Bug: Export Addons Directory is buggy

The Export Addons Directory is often used by support people (both Realmac and otherwise) to collect user add-ons for duplicating bugs and also used by users to migrate their setup to a new machine.

Unfortunately this function behaves naively/buggily – mashing things together and skipping a lot.

My test setup: I made a simple addons folder that any stack developer might have:

  • Stacks installed
  • also an old copy of Stacks in the Plugins Disabled folder.
  • some stacks enabled and some disabled
  • a few snippets
  • a few “devstacks” installed
  • a few in a folder called DevStacks.
  • a bunch of themes in folder called “Old Themes”
  • a bunch of Stacks Library custom groups.

What I did: I clicked the Export button.

What happened: It generally made a mess of things. The wrong copy of Stacks was exported. The enabled/disabled stacks were merged. All the uninstalled themes are now installed. Everything else is missing.

  • it doesn’t consider enabled/disabled
    the exported archive contains all the add-ons, whether currently enabled, currently disabled, or just in a random folder

  • the user can’t pick/choose
    resulting add-ons package trigger the installer, but the user is forced to install the everything together or nothing at all. So even if they know which items are old/disabled, there’s nothing they can do about it.

  • only one copy of an addon is exported
    if there is more than one copy of an add-on found (e.g.: one enable, one disabled, one in a random folder). it’s not always the enabled version (or even the latest version)

  • snippets are not exported

  • no plug-in specific data is exported Stacks library groups (StacksGroups.db), developer stacks (*.devstack), Collage styles (Collage folder), etc.
    perhaps this isn’t a goal of the add-ons export – but maybe it should be? this has been the agreed upon place for this data. users will be confused when it goes missing.

  • lastly: just a cosmetic thing. but it’s one that has irritated me for years. the word “Directory” should never be used in macOS. the correct word is always “Folder”. the only use for “Directory” is a synonym for Phone Book, as in “Directory Services”.

The biggest problem here is that most of the support people believe this is a reliable way to help users transfer their info to support and a reliable way for users to transfer info to a new machine. Neither is true.

RMS support folks should know about these issues and use this feature only with extreme caution.