Whither WireTap Studio/Anywhere?

Posted Oct 19 2012, 10:01 AM

WireTap Studio and WireTap Anywhere currently are not functional on OS X Mountain Lion (and partially functional under OS X Lion), a situation which is unsatisfactory for our users, and causes no small amount of consternation for us as well.

So what's the deal? I'm of the opinion that what people really want is a solution, and while explanations may help in understanding the situation, they don't ameliorate it. Still, I think an explanation of the situation is appropriate.

Much of the software that Ambrosia makes are utility products that "fill in the gaps" in functionality provided by the operating system. They do useful things, but by their nature, are vulnerable to OS updates, regardless of how well implemented they are.

For better or for ill, Mac OS X (now just "OS X") and iOS are on converging paths. It's fairly evident that Apple is moving towards unifying the operating systems, if not in functionality, at least in terms of ideology. I think this is fairly self-evident, with the MacApp Store, and other iOS-like functionality that is appearing in OS X.

Part and parcel to this direction is that the security team at Apple has been running the show in terms of shaping the direction of the OS. Like iOS, applications on OS X are moving towards being "sandboxed" from each other, and the operating system. This actually is critical to understanding the delays in WireTap.

We're used to operating system releases "breaking" our products, of course, but this is a bit different in that the fundamental approach from Apple is at odds with what our software does. Apple's stance -- and understandably so -- is security driven, and whatever software happens to break along the way will simply need to be rethought and rewritten.

With that in mind, here's how the situation played out with regards to WireTap. It ends up being a decision I made that I thought was based on sound logic at the time, but ends up being terrible in retrospect.

When OS X Lion was released, they changed the way the audio system works, which broke our per-application audio recording system. We came up with a plan of how to fix it, but there was a rub. We knew that Apple was pushing "sandboxed" applications, and at some point in the future (starting with OS X Lion), applications were going to be sandboxed, both from Apple and required of third party developers for inclusion in the MacApp Store.

The problem is that our solution would not work as applications were sandboxed. For instance, if we moved forward with our Lion fix for WireTap, when Apple released a version of QuickTime player or Safari that was sandboxed, WireTap would be unable to record from those sandboxed applications.

So I decided that it would be most prudent to wait, and come up with a solution that not only works on OS X Lion, but also addresses sandboxed applications. Otherwise WireTap would seemingly fail to work at random with applications as they were updated to be sandboxed.

The problem was, Apple hadn't released anything at that point other than vague specifications and ever-moving timelines for implementing sandboxing (and requiring it for MacApp Store submissions). So we waited, not wanting to implement a temporary solution that would need to be rewritten anyway, and not wanting to have WireTap start failing to record from sandboxed applications as they were released.

Of course as Murphy's Law would have it, the entire process of Apple solidifying the sandboxing specifications, and a timeline for implementation of them kept sliding. By the time we had a solid spec to write to, OS X Mountain Lion and Retina displays were looming... which brought another set of problems for our flagship product, Snapz Pro X.

We're currently in late beta test of Snapz Pro X 2.5, which is a complete rewrite of the product from the ground up, to be compatible with OS X Lion & Mountain Lion, Retina displays, and a whole host of other features. This is a good news/bad news situation.

The bad news is that it means WireTap is on hold until we released Snapz Pro X 2.5. The good news is that we're almost there, and much of the experience we've gained in implementing Snapz Pro X will apply to WireTap.

We do have a version of WireTap Studio in beta testing; the first release will simply make it work on Mountain Lion as it does on Lion. That is to say, without the per-app recording functionality. We expect to turn this around quickly. The release after that will address the per-application recording issues.

So as I mentioned at the beginning of this treatise, we're currently left with an explanation, but not a solution. But the latter is coming as well. Thank you for your patience.

Andrew Welch
El Presidente

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Can we get on the beta?

Hi there,

Thanks for the explanation. At least for me, a Lion-esque version will work for my needs. Any chance of getting on the beta then, since you say you have it in beta now?


On Oct 25 2012, 07:14 PM, by jos402

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Thank you

Mr. Welch,
Thank you for posting an explanation. I am a big fan of WireTap and have been for almost a decade now. I'll be purchasing Spapz Pro when the upgrade is finished.


On Oct 25 2012, 11:40 AM, by Mark

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Oct 19th post about wiretaps/snapz pro x

Thank you,

Dr. Alaimo

On Oct 23 2012, 01:08 PM, by jaildr

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