SnagIt Making Stealth Connections to HockeyApp and Revulytics

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  • Updated 6 days ago
I've unchecked the preference to allow SnagIt to send anonymous usage information which seems to disable the collection of TechSmith User Design Initiative (TUDI) data but the app still tries to connect to HockeyApp and Revulytics every time I open it. It also writes HockeyApp metadata to my machine along with a data file each time the application is opened. These files have unique device identifier strings and other usage data in them. If I uncheck the preference to send anonymous usage info, my expectation is that such a preference would be honored universally, and not just for one of several mechanisms which appear to collect and send usage data. At best, this preference seems disingenuous, at worst, it's plainly deceptive. I've used SnagIt since v1.0 (and Camtasia) and I think they are great apps but I would appreciate more transparency about the usage data collection and transmission from which one can't opt-out.
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James R.

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Posted 6 days ago

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Chris Larson, Snagit Technical Product Manager

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Hi James,
We'll definitely do some testing to see if the app is sending anything and see what we can do to make sure that the anonymous usage preference is respected by all our frameworks.

My guess without looking at it, is that those frameworks are writing data to files on your system, but not sending them. But I could be mistaken, so we'll check.

In the interest of transparency for all, we use Revulytics for understanding usage of the app so we know if features are successful, which versions are getting used (this helps us identify if an update isn't going out correctly), sending targeted onboarding based on usage, and it really helps us make product direction decisions. HockeyApp is used to help us get system information in the event of a crash to help diagnose the issue. (It is especially helpful when you leave a message about what you were doing at the time of the crash!) But all of that data is anonymous and can't be tied back to you as a customer (unless you provide an email when a crash report dialog comes up).

All that said, we'll take a look. Thank you for the report!
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Luke Griffioen, Employee

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Hi James,

Thanks for reaching out to us. Revulytics and HockeyApp serve different purposes for us so I'll explain them separately.

We use Revulytics to track all manner of anonymous usage data like how often each tool is used. This data is turned off when you uncheck the setting, but it might not seem that way because of how Revulytics handles their opt out. Basically it sends an opt out notification to their server once on launch, but if you see more than that, definitely let us know because that should not be happening. Here's the info page on their opt out API https://devzone.revulytics.com/docs/v5/ObjC/sdk-configuration.html#OBJC_optOut

We use HockeyApp only to gather crash reports so we can tackle the top crashes quickly. I took a look at the code and it appears this is not attached to that switch, but maybe it should be? Or better yet have its own preference.

I hope this all makes sense, please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.
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Chris Larson, Snagit Technical Product Manager

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Yeah, I'll write up an issue for the HockeyApp piece to investigate our options. :)
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James R.

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Chris and Luke,

Thank you both for replying so quickly. To be clear, I did not see info in the HockeyApp files that would identify me personally; the device ID can identify my machine uniquely. Looking at the websites for both HockeyApp and Revulytics, I assumed they were being used for reasons like you describe. I don't have any problem sharing these kind of data and I'm sure they've helped in developing apps which I've always found to be stable and highly functional. My concern was really about the expectation that the opt-out preference sets that doesn't appear to be entirely accurate. The connections each time I open the app may well be because I have not allowed that initial opt-out ping to be sent, so it re-tries at every launch. I appreciate you looking in to this. Thank you for being so responsive.