In another thread, I reported significant problems with Cisco AnyConnect, a VPN client. One responder helpfully noted that Shimo had worked well in the past, so I tried it.
Here are my thoughts after not quite two weeks of using Shimo in trial mode. BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front), I expect to pay ($59) for a license and continue using it. But it was not all pleasant.
On first run, Shimo verified itself, then asked to install a helper tool, with no explanation of how to uninstall it, either before or after authenticating for installation. Shortly after the initial startup, Shimo presented a window with no title bar, offering me three choices: Quit; Activate License; and Buy Now. I selected Shimo Help from the Help menu and got a dialog box saying Help isn’t available for Shimo. Not a promising start to a free trial. For better or worse, apparently Shimo prevents itself from being added to the Recent Items menu. Also the About window is about two pixels too narrow to avoid having a horizontal scroll bar, which shows a lack of attention to cosmetic detail, making me wonder where else attention to detail is lacking. (None of this, of course, is to say that any other product is any better.)
My notes don’t remind me what happened next, but I expect I chose Quit and then started Shimo again. Since then, when I start Shimo, I choose Continue Trial or something similar. But mostly, I just leave it running. It places an icon in the menu bar that allows one-click connection to my VPN.
Shimo claims to allow the user to set “triggers” that cause actions. If I understood this feature, it could be used so that a connection to a network that is not on an exclusion (whitelist) list will automatically cause Shimo to activate a VPN. This is a feature I had wanted with AnyConnect, and is probably worth the purchase price (for me). I would be happy to provide more details (please ask), but after many failures and two reports to the developer about two distinct issues, I got a terse reply from Shimo support: “triggers are no longer supported.” It does seem like the preferences pane could be removed or at least the ability to set a trigger could be blocked.
During the evaluation period, I have been using Shimo with my home ISP, where I rarely use a VPN. (Should I use a VPN even while at home?) Shimo detected that the VPN connection had been broken (because I turned Wi-Fi off) and asked if I wanted to re-establish the connection. I clicked Not Now, whereupon Shimo thought about it (with the spinning ring) and then asked again if I wanted to re-establish the connection. I clicked Not Now, whereupon Shimo thought about some more, but did not ask again. In a way, this is good, because it gives me a chance to recover from a wrong answer. On the other hand, if I answered No by mistake, I could just manually tell Shimo to connect.
For what it’s worth, Shimo apparently believes the VPN continues for long after I turn Wi-Fi off, as evidenced by it retaining a green badge with the number 1 in it on the application icon in the dock and the icon that apparently indicates a connection in the menu bar. If I turn Wi-Fi back on during the many minutes that Shimo indicates the connection is still established, Shimo acts as if I had never left.
Why would I keep Shimo? Because I have no-added-cost access to a VPN service, but the client AnyConnect caused severe problems. A minor benefit of Shimo is that it remembers my VPN credentials so I needn’t enter them each time I connect; AnyConnect required both username and password every time.
Partly because Shimo has had so many missteps during the trial and partly because I’m just a paranoid person, I wish I could confirm that I actually have a VPN connection without relying on Shimo’s indicators. I also wish that Shimo provided on-line help. As I said earlier, I don’t know that any other client would be better, and Shimo does claim to do what I need it to do, so I expect to keep it.