simon

Simon 4.1b4 released

One last beta, with just localization changes. English customers can feel free to skip this update if you like, though it's trivial to update.

  • Added Chinese localization, thanks to WeiOSX. Anyone familiar with Chinese, please provide feedback on this work (any issues or improvements).
  • Removed Japanese localization, as it has not been updated for a while. If anyone experienced with Japanese localization would like to take over this, please get in touch.
  • Updated the German and French localizations in some of the plugins (where they hadn't been used before).

Download Simon 4.1b4 now!

Simon 4.1b3 released

One more beta with a few fixes, for good measure. This will probably be the last beta before general release; please let me know if you find any issues.

  • If the When pop-up menu for a test filter is changed to None, the filter plugin controls are now removed, as expected.
  • Changed the (-) button to set the When pop-up menu to None for the last filter or notifier in the test.
  • Fixed an issue where the Preview source wouldn't finish loading if the Preview is displayed on launch of the app.

Download Simon 4.1b3 now!

Simon 4.1b2 released

Just been a couple of days, but here's another beta of Simon 4.1, with some exciting changes:

Redesigned Web feature

  • The Web (HTTP) editor has been significantly redesigned, to use a list of pages including Parameters, Headers, Cookies and Other. Clicking on one shows the corresponding page.
  • The Method pop-up menu is now on the Parameters page, since it indicates how the parameters are sent.
  • The Username and Password fields are now on the Other page; they are only useful if you connect to a server that has an authentication challenge (as displayed in a web browser via a sheet; not the same as a in-page form-based login).

Web feature support for custom headers

  • The new Headers list enables you to add custom headers to send with the request, e.g. Accept, User-Agent, etc.
  • Note that sending a request via Post will set the Content-Type and Content-Length headers, overriding any you may add.

Download Simon 4.1b2 now!

Simon 4.1b1 released

Time for an update to Simon! This first beta release includes:

Support for dynamic web content

  • Added an option to the Web (HTTP) service to enable capturing the rendered source some interval after the base HTML is loaded, to support including dynamic changes from JavaScript, as is more and more common nowadays.
  • Now does Post requests via the more compact application/x-www-form-urlencoded content type, instead of multipart/form-data. (Please let me know ASAP if this breaks any of your POST tests.)
  • Updated the web helper to 64-bit.

Other changes

  • When adding a new test with the Preview displayed, now displays a message saying that there's no location, instead of making the test a failure immediately.
  • Changed the display of status icons in the Tests list to support the Use simple status icons preference option (that uses just green & red instead of fading colors over time).
  • Moved the Delete menu item from the File menu to the Edit menu, to match the placement in most other apps.
  • Fixed enabling and disabling of menu and toolbar items depending on the selected list items.
  • Fixed a very vexing code signing issue with the Growl framework.

Download Simon 4.1b1 now!

Simon tip: Simon Extras

Dejal Simon is a powerful and flexible website & server monitoring tool. One of the reasons it is so flexible is that in addition to the many built-in services, filters, notifiers & reports, you can extend it by using or writing custom scripts (or port sessions).

Simon comes bundled with many examples of such scripts; check out the Services, Filters & Notifiers lists and look for the items with a "Script" subtitle. You can inspect and edit those to customize them to suit your needs, or use them as inspiration for your own.

As an additional resource, the Simon site has an Extras page, which lists several more scripts that customers have contributed over the years. Some of which have later been bundled with the app, but some are only available there.

The Simon Extras page is organized by feature kind: Service Scripts, Filter Scripts, Notifier Scripts, Report Templates, and Other Goodies (including a way to add multiple tests, an extended siren sound, and a script to monitor a FTP site). There's also info for developers on writing custom plugins.

I occasionally add new customer-contributed items to the Simon Extras page. For example, yesterday I added a notifier script provided by Carlos Leal to use the third-party Plivo site to send a SMS message, as an alternative to using Clickatell or email.

