Measuring colour: the ColorMunki’s missing software

There aren’t many hardware vendors who deliver good software support. You would have thought that, having invested so much money and effort into creating really clever peripherals, they’d go that extra few yards and ensure that their drivers and other support software was just as good, but my experiences with a number of firms who make excellent peripherals for Macs is quite the opposite.

Some years ago, I spent rather more money than I had intended buying an X-Rite ColorMunki Design colorimeter. It can calibrate your monitor, printer, but most of all, it can measure the colour of swatches, paint tests, and all manner of surfaces. I have used it to build colour charts for different artists’ paints (available here), to perform my own colourfastness testing, and much more. I am sure it is not as accurate as X-Rite’s more expensive peripherals, but as those start at well over £1000, I simply cannot justify their sort of cost.

Like many wonderful peripherals – graphics tablets, touchscreens, and others that I’d love to be able to justify – ColorMunkis will only work when you install software drivers and other low-down components. A few years ago, those drivers started to get rather flaky. Several users have complained to me that X-Rite’s support software has caused them problems, with crashes and conflicts, and as we have gone through Yosemite and now El Capitan, those problems are growing worse, not better.

El Capitan in particular introduced SIP and other schemes to stop third-parties from installing kernel extensions and otherwise meddling with the /System/Library folder, and a lot of products which have depended on such extensions have required revision before they get on well with El Cap. But visit X-Rite’s support site for the ColorMunki Design, and this is what you will see today, 13 April 2016.

colormunki1

The latest version of the supporting Mac software is 15 months old, the last product support matrix was for Snow Leopard (August 2009), and the compatibility information is for Lion (July 2011).

It takes a bit of searching to discover that X-Rite claims compatibility with El Capitan, but not with any of the software which you will see listed above. No, apparently you have to install version 1.2.0 of its software, then apply a patch to stop that from crashing on startup:

colormunki2

I think that there are deeper problems with version 1.2.0 which make it incompatible with the current release of El Capitan. When I had X-Rite’s software installed (version 1.2.0), there were regular complaints in the logs about it crashing.

I am sure that X-Rite would much prefer me to buy a new replacement – not one of its cheap ColorMunkis, which are still on sale despite their execrable lack of software support, but something more expensive. But just as I fight shy of buying any Wacom peripherals because of my long and bitter experience with their poor software support, so I am not going to buy another X-Rite device.

If you know of an equivalent to the ColorMunki, from a vendor which does support its products properly, I’d love to hear of it, please.