Comment re Apple’s release of Yosemite Public Beta

Apple will allow up to a million Mac users a public beta of the upcoming OS X 10 operating system. That may be useful to the Mac community, as it will help Apple filter out bugs and receive user comments, prior to the official release of Yosemite.

But I’m not going to install it on the Macs on which I depend for my work. I agree with the cautions in this article: … blic-beta/

Our developers have been working with prereleases of Yosemite supplied to developers, in order to prepare for any modifications to our applications that may be required when Yosemite is officially released. This has been true for every previous upgrade of OS X, and for the most part the transitions to a new version of OS X have gone smoothly for our users.

We cannot guarantee support to early adopters of Yosemite, if they encounter problems with one of our applications under the beta of Yosemite. Suppose the beta contains a yet-undiscovered bug that can damage a DEVONthink database when a certain procedure is invoked (DEVONthink makes more, and more differing, calls to the operating system than any other application I can think of). Hopefully, such a bug will have been discovered and corrected by Apple before the final release, in which case efforts to work around it by our developers would turn out to have been a waste of development resources better spend elsewhere.

I’m a heavy user of DEVONthink and DEVONagent Pro. My databases have been very stable and I depend on them. Also, I do Support work with our users, and need to be able to analyze their problems with the current releases of our applications under the current and previous versions of OS X. Mavericks will be the operating system until I switch to the official release of Yosemite on one or more of my Macs.

Yes, it would be fun to play with the beta of Yosemite. If I get time (which is doubtful) that may happen. But it won’t be installed in place of Mavericks on my work Macs.

Sound advice.

I have Yosemite installed on on an external hard drive, and so far am enjoying playing around in it. Some noticeable flaws, but no major problems encountered so far. I won’t be doing any real work here, but I did open DTPO out of curiosity. The open databases pane on the far left pane is translucent, and looks good. In fact, the new font makes the whole interface look … fresher. I’d imagine it looks even better on a retina mac (I’m using a mid 2010 13").

I am running the developer previews on the machine I use for most of my daily work, and I agree with Bill: you shouldn’t do it. If you do decide to do it, you need to make absolutely sure that you can recover from all sorts of possible failures.

I am running the preview, but that’s because I’m prepared to revert at a moment’s notice if that should be necessary. I also have another computer I can use that I don’t upgrade if I don’t have time to revert.

My list of preparations would look something like

  • Have multiple sets of reliable backups that you know you can restore (yes, test the restore!).
  • Have a copy of the installer from the previous version prepped, or better yet, get a bootable image of your drive before install. This fixes the problem if for whatever reason you can’t need to reinstall and can’t download it.
  • Have separate machines you can use if you can’t use this one. NEVER run it on your only machine, because you might need another machine to help recover.
  • Have a tested plan to bring your current working documents back onto your machine after you do a restore. You won’t be able to restore a beta Time Machine backup on top of Mavericks, though you may be able to do a migration. Dropbox or file sync tools can also satisfy this.

These tips are good for anyone, really. I have a lot less stress knowing that a bulldozer could run over my laptop and I’m not going to lose anything. But you are so very likely to have problems when running a beta you’d better have a plan going forward. (In fact, I’ve used these steps in the last 24 hours because I decided to reformat and reinstall a clean Yosemite build to check on some things. Happily, no data lost.)

For what it’s worth, I have not currently found any show-stopping bugs in DEVONthink in the features I use. I have found a number of other issues that I’ve reported. The important thing to realize is that the betas are a moving target, and something might work one day and stop working the next. If this will cause you a lot of problems, either have ways to mitigate it or steer clear of the beta.