Sunday, January 07, 2007

OS X unzip: what to do when it seems to fail (hint: Stuffit)

I downloaded the latests version of Chipt's excellent Backpack widget today, but when I unzipped it I saw two files instead of one widget. One had a size of zero, the other had no size information. It looked corrupt, so I tossed it and started to write the author. As I started my email, an idea struck me.

It had been opened using an old copy of StuffIt Expander (9.0.1). That's not the way OS X normally opens zips. I used get info to view the file information, and saw that the "Open with" setting was StuffIt. I switched to the obscurely named BOMArchiveHelper -- the internal OS X application. That did the trick; the folder now had a proper widget and I installed it. I clicked the "Change All" button as well.

There's more than one problem here. As has been well described by 'Drunken Fireball' and others, Apple seriously mangled the innards of OS X when they switched from the well designed Mac Classic metadata system for data file type and creator to the kludged mixture used by OS X (way too weird to describe, it's some mix of old metadata, new metada, the three character file extension (whether hidden or not) and the phases of Venus).

The other problem is StuffIt. I don't know if Chipt was using StuffIt.... Chipt wasn't using StuffIt, but a few misguided developers have stuck with it. StuffIt is an abomination. It was once a great product, but a few years ago the current owner went a bit berserk with various DRM schemes, hiding the well established free version, working to lock users into proprietary schemes, etc. I don't know the current version of StuffIt, and I don't care. Stuffit's day has passed. I keep it around only because a few people use the .sit format (alas), but I'm beginning to rethink that. I'm going to delete it from my system, and install it again in the rare instance that I need it.


Matt Pennig said...

You can rest assured I wouldn't use Stuffit to create my archives.

I used the built-in OS X archive function. I've never heard of Stuffit mangling a .zip file like that, but I certainly wouldn't put it past them.

John said...

Thanks Matt! I've corrected my post. Thanks for doing the Backpack widget, it's the best Widget I know of.