How good is the Mac indie developer community?

I have been a long-time user of the SearchLink service developed by Brett Terpstra. I use it so regularly that I have it tied to a button on my Stream Deck, as well as keyboard shortcut, ⌃ + ⌘ + L.

Last night I attempted to use SearchLink while typing in the all new MarsEdit 5. Instead of it working as it always has, I received a confounding error:

The action “Run Shell Script” encountered an error: “-e:1778:in `scan': invalid byte sequence in UTF-8 (ArgumentError)
from -e:1778:in `ddg'
from -e:987:in `parse'
from -e:2147:in `<main>'”

This was beyond me. I knew that MarsEdit 5 had a new foundational text editing platform, so I assumed whatever had changed was probably a bug related to that. I also tried SearchLink in BBEdit (another great Mac app made by legendary Mac developers, Bare Bones Software) and the problem appeared there too - which shot somewhat of a hole in my MarsEdit theory.

Nevertheless, I emailed Daniel Jalkut, developer of MarsEdit, with a support request. He quickly responded saying that he doesn’t use SearchLink, but would look into it.

I also sent a support request to Brett. Very quickly Brett asked a further diagonostic question, then while I was asleep (welcome to Australia-USA relations), he emailed me through an updated version of the SearchLink script. Brett had determined that DuckDuckGo, the engine powering SearchLink, was suddenly providing results in a zipped format. The new version 2.2.27 fixes the issue.

So within hours of noticing a problem with SearchLink, I again have a working version that supports the all-new MarsEdit 5 — and every other Mac-assed Mac app1 that works with services2.

The Mac indie developer community is amazing. I thank them, and encourage you to support them by buying and using their products. Let’s keep this thing alive.

  1. Kudos to you, 1Password, for registering the domain in defense of Electron-based 1Password 8. I don’t know what to think. ↩︎

  2. I’m looking at you, Electron. ↩︎