Installing the latest iApps: yet another change

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
October 9th, 2003 • 5:49 pm

It looks as if Apple isn’t quite sure how to present the software installing process to the end user.

First, we had all these updates that were available as “disk images” (“.dmg” files) that would mount on your desktop as “virtual volumes” and open a new Finder window where you could double-click on the software installer per se, i.e. the “.pkg” file with the icon of a half-open package:


(Sometimes the volume would mount but the Finder window would not open automatically and you’d have to double-click on the volume to open it.)

Then I remember a couple of occasions where Apple actually distributed the “.pkg” itself inside of putting it inside a “.dmg” file.

Then we had the weird self-installing Safari installer. Apple obviously decided this wasn’t a very good idea either, and the final version of Safari was made available as a disk image again.

And now come new versions of iCal and iSync. I downloaded them yesterday and expected them to mount automatically on my desktop as volumes… Much to my surprise, it turns out that, when expanded, the new iCal and iSync downloads are actually regular folders.

No more disk images, then. The folders are still opened automatically in the Finder, so the net effect is pretty much the same as with the disk images (once the downloading process is complete, you get presented with a Finder window containing the “.pkg” installer file), but now you no longer need to unmount the virtual disk on your desktop by dragging it to the Trash once the installing process is over. You can just close the Finder window — et voilà. (You still need to archive the downloads somewhere in case you need to reinstall them later, of course.)

What to think of all these changes? Apple obviously isn’t quite sure about what is the most user-friendly way to get end users to install software updates. In this day and age, it’s an issue, especially when software makers such as Apple regularly have to issue security updates that are required in ORDER to guarantee the safety of your machine.

I am not sure this last change brings a definitive solution to the problem… There are still too many steps involved — and many people still have problems determining just where their downloads are put by their machine.

4 Responses to “Installing the latest iApps: yet another change”

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    it is frustrating that the promise of drag-and-drop installs for most applications remains for the most part unfulfilled. I guess packages such as iCal and iSync consist of more than just a stand-alone application. But it’s true that Apple doesn’t seem to be making any effort to provide as many software titles as possible in the form of stand-alone applications that can be installed through drag-and-drop. It’s an area where Apple should be leading by example, and they aren’t.

    The correct URL for the page you mentioned is:

    Because of a bug somewhere in Mac OS X, any trailing punctuation mark such as the parenthesis tends to become part of the URL, which of course makes the URL invalid. It’s best to insert URLs as separate paragraphs with no punctuation before or after.

    As for the utility itself, it’s obviously not intended for the average user. So it’s not a solution anyway.

  2. Artur Adib says:

    Maybe once they figure out the best installation scheme they will also figure out the best UNinstall approach – I still think it’s an offense to make the user download an additional (and experimental) application to uninstall .pkg’s (e.g. Are we back to the old days of Un*x or Winblows without a reliable and consistent (un)installation system?

  3. chomsky says:

    There are good reasons for having two ways for installing applications. If an application does not install libraries or frameworks that might be shared by other applications (remember that code reuse and integration is a big part of the OSX experience) then drag-and-drop is fine, since everything goes in the same place.

    For more involved installs which involve frameworks or libraries to be shared by other software, an installer application is necessary so that everything can be put in its proper place without the user having to do a bunch of manual labor.

    Since both of these procedures are painless, I do not see the problem.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    The problem is that you are adopting the point of view of the developers. The end user couldn’t care less if an application requires “libraries” or “frameworks”. If an application requires such libraries and frameworks, then it should install them the first time it is run, rather than ask the user to run an installer. I wouldn’t describe the process of running an installer “painless”. There are all kinds of screens to go through, a password to enter, etc.

    Once upon a time, software developers were talking about making the process of installing or uninstalling applications more user-friendly… It seems that it’s no longer an important issue for them.

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