Here’s a particular bugbear of mine. Installers that do unexpected things.
Apple provide a standard install mechanism whereby a developer can bundle their software into a single file called a Package which the user just has to double click on. An Application installed as part of the OS then opens the package and guides you through installing the software. It’s a very versatile mechanism but should only really be used when you need to install files in multiple places; The main application in /Applications/ and data files in the /Library/Application Support/ folder, for instance. Otherwise the standard ‘Drag and Drop’ install method of just the Application file itself to where you want to install it (usually /Applications/) is preferred by Apple.
One thing the Package install method is able to do is install more than one ‘thing’ at a time, ‘thing’ being defined here (loosely) as ‘A set of files making up a common software tool’. For instance Final Cut Studio used the Package install method to install a few things: Final Cut Pro and its supporting files (‘thing’ one), DVD Studio Pro and its supporting files (‘thing’ two) etc. Much much easier than drag and drop! It’s this ability to install more than a single ‘thing’ that can be misused.
Now for a quick bit of interface philosophy.
When you create an installer Package which can install multiple ‘things’ you are able to make the install-state of each ‘thing’ installed-by default or not-installed-by-default. The only things you should make installed-by default are the things you’ve written or that are required for the software you’ve written to run. You should never set a ‘thing’ as installed-by-default if it is not specifically required by your software and you should most definitely never even include something in your installer Package that changes the user experience of something that is nothing to do with your software whatsoever. Even if you’re getting paid a ton of money by Microsoft. Yes, I’m looking at you, DivX
Here’s my list of gripes with the DivX installer. (I admit I’m picking on them but I have seen others do similar. I just can’t recall who they are right now.)
The Package gives this cryptic message when you open it.
Now actually, this is a message thrown up by the Installer, not the DivX package. To the casual observer this might look like an error but all it really means is “This Package must be installed while the installer is in 32bit mode, not 64bit mode, Installer will now Quit and Reopen in 32bit mode so you can continue installing your software.” However, I feel DivX could make their Package 64bit and do away with this error. I’ll admit not knowing if it’s just the Package or the actual software it’s trying to install that makes the Installer throw this message, but if it’s just the Package then DivX could fix that easily, if it’s the software, why isn’t it 64bit yet? Surely video codecs are exactly the kind of software that benefit from being 64bit over 32bit?
Next up, the software that should be installed, but isn’t. Note that for certain functionality the DivX HEVX plugin is required
But for some reason the DivX HEVC plug-in is not selected by default.
Now comes the misuse part . To really understand why it’s a misuse you have to realise how people think as they install software. When you click ‘Continue’ in the picture above you are presented with a screen inviting you to install the software, click on ‘Install’ and dialogue box asking for an admin user’s details.
So far, so standard. However what MOST people will now do, because of a certain set of expectations about how the software will behave, is to automatically click the confirmation button on the screen after that without much thought not immediately realising that THIS is what they miss.
Now this, DivX is bad. What you’re doing is using people’s expectation of how the installer will behave – specifically the ‘After I enter my admin details there are no more options’ part – and using it to bypass people’s attention to get them to change a setting totally unrelated to your software.
I invite someone from DivX to refute the allegation of using people’s expectations against them. Be honourable, DivX and uncheck that Bing box by default. I totally understand you have bills to pay (contrary to popular belief not all developers work for Pizza & Pepsi!) but don’t do it like this!
(27/09 edited to tone down some annoyed language)