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 macOS 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 File ▶ Share 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.
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.
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! 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!
- David Sinclair, author