Installing scripts is easy:

  1. Decompress the downloaded archive, if you browser didn't do it for you;
  2. Launch Simon if not already running;
  3. Go to the Services or Notifiers list, as appropriate;
  4. Click the New toolbar button (or via the File menu);
  5. Choose the Service Kind (or Notifier Kind) button to show the service (or notifier) page.
  6. Choose the Script service/notifier kind, if not selected by default.
  7. Click the Open Script... button and choose the script file.

The script is copied into Simon, so there's no need to keep the downloaded file around after loading it.

If you create or modify a script that others might find useful, please share it! Send me an email with the script attached, along with a description, and I'll be happy to add it to the Simon Extras page.

Simon tip: enable PHP for scripts

Simon is a very powerful server monitoring tool. One of the reasons for this power is the ability to create custom services, filters and notifiers using a variety of scripting languages.

While languages like AppleScript, Perl, Python, Ruby and shell scripts work out of the box, many people are more comfortable with PHP, commonly used server-side for web pages. But that is not enabled by default in OS X.

It's not too difficult to make it available for Simon scripts, though... if you feel comfortable using Terminal.

Fire up Terminal and enter this command to edit the Apache configuration:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

You'll be prompted for your password (for the sudo command), then presented with an editor screen.

Press Control-W to search for php. This will move the cursor to this line:

#LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/libphp5.so

Delete the leading # to uncomment this line.

Then press Control-O to save the change, then Control-X to exit the editor.

Finally, for good measure, tell the Apache web server to restart:

sudo apachectl restart

That's it! You should now be able to run PHP scripts in Simon.

About Simon Express and Simon Free

Did you use Simon Express or Simon Free for the Mac App Store? As you have probably seen by now, they are no longer available. I was unable to update them, so announced back in October last year that I'd remove them, which I did when Simon 4.0 was released.

I thought I'd go into this in a bit more depth today.

So, why wasn't I able to update them?

When the Mac App Store was introduced back in 2011, apps could be included without too many modifications or special requirements. So I was happy to provide special editions of my Simon app, which I called Simon Express and Simon Free. The Express edition enabled unlimited tests (at a time when the standard edition had license limits on the number of tests, which is no longer true), but was streamlined to only provide a basic set of services, filters and notifiers, without the ability to add or edit them. Simon Express sold for $59.99. Simon Free was the same, but was limited to only a few tests, and available at no cost. These seemed like useful editions for people who didn't need the full power of the standard edition, and preferred the convenience of the Mac App Store.

But as of June 2012, Apple threw a spanner in the works: they required that all apps in the Mac App Store be “sandboxed” — where the apps can only access their own private folder, among other restrictions.

Since Simon is a powerful tool, capable to monitoring arbitrary folders, accessing network services, running customizable scripts, etc, it wasn't feasible to sandbox Simon without cutting out a lot of functionality, which I didn't want to do. Even the cut-down Express and Free editions would have had to be severely restricted. So it just wasn't doable.

For a couple of years, I left the Express and Free editions on the store, without updates, but I felt bad about them falling behind the standard edition, and so when version 4 came along, it was time to retire those editions.

But where does that leave people who bought the Express edition?

If that's you, you are of course welcome to continue using it (or the Free edition) for as long as you like. But to take advantage of the attractive new user interface and enhanced features of version 4, you'll need a Simon 4 license.

I didn't want to make you have to buy a full license, though. So in version 4 I added support for treating Simon Express as a full version 3 license. If you have Simon Express installed (or have previously used it with your Mac), a “Simon Express” item will automatically appear in Simon's Licenses window. So all you need to buy is a Simon Upgrade license.

Furthermore, if you don't already have data for the standard edition, Simon 4 will automatically recognize and import your Simon Express data, enabling a smooth transition from the old app.

In the months since removing the Mac App Store editions, I don't recall having received any negative feedback about this move. I think most people understand... and frankly the Mac App Store editions were never huge sellers; most people preferred the power and flexibility of the standard edition.

