Application delivery method 08.20.2007
Recently, it seems that more and more applications are starting to use simple zip archives to deliver downloaded applications rather than the traditional, but incredibly convoluted, dmg method.
The zip archive method has many advantages:
It inherently disallows the common mistake of running an application from the mounted dmg. I’ve seen many cases where users will panic when they restart, and all of their applications are “gone”.
It’s easier to handle, even for the power user. The process of mounting a dmg, waiting for the verification and actual mounting, copying the application, and then unmounting the image is series of unnecessary steps. The zip archive presents a simple idiom that is shared by tons of ther file types and media.
Done right, it’s more user friendly. I like to use the Firefox dmg background image as a good example of where even the best artistic intentions confuse the user; though it looks pretty, and is perfectly understandable to a person who is already familiar with the process, the abstracted symbols and action directives are completely meaningless to someone who has not undergone the dmg process.
Zip archives, on the other hand, can allow for a much more rich interaction: an application can, upon first launch, gently remind the user that the app isn’t in the /Application or /User/name/Application folder, prompting either the user to move it himself, or offering to move it automatically.
I applaud those applications and those developers of applications who are now using zip arhives as the method of delivery.
It’s simply better.