than a minute.. haha (evil laughter)..

And I did and it went wonderfully smoothly and fully validated why this was a good idea in the first place. I tested everything and it just worked first time over. No problem.. until I tried to update A Better Finder Rename 8.15 to the fixed 8.16 release using the auto-update feature.

I was greeted with an “Application is incorrectly signed” message.. oops.. especially since I have never signed the application updates.. how can it be incorrectly signed when it’s not even signed?

As it turns out when migrating A Better Finder Rename to 64-bit I included a new 64 bit friendly version of “Sparkle”, Andy Matuschak’s free auto-update framework that powers half the auto-updating applications on the Mac (Thanks Andy!).

Fortunately (or in this case not so fortunately) Andy is very concerned about security.. so much so that he has removed the ability to update without using digital signatures from the latest release of Sparkle that I’ve included in A Better Finder Rename 8.15.. which means that 8.15 needs my public key to verify any update that it downloads is valid; otherwise it just refuses to install the update.. only 8.15 does not have my public key.. which kind of means it can’t auto-update.. which means you have to manually update it.

I’m really sorry about this.. you’ll have to click on the link below:

and drag the application icon from the left to the right onto the Applications folder and confirm the overwrite.

It’s little consolation, but I seem to be far from the only developer who has fallen into this trap. So there’s a bunch of applications out there using Sparkle that will/ have already required a manual update after all.. it’s a bit unfortunate because Andy’s done more than anybody else to bring auto-update features to Mac applications.. security is important, but then again so is backwards compatibility.

It’s not really what an auto-update feature is supposed to do.. but at least now you get securely signed updates delivered.. and I’ve learned a lot more about version control, automated builds, 64-bit APIs and code signing than I had bargained for this early in the morning 🙂

As a small aside.. I’ve spent yesterday working on the promised speed and scalability improvements on A Better Finder Rename and it’s coming along very nicely. The preview is now between 3 and 5 times quicker and the new version only uses 320MB of real memory to preview 180,000 files.. I think you’re going to like it.