Like many of my favourite apps – this one springs out of an annoyance that I wanted to fix.
If you have used windows, then you may well have used one of the many right click commands in the finder. Some of these are built in, and some are added by third party apps.
Two that I particularly miss are
‘Make untitled.txt here’
and ‘Open this directory in the terminal’
Mac OS has had the ability to use custom scripts as services – but they’re too far from the right click to be useful (right click, scroll down hover over services, skip right, find the command you need).
Finally – with the advent of Yosemite and finder extensions, Mac OS has an approved way for me to fix this.
Enter the Sandbox…
The app sandbox is designed to make sure that apps you download from the App Store can only interact with a limited selection of files (mostly within your own app sandbox).
The app I wanted to build lets you add, open or update files anywhere in the system.
If you want your app to be in the App Store – then it has to use the sandbox!
There is a (clunky) solution
Right click booster is a developer tool, and I wanted developers to be able to integrate their own scripts.
There is actually a way that Apple lets you do this.
Scripts can be run from the User Script Directory (every app has it’s own user script directory).
This seems like a great solution, but the app isn’t allowed to put scripts in that directory.
In my first submission, the app asks the user to open the directory – thus giving permission to the app to read and write files there. Apple didn’t like that.
In my next submission, I included the scripts in a .dmg file. My app can include the .dmg, open it and let the user drag scripts to the symbolic link to the user scripts file. Apple didn’t like that either.
In my final submission – the app takes you to my website where you can download the default scripts (as a dmg). Open that dmg, and install the scripts yourself.
There were many other issues along the way – but finally, Apple have allowed this solution.
Now you can run scripts with a right click
I use my app all the time!
The ones I use the most are Pod Update, and Update version (this runs ‘avgtool next-version -all’ which bumps the version number for all my targets in an xcode project)
My other favourites are the two I built the app for. ‘Open this directory in the terminal’ and ‘Create untitled.txt’ here.
Of course, other users will have other scripts and other ideas.
If they’re generally applicable, then I’ll add them to the default script list – so please do share them at the forum!
Microsoft have unpublished it from the store because
…it does not accurately reflect the source, functionality, capabilities or features of the app
They haven’t given me much more information than this. In fact, they seem to have made it impossible for me to even change things if I can figure out what the problem actually is.
So I’m launching a competition. If you can figure out what I did, and how to get VLC Remote published again, then you win a rubbish windows phone. (Full competition rules at the bottom!)
I’m not really expecting much – so this is probably a farewell rant as Hobbyist Software exits the windows store, with only a little regret.
When Microsoft launched windows phone, I assumed they had enough money and commitment to make the ecosystem work, so I had VLC Remote ported to run on windows phone.
The OS has some great design features, and we tried to make use of them to build a great remote.
Sadly, the store has not delivered in terms of revenue. VLC Remote has earned slightly less than £2000 over it’s lifetime, which makes it a pretty rubbish investment for me.
Nonetheless, I like the app, and while it is live, then I want it to be good. A month or so ago, we kicked off a smallish project to support windows 8.1 and the new larger screen sizes. This was triggered by an invitation by myappfree.it to be their free app for a day.
Updating was unexpectedly painful, and came with minor annoyances and ‘windows-isms’ such as some disappearing core http support which only shows on the device (fortunately, I had bought a new windows 8 device to test on), and requirements like the app tile called SquareTile71x71 which of course has to be 170px by 170px.
Adding the new version to the store seems to delete all saved app information and screenshots requiring an annoying re-uploading of images and text – but all that can be overcome, and I finally pressed submit.
Importantly – when I submitted the new version, I set things so that the new version would not be automatically published. I wanted to wait until myappfree were ready before releasing the new version.
Within 24 hours, the new version was approved.
Congratulations! VLC Remote app has successfully passed certification to be included in the Windows Phone Store.
I wrote to myappfree to tell them I was ready.
Note that at this stage, the new version is still waiting in the wings ready for me to click ‘make it so’. The version in the store is the one that has been there since August 2014.
Unfortunately the day after VLC Remote was approved, I got an email to say that the existing app had been unpublished.
Microsoft has unpublished one or more of the apps registered to your account as they do not comply with Windows Phone and WindowsStore Policy Requirement 10.1. The app metadata does not accurately represent the features, functionality, and capabilities of the app.
Section 10.1 in full:
Your app and its associated metadata must accurately and clearly reflect the source, functionality, and features of your app.
The screenshots, app name, developer name, tile, category and app description, and any other related metadata you provide with your app, should make it easy for a user to understand the functions, features, and any important limitations of your app.
Your app may not use a name or icon similar to that of other apps.
You should not represent your app to be from a company, government body, or other entity if you do not have permission to make that representation.
