Desolate Condition

Karl-Michael Schindler karl-michael.schindler at
Mon Apr 5 18:04:50 UTC 2021

Am 05.04.2021 um 14:00 schrieb macports-dev-request at
> To: MacPorts Developers <macports-dev at>
> Subject: Re: Desolate Condition
> Message-ID: <CANkSj9WBXe3UdBJOfEjOpUPJPLSY5fmzc9jrQaGFOh8Rkq7=EQ at>


I think that the topic installing binaries or not points to a more general issue, namely public relations. MacPorts could improve a lot on this. For example by touting how many packages can be installed as binaries now. In addition, how many packages are offered by macports as well as things like what categories have the most installs or the most new packages or the most updated packages. I am fully aware that this sounds silly to some point. But in order to compete with homebrew, improving on technical aspects is not sufficient. Categories are a particular strength of MacPorts vs homebrew.

Asking friends, why they use brew instead of macports and their answer was, because it is easier to use. I said: 'What?' because what is the difference between brew install … and port install … ? But after looking a bit more into the details, the case of installing ImageMagick as a first time user turned out to be more revealing than expected:

So, from google your first hit is Going to 'Download' and 'Mac OS X Binary Release' gives you a page where you find 'brew install imagemagick' very prominently, but only a link for the homepage of MacPorts. This indicates the first problem: Brew is often better represented on homepages of other software than MacPorts. The task to tackle is to find a person or form a team going after this. The number of downloads would help a lot to focus on important packages. Maintainers could also be advised to check whether the upstream representation of MacPorts in the installation section of macOS compares to homebrew.

After being directed to the MacPorts homepage, it does not stop. The next step is searching on the pages for MacPorts for ImageMagick. This gets you to the page: "“, which still does not tell you 'port install imagemagick'. One would guess that 'Build Information' gives you a hint and click on it, but no. Don’t get me wrong, for me as an experienced user of MacPorts this page is very helpful and tells me, what i want to know about a package, but for less experienced users it makes MacPorts look overly complicated. I suggest to make following changes to this page:

1) Place the 'View on Github' Button next to the name

2) Put the command 'port install PACKAFE_NAME' to a prominent position.

3) Change the sequence of the fields according to the importance for users, in particular first time users. 

My suggestion is this sequence.

1) Version
2) Variants
3) Platform
4) Categories
5) Depends on
6) Dependency of
7) Homepage
8) License
9) Maintainer

I also think that the concept of variants needs more explanations. Clicking on the variants does not give any indications about the implications of a variant. There is also no hint, which variant I should choose as a first time user. Hints regarding a default variant and hints about binary installation would be helpful. I am not sure about it, but it might be better to defer this information to another subpage, because of secondary importance.

I hope, i did not hurt or offend anyone. The work done by all the people for MacPorts is amazing and it is important to keep up the spirit. MacPorts has a rock solid foundation and only its appearance needs some corrections.

Regards - Michael.

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