Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Mac OS X 10.4.1 and SpamSieve 2.3.1

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It’s not every Monday that Apple releases an OS update two hours after the close of business (on the East Coast) that breaks your software. The good news is that, although I didn’t expect 10.4.1 to be released this soon, I was aware of the problem and was almost ready to release SpamSieve 2.3.1, which includes accuracy improvements and some other Tiger-related changes.

The issue with 10.4.1 is that various Mail plug-ins have been causing problems with Apple Mail in 10.4. To the best of my knowledge, SpamSieve’s was not among these. (I’ve received no reports of crashes or other Mail problems with any release versions of Mac OS X and SpamSieve, except for a few crashes that were caused by an old PGP plug-in.) But Apple has no way of knowing that, and they understandably don’t want their mail program to crash or misbehave because of other people’s code. So 10.4.1 disables all Mail plug-ins. And it does so in such a way that you can’t re-enable them by dragging them out of the Bundles (Disabled) folder or by running the plug-in’s installer. Obviously, the idea was to get the plug-in developers to issue updates.

But I don’t think Apple quite accomplished what it might have wanted to, on a technical level, because plug-ins are either all enabled or all disabled. If you install 10.4.1 first, and then update to SpamSieve 2.3.1, SpamSieve will work and all the other plug-ins will remain disabled. Perhaps you’ll re-install them one-by-one as the developers issue updates. But if you install SpamSieve 2.3.1 first, and then update to 10.4.1 (or if you install some other incompatible plug-in after installing SpamSieve 2.3.1) all the plug-ins will be enabled, and you’re essentially back to the 10.4 situation.

The non-technical aspects of this update also leave something to be desired. Apple didn’t tell developers that it was going to make this change; their first acknowledgment of it was today. I discovered that 10.4.1 disabled SpamSieve while running a seed, and luckily it wasn’t hard to figure out how to get it working again. But I couldn’t be sure that my solution was correct, because Apple has yet to officially tell developers how to make their plug-ins “compatible” or to reply to my inquiry as to same.

What I’m most surprised about is how many people told Software Update to go right ahead within an hour or two of 10.4.1’s release. I won’t be clicking that button on my development machine for a few days.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

I broke my usual rule—which is to wait at least one or two business days before installing an OS update to see if any widespread problems are reported—and upgraded to 10.4.1 soon after it was released. I found 10.4.0 to be so buggy that I figured 10.4.1 almost certainly couldn't be worse.

(Of course, since I use Mailsmith instead of Apple Mail, SpamSieve continued to work just fine.)

You also had the beta version that worked with Mail in 10.4.1. :-)

I was under the impression that Mail plugins are not officially supported. Has this changed in Tiger?

They're not officially supported, even under Tiger. Because of that, I was very reluctant to write the plug-in in the first place, but I'm glad that I did because the unsupported plug-in is much more reliable than using the supported AppleScript interface. The "API" is more stable, too.

Michael, out of curiosity, do you know of a way to re-enable any, err, non-SpamSieve Mail plugins? Would dragging them out of the Bundles folder before the update work?

I use a whole bunch of these plugins, having switched back to Mail to appease Northwestern's monumentally stupid e-mail servers. I'd love to get rid of the 10.4.0 bugs, but if that means giving up plugins that make my life easier... it's a tough call.

Installing SpamSieve's Mail plug-in will have the side effect of enabling all the others that are in the Bundles folder. It's not sufficient to drag them around because they have to be enabled from within Mail's preferences.

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