When Smile introduced the new “Snippet As A Service” version of TextExpander, there was quite an outcry. To be completely honest, I was confused by and resistant to the change at the onset. However, if I look at the new version without allowing my previous experience to color my opinion, it is striking how similar it is to my other choices for software.
One of the big complaints is the location used for data storage and syncing. Previously, we used DropBox or some other syncing service to host and update our snippets as we alter them. The new version forces you to use textexpander.com as the backend. I understand the concern over data control here but it really doesn’t apply to me. I already use the backend for other software and services like OmniFocus, Workflow, and Overcast. This isn’t much different.
This is the one that got me at first. Year-over-year, the price to me would increase almost twofold. At least, that’s what it was originally. Since release, Smile listened to the flood of feedback and generously implemented a 50% upgrade discount for life. In the end, that means I’m paying no more than I have in the past. It’s a wash.
Anymore I’m slow to upgrade hardware. But software is a different story. I deliberately limit the number of tools I use, which means I pick quality, pro-user tools with a lot of features and flexibility. Any time these tools have an upgrade available, I like to jump on it quickly. If you look at it from a high-level, I am effectively paying a subscription plan already. By adopting this recurring payment structure, I get no-hassle updates without the worry.
My big question when I first saw the release of the new TextExpander was about features. What’s new that would lead me to upgrade? I didn’t have an answer. But then I tried the trial and found two features that are important to me and a third I’m considering.
The first is inline search. You type a keyword anywhere, hit a keyboard shortcut (that you can customize), and see search results of your matching snippets. Since we typically have these memorized it may not sound very useful until you consider the pain of changing your snippet abbreviations or a database with hundreds of snippets. I find the need to alter abbreviations every few months which means the inline search ability has received a lot of my attention.
Second, the website. It seems unnecessary at first. If you have the apps, why would you use the website? Then I ran into a couple instances where I wanted a block of text from TextExpander while on a different profile on my computer. I don’t want TextExpander on it for other reasons but it’s incredibly handy to log on to the website to access that data. It makes it possible to retrieve the info I want without a software installation.
And the feature I’m considering is the one that initiated this whole thing: teams and sharing. I can see a lot of value in sharing email templates with clients or for Bookworm. Anytime there are communications, blocks of text, or forms that are used by multiple people, this could save us all a lot of time. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m looking for the opportunity.
Personal Use Only?
With all of this in mind, I’m happy with my choice to upgrade to the new TextExpander even if I choose not to use the sharing features. There’s enough added value in the new version and consistency in pricing (for me) to convince me to buy in. TextExpander is one of those core applications I incorporate into a lot of other tools. That means I want it up-to-date. And since there are new possibilities that come along for the ride, I’m exploring the options that the new functionality gives me.