The Mac App Store is a useful tool for discovery of apps that fit within Apple's rulebook, but some apps like Simon, and other third-party ones like BBEdit, Coda and more don't fit in that model. And that's fine.

I will continue to include my apps in the Mac App Store when I can... while also selling directly from the Dejal site.

Simon tip: reorder filters, notifiers & more

One of the many enhancements in Simon 4 is the ability to rearrange the order of filters, notifiers, reports and auto pause times while editing a test.

Before, the only way to reorder them after adding was to remove and re-add, but now you can change the order very easily. Simply click and drag anywhere outside a control to move a filter etc to a new position.

Here's a looping video example:

Simon tip: check notifiers

I've recently had a couple of queries (via email and the Simon Forum) about checking if a notifier is working, so that seemed like a good blog topic.

Simon is a powerful app. One of its many features is the ability to create custom notifiers, the mechanism for informing you of changes or failures on the tests. Naturally, when you configure a new notifier, or edit an existing one, you want to make sure that it is set up correctly.

This can be done very easily. When showing the Notifiers list, you can simply select the notifier you want to check (as you probably already have if you're editing one), and click the Reload button in the toolbar, or choose the File ▶ Notify Now menu command.

The selected notifier will then be used, just like when used with a test, except that placeholder values will be used for any variables (since there isn't a test in this case).

For example, here's a Notification Center notification, showing placeholder values (click to see full-sized... and yes, I do have rather a lot of system menus!):

Simon 4.0.3 released

Another small update of Simon, to version 4.0.3.

This update is notable as the first to be delivered via the Sparkle update framework, for people on 4.0.2 (where that was introduced). Hopefully it'll work properly. :) (Yes, seems fine; I just tested it.)

Changes in this release include:

  • When the Show the Simon icon in the Dock preference is turned on, its status is now immediately updated.
  • If a password has been set to access Simon, the unlock panel is now shown without the Monitor window.
  • Fixed a hang in the Twitter notifier when typing in the message text area.
  • Fixed some cosmetic Console warnings with the notifier options editor.
  • Fixed an issue that prevented the MySQL helper from starting.
  • Fixed the helper to launch Simon on login.

If you have Simon installed already, you can get the update via the SimonCheck for Updates... command in the app, which will install it for you; no more need to download manually. You can even check the box to have future updates installed automatically if you wish.

If you don't have Simon yet, you can download Simon 4.0.3 now!

Simon tip: groups

One feature request that I received many times for Simon was the ability to organize tests into folders or groups — especially useful for people with lots of tests, or simply want to collect all tests relating to a particular server or client together.

Previously, the closest you could get to this was to use a common prefix on the name, and sort by name. But that is cumbersome, and loses the benefit of being able to sort by something more useful, like last event date — so recently changed or failed tests appear at the top.

Simon 4 solves this with the new groups feature.

Now, tests can be grouped together however you wish. It's easy to create a group: simply choose the New Group command in the File menu or the + pop-up menu, then drag the tests into the new group. Even easier, you can just select some tests and choose the New Group with Selection command to make a group and move those tests into it in one step.

Groups appear with disclosure triangles, enabling them to be collapsed. The group row shows a summary of the contents, with any common values displayed for easy reference. And similarly, the info pane shows a summary of the contained tests.

Groups can even be nested, if desired — you can have an unlimited number of groups within other groups, if that helps organize them.

But wait, there's more! While grouping tests is perhaps one of the most-requested features, I didn't stop there: you can also group services, filters, notifiers and reports in the same way!

When these items are grouped, they appear indented in the Kind pop-up menu in the test editor, so you can keep related items together:

I hope you enjoy this new feature.

Simon tip: hide the Dock icon

Simon 4 added a surprise new feature that many people have asked for over the years: the ability to hide the app from the Dock.

