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AlBlue’s Blog

Macs, Modularity and More

Frigging VISE installer ...

2007, crap, mac

Possible the first (and last) combination of my 'crap' and 'mac' labels, the VISE installer for Mac OS X applications is the worst piece of software to land on an otherwise excellent platform. It is the wart that all other warts avoid. So why on earth do people use this tool for packaging applications? Mac OS X has an installer, people; there's even a developer tool called PackageMaker that can build these things for you; and that's without the plainly obvious ship-it-as-a-DMG that most applications need.

I've got an HP 5590 scanner, which causes me more problem than most by flashing up an Error Code 23 on a pretty regular basis. (Error Code 23 means that the lamp is broken; but a combination of restarts makes it go away, I've found.) I decided to update the HP tools with their 'Software Udpater', which gleefully informed me that new tools were available; yet try as it might, it couldn't download the drivers. I decided to downlaod them manually; turns out they're shipping them as the 'deprecated' FTP; why, I have no idea, since HTTP handles everything that FTP does from an acquisition perspective, including restartable downloads. Changing the protocl from FTP to HTTP solved the problem, even with the same website.

Turns out this installer was packaged with the VISE installer, which I'm guessing stands for Very Insane Shitty Extractor. Not only does the applciation scan for where the apps are installed, but it goes through an extract-and-compare process multiple times. It took much longer than the download of Eclipse recently, which is distributed as a Zip file.

It informed me that it would have to restart my Mac when it's finished. Normally, I don't bother with this — if you need to, you can force quit the app when it's done and reboot at your leisure — so I clicked on OK. What I didn't agree to is having all of my applications immediately be closed, including a post I was writing for the EclipseZone "Countdown to Europa" series. I lost a good 20 minutes work, just because I happened to be installing a package with VISE installer. It also restarted the Dock for me no less than three times (why once wasn't sufficient, I don't know) and then threatened to boot me off when it was done.

The Mac doesn't need tools like this. It casts a shadow of doubt over the way Things Just Work on the Mac. And I see no reason to restart either my mail client or web browser if I'm installing drivers that perform scanning operations. In future, if it's a VISE installer, I'm going to kill it, then fast user switch over to a different account to partition the installer off from anything else. I've learnt my lesson, and I won't be falling for it again.

And next time I go shopping, if you supply a driver in VISE installer, I'm buying your competitors hardware. Anyone want to buy a second hand HP 5590 scanner?