‘Appcasting’ – keep your software up to date via RSS enclosures

Can’t keep all the software things you’ve downloaded up to date? (Ignore this if you don’t care, obviously.) Why not use RSS so the developer can keep you up to date, and even better send the thing out over RSS as an enclosure which you can blithely pick up from your feed?

It’s podcasting without the ‘ums’ and the worrying feeling that they did it in their pajamas… yes, it’s Appcasting, from that Speirs laddie. Very neat.

The remarkable thing is that NetNewsWire hasn’t adopted it yet, but it’s only.. um.. I don’t know how new this idea is because there’s no date on the page. Still, have you heard it anywhere else?


  1. Uhh, what’s the difference between this and an auto update then? Surely it’s easier just to have an app auto update and then tell you what changes have happened? I suppose you can see what the changes are before you choose to download, but thats usually an option within a well written program anyway…

  2. Some people might prefer seeing that a program’s been updated in their RSS reader, rather than having the application interrupt their workflow by popping up a dialogue box saying “Your software’s out of date, upgrade now”.

    On an only tangentially related note, how come lots of bits of Apple software no longer seem to be updated via Software Update? First iTunes 4.8, now a new version of DVD Player for Tiger.

    The former I downloaded to try out the video stuff. The latter I won’t be downloading, partially because it seems to only include improved HD support, but also because I want Software Update to handle all my Apple software, because it’s easier that way.

  3. Charles: NetNewsWire does actually support Appcasts, by virtue of supporting the RSS 2.0 enclosure field. It won’t install the software for you, though, and from a security point of view, I don’t think it ever should.

    mull: Appcasting is also of value to people who distribute installable items which can’t easily do their own software update technique. Examples: plugins for other apps, NetNewsWire style files, MoveableType plugins, etc, etc. Also, with Appcasts, you know that the app isn’t sending covert data back to the mothership.

  4. What I meant about NNW was that there isn’t a feed with the actual app as an enclosure yet – though I’m sure once this comes to Brent’s notice it’ll happen.

    Just updated iStumbler and Flickr Export by appcast :-)
    I like!

  5. Small Paul, most updates that Apple does are first released as a download, and then a few days later added to Software Update.

    I don’t know why, but I speculate that those that download are both a small subset of Mac users, and specifically a set that is more tech-savvy. Apple gets a built-in few day wide scale beta test by having this pattern, and those most able to handle the risk are the ones put at that (marginally) greater hazard.


  6. Huh, I’d never noticed that before. I guess in the past few months, software update has given me mostly OS updates, which wouldn’t be offered as a download anyway. And I guess updates to things like iCal wouldn’t be offered for download either.

    Dunno though. I’m sure I’ve had timely iTunes updates before.

  7. Small Paul

    >software update has given me mostly OS updates, which wouldn’t be offered as a download anyway.
    Not true in fact. Software updates can be had – either as a point download (eg 10.3.8) or as a “combo” download (eg from 10.3.0 to 10.3.8 in one go)
    I prefer to get my downloads direct from the website rather than software update. This is because I have several macs, so downloading them once (for the bigger ones) makes sense. Combined with that is my broadband pay as you go! So, even though a 100MB update would at worst case cost me about 25pence, my mean-ness encourages me to get the download once and apply it to each mac as I want and have time!

  8. I see your point. I’ve got three Macs on the go at home, so although I don’t pay per byte, my time is precious enough to make the download option a nice idea.

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