In the past, Simon's app icon was always displayed in the Dock. Now, with version 4, there is a new General preference to control this. By default, it is on (so the icon is shown, as before).

Why might you want to hide it? Maybe you want to keep your Dock as sparse as possible. Simon's Dock icon can display the most interesting status, but maybe you don't need to see that all the time, or you're satisfied with seeing that only in the status menu. Since you'd probably want to keep Simon running all the time, treating it as a background-only app can make a lot of sense. Now you can!

If you turn off the Show the Simon icon in the Dock checkbox, the app icon vanishes from the Dock, and also from the Cmd-Tab app switcher. Note that if you have chosen the Keep in Dock option in the Dock menu, the icon will linger, in an inactive state; you can disable that or drag the icon out of the Dock to remove it.

When Simon is hidden from the Dock, you can still activate the app via the status menu, if you have that enabled — and the app will automatically turn it on when you turn off the Dock icon, as a convenience. If you don't want the status menu, you can turn it off again... in which case the only way to activate the app will be to click on one of its windows, if any are visible, or open it from the Finder.

One thing to note is that as a necessary side-effect of hiding the Dock icon, Simon will no longer have a menubar. It'll truly be a background-only app. When you display the Simon Monitor window, the menus won't change from whatever other app you were using. This isn't a problem for most functions, as the toolbar buttons and sort drop-down menu options cover most menu commands. But for app functions like checking for updates, accessing preferences, etc, when the Dock icon is disabled a special action menu is added to the toolbar. For power users, the keyboard equivalents still work, too — so you can press Ctrl-Cmd-1 to switch to Preview mode, for example.

I know that this is an exciting enhancement for many customers. For anyone who wants Simon to "disappear" into the background, try turning off the Dock icon. You can always turn it back on again. No restart required. What do you think? Do you prefer the Dock icon visible or hidden? Let me know in the comments below.

Simon 4.0.2 released

Here are a bunch of fixes for Simon 4, plus one exciting change: Simon now uses the Sparkle framework, like many other non-App Store apps do, to make updating the app easier. I've resisted using Sparkle for years, as it had various issues that made it incompatible with my apps, but those have been resolved in recent updates.

So it's time to sparkle, finally.

After this update, you should no longer need to download the app from here when there's a new version; Simon will be able to update itself in place, and even do so completely automatically if you wish.

Edit: Note that the update checkbox will be off initially, but the app will ask you if you want to automatically check for updates on the second launch.

Here are the changes in this version:

  • Simon now uses the popular Sparkle framework for app updates, so it can finally download and install updates itself.
  • Changed the Updates preferences for the Sparkle framework, and to add a handy button to show the release notes.
  • Fixed the New pop-up menu being disabled when in full-screen mode.
  • Fixed the app not resuming full-screen mode on launch if it was in full-screen when quit.
  • Fixed a too small icon in the status menu and Dock when a Wi-Fi hotspot is detected.
  • Fixed the auto-pause function, which sometimes wasn't engaging when it should.
  • Fixed the Find filter with regular expressions when not finding a match should be a failure.

Download Simon 4.0.2 now!

Simon 3.6.4 released

When I added recognition of version 4 groups in version 3.6.2, I did so for tests, but services, filters, notifiers and reports can also have groups in version 4. So here's Simon 3.6.4 to fix an issue with editing those.

If you're using OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), I recommend that you upgrade to version 4, if you haven't already. It includes heaps of great improvements. But if you're on 10.6 (Snow Leopard) to 10.9 (Mavericks), you can download Simon 3.6.4 now.

Simon password protection

One of the many enhancements in Simon 4, which was actually also retrofitted to Simon 3.6.2 and later, was the introduction of an optional password feature. This was requested by a volume purchaser of Simon, who also paid for the unusual step of retrofitting it to Simon 3.

The password feature can be used to require a password when Simon is launched or activated. This provides some level of security to prevent unauthorized people from accessing Simon. It doesn't encrypt data or any other changes, it's just a simple access control.

