That difficult-to-read small print

Small print, eh? It’s always tough to get right, and I made the mistake of thinking this was fairly clear as a notification of 2.0’s availability to 1.x users:

(Unfortunately there’s no way of disabling the “Install Update” button or have it link to a web page instead in the version of the Sparkle updater that Scrivener 1.x uses, or obviously I would have done that instead - this was the only way of notifying the thousands of users not signed up to our newsletter.)

Now, the vast number of users did indeed read this and didn’t have a problem. But sadly we have still had some very angry e-mails from one or two users who feel we have misled them and forced them to update to 2.0 and thus throwing them into trial mode (even after we’ve explained how to download and revert to 1.54). It’s been really upsetting, because obviously that was never our intention, and dealing with angry users is never fun and certainly not something we ever try to bring on ourselves. I go out of my way to think of every tiny thing a user may object to or find confusing these days and try to avoid it. In this case, I clearly failed for a handful of users (although in all fairness it has been less than ten users who have had this issue - still, that’s ten angry users more than we’d like!).

So, just because I want to be extra safe - I do everything I can to ensure I don’t mislead users and don’t force anyone to update, and genuinely and apparently stupidly and naively thought that the above notification would be difficult to miss given the bold red type and would cause no problems - I have changed the initial text as follows. I would be grateful for opinions on how I can make this more obvious or whether you think this is clear enough…

So, from a user’s perspective, if you saw this, might you still click before reading? Would you prefer not to receive notification of paid updates at all and carry on using older software without ever knowing there’s a new version available until you one day decide to check the website (remember that the majority of users don’t hang around the forums or check the website any more than I ever check the Microsoft page)?

Did anyone here have problems with this or feel this was in some way out of order?


Honestly, I rarely read the print when I get an “update available” message. Although I think this one would get my attention…

One thing that I see other programs doing is bringing up a different “paid upgrade” window that requires you to pre-purchase before you can download. You can get the demo from the manu site, but you can’t do a major version upgrade direct from the program. Is that something sparkle can handle?

Ugh. I know how it goes, having done computer support. It’s not even you, personally, but the frustration they’re venting.

In my case it is pretty much me that they want dead. Something about dogbert being my support role model…

Me neither generally, but I do if there’s strong bold type in capitals - and I take in the first line, at least (which I was careful to ensure said “paid update”).

I think more recent versions of Sparkle can do something like this with a bit of a hack, but not the version of Sparkle Scrivener 1.x was using - obviously I looked into it. I tried to make it so that clicking on “Install Update” would take you to the Scrivener web page, but no dice - that just caused an error. The only thing I could do, I suppose, is make it so that it just overwrites Scrivener with 1.54 again, and so continues to show the message until you read it… Hmm, actually, that’s not a bad idea at all… Maybe I’ll do that. Users might be confused, but at least no one would feel swindled that way.

Could you make them check a box that says, yes I have read this bit?

Unfortunately not - Sparkle is a third-party framework that we use (most Mac shareware apps use it), and we are limited to the version that was in 1.54 (unless we released a 1.55 update especially).

I have just gone with my previous idea - instead of the “Install Update” button downloading 2.0, it now just re-downloads and re-installs 1.54, so it essentially does nothing. That way - hopefully! - we might get a couple of users still e-mailing us asking us why the “update” notification doesn’t go away (the ones who steadfastly refuse to read it), but at least no one should be able to accuse us of extortion, shady or unethical practises, swear at us or tell us we should be ashamed of ourselves because they didn’t read the big red bold type. :slight_smile:


Hey, they should look on the bright side. At least you aren’t the BOFH.

Actually… I am. At least according to many of the users who actually know what that means. Who else would keep the tape demag unit IN the tape storage closet?

Hey! I worked for this guy.


Yes, as a user I would prefer not to recieve the notification (I have no idea if I am in a minority on this). I suspect this would give me the same frustration I get everytime iTunes asks me to update. (“No, go away! I have an old machine and don’t want your silly bloated upgrade that will slow everything to a crawl. You already play all of my songs when I click on them and list them alphabetically! What more could I possibly want?”), plus the added disadvangtage that this would seem like sales junk mail.

However, as a business, I understand why you do it, and if doing it gets you a handful of extra sales then you can buy yourself a nice coffee machine for the office or a really comfy pair of slippers.

Oooh! Oooh! How about a special hat for writing in!

Yup, If you use the proceeds to buy a special hat for writing in, then I’m game.

This would make me curse your name. Hat or no hat.

Ha, sadly that’s what we’ve gone for, seeing as it’s the only way we can avoid users who don’t read the giant screaming print accusing us of trying to rip them off, it seems. (Remember you can click the “Skip Update” button though and you never get nagged again - all the user needs to do is read it to know that… :slight_smile: ) People will always curse my name, it comes with the territory, sadly. I may buy myself a writing hat, though; I like the idea of that.

So we can freely curse your name? That is something you should list on the features list.

If cursing his name freely is offered, then as the resident pastor, I think absolution should be freely offered… At least to Keith!

The update notification still might be a little confusing. Perhaps you can make it flash colors like a cheap neon motel sign. Oh, and add a blaring air raid siren sound. And perhaps the word “free” should be smaller or semi-transparent.

Yeah, I didn’t figure on that. I guess the giant screaming print made me forget the polite buttons at the bottom. I’ll get back in my box now.

Nice hat! And shouldn’t that be “pen”? :slight_smile:

Hmmm. I’m sure there’s a law somewhere against UK citizens using [size=150]HUGE YELLOW-MARKER RED PRINT[/size].
But I empathize with your dilemma.
I wouldn’t ignore such screaming red-and-yellow. No way. It would certainly get my attention.

EDIT: Oh, and I forgot. I have a recent example. I’m using Parallels Desktop. I had Parallels 5 installed. When Parallels 6 was released, when I clicked Parallels I received a polite notice that an update was available for forty-plus USD, with a link to their website. There was no install option. Maybe it’s for the best. Users can’t claim they installed the new Parallels 6 by mistake – they have to click the link, go to the website and purchase the upgrade.

I think that’s the best solution as well going forward, unfortunately it is from what I understand, not an available option in the Sparkle toolkit that 1.54 uses. So the problem would then be that 1.54 has no mechanism to do this built-in, and so the only way to add such a mechanism would be to release a 1.55 specifically to let people know that 2.0 exists in a “notice board” fashion instead of an auto-upgrade fashion. :slight_smile: