December 26, 2013

Sandbolloxed...

by Chris Randall
 



As you no doubt know, especially if you are a Logic user, there are Big Changes coming down the pike, in the form of a sandboxed version of Logic, most likely before the middle of 2014. Developers have been given a preview copy of Logic X Sandboxed, so we can test our products to see if they will work when the update occurs, and make necessary changes. The current Garageband X is already sandboxed, so you can do a quick test to have a gander at how many of your current AUs will work in Logic X Sandboxed.

The short answer is "hardly any."

There are some very big problems with sandboxing something like Logic, from a developer's perspective, and almost no benefit to the end user. (In actual fact, it harms the end user, because products he was able to use previously, and may have come to rely on, will suddenly cease to work.) We could talk in circles all day long about that sort of nonsense, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.

While this stands a very real chance of having a consumer backlash something on the order of what occurred when Final Cut X was released, that's neither here nor there in the scheme of things. Our concern at Audio Damage is to maintain a seamless transition, so our customers aren't affected. And, let's be honest, there is nothing we like more than dropping everything and spending a couple months re-building our entire product line every time Apple has a fit of the Shinies.

In that light, we had a difficult decision to make. The only thing preventing our products from working in Logic X Sandboxed (and Garageband X, for that matter) is the erstwhile copy protection. For a decade now, we've had the simplest, least intrusive copy protection that we could have and still call it that. It has done very little to prevent piracy, and is the number one (and two and three and four and five and six and seven) source of support problems. It is, in short, a gigantic fucking pain in the ass that doesn't do what it's supposed to. And now it prevents our products from working in the Apple hosts.

So, we're taking it out.

We'll begin rolling out updates next week that will eventually encompass our entire product line, removing the DRM and updating the installers and UIs (and doing some bug fixing along the way), in order of popularity. The license control mechanism in the store will continue as-is, but the current reg codes will basically become serial numbers, and will not be required during the installation process. We'll also be able to deliver the bundles as one-click installs instead of 22 separate packages, which will no doubt please our bundle customers immensely.

This is obviously a pretty big risk for us, but we think it will be a good solution in the long run. We have long been of the opinion that there are people that care about supporting a company and its endeavors, and people that only care about themselves. Both Adam and I make a living on the former sort, and we hope that will continue to be the case. I can't speak for Adam, but I'm really shitty at blanching fries.

Anyhow, my Twitter feed and the Audio Damage RSS feed are the places to watch for updates as they're rolled. If you have a specific bug report that you think we might not know about, email it to [email protected] and I'll put it in the list. We'll be doing the products in order of popularity (with shiny new digitally signed installers, natch!) so expect Dubstation, Eos, Replicant, and Discord3 to be the earliest recipients of this treatment, and so on down to the perpetual tail-end Charlie, Ronin.
 
 
 

64 comments:

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Dec.28.2013 @ 10:41 PM
boobs
@rollmottle - kind of longish thread that meanders a bit but is fill of some good info straight from developers.

link [www.kvraudio.co...]

but what it adds up to is apple saying "here's a bunch of new rules that are totally arbitrary and in many cases stupid and they all pertain to important functions of your software"
 
 

 
Dec.29.2013 @ 6:55 AM
Chris Randall
All iOS apps are sandboxed, so you get an idea of how well they interact with each other. Long story short, it is as if the app doesn't know that /Library/, ~/Library/, and ~/Documents/ exist. No big deal except that this is where we, as developers, happen to put our reg code and preferences files, and in most cases our presets and content if we have any.

Apple has told us (and by "us" I mean all audio software developers) to use the ~/Music/ folder from now on. Note the tilde in front of that. That means that everything will need to be installed per user. Also, they haven't defined a structure for the ~/Music/ folder. This means that Native Instruments will use it in one way, while FXpansion will use it another.

It is basically very ugly, and will only get uglier. How it affects you: the plug-ins of any company which hasn't specifically rebuilt their products to deal with Logic Sandboxed will not work in Logic Sandboxed. They may figure out a way around some issues, but it's unlikely, because they simply don't give a shit at the end of the day. As always with Apple, it's "our way or the highway."