By default, a password is not required. If you want to require one, open up the Preferences. Notice the new Choose Password... button and the text to the left indicating that a password hasn't been set:

Click the button to display the password sheet. If a password hasn't already been set, the first field will be disabled (and display "None"). If one has been set, enter the existing password there. The next two fields are for the new password; enter the same one in both, or leave them both blank to disable the password feature. If entering a password, you should also enter a hint that will remind you of the password (without being too obvious):

After setting a password, the text in the Preferences window will change to indicate so:

When a password has been set, whenever you activate Simon it will display an unlock sheet, asking for the password. It includes a Quit button to quickly stop Simon, and a Cancel to deactivate Simon. After two failed attempts, it will display the password hint (if any); after two more failed attempts, it'll disallow further attempts until after you quit or cancel:

I expect that most people won't need this feature, but for those who do, it should prove quite useful.

Stay tuned for more blog posts delving into Simon 4 enhancements.

A Simon 4 case study: the default "Dejal posts" test

When I released the major version 4 upgrade of Dejal Simon, I included a couple of new default tests as examples for new customers. One of them is named "Dejal posts", and actually includes a quite sophisticated set of filters.

The general idea of this test is to look at the Recent Posts page of the Dejal site, which lists all recent blog, forum, FAQ etc posts and their comments, and output some tidy text describing the most recent one, along with a changed state when a new post or comment is added.

I thought it'd be interesting to break down this test as an example and tutorial for new and existing customers — even long-term users might learn something!

Firstly, here's the Service page; nothing remarkable here (the cookies are automatically recorded, and unimportant for this test):

[Service page]

The most interesting page is the Filters one (click to see it full-size; you might want to use the appropriate modifier key for your browser to open in a new window):

[Filters page]

When you check the test and look in the Activity log, you can see the output from each of those filters (from bottom to top) — click to see full-size:

[Activity log]

Another way to view the output is via the Preview pane, which now includes not only the service response and headers, but also the full output of each filter, to help you diagnose each step.

Here's the output of the service; the full HTML of the web page:

[Preview service response]

Let's break down each of the filters, via the Preview filter output.

The first filter, a Block one, takes the service response as its Input, and has Start text of <tbody> and End text of <td class="replies">. This finds the first occurrence of each of those bits of HTML in the service response, which corresponds with the most recent post information:

[Filter configuration]

This filter outputs that:

[Preview filter output]

The second filter is another Block one. It takes the output of the first filter as its input, and narrows it down further to just the title of the post. Notice that it also uses options disclosed on the right-hand-side of the filter configuration: it looks for the second occurrence of the Start text, searching from the beginning of the input:

[Filter configuration]

The output of this filter is the post title:

[Preview filter output]

The third filter is yet another Block (it is one of the most useful filters), but the input is different: this time it uses the output of the first filter, instead of the previous one (as is the default). It also has an option to look for the third occurrence:

[Filter configuration]

It extracts the author information:

[Preview filter output]

Filter number four is different. It uses a Ignore Links filter to extract out just the author name from the previous filter output. The previous filter doesn't do this as when you're not logged in on the Dejal site, only the name is included (in which case this filter has no effect):

[Filter configuration]

The output is just the non-HTML part of the input:

[Preview filter output]

Next we're back to a Block filter again, but this time looking at the original service response text to extract the number of replies to the post:

[Filter configuration]

This should always output a number:

[Preview filter output]

We then use a new filter introduced in version 4, Singular or Plural, to take the number found in the previous filter and output "reply" if it is one, or "replies" for any other number:

[Filter configuration]

As seen in the preview:

[Preview filter output]

The last filter puts it all together: an Override Custom filter uses variables to combine the output of several filters in a nice readable way. In this case all the variables are variations of the filter output, but other variables are available too. Something that isn't immediately obvious is that you can insert numbers to reference specific filters (otherwise it refers to the previous one):

