TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Resorcerer 2
Volume Number:10
Issue Number:4
Column Tag:Tools Of The Trade

Related Info: Dialog Manager Help Manager Resource Manager

Resorcerer: A Fan’s Notes

Just a few of the many reasons Resorcerer has so many avid followers

By Philip Borenstein

About the author

Philip enjoys family outings featuring his famous dogcow barbeque, and celebrates the Macintosh enthusiasts holiday of Jan. 1, 1904 by changing as many files on as many disks as possible.

Several years ago, a friend who used to write about the club scene for a Boston weekly caught some flack for writing well about a band she was particularly fond of. When I asked her about it, she said “Look, when you go out to clubs to hear bands almost every night, you’re bound to have some favorites. They’re not the only band I write about, but when I get a chance to do so, I’ll say good things about them.”

After several years in the Macintosh development tools business, I’ve grown fond of some programs. Mathemaesthetics’ Resorcerer is definitely one of them. In the interest of disclosure, let me say up front that I’ve used Resorcerer for five years and that Doug McKenna (Resorcerer’s author) has been a friend of mine for four. When he needed it, I helped him out by writing a chapter of his manual. If it helps, don’t think of this as a review; think of it as a fan’s notes.

Resorcerer by Mathemaesthetics, Inc. is a resource editor that lets you edit almost any kind of Macintosh resource. It has over a dozen built-in editors to edit resources like menus, icons, dialogs, cursors, strings, window templates, control templates, and so on. For resources that can’t be edited with the built-in editors, Resorcerer has a rich template-based editor, the data editor, that builds on and surpasses ResEdit’s TMPL mechanism.

Why should you spend your hard-earned money to buy Resorcerer when you can get ResEdit for free? That’s the question most people ask when they first see Resorcerer. If you’ve already come upon ResEdit’s limitations, the answer is easy. The real answer is that Resorcerer is better at editing many common resources. What’s more, while development on ResEdit has slowed (the last major version was released in 1991), Resorcerer has kept pace with the resource-editing needs of Macintosh programmers.

Rather than talk about each of Resorcerer’s editors, I’ll describe the highlights of some of the most-used editors and then discuss some general aspects of the program.

The Dialog Editor

The main job of a dialog editor is to help you design dialogs that your users can understand. A good dialog editor should make it easy for you to create dialog items and arrange them in the dialog window.

In Resorcerer, you choose dialog items from a hierarchical menu. In addition to the standard dialog items (buttons, static text, edit text, etc.), Resorcerer’s dialog editor lets you create pop-up menus and lists. These two items types have become so common, it’s hard to believe that they weren’t part of the original Dialog Manager spec. Resorcerer creates user items for these two items. This implementation of pop-up menus predates the pop-up menu CDEF introduced with System 7. But if you prefer to use the pop-up menu control, you can create a control item corresponding to a CNTL resource for the pop-up menu.

Usually, dialog items should be aligned properly and arranged in functional groups. As you would expect, the dialog has an “Align to Grid” command. You can set the size of the grid and choose to make the grid visible. You can also specify a margin to make sure that dialog items don’t get too close to the edge of the dialog window. The dialog editor provides commands that align selected items by their sides or centers. One nice feature is the ability to align static text items using the ends of each items’ text string instead of its item bounding box. Additionally, the dialog has a “Use Best Size” command that resizes an item to an optimal size. For pictures, icons, and controls, the dialog editor uses the item’s natural size; for static text, it increases or decreases the height of the item to contain all the text; for buttons, it uses a minimum size of 66 pixels and a height of 20 pixels. For pop-up menu user items, the width of the ‘MENU’ is calculated and used.

Resorcerer’s dialog editor lets you design dialogs at full size, so you can see exactly what they’ll look like. The “Try Out” command lets you run your dialog to see how it feels, and “Starter Code” command generates C code that you can use to prototype your application quickly. You’ll definitely need to edit the code, but it’s a good way to get something up and running. The generated code knows how to deal with any number of the two special user items that Resorcerer generates for pop-up menus and scrolling lists.

The dialog editor has a command to add a balloon help item to the dialog. Unlike ResEdit, this command works even if the help item is not the last item in the dialog. The editor will even warn you about a little-known problem the Help Manager has with help items in non-modal dialogs.

The Data Editor

The one feature that really sets Resorcerer apart from ResEdit is its template-based data editor. The data editor allows you to edit resources for which there is no built-in editor. Resorcerer uses the data editor to edit Apple event and Balloon Help resources, for example. The data editor has its roots in ResEdit’s TMPL mechanism but goes way beyond it.

You create TMPL resources that contain fields that describe the contents of the resource. Resorcerer has a dedicated editor for displaying and editing TMPLs, and makes it easy to import templates from text files as well. As in ResEdit, there are template fields for words of various sizes, Pascal strings, C strings, lists, etc. Resorcerer expands the kinds of fields to over 120 types (almost four times the number the ResEdit’s field types) to include colors, system dates, code disassembly, key-fields, and fixed- and floating-point numbers. One field type, SELF, allows you to create recursive resources.

To give you an idea of the flexibility of Resorcerer’s TMPL mechanism, one of the templates that comes with Resorcerer parses PICT resources. You can use this TMPL to inspect pictures and to edit any strings embedded in the picture.

