On the wall at Aptonic

August 31st, 2014

One of my friends runs a picture framing business in Christchurch and they just framed this nice poster for Dropzone 3. I’m really happy with how it turned out.

If you need something framed be sure to check them out.

Dropzone-3-framed

Dropzone 3 Launched

July 1st, 2014

dropzone3

Today I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Dropzone 3. This is an update two years in the making and is the biggest update to Dropzone ever.
If you haven’t already, you should first checkout the brand new website and watch the launch video. After that, come back here for a more detailed overview of what’s new.

Redesigned Grid

First of all, the grid has been totally redesigned. As you can see below, it has been split up into 4 different sections. There’s now a FOLDERS / APPS section an ACTIONS section and a TASK PROGRESS section as well as Add to Grid and Drop Bar at the top.

Dropzone-Hero2

Adding actions to the grid is now much faster and easier. You can simply drag a folder, app or action onto the ‘Add to Grid’ area or use the new quick menu which you access by clicking on the white plus in the top left of the grid:

add-actions

Updated Preferences

The preferences have been simplified. If you’re a Dropzone 2 user, you will notice that the ‘Destinations’ tab has gone. This is because adding, removing editing and rearranging actions is all now done directly in the grid. A new ‘Toggle grid’ shortcut key as been added. This can be used system wide to open and close the grid and is especially useful when you need to drag to the grid from a fullscreen app where the menu bar is hidden.

preferences

user-actions

A new ‘User Actions’ tab has been added. This shows the actions that you currently have installed. If you want to create your own modified action based on an existing action you can click the ‘Copy & Edit’ button. You can also delete actions you’re no longer using and reveal an action dzbundle folder in the Finder. Reveal can be useful if you want to make a copy of the dzbundle for distribution or if you want to modify an action bundle directly. There’s also a new ‘Check for Updates’ button in the bottom left, clicking this does a check to see if there are any newer versions of your actions available to install. Dropzone can now download and install the updated versions for you automatically. Note that auto-updating of actions is currently not available in the Mac App Store version due to app store rules.

The updates tab is for controlling sparkle updater preferences and in the license tab you can register with your serial number or purchase a license for Dropzone 3. Note that the Updates and License tab are not shown in the app store version of the app as updates and licensing are managed through the app store.

Quick Install Actions

The currently available actions for Dropzone 3 can be installed from https://aptonic.com/dropzone3/actions

In Dropzone 2, you had to download and install actions manually but in Dropzone 3 you can simply click the ‘Install’ link underneath the action you want to install and the action will be automatically downloaded and installed as show below:

quick-install

This is achieved using the new URL scheme which allows any action in the GitHub user actions repository to be installed by visiting the URL dropzone://action where action is the name of the action you want to install. For example visiting the URL dropzone://Print would quick install the Print action (as long as you have Dropzone 3 installed).

Imgur Image Sharing

imgur

Dropzone 3 comes with a new built-in action for sharing images with Imgur – a popular image sharing service. You can use this action to share images anonymously or by linking to your Imgur account. To use it, simply drop a single image or multiple images onto the Imgur action in your grid. If you drop a single image then the image is uploaded and the URL is placed on the clipboard. If you drop multiple images then you’ll be asked to enter an album name and the images will be uploaded to that album and the album URL will be placed on the clipboard. There’s complete instructions and a demo of this here.

Drop Bar

If you’ve used Yoink, DragThing, DragonDrop or Dropshelf then you’ll understand how to use Drop Bar. It provides a temporary holding area to store files you know you’ll want to use later. Here’s a short video showing Drop Bar in action:

Here are some example situations where Drop Bar can come in handy:

1) You want to gather several files that are in different locations into a group and then copy them to a particular folder. Normally you would need to create a temporary folder to store the files, but using Drop Bar you can simply drag each file onto a Drop Bar stack and then drag the stack either onto a Dropzone 3 action or onto another folder or app.

2) You want to gather certain images from a website or from several websites. You can drag each image from your web browser onto the Dropzone 3 menu item and then onto a Drop Bar stack and then drag this stack of files to where you want them.