[Filter configuration]

Which results in:

[Preview filter output]

So now that we've got some nice output text, what do we do with it? Of course, you can just see it in the Tests list, if you have the last change and failure displayed:

[Tests list]

But you'll probably want to get a notification. For myself, in addition to some generic speech notifiers, I have a notifier to post to the @SimonBot Twitter account; an account I added just for Simon to tweet about Dejal site changes:

[Notifiers page]

The SimonBot notifier also uses variables to add more information about the test:

[SimonBot notifier]

Which appears like this:

You're welcome to follow @SimonBot to learn about Dejal news and discussions.

I hope this case study is helpful. Most tests don't need a series of filters like this, and there are other ways to achieve similar effects (like writing all the logic in a script), but it can be very useful when you want it. You can use similar techniques in your own tests.

I plan to do more case studies or tips on Simon features in the future; please leave a comment if you like this or find it useful, or have suggestions for other things you'd like me to cover.

Simon 4.0.1 released

Simon 4 was a major release, and great to get it out. Fortunately, there weren't any major issues with it — I always dread having to do an urgent bug fix immediately after a major release.

But there were some minor issues that were important enough to get fixed fairly quickly, especially for non-English users. So here's version 4.0.1. It's a recommended update for everyone.

  • Fixed an issue with duplicating a test where filter settings could become linked with the original until quit.
  • Fixed a localization issue with the Method popup menu in the Web (HTTP) service.
  • Fixed layout of the Twitter and SMS notifier editors.
  • Fixed issues with selecting URLs to import in the Setup Assistant.
  • Fixed the Dock icon static animation getting mixed with the normal status icon when checking or uploading reports while the Licenses or Setup Assistant windows are displayed.
  • Changed the way relative dates are formatted, to make them more compatible with localizations.
  • While uploading a report, a circular progress indicator is now displayed in the Reports list.
  • Fixed the scheduler not starting until the Tests list is displayed.
  • Tweaked the layout of the Context views, and made localizable.

Download Simon 4.0.1 now!

Simon 3.6.3 released

A quick fix to version 3:

  • Fixed an issue that prevented the password preference from being used under OS versions before Yosemite.

As I said in my previous post, if you're using OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), I recommend that you upgrade to version 4, if you haven't already. It includes heaps of great improvements. But if you're on 10.6 (Snow Leopard) to 10.9 (Mavericks), I recommend that you download Simon 3.6.3 now.

Simon 3.6.2 released

Strange as it may seem (to me, anyway) to do a version 3 release after version 4 (out of order releases hurt my brain!), here it is: Simon version 3.6.2.

This is a bug-fix update of version 3, to fix some compatibility issues with version 4. It also retrofits the password feature from version 4, at the request of a volume purchase customer who paid extra for that... yes, sometimes I can be bribed. ;)

And yes, this version still uses the old icon — that makes it easier to distinguish versions 3 & 4.

Here are the changes since 3.6.1 in 3.6.2:

  • Added an option in General Preferences to specify a password to use to unlock Simon access.
  • If set, the password is required when launching or switching to Simon.
  • Now recognizes version 4 groups, and doesn't allow editing, checking, previewing, etc them.
  • Removed the Kagi in-app license options.
  • Fixed handling of version 4 licenses.
  • Fixed the license reminder overlapping the toolbar buttons.
  • Fixed an error when doing an update check if version 4 has been used.
  • Rebuilt for Yosemite using Xcode 6.

If you're using OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), I recommend that you upgrade to version 4, if you haven't already. It includes heaps of great improvements. But if you're on 10.6 (Snow Leopard) to 10.9 (Mavericks), I recommend that you download Simon 3.6.2 now.

Simon 4.0 released

(A note for beta testers: you may need to log out and back in, or use the Terminal killall Dock command, to make the "beta" sash on the app icon disappear. And thanks again for your help in making this general release great!)

A Major Upgrade!

