Growl + Bark + DummyGrowl = Notification Center goodness

Update 28/12/2013: It looks like DummyGrowl has served its purpose and that it is no longer needed with the latest versions of Growl.

DummyGrowl stops Growl 2.0 with Bark from displaying both a Notification Center notification and a standard Growl notification (right, the Notification Center notification can be seen through the Smoke-style Growl notification). At this point, it is still unclear to me whether this is a bug or a feature of either Bark or Growl.

The problem

First, a little history. When you’re serious about using a Mac, you’re likely to know Growl. Growl is an excellent system extension for OS X that allows applications to show popup notifications. For example, an email client can show you new messages have arrived, or a music player can show what song it is starting.

Then, Apple came along and introduced Mountain Lion, which came with Notification Center. Consider yourself Sherlocked¹, Growl.

Or, not so much. Growl still has several advantages over Notification Center, such as the ability to send emails or forward notifications to your iPhone. What remained is two notification systems that are completely separate, and some applications using one and some the other. But not for long, because the obvious happened; various plugins emerged for Growl that would forward Growl notifications to Notification Center. The early attempts, like Hiss and Mountain Growl, had a very obvious disadvantage; Notification Center would show Growl as the reporting application, which meant that notifications from all apps using Growl would show up grouped under the Growl application.

Then Bark came along. You guessed it, the developers behind this excellent little plugin figured out how to get the reporting application to show up correctly in Notification Center. The notifications will still not inherit the custom icon from Growl (think album cover for Spotify, or user avatar for a Tweet), but at least the reporting app is correct. This make the tradeoff between practical (as much info as possible) and esthetics (a single notification style) land firmly in “forward Growl to Notification Center” for me.

So, for a few weeks, notification life was good.

Than, Growl 2.0 was released. With its own NC-integration, but it had the same problem as the early integrations for Growl 1.x: Growl would show up as the reporting application, not the original application. So, Bark still had its purpose. However, for Growl 2.0, Bark was implemented as an action plugin. This meant that it would work in addition to the regular notifications, it was like sending an email or forwarding to your iPhone. Suddenly, I was looking at native Apple notifications and an equivalent Growl notification competing for my attention (see screenshot at the top of this post).

The solution seemed easy; set the default display style to “No default”. I even had a short Twitter conversation with the Bark developers who suggested the same (which fuels my doubt that this whole issue is in fact a bug, not a feature). Unfortunately, it seemed individual applications, or Growl itself, would take the “No default” setting as “just take your pick”, and would happily continue displaying notifications, just in some standard style (possibly, the baked in style used when you didn’t install Growl?).

The solution

So, I started thinking and wondered whether it would be possible to create a “display style” that would actually hide the standard Growl notifications. Long story short, it was, I created it, and I called it DummyGrowl. I published it on Github, but there isn’t a downloadable package available there. It is here, though:

Download DummyGrowl.

Download the zip file, unpack it and double click Dummy.growlStyle. Growl will report it has installed the plugin and ask you whether you want to configure it. Respond yes, and select “Dummy” as the default display style (the configuration controls displayed for the Dummy style are obviously not functional, because the purpose of the plugin is to not display anything. If anybody knows how to get rid of the controls, please let me know or submit a pull request on GitHub).

Final thoughts

I’m not convinced that DummyGrowl has a long life expectancy. I actually expect for about 80% that the next version of Growl will have a bug fix that allows you to turn built-in Growl notifications off entirely. For the time being, I hope some people find DummyGrowl useful.

¹: If anybody knows a better reference for the term “Sherlocked”, please let me know in the comments. When you’ve been a part of the Apple/Mac community for a while, the meaning probably comes naturally, but it is surprisingly hard to find a good explanation.

Update 4/10/2012: Download link corrected.
Update 5/10/2012: Some tweaks to post, added final thoughts.
Update 7/10/2012: I’ve actually been contacted by the guys behind Growl after I nudged them towards this blog post. They appear to agree this is a bug, we’ll be working together to get it fixed. So, hopefully no need for DummyGrowl soon.
Update 20/12/2012: After some initial contact there has been radio silence regarding this from the makers of Growl. They did mention having put together a fix and wanting to check whether that fix also addresses the issue addressed by DummyGrowl, but I haven’t been able to get into contact with them to test the fix. I don’t think an update to Growl has been released since, or I’d test to see if there is still a need for DummyGrowl.

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9 Comments

  1. Sheepeh
    Posted 7 October 2012 at 14:41 | Permalink

    Thanks for this! I think it’s a bug (or at least unintended behaviour) as flicking things on and off result in *just* the Bark notification for a while. It’ll revert to the dual notifications on its own quickly enough though.

    DummyGrowl achieves the stated aim, quickly and easily!

    Thanks again!

  2. Posted 7 October 2012 at 16:44 | Permalink

    NP. I’ve actually been contacted by the Growl guys (after nudging them to this blog post) and they seem to agree it’s a bug. Working with them to get it resolved, so hopefully there will be no need for DummyGrowl soon.

  3. ZeDctr
    Posted 14 October 2012 at 13:33 | Permalink

    thanks for this. thought i was the only one with this behavior.

  4. Brandon
    Posted 19 October 2012 at 18:36 | Permalink

    Exactly what I needed. Thanks 😉

  5. Posted 10 December 2012 at 10:18 | Permalink

    I would’ve gone with the term “Dashboarded”.

    Nice fix, thanks.

  6. Gabriel
    Posted 16 June 2013 at 13:23 | Permalink

    Great stuff! Thanks man!

  7. Aslam
    Posted 9 July 2013 at 10:56 | Permalink

    Great article but FYI, I think this workaround may not be required anymore. I just tested it out with Growl 2.0.1 and turned on the option to send all Growl notifications to OS X Notification Center. When my next few Twitter notifications came up in OS X Notification Center, they didn’t come up with a Growl icon but rather with a Twitter icon.

    Having said that I also tested with another app that uses Growl and that notification did come in with the growl logo but maybe that application needs to update its implementation of the growl SDK to make it work correctly with Notification Center.

    In any case, it does seem as though some or all of this bug has not been fixed.

  8. Posted 28 December 2013 at 18:22 | Permalink

    @Aslam, thanks for the heads up. I think you might be right, I’ve recently installed a new Mac and have not found the need for DummyGrowl anymore. I’ll update the post, although I expect people will only find it when they ran into the problem in the first place.

    BTW, the only thing DummyGrowls solved is that Growl notifications would be sent both through Notification Center and Growl itself. It didn’t do anything for the icon used in the notification.

  9. Posted 3 June 2015 at 08:57 | Permalink

    It’s an awesome piece of writing in support of all the web viewers; they will obtain advantage from it I am sure.

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