3) You have an app open (e.g. iPhone or iTunes) in fullscreen mode and want to move certain files to a folder in Finder. You can find each file and then drag it onto Drop Bar (press F3 to activate Dropzone 3 when in fullscreen apps) and then drag the Drop Bar stacks off into the Finder folder to copy the files. This is quicker and easier than activating exposé and trying to find the correct window to drag to for each item.

Note that when you drag files onto Drop Bar, it simply creates a reference to that file – it doesn’t copy or move it from it’s original location or do anything with it until you drag it off Drop Bar. Therefore you need to keep the original file around even after dragging it onto Drop Bar. Some users have requested that Drop Bar have an option to take its own copy of a dragged files so that the original item can be trashed afterwards. I am considering adding an option for this in a future version.

Action Right-click Menus

This seems like a small thing but it actually turns out to be a huge win in terms of usability. In Dropzone 2 if you wanted to change an actions settings you had to first open the preferences and then find the action you wanted to edit in a list. Now it’s much simpler – you can simply right click on an action in your grid to show a popup menu and then click edit.

right-click

The right-click menu also allows you to remove actions, reveal folders in the Finder and even develop new actions based on already existing actions by using the ‘Copy and Edit Script’ option.

The right-click menu serves another purpose as well. If there’s a problem with an action (such as a missing folder or invalid metadata) then the action will show at a lower opacity with a question mark over it. If this happens, you can right click on the action to see what the issue is:

right-click2

Circles

The Circles feature from Dropzone 2 has been removed for now. This was mostly due to time constraints, but also because there were some very conflicting views from customers on Circles. Many people disliked them and disabled them immediately but just as many loved the feature and are disappointed it’s gone. They had some difficult technical and UX issues, such as accidental activation if your mouse got to close to the edge of the screen and a lot of difficult issues in dual monitor configurations. Personally I find them useful but they are also a huge nuisance to maintain from a technical perspective. For now, if you really still want them, you can run both Dropzone 2 and Dropzone 3 at the same time without ill effects – this is what I’m doing currently. It’s reasonably likely I’ll end up re-adding them in some shape or form in a future update.

Sandboxing

There are two slightly different versions of Dropzone 3 available – The Mac App Store version which runs sandboxed and the non-Mac App Store version which runs unsandboxed. Sandboxing is now required for all apps distributed via the Mac App Store and it places limits on what an app can do. Sandboxed apps can only write to certain folders and can’t use AppleScript as well as several other restrictions.

The two versions of Dropzone 3 will work the same out of the box and sandboxing only becomes an issue when installing certain add-on actions for Dropzone 3. If you’re using the Mac App Store version of Dropzone 3 then initially you’re limited to installing the actions listed on this page. If using the non-Mac App Store version then you can install the full list of actions shown here. If you purchased Dropzone 3 from the Mac App Store and want to use an action that is not compatible with sandboxing then I have provided an easy solution: You can switch to the non-Mac App Store version by downloading it from here and moving it to your applications folder replacing your existing App Store version. When you run it, it will detect you purchased already on the Mac App Store and register you automatically. Full details on this process are given here. Note that you have to run the Mac App Store version at least once first for this transition to work. Therefore it doesn’t matter if you purchase Dropzone 3 from the Mac App Store or direct from us. You can easily switch between the two versions if you need to.

Upgrade Pricing

If you have a Dropzone 2 serial then you’re eligible for a half price upgrade (only $5) to Dropzone 3 from our online store. Just make sure you select the ‘Dropzone 3 Upgrade Pricing’ option during checkout. I’m also offering a half price discount on the Mac App Store during the first few weeks after launch to give users who purchased Dropzone 2 in the Mac App Store an opportunity to upgrade to Dropzone 3. Beyond this few week window I’m unfortunately not able to provide App Store purchasers of Dropzone 2 a discounted upgrade as the Mac App Store does not support upgrade pricing. Although if you purchased Dropzone 2 in the past few months then by all means email me and I’m sure we can work something out.

