|Column Tag:||Kelly's Corner
Resorcerer® the New Kid on the Block
By Dave Kelly, MacTutor Editorial Board
Just when you thought you had ResEdit all figured out, a new kid on the block comes along. The new kids name is Resorcerer® from Mathemæsthetics, Inc. Resorcerer was demonstrated at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference Tools Expo and since then there have been demo disks floating around on some of the networks and bulletin boards. By word of mouth alone, many companies (including Claris), consultants, and individual programmers have already selected Resorcerer as their first choice resource editor.
A review of Resorcerer cant be done without comparing it to ResEdit. ResEdit has been the developers friend since the beginning days of the Macintosh, although ResEdit has grown up a lot since then). The latest official release of ResEdit is version 1.2, but beta versions of 2.0 have been seen for several months. Version 2.0b2 was included in the System 7.0 Developer CD. Version 2.0 is a lot different than 1.2 and Apple is still working on more new features for ResEdit which Apple says should be out by the end of the year.
What is Resorcerer?
On the surface, Resorcerer is just a resource file editor. That is, Resorcerer lets you view, search, edit, and print all resources in a file. You can open as many files and resources in the file as desired. A special clipboard is provided which accumulates all of the cutting and copying that you do in one Resource Scrap window. However, several features are unique to Resorcerer. Resorcerer will also DeRez individual resources. Currently, the Dialog, Menu, StringList, Icon, IconList, and Pattern Editors all support direct DeRezing to the clipboard so you can immediately switch to your development systems text editor and paste the text version of the resource into it. Other Resorcerer editors will also support DeRez by the time version 1.0 is released.
When a file is opened, Resorcerers resource picker window displays resources available in the file. But unlike ResEdit, Resorcerer displays the commonly used resource types in bold. The resources attribute bits, represented by small icons, are always visible in the resource picker window. These attributes can be set individually or in groups. The files Finder information can easily be edited at any time from pop-up menus. These pop-up menus include the appropriate bit numbers for the item being selected.
Both Resorcerer and ResEdit will recognize commonly used resource types when a resource template is added. Resorcerer provides a collection of individual resource editors to handle each of the most common resource types. New resource types can be added to Resorcerer by merely dropping the new template in a template folder. Resorcerer finds these templates when starting up. These templates extend Resorcerers standard editor to include custom editors which provide expanded capabilities to edit common resource types.
Some of the editors included with Resorcerer are:
ALRT, DLOG, WIND, DITL, CNTL and nrct resources (alerts, dialogs, windows, dialog item lists, controls, and rectangle lists for Control Panels)
BNDL, FREF, and application autograph resources (bundles and file references)
MENU, mctb and cmnu resources (menus and menu color tables)
STR , STR#, TYP#, and TMPL resources (strings, string lists, type lists, and ResEdit templates)
PICT, and snd resources (pictures (versions 1 and 2) and sounds (versions 1 and 2))
clut resources (and all synonyms)
ICON, ICN#, PAT , PAT#, SIZE, vers, TEXT, CURS, and sicn resources among others.
In most cases where it is appropriate the editor will let you edit groups of related resources. For example, the MENU Editor lets you rearrange an entire menu by choosing the Reorder command and simply clicking on the menu items in the order you want them to appear. You can also drag individual items to reorder the menu, but only one at a time. Since the Editor will also edit the menus optional color table resource at the same time, the entries in the color table will also be reordered. When you select a group of menu items, the menu editor will let you cut/copy them and then paste them directly into another menu resource. This overcomes the problem of reorganizing an applications menu commands into separate menus.
When you open a menu resource up, the actual menu is displayed (installed) in the menu bar. If you select a menu item, the editor window displays that items information. If the item selected has a hierarchical menu attached, the hierarchical menu is also available in the menu bar. Selecting one of the hierarchical menu items will automatically open up the menu resource and display information for the selected item. This is a great way to see what youre going to get while still editing menus. Resorcerer blows ResEdits menu editor away.
