Safari Push Notifications: Complete Setup

The SPN walkthrough that stops you pulling your hair out

Ross Bulat

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Safari Push Notifications is an Apple developer service that delivers notifications directly to your Mac. Beyond the web app notification use case, it is a useful tool for organisations to deliver notifications directly to their teams — without spending an additional $299 for an enterprise developer licence for in-house applications.

If you have backend web services, mission critial processes that can’t afford downtime, or real time market analysis being processed behind the scenes, Safari Push Notifications are very useful for keeping you in the loop without spamming email or developing custom apps just for status updates.

If you wish to integrate SPNs, an Apple Developer Licence is required, however this article also provides good insights for those contemplating setting up SPNs, or just for the curious wondering how they work.

Apple provide a comprehensive integration guide for implementing the service. However, for a variety of reasons — I suspect mostly because of the broad range of protocols used in the service — integrating can cause headaches.

Here are some pretty serious problems I have found integrating SPNs over the years:

  • Github projects that have broken code, with no logging functionality
  • Permission problems on the server preventing log reporting
  • Push packages not being configured correctly (if you’re new to SPNs, we will go over what your push package consists of)
  • Apple miss vital configuration documentation, like being compulsory to match the amount of notification arguments with how many URL parameters you configured in your website.json file; if they are blank, an empty string is required.

When an error occurs and you do not have logging functioning, paranoia kicks in. You begin to wonder: Is my certificate valid? Is SELinux blocking the Safari Agent? Did I use the correct encryption function? Is this push package zipped up correctly?

This guide will hopefully give you confidence in your process management and maintain a coherent way of getting your service implemented. What will be covered…

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Ross Bulat

Programmer and Author. @ Parity Technologies, JKRB Investments