More Coming Soon

As well as the new features, lots has changed behind the scenes as well – Dropzone 3 now uses FMDB with a SQLite database instead of Core Data and the codebase has been updated to use ARC. If you don’t know what any of this means, don’t worry – the end result for you will be a faster, more stable app that receives frequent updates. I’m really excited about the future of Dropzone and am looking forward to sharing many new actions and features with you in the coming months.

Thanks for your continued support of Aptonic and I hope you enjoy the app. Let me know if you have any feedback!

WWDC Awesome… And Dropzone updated to support OS X Mavericks

July 13th, 2013

wwdc13

A few weeks ago I attended Apples World Wide Developer conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. I can honestly say it was the most amazing experience of my life. I met many amazing people and came back totally reinspired and full of new ideas for advancing Dropzone.

At WWDC, Apple announced OS X Mavericks (OS X 10.9) and provided developers with a beta version of the OS. Apparently Apple has run out of cats to name OS X after and will instead name future OS X releases after famous locations around California. They are starting with Mavericks which is a famous surfing beach.

Since I was actually in California for the conference, me and a friend rented a car and drove from San Francisco down to Mavericks to see what the fuss was about. I’ve included a map below to show where Mavericks is – it’s about a half hours drive south from downtown San Francisco.


 
Based on Apples marketing images for Mavericks, we were hoping to see some pretty sweet surfing waves coloured the perfect hue of deep blue and green:

Mavericks-Waves

But the reality was more like this:

Mavericks-Beach

Although Mavericks was a perfectly nice beach it wasn’t so different from the many other beaches I’ve visited. It was rather overcast when we arrived and there was lots of seaweed. Apparently the big surfing waves actually break about half a mile offshore and then only in the Winter when the conditions are just right. Our hopes of sighting a Mavericks wave of Apple marketing proportions were soon dashed. Ah well.

So, now that I’ve travelled to Mavericks – it’s time to make Dropzone support it (a whole lot less fun, I can assure you). Although Mavericks is still far from the final consumer version, I’ve just released an update (Dropzone 2.8) that adds preliminary support. The OS is still under heavy development so it’s possible that more issues will arise in Dropzone in future Mavericks betas. As of Developer Preview 5 though, Dropzone is working well.

If you’re running the non-Mac App Store version, you can click on the Updates tab in the Dropzone preferences and then click the ‘Check Now’ button to upgrade:

update 2

If you’re on the Mac App Store version – I have submitted 2.8 to the Mac App Store for review and it should be available in a week or two. You will be able to update from the Updates tab in Mac App Store app when the update is approved if you’re on this version. This update also works great on OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 and you should still upgrade if you’re not running Mavericks as there are other general bugfixes in this version.

Update: Dropzone 2.8 is now available on the Mac App Store.

If you haven’t tried Dropzone before, you can download a free trial from here.

I’d love to hear if Dropzone 2.8 is working well for you under Mavericks if you’re running the developer preview. Please get in touch with me via email or post on the Aptonic forum if you have any issues with this version.

I leave you with this short video I took on my iPhone 5 at Mavericks:

Dropzone 2.6 Released

April 30th, 2013

circles

Dropzone 2.6 has just been released via the Mac App Store and is also available for direct download customers. This version includes several visual tweaks including a shiny new Circles design. If using the Mac App Store version you can update from the Updates tab of the App Store app. If using the direct version you can update from the Updates tab in the Dropzone Preferences.

Also new in this version is the ability to specify a specific Amazon S3 folder inside a bucket to upload to. You can set this up when adding or editing a Amazon S3 destination (see below).

S3Folder

An issue with Amazon S3 uploading has also been resolved where uploading a file with the same name caused the original to be overwritten. Files with the same name are now given a -1 -2 -3 suffix. If you’d like to try setting up Amazon S3 with Dropzone there’s a comprehensive guide available here.

The other major issue addressed in this update is a problem where Dropzone would cause Macbook Pros with both integrated and discrete graphics systems to always use the discrete graphics which resulted in shortened battery life. This issue is now resolved and now only integrated graphics is required for Dropzone.

