BitClamp Preview

BitClamp ($20) is the first application from regular reader Daniel Greg’s new company Crimson Sky Software.

BitClamp is a very easy to use, elegantly designed application, that simply allows you to encrypt and decrypt files.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is one of those things that you probably don’t know that you need until it is too late. It is also one of those things that you don’t really want to know about as it tends to allude to secret or sinister file content, and at the very least it appears on the surface to be a maize of algorithms, options and processes.

BitClamp on the other hand is an application that you should buy before it is too late as it takes all of the above problems, risks and concerns away from you in one easy to use application.

What is BitClamp?

For the end user it is a simple to use, secure, fast, drag and drop application with all the look and feel of an application designed in Cocoa. However just as files move between different platforms, so do users and so the application was developed in high performance C++, with a REAL basic UI, so that it will not only work on your Mac, but in the future also on your Mac running Windows, and of course your Windows PC.

For the techies:

By sticking to industry standard encryption BitClamp is remarkably strong and secure, and offers you a choice of algorithms (Blowfish – 64Bit, AES – 128 Bit, Serpent – 128Bit). The overall theme of ‘simplicity and ease of use’ is enhanced by the use of Sparkle to automatically upgrade to new versions

And for the Spy in you:

You have the ability to conduct Covert operations on your files. By giving them totally unrelated names your encrypted data can masquerade as any file type and name that you like, so for example familypics.jpg could in fact be that killer business plan that you don’t want anyone to know about. BitClamp is smart – it will see beneath this masquerade and still recognise that it should decrypt the file when it is dropped into the application.

Inside BitClamp

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First off it is very easy to install and set up, with the only real choices being the level of encryption, where you want the files saved, notifications etc.

Screenshot_1.png

As the interface shows it is remarkably simple and elegant, and it wont take you long to figure out that all you need to do is to drag the file(s) you want encrypting into the box. You can use the settings or the + to add and alter stuff, but to be honest you really wont need to use them that much, if at all.

Screenshot_2.png

It does pay to buy the application as although it works just fine under the trial period there is a file size restriction.

Screenshot_3.png

Drag the file you want to encrypt into the box …………….

Screenshot_4.png

Enter the password you want to use ……………

Screenshot_5.png

Sit back and watch it encrypt, it doesn’t take long at all so don’t think you can go and grab a cup of tea!

And to decrypt you just ……….. do it all in reverse:

Screenshot_6.png

Confirm ………..

Screenshot_7.png

Wait ………….

Screenshot_8.png

Don’t worry if you get this message, I have a bad habit of giving files really long names at times!

What else cam I tell you?

  • There is a free decryptor available on the site so that you can send a receive encrypted files without having BitClamp
  • BitClamp will initially be available from the 1st November in a special pre launch promotion with TheMacPak and after that will be avilable direct from the site.

Other than that all I can really say is that is is a great application and it is well worth taking a look at.

The final word goes to Daniel. or Danny as you will know him from his regular comments on this site:

A word with the developer

Q. Crimson Sky Software is a strange name. I guess there is a story behind it?

Well, I was playing in a band at the time I decided to take my development further, the band’s name was called Crimson Sky.
As far as the band was concerned, we were sat round deciding a name, gave up and were playing around. I have a deep red guitar so I looked up and just said “Crimson sky”, so that was the name and I loved so I used it for the company.

Q. We know about you from your Regular Readers feature where you first mentioned that software development was the career direction you felt would be the one that you would pursue. Anything happened to alter those plans?

Well, much has happened, little to alter those plans – in fact quite the opposite. In setting this up I have proved to myself that I can code in more of a “work” like environment and under similar pressures. In effect it has confirmed my thoughts that this was the career path for me.

Q. As this is your first application any lessons that you have picked up in terms of approach and process that you would take on board for the next application and that you would be happy to share?

Well Id be a terrible liar if I said this had gone perfectly.

My main problem is I thought I had reached “1.0” about a month into development. This of course wasn’t even 0.001. You have to realise that software development is a long term process, and even if you think something is ready theres probably a bug that someone will find. You have to learn to accept that.
I have a terrible habit of adding everything I think of, time restraints or not. As opposed to polishing what I had. Im never happy, which is great as these days applications update regularly, but I had to learn to stop myself and say “this is 1.0”.

