Sparkle: Software Updates Done Right


In the last post I talked about a piece of software called, Aurora. There was one additional feature that really stood out for me. So much so, that I thought it deserved its own post.

The feature wasn’t actually a function of the software, it was how it updated itself.

If you’ve ever used a piece of Shareware, you’ve probably been through this… an update to the app becomes available. The next time you launch the app, it puts up a dialog box that tells you the update is available and asks if you want to download it. You click Yes, and it launches you browser and takes you to a site where you download a zip archive, or disc image, and then run an installer or copy an updated app into your applications folder. Sound familiar?

When an update to Aurora became available, it didn’t make me jump through any of those hoops. It did put up a dialog box saying an update is available, but when I clicked download… it just did it, without launching a browser. It downloaded it’s own update, and then proceeded to install it, and relaunch the updated app. It was a totally seamless experience.

After looking through the credits for Aurora, I discovered that this update method is provided by a developer tool called, Sparkle, written by Andy Matuschak. You may have seen this method with other apps, as Andy has a long list of credits for apps that are using Sparkle.

This is exactly how software updates should go. Andy has made an awesome tool. To make things even better, Andy is giving Sparkle away for free (donations accepted). So, if you are now, or you ever plan to be a Mac software developer, go get Sparkle. Your customers will thank you.

2 thoughts on “Sparkle: Software Updates Done Right”

Leave a Comment