If your app contains content or features restricted to certain languages, markets or geographies or has other important limitations, they should be clearly described.
Your app must be fully functional and offer customers unique, creative value or utility.
If your app declares an association with a given file type or extensibility point, it must provide the functionality that a customer would expect, given that association. For example, if your app declares an association with the .jpg file type, the app should be able to open the image for viewing or editing.
I’m not sure which of these I have broken.
My first version of VLC Remote was released on iOS in 2008.
It is a remote control for VLC, and the description in the store is more or less exactly the same as the description I use on iOS and Android.
The 5 star reviews seem to support the notion that it works.
My first assumption was that this was a stupid error, so I wrote back in perhaps not the most conciliatory of tone.
I am extremely unimpressed.
Why has my app been unpublished?
You say that the metadata is inaccurate, but I can’t see any inaccuracy – and you have given no specific details.
This app has been active and in good standing in the windows phone store for years without issue. The last update was in August last year (although I have a new update which I have not yet chosen to publish).
I lose money on the Windowsstore – I keep my app here because I have already invested the time to build it, and hope that some day Microsoft will make a go of Windows Phone. This kind of treatment doesn’t encourage me to continue investing.
You can call me on [xxx] to put things right and apologise.
Needless to say, I didn’t receive the hoped-for apology.
Thank you for your reply.
The app was unpublished from the Store because it does not accurately reflect the source, functionality, capabilities or features of the app. Please refer to the related guidelines in this blog.
Windows Phone and Windows Store Team
I challenge you to figure out from the blog post where my mistake lies.
A final insult
When I log in to the store, I now see the two versions (the current, and pending release), with all key functions hyperlinked to this generic contact page.
As far as I can tell: Even if I can figure out why Microsoft have unpublished my app – there is no way for me to edit it and resubmit!
So – here is the challenge:
If you can figure out what I need to do to get VLC Remote published again, then email me and let me know.
The winner will win a somewhat rubbish second hand windows phone.
In the spirit of windows rubbish-ness, I will pay for postage only if you are in the UK.
If multiple people figure it out, then I shall capriciously pick a winner based on criteria which I shall not disclose.
Until then, this is Hobbyist Software signing off from Windows Phone.
PS – No Microsoft rant would be complete without referencing the importance of developers to their flagging platform
Update 1 – Sunday 1 Feb 2015
Most of the emails I have had from users suggest that the issue is probably with the name VLC Remote or the icon.
That certainly seems like the best guess.
Of course, if Microsoft were to tell me what the problem is and how to fix it, then that would be best. Moreover:
The app has been live in the Windows Phone store since 2012 – they could have emailed me to request a change rather than simply ‘unpublishing’ the app without warning.
They have not told me what is wrong, or what I would need to change.
There is no way for me to make any changes. The app is locked, and the links where you would normally edit things simply link to the generic contact page.
If Microsoft were to contact me with details, I could let them know my thoughts.
I have been using the name VLC Remote since 2008 across various mobile platforms. It has generated millions of downloads (mostly for the free versions sadly!).
I have been using the name VLC Remote on the Windows Phone platform since 2012 without issue.
The logo incorporates the VLC cone which is itself released under GPL. There is no formal approval process from Videolan, but I did ask some key people before I started using it in 2008. As far as I am aware, there has been no complaint from Videolan (and I’m a moderately active member of the Videolan community)
Hobbyist Software owns the UK trademark for VLC Remote.
The succession of 5* reviews don’t indicate a set of users who feel misled about the apps functionality.
No word from Microsoft, but it is a weekend.
Update 2, Monday 2 Feb, 5pm 2015
One of my emails generated a response:
Thank you for your email. I see that you are inquiring why your app VLC Remote was removed from the Windows Phone Store without being given a clear description of why it has been removed. I understand your concerns and I wanted to inform you that I have proactively began the process to investigate this issue with our policy team. You will receive direct communication from the policy team in regards to the status of your app and what steps you may need to take to get your app back in to the Windows Phone store. Once you have communicated with the policy team you should be able to make changes to your app based on their instructions. I ensure you I will continue to monitor your app and will let you know of any new information until your app is placed back in the Windows Phone Store.
In the meantime, please let me know if you have any additional questions.
The app is still unpublished, and un-editable in my developer account.
Update 3, Tuesday 3 Feb 2015
This morning, I got a very polite email from a program manager at Windows.
VLC Remote is back on the store.
I am a program manager on the Windows Developer Platform team and came across your blog on Reddit.
I had the store team look into what happened and they confirmed that your app has been restored.
I do not have the details of what led to this but will share once I have them. Please let me know if you are still running into issues.
