Under The Microscope

Alert: Poorly Thought Out Alerts

Apple has just unveiled the first public betas for the next version of the Mac’s operating system, MacOS 14 (Sonoma). That makes this a useful time to remind you that the betas are not yet supported by our products. We’re hard at work on updates, but it will be some time before they’re available. We urge you to stick with MacOS 13 or lower for now, rather than catching yourself on the extremely rough edges of a beta operating system.

A recent post from Craig Hockenberry brought attention to one such rough edge, in the form of a new warning dialog which may pop up in the Sonoma betas. The dialog states “[Application Name] is using a deprecated API that will be removed in the future. Please contact the developer for an updated version.”

Two very poorly-written dialogs instructing users to contact developers about depracted API usage.

Craig’s post includes many notes detailing how terrible this dialog is. He follows up with a list of suggestions for improving the dialog, to make it at least minimally tolerable.

To that I say: No. There is no improving this, short of its complete removal.

Since the very first computer platform was created, there has been a power struggle between platform owners and developers. As developers, we wish for a stable platform. It’s understood that it must evolve, but it should do so slowly and predictably. Platform owners, on the other hand, wish to cut out cruft and move forward rapidly. This tension is the normal state of affairs. When managed well, it keeps both parties in check.

This poorly-written alert, instructing users to contact developers for new software, is an unacceptable disturbing of that balance. The last thing users should ever have to worry about is “deprecated APIs”.

Apple already has a powerful method for dealing with deprecated APIs. First, they announce the pending removal of the API to developers. Then, some time later, they remove the APIs. That’s more than enough. It is our fervent hope that Apple simply drops this alert entirely before Sonoma officially ships in the fall.

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