Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working hard to transition Hammer out of the Mac App Store (MAS), to distributing the app solely via the Hammer website. The short story is, you can get the latest version of Hammer there.
This was an important decision, one that I didn’t take lightly, and I’d like now to explain a bit about the thinking behind it and what it means going forward for our customers.
The debate will undoubtedly continue regarding the shortcomings, advantages and opportunities of the MAS. In all honesty, my experience here is very limited - only since working on Hammer have I really considered the arguments on both sides and applied it to our business.
I was keen not to let the fact that other popular Mac apps had made similar decisions, at the same time I was going through this assessment, though obviously it helped me. I also consulted our most active customers, via our lively Slack Team room and the support for non-MAS distribution was pretty much unanimous.
It was very clear straight away that:
A) the mac app store was not generating sufficient organic business that distributing that way would be a no-brainer
B) the app submission process really affected my mindset and flow from a development and release cycle perspective - Hammer needed rapid iteration and testing, and the MAS was not the right fit.
C) that the limitations of how I could commercially use Hammer within our other products, to create new pricing models and options for our customers, were being artificially constrained
D) it was hard to debug issues that didn’t appear in development, but only appeared after publishing to the MAS.
So, I made the call. I believe it was the right one for us.
What this means
Hammer 1.7.5 is the current MAS version, which comes bundled with v2.6 of the compiler (then autoupdated to 2.6, which is the current public release).
I decided to increment the Hammer version by 5, for the non-MAS distribution, so as to clearly differentiate. Therefore, the equivalent non-MAS version to 1.7.5 would be 6.7.5.
We are currently, at time of writing, on Hammer 6.8.0 and this will change regularly as we release new updates. You can download Hammer from the Hammer website. Either, download the trial first (14 days free, full use) and then activate the full version through the app when you choose, or purchase the full license through the website checkout and then download the fully licensed version. Up to you.
The standard Hammer app will now be available starting at $19.99, discounted from the $23.99 in the Mac App Store - now we don’t have the Apple tax, we can do things like that 😃
For existing Hammer Customers
Hammer will now have an annual license arrangement, with license upgrades available for a small fee of approximately $7.49 / £5.
Existing Hammer customers who purchased Hammer through the MAS, prior to July 2015, are entitled to this upgrade discount for the new version. To claim a coupon that will discount your license, contact me [email protected] with a copy of your Mac App Store receipt.
Existing Hammer customers who purchased Hammer through the MAS, after July 2015 are entitled to an entirely free upgrade. To claim a coupon that will discount your license, contact me [email protected] with a copy of your Mac App Store receipt.
I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to explain how you’ll receive updates to Hammer going forward.
There’s 2 key parts to Hammer - the underlying compiler and the Mac client app.
Up until now, the Mac App required a new submission to the app store, but we’ve regularly pushed out updates to the compiler remotely (so it’s kind of painful that all those app store reviews that suggest Hammer isn’t updated can’t be addressed so easily!).
Going forward both the Mac App and the Compiler are able to receive auto-updates.
Mac app updates
You can either enable your app to check for updates on launch or manually check for updates using this menu option.
When an update is found, the app will download, install and launch it for you automatically.
The Mac app automatically checks for the latest public release version on launch, in the background. If it finds a newer public release version, it will install it automatically. You may need to clear the cache of your project to see that the version has been changed.
You can see the Compiler Version your app is running at the bottom of the Detail View / list of files in your Hammer Project.
For advanced users who wish to take advantage of new features that have not yet made the public release, you can install different branches of the compiler source (which is open source, in case you weren’t aware). Follow the instructions on the Hammer gem github repo’s README.
Future of Hammer and the MAS
I'm not against the MAS per se. It certainly has some benefits and I do hope that we'll put Hammer back into the store in the future, but for now, I feel more comfortable that we have a solution that will enable us really get behind Hammer and make it a better product. Never say never.
In all cases, particularly for significant updates to either part of Hammer, there will be a blog post that covers the main changes, so if you haven’t already, subscribe to the Beach blog to stay informed.