We do care about our developers! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any question or concerns!
This gentleman is of course the competition winner, and is now entitled to a second hand blue Nokia 800! I don’t know if he’ll chose to pay the shipping…
The 8.1 update is now ready to go and will go live on the 18th February.
Update 4, Tuesday 24 Feb 2015
I submitted an update on Monday to remove a single line from the app description
VLC Remote is App of The Day on myAppFree, don't miss your daily deals http://get.myappfree.it
This seems to have triggered the same problem again.
App Policies: 10.1 Metadata
Your app and its associated metadata must accurately and clearly reflect the source, functionality, and features of your app.
<snip – list of policies>
The app and its associated metadata do not accurately represent its source, functionality, or features. Please refer to the blog post for additional policy guidance: http://blogs.windows.com/windows/b/buildingapps/archive/2014/05/13/enhanced-windows-store-app-discoverability-refreshed-user-experience-and-policy-updates.aspx.
I’ll email back and copy in the chap who helped out last time.
This will be my last update to VLC Remote on Windows Phone, it simply isn’t worth it for me to carry on.
Update 5, Wed 25th Feb 2015
Things are moving much more quickly this time. The chap who helped me last time bounced my email onto somebody else who first offered to try to create an exception, then wrote again instructing me:
I got some help from one of our certification experts. Please prepare your re-submission and include the text below in your ‘Tester Notes’.
“Do not fail for 10.1 – please escalate to <named person>”
(<named person> is going help us get your app approved. )
Unfortunately, unless I’m missing something – there isn’t a tester notes field available when I submit an update.
I have submitted anyway and am crossing my fingers.
Things always break when there is a new version of iOS8, and this version has more changes than most.
I do have an updated version of VLC Remote which makes use of some of the new features, and updates a whole bundle of small things to work with the new screen sizes.
I had hoped to release this as a beta using Apple’s new TestFlight system. This is an excellent new system which promises to allow up to 1000 beta testers to try new apps before they are fully released. I had hoped this would mean that the new version got a thorough test, and I could fix anything I missed before pushing the update to everyone.
Unfortunately, my plans have been halted by the fact that Apple haven’t enabled this functionality yet.
This means that I need to wait for an Apple review before the new version goes live. That’s likely to take 5-10 days.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in signing up to be a beta tester when Apple does release the new system, please join the mailing list here:
VLC 2.1 is now out. Congratulations and Thanks to the Videolan team.
VLC Remote is ready; We have recently updated our apps on iOS, Android and WP7 to support VLC 2.1.
The only thing you need to do is make sure to run the latest version of the setup helper, and the latest version of VLC Remote after upgrading VLC.
The key new feature for remote control is that you can now set a password to control VLC. Click on the advanced tab of the setup helper if you want to select your own password (If not, we just use a default password for you).
In the olden days, there were two versions of VLC Remote, one for the iPhone and one for the iPad.
That made sense to me when the iPad was new, and it took me a lot of work to build iPad support, but it doesn’t seem right any more.
As a result, VLC Remote will now work on the iPad and also the iPhone.
This release also brings the new UI to the iPad with the advanced controls appearing as a (collapsable) sidebar on the right. New features from the iPhone version like album art and the graphical equaliser are now available on the iPad too.
Whether you bought the iPhone version or the iPad version, you can now use it on both devices. You’ll get an interface which has been optimised for the device you are using.
In an ideal world, I would now merge VLC Remote (for iPhone) with VLC Remote for iPad as they both work on both devices.
Unfortunately Apple doesn’t have a way to do this, so I’ll keep both versions running.
I’ll change the name on the iTunes store so that the iPad version appears as ‘Legacy VLC Remote for the iPad’. This should encourage new users to purchase the ‘iPhone version’, but VLC Remote will keep on working just fine whichever version you bought.
I have guessed at some questions you might have…
Will I still get updates?
Yes, until Apple provides a way to merge the apps, I’ll just update both of them. You can still download VLC Remote for iPad if you bought that, or VLC Remote if you bought that, and you’ll keep getting the new updates.
Why are you changing the name on iTunes?
Since both apps are now the same, I’m using the name change to encourage new buyers to just get the standard VLC Remote.
Do I have to buy the new version
Definitely not. If you have already paid for the iPad version, you can stick with that and it will work on the iPhone and iPad.
I already bought both versions
That’s great – thank you. You can use either one on any of your devices.
Can I switch to the ‘iPhone’ VLC Remote
Sadly not. Apple doesn’t provide any way for me to switch people between versions. If they do in future, then I’ll move everyone over.
I still have a question…
Please contact me through the settings page. I’ll be happy to help.
Thank you for supporting VLC Remote. I do appreciate it.