This is a free update for all existing Dropzone customers.

Dropzone 2.5 Released

February 21st, 2013

2.5

Dropzone 2.5 has now been released on the Mac App Store and is also available for direct customers. This version adds Retina display support and many bugfixes.

If you use the Mac App Store version of Dropzone you can update from the Updates tab of the Mac App Store. The direct version should prompt you to upgrade automatically.

Let us know if you have any issues.

Announcing Tweetifier

December 14th, 2012

Over the past few months, I’ve been hard at work developing new app – It’s called Tweetifier and is for notifying you when you get new mentions on Twitter and also displaying stats about your accounts. It’s available in the Mac App Store now for $2. Check out the app website here.

You can view Tweetifier in the app store here.

I’ve also written a much longer blog post over at my personal blog on the process involved in making the app. If you’re interested, check that out here.

If you try Tweetifier please let me know what you think of it!

My Sales from Two Dollar Tuesday

May 24th, 2012

On Tuesday, I participated in Two Dollar Tuesday.

Mike Dattolo from LittleFin emailed me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to participate. He plans to run Two Dollar Tuesday as a regular weekly promotion. One of his own apps, Compartments would be participating in the bundle as well along with Socialite. The idea was that Dropzone and these two apps would be discounted to $2 for one day only. The individual developers would simply reduce the prices of their apps to $2 in the Mac App Store for Tuesday only and we would keep all the proceeds.

I was totally unsure whether to participate. Dropzone normally sells for $14 and I was uncertain whether offering such a large discount was a good idea. I worried about a few things: That it would reduce the perceived value of my app, that it would upset other customers who missed the discount and that the support burden would be too high.

In the end I flipped a coin and decided to go for it. The results of the promotion have blown me away. So much so that I’ve decided to share the actual sales numbers with you all, but first lets take a look at what happened to my ranking in the App Store. Before the feature, my ranking in the Productivity category (U.S store) was averaging around 170 and I was not showing at all in the top paid apps category of the store. On the day of the sale I was propelled into the top 3, not just in the productivity category, but in the top paid apps overall:

People tell me that Dropzone was even beating pages and was second only to Lion for a short while. Unfortunately I did not get a screenshot of this. In Germany I even beat Lion and was the #1 selling app overall.

I have shown sales for the 19th, 20th and 21st to give you a rough idea of how many I was selling at the normal price of $14. There was a little bit of overlap with the 21st (maybe a few hours) as Mike had us set our prices well in advance so that from the start of the 22nd all three apps would be selling for $2. That is why the 21st is quite a bit higher.

As you can see, I sold over 6700 copies as a result of the sale. I have never before sold any amount close to this much before. When Apple featured me on the front page of the App Store I sold around 300 copies (that was at the old price of $14).

Lets see what this works works out to in terms of actual revenue:

So I made over $8000 US after Apples 30% cut has been subtracted. This is beyond my wildest dreams of what I expected to make.

A lot of this was due to the efforts of Mike Dattolo who did a fantastic job contacting bloggers and marketing the special. It was promoted on The Verge, Lifehacker and a number of other sites. You should check out his Compartments app, and I highly recommend participating in his promotion if you’re asked.

Thank you all for the amazing support and validation of my work.

Dropzone 2.3 Now Available on the Mac App Store

May 19th, 2012

There are quite a few improvements in this version which I’ve covered in detail below:

Circle Labels

Circles now show labels beside them on mouseover or when dragging something onto them. This was an often requested feature.

The main issue here was that if you had two destinations with the same icon (e.g. two folders) then you couldn’t tell which was which. Now you you just brush the mouse over them and the labels are shown. Originally I had the labels always visible but found it looked rather messy. I think the mouseover is an acceptable tradeoff between function and aesthetics. This is how the OS X dock works as well.