Dejal Simon 4: four years after version 3, four months in development, it's time to go forth. Simon 4 includes a fresh new design, unifying all of the lists, logs and editors into a single window, so everything is at your fingertips. It also uses a more attractive layout for the lists of tests, services, filters, notifiers and reports. A much requested enhancement is the introduction of groups, enabling you to organize your tests, services, etc into logical collections. Those with lots of tests will be pleased to learn that the limits on the number of tests have been removed — everyone can have as many tests as they wish. This also simplifies the pricing for new and existing customers. There are numerous other enhancements too, like email services, a context filter, filter output in the preview, password protection, the ability to hide from the Dock, and much more. Read on for details.

Licensed Simon 3 users need to be aware that Simon 4 is a paid upgrade from previous versions. You will need to purchase an upgrade license. If you purchased Simon since November 1, 2014, you are eligible for a free upgrade; contact Dejal to receive your free license.

A new option is the Simon Service Plan subscription. Learn more about this below or on the Simon Support page.

Also note that Simon Express and Simon Free have been removed from the Mac App Store. Simon is a powerful and flexible tool, so they couldn't comply with the sandboxing requirements that Apple introduced. If you used one of these, please switch to the full version of Simon, and enjoy all the extra features. Your data will be automatically imported to version 4. Simon Express is automatically recognized as a version 3 license, so you only need an upgrade license.

Please also note that Simon 4 requires Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or later, as it leverages the latest technologies. If you're still using an older OS version, you can remain on version 3 until you upgrade your OS version. You are welcome to purchase a version 4 license; it will work in version 3 as a Platinum (unlimited) license.

Read on for a summary of some of the many enhancements in Simon 4.

Great New Simon Monitor Window Design

Simon's main window, the Simon Monitor window, has been significantly redesigned. It now uses a single-window approach to display the Tests, Services, Filters, Notifiers and Reports lists in this window, switching between them via mode buttons along the left edge.

Editing tests, services, etc is now done in this window as well, via an optional info pane to the right of the active list.

As in earlier versions, the logs are displayed in a pane at the bottom of the window. This pane can now also display the Preview; see below for more on this.

The lists or logs can be hidden by dragging the pane splitter, or Cmd-clicking on the selected mode button.

[Monitor window]
Attractive New List Layouts

The lists of Tests, Services, etc have been redesigned to use a custom layout inspired by Apple Mail and other modern apps.

The lists can be sorted via a menu above the list, or via the View menu. The choice of displaying absolute dates and times (like "2014-12-25 12:34", using your local date & time format) or relative times (like "5 mins, 25 secs ago") is also available in these menus.

The Tests list shows the unviewed flag, status icon, test name, next due date/time; the uptime, service, location, last check time, and last check duration. It can also optionally display information about the most recent change and failure: the last change and when it occurred; the last error, failure & recovery date/time. These can also be toggled via those menus.

Groups

Version 4 introduces a major popularly requested feature: groups in all lists. Groups can be added to help organize the tests, services, etc into logical collections, e.g. by server or kind; whatever makes sense.

In the list, the group displays a summary of its members, e.g. the most significant status and combined uptime, with the info summary showing common values.

The menubar status menu displays groups in sub-menus, with commands that can be applied to all group members.

[Tests list]
Redesigned editors

The editors have been completely redesigned to integrate them into the single-window approach. Selecting an item in the Tests, etc lists will now display a summary of the item in the handy new Info pane to the right of the list. An Edit button is included in the top-right of the Info pane. Click that to toggle into edit mode, where the item can be modified. The button changes to Done to switch out of editing mode. You can also click the headings on the summary to jump right to the related page in edit mode.

You can leave it in editing mode and switch between tests to quickly edit them; it will remain on the same page. Speaking of which, the page selectors have been redesigned, and a new Name page was added to edit the name and comments.

The test statistics have been moved to the test summary page for easy reference.

