OS X Application Splatter -- Why?

Discussion in 'Apple' started by TaliesinSoft, Sep 7, 2004.

  1. TaliesinSoft

    TaliesinSoft Guest

    When an application is installed under OS-X it seems that often parts are
    placed in the Applications, parts in Application Support, parts in
    Preferences, and who knows where else. And if an application installed at the
    administrator level is accessed at the user level, some of these parts are
    also placed in similar places within the user account.

    It would seem, especially with "packages", that everything needed at the
    administrator level could be in a single package and everything needed at the
    user level could likewise be in a single package. This would certainly, at
    least it seems to me, simplify the process of installing and deleting

    So, what is the rationale for having things so scattered and disjoint?

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft
    TaliesinSoft, Sep 7, 2004
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  2. TaliesinSoft

    TaliesinSoft Guest

    [responding to my stating that application specific items get installed in
    the Preferences and Application Support folders of the administrator account]
    The way I'm configured is that I have an administrator account and two user
    accounts. I never run from the administrator account unless "forced" to for
    some specific reason. My recollection is that some application installers
    won't let one install an application at the administrator level unless one is
    signed on to the administrator account.

    I just took a quick look at the Preferences and Application Support folders
    of my administrator account. In Preferences there were some 57 items, many
    of them placed there when OS X was installed, but there were also folders
    labeled Explorer, FileMaker, Macromedia, Microsoft, Retrospect, and Virtual
    PC. In Application Support were three folders labeled Adobe, Address Book,
    and Tinker Tool.

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft
    TaliesinSoft, Sep 7, 2004
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  3. TaliesinSoft

    TaliesinSoft Guest

    I may have been somewhat misunderstood here. I strongly support the notion
    that those preferences which relate to a given user belong with that user's
    account and not with the administrator's account. However, what I was
    intending to suggest is that those preferences could be maintained in the
    application specific "package" which resides in the user's Application
    folder. What I would prefer is that trashing an application's "package" at
    the user level removes all parts of that application that are specific to
    that user and that trashing an application's package at the administrator
    level removes all parts of that application that are system wide. The
    objective is that adding an application only adds a single item, the
    "package", for each involved account. If the application is to be shared
    amongst multiple users that would mean a single "package" for each of the
    involved users and one at the administrative level. If the application was
    installed within a given user's account then there would only be one single
    "package" installed.

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft
    TaliesinSoft, Sep 7, 2004
  4. TaliesinSoft

    Doc O'Leary Guest

    That only happens when the application is poorly designed. What
    particular applications are doing this to you? My rule of thumb is that
    anything that isn't from Apple and requires an installer is likely to be
    garbage. I'm also not particularly happy about crappy OS 9 ports that
    want to stuff everything in a folder rather than creating a proper
    application package.

    That said, there is good reason for an application to *use* the
    "Application Support" and "Preferences" folder, and other "Library"
    locations, when appropriate. What your real complaint seems to be is
    that a hierarchical filesystem sucks (and I agree) because it forces you
    to choose between:

    Library/Application Support/FooBarApp



    One is great if you want to get rid of generally disposal junk (like all
    Caches) at some particular instant, while the other is great if care
    about a whole application at some other instant. Apple's answer to that
    is SpotLight; hopefully you can wait for it.
    Doc O'Leary, Sep 7, 2004
  5. TaliesinSoft

    TaliesinSoft Guest

    [commenting on my prior posting in which I suggested that all of the
    components of an application should be kept within a package which, depending
    on circumstances, would reside either in the administrator's application
    folder, a specific user's application folder, or both]
    I have a number of applications that I prefer to be "private" in that they
    are intended only for my use and not by other user accounts sharing the
    computer. I'm not sure why you say that if an application is private and thus
    exists within a user's Application folder rather than the administrator's
    Application folder that the containing package would be an inappropriate
    place for that user's specific preferences for the application. (I hope I'm
    being clear here.) In a nut's hell what I believe is possible (and in my
    opinion, desirable) is that there be a minimum of objects (in this case
    packages) that are specific to an application, one for each user account
    which has access to the application, and one for those cases where an
    application is installed at the administrative level.

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft
    TaliesinSoft, Sep 8, 2004
  6. TaliesinSoft

    TaliesinSoft Guest

    On Tue, 7 Sep 2004 15:40:32 -0500, Doc O'Leary wrote
    (in article

    [commenting on my grumping about application stuff being spread amongst a
    number of folders]
    Well, for many reasons I'm anxious for Spotlight! But I'm still not convinced
    that the entirety of an applications components cannot be kept together.

    -- James L. Ryan -- TaliesinSoft
    TaliesinSoft, Sep 8, 2004
  7. TaliesinSoft

    Tom Stiller Guest

    In my view, once an application is installed, it should be "read-only"
    and the device (or folder) on which it's stored could me made so. The
    application may require certain support functions, possibly shared by
    other applications from the same vendor, which must be "findable" by
    those other applications; this might also be read-only. Finally the
    application may support personalization, both site and user specific;
    the user specific portions might be modifiable and would be in
    read/write storage.

    Given that the developer should have to write only one version of the
    application, it seems that these storage location should have both a
    public and private instance. If the locations were standardized, the OS
    might provide a search function to locate items, going from the specific
    (user) to the general (system-wide).
    Tom Stiller, Sep 8, 2004
  8. As someone who dislikes installers in general (I prefer the "drag app from
    a mounted *.dmg" method) I see one real disadvantage to storing locally
    generated templates, preferences, etc. in the application bundle itself -
    such a strategy precludes updating an application via the "drag from
    *.dmg" method, as all those local changes would be lost. And I really
    don't think it's a good idea to store individual user preferences in
    a shared location like the app bundle in any case.

    I find Apple's OSX approach to dealing with preferences and support
    files to be pretty well thought out, although not completely obvious
    on first glance.

    As I understand it...

    Application bundle: app, resources, stock templates (usually read-only
    once installed)

    /Library/Application Support: Stuff shared by multiple apps, misc app
    support files, templates shared by all users of that Mac

    ~/Library/Application Support: Stuff shared by multiple apps (but
    installed for a single user or by a non-admin user), misc app
    support files, individual user templates

    ~/Library/Preferences: Preference files for individual users

    Even if I got a few of the details wrong, I think that having
    separate directories for each of the categories of files listed
    above is a good thing.

    The concern about removing every last byte of a deleted application seems
    a bit misplaced to me in this age of 250GB drives at $0.50 a gigabyte.
    For a "normal" Mac user, there is really no compelling reason whatsoever
    to ever remove support and prefs files for an app which they decide to
    delete. This really seems like a "purity of essence" issue, rather
    than one with practical impacts for Mac users.

    But I'm not known for my excessive tidiness, by any means... :)
    Jim Glidewell, Sep 9, 2004
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