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Artboard and Apple Sandboxing

As you may be aware, Apple recently began enforcing sandboxing rules on the Mac App Store. We think it is important to let you know how this affects Artboard.

We will shortly be releasing an upgrade to Artboard, version 1.6 through the Mac App Store. To comply with Apple’s requirements, we have implemented “sandboxing” within Artboard. For most users no change will be noticed, but is worth understanding the potential implications of this BEFORE you upgrade.

What is sandboxing?

Sandboxing is a security technology added by Apple to Mac OS which limits the access an application can have to the file system. When an application is sandboxed, it is only able to access files within its designated area of the file system (the ‘sandbox’) and also any files that the user explicitly gives permission to use. The user does this when they use the standard File Open and Save dialogs within the application. By doing this, malicious code that operates by modifying or posing as an application is unable to access the general file system.

How will sandboxing change the way I use Artboard?

In short, it doesn’t. We have ensured that all features work with sandboxing. The user will notice no functional changes. In some cases we have actually improved functionality as a result of the changes we needed to make internally to support sandboxing.

So why do I need to know this?

Sandboxing was introduced in Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” but it went through a number of changes, bug fixes and enhancements during that time. If you are using Mac OS 10.7 “Lion”, we strongly advise that you update to the latest version (10.7.4 or later) as prior to this version there were issues with sandboxing that we expect to cause problems. Artboard has only been qualified against version 10.7.4 of “Lion”.

If you are using Mac OS 10.6 “Snow Leopard” there is no need to upgrade. Sandboxing is not implemented in 10.6 and Artboard will work without sandboxing, unchanged.

If you are using Mac OS 10.8 “Mountain Lion” there is also no need to upgrade, though in general we would expect users to do so as OS updates become available.

What happens when Artboard is run?

Where sandboxing is implemented, upon first launch of the new version of Artboard, the sandbox is created and any previous support files are moved into the sandbox. These include any user symbol libraries you’ve created, your saved templates, cached SVG thumbnails and so on. These should continue to work normally.

If you have customised the Image Browser to add additional folders other than ‘~/Pictures/’, you will need to add these again. This is necessary so that the user permission to access these folders is granted. Once granted, these permissions remain in force for subsequent launches.

When saving a file as a User Template, a new (and better) user interface is now used that allows you to organize your templates, but makes it impossible to save them to an incorrect location.

This version introduces many other improvements and features to Artboard, but these are independent of sandboxing.

Our Thoughts on the Mac App Store

The Mac App Store launched Jan. 6 and promises to be a great thing for Mac users. That the Mac App Store makes software license installation all but disappear, offers convenient multi-Mac licenses, and effortless one-click installation and updates is hard to ignore. Then there is discoverability. Here is a tweet that pretty much sums it up for us… “From the Mac App Store: Artboard – a vector drawing app I never would have seen otherwise.” Read more