Downloading Applications with Safari 4

About two years ago, I wrote a piece about what should the application download experience look like on Mac OS X. In it, I suggested that the best experience was to simply create a compressed archive that Safari would decompress automatically after download. Unfortunately, Safari 4 has a problem that breaks the optimality I used to provide.

In a footnote in the old article I wrote:

Note that, since Mac OS X 10.3, the system unarchiver can also decompress gzip- and bzip-compressed tar archives (.tgz and .tbz files); those will get you better compression ratios than zip files and will be handled perfectly well by Safari. I’ve already began using .tbz files for things that can’t work on 10.2 anyway (mostly developer stuff).

The problem is that Safari 4 stopped decompressing automatically .tgz and .tbz archives. I didn’t notice until today, but it seems that only zip files benefit from this special treatment now. Until Apple fixes this, I’ll probably slowly return to zip files because I value a good download experience more than a 10% improvement in bandwidth consumption. But that’s still disappointing.



The best experience is an uncompressed disk image with 50 MB of free space for each 5 MB of software, packed into a zip, or preferably a StuffIt archive. HQX is optional but recommended. The file name should not include the version number, and if possible not even the name of the software. Actually, a UUID and an incorrect extension is the best name for a download file.

  • © 2003–2024 Michel Fortin.