If you’d rather not have these labels, there’s hidden default to disable them. Open Terminal, paste in the following and then relaunch Dropzone:

defaults write com.aptonic.Dropzone DisableCircleLabels -bool true

To re-enable labels, use the following:

defaults delete com.aptonic.Dropzone DisableCircleLabels

TwitPic OAuth

The TwitPic destination stopped working fairly recently as TwitPic switched off support for username/password authentication and began using OAuth. I’ve now rewritten this destination to support this and bundled it with Dropzone so you no longer need to install it separately. To use this new destination simply go into the Preferences -> Add and then select TwitPic from the action drop down. You will then be directed to the Twitter website and asked to authorize TwitPic with Twitter.

When you click ‘Authorize app’ you’ll be given a pin code to paste into Dropzone to complete the authorization. You can then upload images to TwitPic with Dropzone.

Adjust the Circles activation delay

In some cases, users were finding that they accidentally activated Circles and that it was to sensitive. In 2.3 I’ve added a hidden default so you can tweak the activation delay:

To adjust the delay, Open Terminal, paste in the following and then relaunch Dropzone (you must relaunch Dropzone each time you make a change):

defaults write com.aptonic.Dropzone CirclesActivationDelay -float 1

The delay before the half circle fades in is given in seconds and 0.3 is the default. The above line would increase it to 1 second and decrease the likelihood of accidental activation.

If you want the default delay back you can use the following line:

defaults delete com.aptonic.Dropzone CirclesActivationDelay

Dropzone API Improvements

This stuff below here will only be relevant for developers writing destinations for Dropzone. There are two new OptionsNIBs available in Dropzone 2.3. One is for an API key and the other is for a Username+API key which some web services require.

The API Key OptionsNIB can be used by including the below line in your destination meta data:

# OptionsNIB: APIKey

The stored value can then be accessed in a destination script via the variable ENV['API_KEY']

The Username/API Key OptionsNIB can be used by including the below line in your destination meta data:

# OptionsNIB: UsernameAPIKey

The API Key can then be accessed again via ENV['API_KEY'] and the username via ENV['USERNAME']

There are also many other bugfixes that went into this update. Let me know if you have any questions or feedback on the update either in the comments or by emailing support@aptonic.com

Dropzone Non-Mac App Store Version Released

March 23rd, 2012

Until now, Dropzone 2 was only available via the Mac App Store. There were many reasons for this – and I explained why I made this decision in detail here.

This created an unfortunate situation for users who purchased the earlier (0.6 version) of the app as there was no way for me to transition these users to the Mac App Store (although I did give out promo codes to anyone who asked)

I’ve since decided that making Dropzone available exclusively on the Mac App Store was the wrong decision and have now decided to distribute Dropzone 2 outside of the Mac App Store as well. Therefore, I’m pleased to announce that the Non-Mac App Store version of Dropzone 2 is now available.

The first thing this means is that if you have an 0.6 license (purchased or via a bundle) you can download Dropzone 2 and use this license key to register and upgrade for free.

If you’re considering purchasing Dropzone you now have two options – you can purchase via the Mac App Store or directly from us by downloading the free trial and then purchasing via the in-app FastSpring store.

As shown above, in the Non-Mac App Store version of Dropzone there are two new buttons – ‘Updates’ and ‘License’ – In the Updates panel you can control Sparkle updater settings and in the License panel you can enter your registration details or purchase the app.

Note the ‘Show Beta versions’ checkbox. If you tick this you will receive beta updates as well as normal updates. In the past I distributed beta versions of Dropzone manually which was cumbersome and time consuming, this feature will help me to catch bugs earlier and allow a faster release cycle. If you’d like to receive the latest and greatest version of Dropzone and don’t mind reporting the occasional bug, please tick this checkbox.

Note that if you’ve purchased via the Mac App Store this doesn’t effect you at all. You should continue to use that version and you will continue to receive updates via the App Store app.

If you have any questions leave a comment below or email support@aptonic.com

Lifehacker reviews Dropzone

March 10th, 2012

Adam Dachis from Lifehacker recently put Dropzone through its paces:

The software we like to feature is generally free or close to it, but Dropzone turned out to be so much more capable than initially expected that it was worth an in-depth look.

You can read his full review here. I definitely recommend you watch the video he made (above) as it provides an excellent introduction to the app and how to integrate it into your workflow.