-CR
 
 

 
Dec.29.2013 @ 9:08 AM
chaircrusher
I'm enough of an Apple Developer (well, we treat them as generic Unix boxes and let Qt and CMake handle the fancy crap) to have a front row seat on the way Apple works with respect to developers. The bottom line is that they only approximately operate as an open platform. You have to deal with that, or stop buying Apple.

It should be noted that Apple is a company with two parts: A software business, and a copy protection dongle business. Your Mac is the dongle. That's why Apple gets so upset when people try and sell Hackintosh tools to run on other hardware; it's basically software piracy as far as they're concerned. The genius of it is that they get people to buy $5000 copy protection dongles. Never let it be said Apple hasn't beaten marketing.

I hope that the AD no-copy-protection thing works out. I think that you've established enough customer goodwill, and more importantly, hit the right price-point. If you make something affordable and easy to use, people will still pay. That is what Apple has proved in another venue, iTunes. They're making money competing with free by giving people convenience and the feeling that they're supporting the artists.

Whether, in the end, the artists get a fair share from digital sales is a whole different issue.
 
 

 
Dec.29.2013 @ 10:52 AM
boobs
question, is this only for AUs? Vsts will go in the usual place further complicating installers on the developer's end?

anyone have a good address for sending apple a boxed up dead armadillo?
 
 

 
Dec.29.2013 @ 11:49 AM
chaircrusher
@boobs: Chris said same deal for Windows. And I assume that means they're getting rid of copy protection full stop. There is no AU on Windows.

As a developer it is actually a huge time saver to get rid of special cases. To preserve the copy protection on some platforms and not others is more trouble than its worth. If it ever was worth much to begin with.
 
 

 
Dec.29.2013 @ 11:55 AM
boobs
i meant VST on OS X.. they have those ya know ;)

and only referring to installer/prefs/content locations going to music folder instead of where it's been
 
 

 
Dec.29.2013 @ 1:05 PM
rollmottle
Thanks for the primer. Is this some foundational move so they can move everything to app store and in-app purchases?
 
 

 
Dec.29.2013 @ 2:35 PM
Chris Randall
I don't think so. It's basically someone higher up saying "all Apple-built apps must be sandboxed. Period." And the people that make those apps going "uhhh, okay...." Logic is a special case as it is the Apple-built app with the most 3rd party content, much of which needs access to quite a bit of the OS. But lumped in it got, and there we have it.

One of their devs actually said the reason was some pro-active thinking on Apple's part. Their theory was that Logic and Garageband are not malware vectors currently, but as they close down large chunks of the OS, these _become_ usable vectors by virtue of being a way in.

Mine is not to reason why; I personally think it's stupid, as (in the scheme of things) hardly anyone uses these programs, and they're terrible malware vectors. But I don't make an operating system, so what the fuck do I know? OS X in and of itself is a shitty malware target due to its limited use, but hey, it's their shit. They can do what they want.

I will note at this juncture that we have to essentially remove even the modest protections we have against piracy in order to prove that we're not malware, thus _becoming_ a malware vector where we weren't before. God, I love irony.

But yeah, in case it wasn't clear, our DRM is written at the installer level, and read at the plug-in level. Since our AudioUnits are just VSTs with a big layer of shit on top to get them to act like AUs, and we don't want to fork the code just for the fuck of it, this will be catalog-wide.

(I've said this many times before but it still surprises people: hardly anyone builds "real" AUs, and certainly no cross-platform devs. We all use a layer that is, for all intents and purposes, a simple VST host that instances as an AU. Inside the AU bundle, you'll find the VST for the product, and all the resources it needs to be an AU. So there's that.)

-CR
 
 

 
Dec.30.2013 @ 7:25 AM
TZ
Does Sandboxed also mean sold in the app store? Or are you still able to sell off-apple-site?
 
 

 
Dec.30.2013 @ 1:47 PM
Chris Randall
Sandboxing has nothing to do with the App Store. (Although a lot of App Store apps are sandboxed.)

-CR
 
 

 
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