by Adam C. Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Last month, Aladdin Systems released version 4.0 of the venerable StuffIt Deluxe, increasing both functionality and ease-of-use. Most important for many of us, Aladdin has added features that help Internet users work with the compressed and encoded files that are so prevalent.
New Features -- Most of StuffIt's new features come from the True Finder Integration (TFI) control panel, which helps you manage the TFI extensions that do the work. TFI ships with three extensions: Magic Menu, Archive via Rename, and StuffIt Browser. Magic Menu works much like the Magic Menu control panel did in previous versions of StuffIt Deluxe, installing a menu in the Finder's menubar that provides access to compression and expansion capabilities. New to Magic Menu in StuffIt Deluxe 4.0 is integration with Eudora so you can select a file in the Finder and choose Mail or Stuff and Mail from Magic Menu to create a new message in Eudora and attach the file to it.
Archive via Rename has been present in previous versions of StuffIt, but now works through TFI. Archive via Rename enables you to create a StuffIt archive or a self-extracting archive of a file by adding .sit or .sea to the end of the file's name. Similarly, you can expand a file by removing the .sit or .sea extension from its name. I use this feature on StuffIt archives people send me in email, since Eudora debinhexes by default but doesn't automatically expand compressed files. Deleting the filename extension is a good way of expanding the file and deleting the original archive. I'd like to see Archive via Rename work with BinHex files as well.
The final TFI extension is the most interesting. Called StuffIt Browser, it enables you to work with StuffIt archives directly in the Finder rather than waiting for the StuffIt Deluxe application to open. If you double-click a StuffIt archive while StuffIt Browser is loaded, the archive opens in a Finder-like window marked with a little StuffIt icon in the upper left corner. Dragging one or more files into the window stuffs them, and dragging files out of the window expands them. Make sure to read the Network Users Read Me file that talks about problems with multiple people working on the same archive at the same time.
The drawback to the True Finder Integration features of StuffIt Deluxe 4.0 is that they are extensions, so it's more likely that run into a conflict with other extensions or control panels. If you're bothered by extensions modifying your system, stick to DropStuff and StuffIt Expander, which are applications and less likely to conflict with anything.
The final new part of StuffIt Deluxe is a droplet application called DropSegment that works much like DropStuff and StuffIt Expander. Dropping a StuffIt archive on DropSegment enables you to make a multi-segment, self-joining, self-extracting archive, which is useful for copying huge archives to floppy disks. In the past, you had to work through the StuffIt Deluxe application to segment archives, which was more of a pain.
Enhanced Features -- StuffIt SpaceSaver, which provides transparent compression by compressing files during idle time and then expanding them when you open them, now has a "tag icon" feature that places a small tag on icons of compressed files. This feature makes it easier to tell which files have been compressed. Transparent compression utilities, which were extremely popular when they first came out three years ago or so, have waned in popularity as the cost of large hard disks dropped. If you can afford the larger hard disk, it's still a better solution than using a transparent compression utility.
The StuffIt Deluxe application hasn't changed much outwardly, but Aladdin claims speed increases of up to 20 percent in stuffing files and up to 50 percent when expanding many compression formats. In addition, Aladdin has improved the scripting significantly and added a Scripts menu with a built-in recorder for OSA scripts.
Also included with the StuffIt Deluxe package is Aladdin's StuffIt Expander for Windows, which is great for people who have to use PCs but work primarily with Macs and Macintosh files. StuffIt Expander for Windows can expand files in the following formats: StuffIt (.sit), ZIP (.zip), uuencoded (.uue), BinHex (.hqx), MacBinary (.bin), ARC (.arc), Arj (.arj), and gzip (.gz). It can also expand self-extracting archives created by StuffIt, ZIP, and Arj.
StuffIt Details -- StuffIt Deluxe 4.0 retails for $129.95, and registered users can upgrade directly through Aladdin for $29.95 through 01-Jul-96. The shareware DropStuff 4.0 and the freeware StuffIt Expander 4.0.1 are also available at the Aladdin sites below and at Info-Mac mirrors.
InstallerMaker 3.0 -- At WWDC, Aladdin also released version 3.0 of InstallerMaker, which makes it easy to create customized installers and relies on StuffIt compression technology. InstallerMaker 3.0 adds scripting support, better compression, an uninstall capability, resource compression, resource installation, unlimited custom destinations for files, support for moving, copying, or renaming any file, and finally support for up to 128 packages rather than the previous limit of 16. A demo is available at the URL below.