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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

BBEdit at Max Q

Note: This story has not been updated since 2021.

I’m in Montreal for the Cingleton conference. On Saturday Rich Siegel of Bare Bones Software gave a presentation in which he announced that the next version of BBEdit would not be sold in the Mac App Store. (The existing version will remain, and existing Mac App Store customers can upgrade to the next version directly with Bare Bones.)

Çingleton – Rich Siegel from Çingleton on Vimeo.

Siegel’s talk was notable for its restraint and care. This was not a scorched-earth denouncement of the Mac App Store. In fact, at the end, he admitted that it’s not impossible that BBEdit might return to the store someday, if conditions change.

Siegel crafted his presentation as a list of reasons that weren’t the reason Bare Bones was abandoning the Mac App Store. It wasn’t Apple’s 30 percent cut, he said, because while that’s a lot of money, developers get a lot of service from Apple in return. It wasn’t the complete severing of his relationship with his customers, even though it’s frustrating that only Apple really knows who is buying the software and it doesn’t share that data. Nor were it the marketing challenges, the difficulty conforming to Apple’s submissions guidelines (including sandboxing and forcing some features in to add-on downloads), or the numerous problems involving the development tool chain—including the one time that a BBEdit update silently crashed the App Store’s submission tool.

But, of course, all of these frustrations were cumulative. And, Siegel said, many of those frustrations occur at the very end of the development cycle, when the final code is being shipped and the marketing plan is being executed. He likened it to Max Q, the aeronautical term for the period of maximum atmospheric stress on a flying vehicle.

The end result? A lot of soul searching and a realization that being in the Mac App Store just wasn’t worth it for Siegel or Bare Bones, that the added stress and frustration and everything else just wasn’t counterbalanced by the benefit of being in the premier storefront for Mac apps.

For many Mac apps, the Mac App Store is a good home. And the store itself continues to evolve. But in the past few years developers have gotten a better view into all of its quirks and frustrations, and for some of them it’s just not worth it. I suspect BBEdit will do just fine back on its own, and the Mac App Store will continue to chug along, its library imperceptibly poorer.

[While Cingleton does sometimes make presenter videos available after the fact, there’s no video of this presentation available now, and there probably won’t be soon. So you’ll have to take my word for it.]

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