Oh and of course, swallowing your pride and asking for help, there is a great developer community on the mac, and its a great tool. They are all there to help and don’t bite.

Q. Overall how have you found the experience of developing BitClamp?

A roller-coaster. It has been a blast, there are times where you get really excited (showing someone the product and getting a great reaction) and there are times where you get slightly down (getting the opposite reaction). Overall it has been thrilling and I have met some great people along the way

Q. Elevator pitch time. Three reasons why someone should buy BitClamp?

I could be cheesy here and say something like “its fast, its easy and its strong” but I’ll go slightly deeper.

  • BitClamp offers more than just simple encryption.
  • It uses open source, industry standard encryption algorithms.
  • Its blazingly fast and easy to use, its an application that can be almost invisible if you want it to be.

19 thoughts on “BitClamp Preview

  1. Pingback: Crimson Sky Software blog » Blog Archive » Worlds first look at BitClamp

  2. Dunks

    So first peek at the app – and I’m impressed – looking forward to trying it out. Interface looks clean and simple, fantastic icon (did you create that?), very useful tool. I can hear Tim Verporten saying ‘does one thing and does it really well’ or however his little catch phrase goes!

    @ Danny: From a teachers point of view (yawn) I’m wondering what path you took educationally – did you do any IT qualification (GCSE, A Level etc) or are you self taught completely. Would be really interested in hearing how you got into programming.

  3. John

    This really needs to come with an automator action or even better a contextual menu plugin to take a file or folder, encrypt the contents and attach to an email ready for addressing. This would be a killer feature.

    Or a Quicksilver plugin, even better, although probably limiting your audience…

    John

  4. Wayne LeFevre

    This is great Danny. Thanks for the info. Can’t wait to take a look at it…(Hint, hint…) Of course I have absolutely no need to encrypt any of my files!! Nope, not me. 😉

    Now, I’m sure that BitClamp has some competition out there(?) So, as John would say, is there a “killer feature” to it that’s blows the competitors away? Just curious, as I haven’t used this kind of app before.

  5. John

    There is some competition out there, some free, some not, none brilliant. Not least creating an encrypted DMG with Disk Utility and dumping all your secret squirrel files in that, which has the plus of being free and built in to the OS.

    I can see this being the killer encryption solution if it is easily slotted into an everyday workflow, for me email is the most obvious. I have a real need to encrypt files for attaching to emails on the fly, that are cross-platform. At the moment I am using BetterZip to create encrypted zips, then manually attaching. Clunky but it works and zip is a standard that works on all platforms.

  6. Danny

    Hi guys, sorry been out all day.
    As far as killer goes: I love the covert files they are a handy little feature. But mainly its the speed. This thing is unbelievably fast – were talking instant for any kind of document.
    We have huge applescript and automator support in the works. Im afraid we had to ditch it in 1.0 to get it out there but were looking to introduce it in 1.1.
    Of course a finder plugin is in the works as well but dont expect this soon as I have never developed a finder plugin before – basically Im probably going to tie it to the applescript.
    But Applescript will be able to control every aspect of the program so automated backups could easily be encrypted before hand etc.

    @Dunks – I have IT GCSE and Computing A level but most of the information was useless to me (no offense) all the syllabuses are horrendously out of date, so Im 90% self taught.

  7. John

    Hey Danny,

    Speed is good!

    On the covert files – for example if I encrypt something with a .jpg extension, does it somehow provide an actual image as well (steganography)? What are the extension options, anything the filesystem knows about? Do you mask the real filesize?

    Looks good anyway, and as I said I have both a practical and intellectual interest.

  8. Danny

    @John – What is it with you and predicting future features!! At the moment a covert file is literally an extension independent file. So you can call it anything and BitClamp will still know you want it decrypted. The file will appear “corrupt” to anything other than BitClamp.
    However, we have a working example of using covert images with real image data that open up fine. Our bit issue here is file size – we want bitclamp files to be light-weight and obviously including an image with your file could be overkill for a small text file say.
    Expect that feature around 1.5 if not before.
    Any more features you would care to reveal 😉

  9. Dunks

    @Danny: No offense taken – we don’t get to choose the content and I think the A Level courses in particular are out of date in a lot of places and too ‘dry’. We just have to find a way of making it interesting for the students. As you can imagine I talk a lot about apple and do a bit ‘Vista’ bashing which they all enjoy. In fairness just using keynote with a few fancy transistions helps! I was just interested to use you as a ‘case study/example’ of what is possible for young people who are into computing.

