October 03, 2011, 4:59 PM — Notifications have become a mainstay of modern computing. While people routinely only perform a single task, our computers continually juggle many, so knowing when our devices have carried out some job in the background has become a critical piece of data. While a notification makeover is a marquee feature of the soon-to-be-released iOS 5, Mac users have had their own notification platform for more than five years in the form of the open-source software Growl.
Growl 1.3, released Monday, boasts a number of changes, including new features and new rules for development. But its most significant change may be the fact the utility is now available from the Mac App Store--and only the Mac App Store.
What's in store
That change of venue required some shifts. For example, rather than visit System Preferences to adjust Growl's settings, as with earlier versions, you now simply launch the new Growl app. The Growl Project hopes this will, at least, partially solve the problem of confusing update reminders. All updates will instead be pushed through the Mac App Store's own mechanism.
Joining Apple's online store has also opened an avenue to sustained development of the product. The end-user edition of the software will be sold through the store for $2. "The general idea here is that we'll be able to fund Growl development going forward," said Growl project lead Christopher Forsythe. "The general conclusion we came to is that we need to fund development going forward or that Growl would likely stop being developed altogether."
There are less tangible benefits as well. The Mac App Store is a way for Growl to showcase its compliance with Lion's new sandboxing security technology, and, of course, the vetting process for being in the store in the first place. Both will help potential users understand that Growl is a safe application with explicit approval from Apple.
But Growl's presence in the store isn't a death knell for the software as an open-source project. "Growl is definitely still open source," Forsythe told Macworld in an interview prior to Monday's release of Growl 1.3. "Currently our [software repository] is locked down but once 1.3 is out, we'll open it up." Despite the end product only being available through the Mac App Store, independent users will still be able to download and compile the source code from Growl's site, as per the terms of Growl's BSD license.