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11142Re: Installation clarity

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  • Carl Jacobsen
    Dec 17, 2009
      On Thu, 10 Dec 2009, René Köcher wrote:

      > Dragging apps into the application folder is how it's always been on
      > mac - easy. In my opinion it's the best way to install MacVim.

      Agreed. Mac apps shouldn't use installers unless they have considerably
      complicated installations, like installing kernel extensions and other
      bits all over the filesystem. Installers (vs. a plain "drag this to
      somewhere" app) tend to evoke distrust, and sometimes even ire, from
      some (particularly old-school) Mac users.

      > Regarding the optional mvim script - why not take the same approach
      > as Textmate did?
      > In Textmate you have a click able help entry to install optional
      > components like mate (the mvim for Textmate) or "Edit in Textmate".
      > MacVim could bundle the mvim script right in it's application bundle
      > and provide a simple command or script to create the needed symlinks.

      A menu choice somewhere in MacVim for "install mvim command-line script"
      would be helpful, but it could be even simpler...

      On startup, MacVim already reads (and occasionally updates) some (Mac)
      preferences (out of ~/Library/Preferences/org.vim.MacVim.plist), right?

      So store a "last version/build run" field, check it when MacVim starts
      up, if the current version number differs from the last (or if there's
      no last version, because this is a first time install), then check the
      directories in $PATH for mvim. If it isn't found (or if it is, but the
      contents compare as different to the one stored in MacVim's Resources),
      pop up a dialog box over the initial Vim window, offering to install
      mvim. It doesn't even need to be complicated with a file chooser. If
      /usr/local/bin is on the users $PATH, offer to install it there, else
      if $HOME/bin is on the path, offer that, otherwise make it a simple
      informational alert box that explains there's this optional script
      called mvim that the user could install if they felt inclined to do
      so (along with "see :h mvim-install for details").

      Chances are, anyone who would be interested in using mvim already has
      put /usr/local/bin, or ~/bin, on their path, and the dialog only
      appears once for each new version of MacVim installed (and actually not
      even that -- because of the heavy overlap between "MacVim users" and
      "Terminal users", a very common case will be that you already have
      mvim on your path and the contents are the same as new MacVim's
      version of mvim, so you'd only get the dialog in the rare case of
      starting a new version of MacVim that also has an updated version
      of mvim).

      Then, if you want to complete the "look like other apps" install
      experience, put MacVim.app in a .dmg file along with a Mac alias to
      /Applications, and a background image for the folder that gives simple
      instructions, like this (apologies to those not reading with fixed-width
      "Drag this..." "...to here"
      [ MacVim.app ] [ /Applications alias ]

      This also effectively answers the "what's the right way to install"
      question, because the user would be led through it.

      Several apps get around the "some users end up running the app straight
      out of the dmg" problem by checking their location when they start up;
      if they're under /Volumes, they offer to copy themselves into the
      /Applications folder. Alternatively, since MacVim.app could be the
      only thing in the container (.dmg, .zip, .tgz), especially if any
      necessary "readme" info is presented in an initial (one-time) "Welcome
      to MacVim" alert, you could package MacVim.app as the only contents of
      a .zip (or .tgz, but .zip might look more familiar to most) -- the user
      downloads it, double-clicks MacVim###.zip, and ends up with MacVim.app,
      figure they can run it right there, or move it to /Applications or
      /Other/App/Folder as they see fit (one could also offer to move oneself
      to /Applications if one finds oneself running from ~/Downloads -- you
      could wrap that with a "last version run from downloads" value in the
      preferences, to keep from continually annoying the one odd user out
      there who wants to keep/run apps in ~/Downloads).

      I know these suggestions would carry more weight if I offered patches
      instead of instructions; alas, no time right now, perhaps in the near
      future (programming comes naturally, but I'm rusty on Mac coding, and
      haven't poked around inside MacVim's code before, though I've been a
      *very* happy user/recommender of MacVim for a couple years).

      > +1 D&D app-bundle

      +2 :)

      -- Carl

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