Accelerating Iteration Velocity on Dropbox’s Desktop Client, Part 1

Motivation

Imagine you’re an engineer working on a new product feature that is going to have a high impact on the end user, like the Dropbox Badge. You want to get quick validation on the functionality and utility of the feature. Each individual change you make might be relatively simple, like a tweak to the CSS changing the size of a font, or more substantial, like enabling the Badge on a new file type. You could set up user studies, but these are relatively expensive and slow, and are a statistically small sample size. Ideally,

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DropboxMacUpdate: Making automatic updates on macOS safer and more reliable

Keeping users on the latest version of the Dropbox desktop app is critical. It allows our developers to rapidly innovate, showcase new features to our users, maintain compatibility with server endpoints, and mitigate risk of incompatibilities that may creep in with platform/OS changes.

Our auto-update system, as originally designed, was written as a feature of the desktop client. Basically, as part of regular file syncing, the server can send down an entry in the metadata that says, “Please update to version X with checksum Y.” The client would then download the file, verify the checksum, open the payload,

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