When multiple tests or no tests are selected, the summary page shows the values in common, and a combined view of the statistics for those tests.

Another nice subtle improvement is that the actions for the test Filters, Notifiers, Reports and Auto Pause can now be reordered, simply by dragging them.

Integrated Preview, Including Filter Output

The Preview function has been completely redesigned to integrate it into the single-window approach, and provide the ability to see the filter output in addition to the service output.

When a test is selected, the Preview feature can be displayed in place of the logs at the bottom of the window for a quick view of the test. The preview includes a web page on the left (for web-based tests), a selection list in the middle, and the service response, headers or filter output on the right. The selection list shows the status of the service or filter, and for filters, the sequence number and filter name, e.g. "#1: Block Output" for the output from a Block filter. The filter output is very useful, to see not only the result of the service, but also the result of each filter. This makes it easier than ever to build up multiple filters, taking the output from previous ones to hone in on the interesting values.

The Preview function is also available when displaying a Script-based service, filter or notifier, to run the script and see what it outputs while writing it, and to preview a report within Simon.

[Preview]
Enhancements to the Email Feature

The Email feature now also works as a service. Three service modes are supported: Email Send, Email Receive, and Email Cycle:

  • Email Send is basically the same as the Email notifier: sends a custom message via SMTP. Useful to "check in" or test that a mail server is working. It outputs the message, or an error if unsuccessful.
  • Email Receive fetches a list of messages from an IMAP server. It outputs the list of messages, or an error.
  • Email Cycle first sends a special message with a unique identifier to a SMTP server, then checks for that message arriving on an IMAP server. It cleans up after itself, and outputs the message and mailbox listing, or an error.

There are several other changes, including finally renaming the E-mail notifier as Email, adding a Transport Name field to the Email Transport Options panel, a new Email Account Options panel, and modernizing the framework used to send email. See the release notes for full details.

New Context Filter

Added a new Context filter feature, which takes the previous filter's input and some new match variables to output some context around the filter's output text. It includes controls to specify the number of characters before and/or after the match range, and/or a delimiter before and/or after the match range (e.g. you can show up to 50 characters, stopping at a line break). See the release notes for information about the new variables.

And Lots More Improvements

Too many things to list here! (See the release notes for the full list.) A few other highlights that might interest existing users include:

  • A great new app icon and window icons.
  • The ability to hide Simon from the Dock.
  • The ability to password protect access to the app.
  • The Web (HTTP) feature will now automatically follow a meta refresh (e.g. <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=http://www.dejal.com/">).
  • Added a FileShare menu and a share button in the window toolbar to share the selected item(s) with other apps.
  • No longer truncates the difference text to 400 characters, if it's longer than that.
  • The data is now saved in the background, for better performance.
  • Many changes to improve Yosemite compatibility.
Introducing the Simon Service Plan Subscription

Need more detailed or technical assistance? Introducing the Simon Service Plan, an annual subscription for heavy users or large organizations, or anyone who wants to get the most out of Simon.

The Simon Service Plan includes all app updates, including paid major upgrades like version 4.0 and any future updates within the subscription period, at no additional cost.

The Service Plan also includes two technical support incidents each subscription year. These give you top-of-the-queue direct access to the developer via email, and can be used to answer general questions, help configure Simon, and more.

Read more about this on the Simon Support page.

Try Simon 4

Ready to upgrade? Great! Purchase an upgrade license on the Dejal Store. Or subscribe to the Simon Service Plan, which includes the upgrade.

Still not sure? Try it for free!

Download Simon 4.0 now!

If you want to keep the old version around, just in case, you can rename it (e.g. to add the version number) rather than replacing it with the new version. That way they can both occupy the same folder without a file name conflict.

Simon 4 has eliminated the license levels. Now everyone can have as many tests as they want for the same price. New customers can purchase Simon for $99.00, and existing customers can upgrade for half that, just $49.00.

I hope you enjoy the many improvements in Simon 4!

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