The Dialog Editor is another example of editing groups of related resources. The editor supports the List Manager lists and Pop-up menus and lets you edit these in a WYSIWYG manner. The dialog window is displayed as near as possible to what it will actually look like and if thats not good enough, the Dialog Editor even lets you try out the dialog before saving the file. Individual items can be edited using draw-like items and nearly every change is undoable. Moving an item from front to back does not effect the items ID number as it does in ResEdit. You can edit color information easily even if you dont have a color system. In addition, a complete C language source code that operates the dialog can be generated. The starter code generator supports any number of one-dimensional List Manager lists, any number of pop-up menu items, and any number of groups of radio buttons.
One of the parts of the Dialog Editor that youll really like is that related resources are created automatically when they are needed. For example, ictb, dctb resources are created when you edit dialog items that need them. The Dialog Editor is truly Mathemæsthetics most full featured editor written for Resorcerer. Eighty pages of documentation cover the Dialog Editor alone.
PICT, ICON, PAT , PAT#, cicn resources allow you to directly copy from the screen. This is very useful if running under Multifinder since you can the copy directly from your favorite paint program. cicn resources dont have a color icon editor, but you must rely on your copy of the screen. This could be an advantage since most color paint programs are much more flexible and powerful than any color icon editor could ever be. If you need a color icon editor you can always use ResEdit for that and transfer the resource to Resorcerer.
A nice feature is included in the Preferences command. Among the preferences is the ability to set synonyms for the resource types used. This is handy especially if you create your own resource types which have the same format as a commonly used type. For example you might want to use a STR# resource type but call the resource type DAVE. Also, the preferences dialog lets you specify how you want Resorcerer to allocate resource IDs when creating new resources of any specified type. This means you can organize your ID ranges to suit your needs. Some resources have a convention which must be followed, for example nrct resources representing Control Panel dialogs should have an ID of -4064; vers resources should have IDs of 1 or 2, and SIZE resources have an ID of -1. The preference dialog lets you set the Default starting ID for resources that have a preferred ID.
The major part of Resorcerers manual is used to explain how to use the editors for each of the resources. The beta draft version of the manual was one half inch thick; I wasnt able to see the final product at the time I wrote this. The beginning of the manual explains some fundamentals of resources and some definitions. This is a good thing since some unknowing beginner could do serious damage to files without really trying. A little education cant hurt.
I dont want to forget to mention the Value Converter. If you select Resorcerers Value Converter you can convert nearly any type to any other type. The Value Converter is a very handy utility.
Why does anyone need Resorcerer? It is true that ResEdit can do the job and the price is right, but there are reasons that Resorcerer has that should be considered:
1) Because ResEdit is free, there is no competition to force Apple into making improvements. Some people have asked for bug fixes and feature additions that are still not included in ResEdit 2.0.
2) Some jobs (especially large ones) cannot be edited easily with ResEdit for even the most commonly used resource types. Resorcerers editors are much more fully developed with more features than ResEdit.
3) ResEdit does not conform to Macintosh user interface guidelines. Version 2.0 has improved the interface considerably, but there is an internal problem that cant be fixed so easily. ResEdit is a resource map editor. That is, ResEdit operates directly on resource maps. ResEdit becomes a risk for you when you use ResEdit when a new system software release comes out, because you may not know if the resource map structure has changed (or worse yet, ResEdit doesnt know). Resorcerer, on the other hand, uses the Resource Manager calls to access the resource map. It is unlikely that Resorcerer will break.
4) Resorcerer supports DeRezing of resources directly to the clipboard.
5) The Dialog, Menu, StringList, Template, Hex, Custom, Version, and File Editors in Resorcerer are preferable to ResEdits editors.
There are still some sceptics which dont need all the features of Resorcerer. These people will still use ResEdit. On the other hand, there are many of Mathemæsthetics customers who are raving over Resorcerer, describing it as exceeding my wildest dreams and the best editor in the world. Resorcerer is a powerful tool that should be considered for any serious development projects. Any real professional developer will want Resorcerer, and ResEdit will still be available for the rest of them.
Resorcerer version .99b8 was reviewed and is representative of the final product. Resorcerer version 1.0 should be released by the time you read this.
Resorcerer® version 1.0 is available from:
P. O. Box 67-156
Chestnut Hill, MA. 02167 USA
Current pricing is $256, which includes at least one upgrade. The price decreases as the quantity doubles. Site licenses are available.
Resorcerer is a registered trademark of Mathemæsthetics, Inc.