Here’s a brief recap for those who haven’t followed the saga of Yojimbo, the information organizer from Bare Bones Software. In the first version of Yojimbo (see our review in “Let Yojimbo Guard Your Information Castle,” 30 January 2006), there was .Mac-based syncing so you could access the same set of Yojimbo-stored items on any of your Macs. That feature evolved with the move from .Mac to MobileMe through Yojimbo 2.0, and into 3.0 (read “Yojimbo 3.0 Gains Scanning and iPad App,” 19 October 2010), but when Apple turned MobileMe off in June 2012, Yojimbo’s syncing was similarly disabled.
“But iCloud replaced MobileMe,” you say, and you’d be right. Unfortunately, syncing application data in iCloud has been unreliable since the beginning, and while Apple continues to work on the system, Bare Bones was never able to make it sufficiently functional. Rich Siegel of Bare Bones even wrote a lengthy explanation of the problems.
So that’s where Yojimbo users have been stuck for the last year, but the good news is that Mac-to-Mac syncing has now returned to Yojimbo 4.0, though not through iCloud. Instead, Bare Bones chose to partner with Wasabi World Wide Heavy Industries, whose Wasabi Sync service offers a highly reliable syncing solution for Core Data-based apps. The “bad” news related to that decision? Syncing is now an optional feature in Yojimbo 4.0, and, after the first 30 days, will cost $2.99 per month, due to the ongoing costs of running the sync services. More on prices in a bit.
The subscription, which you sign up for within the app, bills automatically to your credit card each month. If your credit card expires or if its number changes, you’ll be alerted via email and will have a month to resolve the problem. And, of course, if you discover that you’re not using the syncing, you can cancel the subscription and Yojimbo will simply stop synchronizing your data and remove it from the server — you won’t lose anything, and you always maintain ownership of your data.
Apart from the new syncing capabilities, there are few new features in Yojimbo 4.0. Most of the work took place under the hood in terms of re-architecting the app to replace MobileMe syncing with Wasabi Sync. In the process, Bare Bones added full-screen support and Retina-savvy graphics, along with some bug fixes. Bear in mind that once you upgrade to Yojimbo 4.0, you can’t go back without restoring data from a backup, which the app will make before converting to the new format.
As a result, if you’re a happy Yojimbo 3 user and don’t want syncing, there isn’t much reason to upgrade right now. That’s especially true if you’re using a PowerPC-based Mac; due to the new code, Yojimbo 4.0 now requires OS X 10.8.2 or later, and thus won’t run on those older Macs. It’s unknown as yet how Yojimbo 3 will work in OS X 10.9 Mavericks, but if there are issues, that might be a reason to upgrade, since Bare Bones will ensure that Yojimbo 4 is completely compatible with Mavericks once Apple releases it.
Back to the costs. Aware that the $2.99 per month subscription does increase the overall cost of Yojimbo, Bare Bones has dropped the list price from $39 to $30, and a five-user Family Pack costs $60. Upgrades are free for anyone who purchased on or after 14 June 2013, and for those coming from any earlier version of Yojimbo, upgrades cost $20. (This is the first paid upgrade since Yojimbo 2.0 came out nearly four years ago, since the jump from Yojimbo 2 to 3 was free.) Because of the syncing subscription, Yojimbo 4.0 is not currently sold in the Mac App Store — Apple doesn’t allow such independent approaches — but those who previously purchased from the Mac App Store can still upgrade directly from Bare Bones.
The optional subscription for syncing will no doubt engender much discussion, since it’s an unusual move for consumer-level software, and does result in an overall cost of ownership that is higher than the previous list price. But there is an actual cost to providing an ongoing service, and by making syncing optional, Bare Bones is passing those costs on only to those who use the service. In essence, they’re saying, “Syncing is the product, not you.”