  10. Danny

    @Dunks:
    Please do!
    I had a great teacher for a year (Richard Hurley, hence I wanted you to find him!), he encouraged me to go out and learn myself.
    If I had to tell kids getting into it one thing it would be: Realise that what you are getting taught isn’t the whole story, if you think something is boring, look it up on the net and chances are it isn’t boring any more! (Im thinking specifically developing here!)
    For example, you are never taught cocoa at school. Its a bit of a strange language – especially when you first see it (“WTF are these square brackets!?” comes to mind) – yet its one of the most exciting and rewarding languages to use. The fact that it isn’t taught means you have to teach yourself, which is a very rewarding process!

  11. Tom Hancocks

    @Danny: I really wish I had a IT/Computing teacher like yours. Mine absolutely hated Computers (why he became an IT/Computing teacher is beyond me), and when I began to learn development and ask questions about several programming languages he would just shrug his shoulders uninterestedly.
    That said I think its much better (and as you said, more rewarding) to teach yourself. None of the outdated junk which they teach. I’m thinking back to my college course which was heavily based around Pascal (wtf?!), PHP 2 and VisualBasic 5.
    [quote post=”1115″]For example, you are never taught cocoa at school. Its a bit of a strange language – especially when you first see it (â€?WTF are these square brackets!?â€? comes to mind) -[/quote]
    LOL! So true, I hated the square brackets when I first began using it. I was far too used to REALbasic and was tempted several times to return to my comfort zone. That said if you can get over the initial learning curve then there isn’t much you can’t do with Cocoa.
    Anyway, BitClamp looks very nice. Just out of curiosity, and because I can’t be bothered to go back and reread the article, will it offer compression as it encrypts? That would be a killer feature for me, and make it a must have.

  12. Danny

    @Tom – It does indeed, compression is optional so you can trade off between file size and speed.
    Im a big fan of REALbasic, it was actually how I started learning programming (BitClamp is part RB so I can get Windows functionality, but its core is C++, which I used declares to call in RB).
    But, it is a huge step up to cocoa (WTF is an IBOutlet?!). If Im honest I would recommend RB to anyone starting coding (Dunks take note here :p) and any guys looking for really easy cross-platform apps that run natively, none of that java crap (ewww, virtual machine, err no thanks!).
    That leads me onto another point: why is the world obsessed with java?! all its apps dont quite fit on any platform and dont run at native speed!
    I apologise Chris, this has turned into a coders rant fest!

  13. John

    [quote post=”1115″]Any more features you would care to reveal [/quote]

    Mmm, how about a built in strong password generator and keychain integration? 😉

    Encryption “droplets”?

    I have plenty of ideas!

  14. Tom Hancocks

    @Chris: yeah that would be a sight. Too guys in the middle of the main street having a rant about which language is the best and why certain languages are crap. Sorry about my continuing it 😛

    @Danny: Ah yes, maybe scrolling up the page would have been good. (That said I dealt with that screenshot quite a bit whilst doing your site, and it says encryption on it! I’m not this hopeless most of the time… honest :P)
    IBOutlet allows an object you create in your header file to be accessible on your interface through Interface Builder.
    Java. *shudder* tried learning that when I was 14, but gave up when I realized it was tripe. I was was just ugly to work with, and slow. Not to mention the poor debugging tools. The only system it actually runs natively on is Sun Microsystems own OS, but even then its tripe.

  15. Danny

    @Tom – I know what an IBOutlet is lol I can code in cocoa, I meant that that was one of my biggest hurdles. Not having the interface builder tied to the same IDE.
    Im glad someone else feels the same about java, there are way too many people loving it at the mo for my liking.

    @John –
    [quote comment=”15263″][quote post=”1115″]Any more features you would care to reveal [/quote]

    Mmm, how about a built in strong password generator and keychain integration? 😉

    Encryption “droplets”?

    I have plenty of ideas![/quote]
    Hmmm, well the first couple I would shy away from as BitClamp is targeted at people sending data. Although they are neat ideas, they would be lower down on my feature list that say Applescript and automator.
    As for droplets, the BitClamp icon will encrypt any file(s) dropped on it, or decrypt an encrypted file dropped on it anyway, although I like the idea.

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