Resorcerer comes with over 180 TMPLs to edit virtually every kind of Macintosh resource including Installer script resources, OCE resources, MacApp view resources, Finder resources, and many more.

For resources that can’t be described easily with a TMPL, Resorcerer allows you to write a filter that transforms the resource data into a form that you can edit with a template and then writes the edited data into the resource’s natural form. A good use of filters is for resources that begin with a list of offsets to other data. The filter scans the resource data and creates a representation without the offsets so that it can be edited with TMPL fields. Once you’re finished, the filter converts the representation to include the offsets. Resorcerer comes with filter examples and the appropriate interface files to get you started writing filters.

Rather than installing custom TMPL resources into Resorcerer itself, you place files that contain TMPL resources into a special folder. Resorcerer scans this folder when it starts up. To make it easier to develop custom resource templates, the data editor lets you open the file that contains the TMPL resource so you can edit it.

Powerful as it is, the data editor has one drawback. To enter data for most field types, you double-click on the field and type the data in a dialog box instead of typing directly in the field. The data editor does have a command that lets you toggle the value of a Boolean value without opening the field dialog box, and if a field takes one of several values, you can easily set up a pop-up menu to make entering values easier. Eventually you’ll develop “finger macros” to open the dialog box, enter the data and close the dialog, but for long or complex resources, this approach to data entry can get tedious quickly.

Unlike ResEdit, you can’t write custom editors for Resorcerer. While the template-based data editor goes a long way to make up for this, there are some cases where a custom editor is the best way to solve a problem. You can, however, write simple code extensions (“pickers” in ResEdit lingo, “showers” in Resorcerer lingo) for displaying the data of custom resources.

The Color Icon Editor

Resorcerer’s icon editor sports some features that you’d expect to find only in a color paint program. In addition to the standard pixel-editing tools (pencil, paint bucket, lasso, eraser, etc.), you’ll find a smudge tool and a text tool. When editing 8-bit pixels you can turn on anti-aliasing to make text, lines, and circles smoother. With special key combinations, you can select all pixels of a particular color. With other key combinations, you can use the color palette for live editing: as you choose colors from the palette, the color of all the pixels in the selection or last filled area change. This feature lets you see what different colors look like without having to apply the color and then undoing the coloring. A dedicated dither palette lets you choose a foreground “color” that is the dithered combination of any two colors. Another feature that makes it easier to create an icon family is the snapshot list. At any point you can take a snapshot of the icon and come back to it later.

Like ResEdit, Resorcerer’s icon editor is designed to let you create and edit an entire icon family at once. Unlike ResEdit it has some bells and whistles to help you get the job done faster. When you work on an 8-bit icon, you can have the icon editor select all the colors that don’t conform to the 34 Apple-approved Finder icon colors. If you like, you can have the icon editor map these colors to conforming colors. When you copy an 8-bit icon to a 4-bit icon, you can let the icon editor choose the nearest 4-bit color corresponds to the 8-bit color, or you can dither the 8-bit colors to 4-bit colors.

All of the other editors that edit bit-mapped data, such as cursors and 'cicn' resources work essentially the same way as the color icon editor. Unlike ResEdit, Resorcerer’s ‘ppat’ editor supports ‘ppat’s with power-of-two dimensions all the way up to 256 by 256.

General Features

Resorcerer is full of nice touches that programmers will appreciate. One very handy command compares two resource files. Another allows you to search the entire resource fork or a particular resource for a given hex or ASCII value. The “Change All” command lets you change virtually any attribute (including resource type) of a set of resources. For resources that can appear in dialogs and alerts, such as icons and controls, a “Find Dialog Item References” command helps you find which dialog uses the resource. For many resources, including icons and dialogs, the “Copy” command can decompile the resource into Rez format and places the text on the Clipboard. One of Resorcerer’s options lets you see the data fork of your file as if it were a resource. This is very nice when you want to take a look at a file that stores data in both forks.

Even the nuances that seem at first to be purely ornamental turn out to have practical foundations. For instance, when a window’s title is too long to fit in the title bar, Resorcerer uses a smaller font so that the title will fit. When you have several windows with similar titles on the screen, this small attention to detail becomes very important.

Resorcerer is smart about some common programmer’s tricks. If it encounters a definition procedure (WDEF, CDEF, MDEF, etc.) that is abnormally short, it will ignore it and use a standard defproc instead. This keeps you from crashing when you open windows that use the stub-WDEF technique.

Some of Resorcerer’s features are a little obscure until you discover a need for them. For instance, the ‘TEXT’ editor has a “Create Text PICT” that may not appear to be immediately useful. But suppose you want a Balloon Help item that contains a lot of styled text and you don’t particularly care for the way the Help Manager formats it. In that case, you use the text editor to format your text, create a picture of the text, and use the picture in the help balloon.

Although Resorcerer is primarily an interactive editor, it also supports a simple script language that lets you build a new resource file by including and excluding resources from many other files. You can use the script to change the IDs, names, or types of included resources before saving the final output file. The script language supports simple C preprocesser definitions so that you can share symbolic constants from your C project.

Unlike Rez, though, Resorcerer’s script language does not support compiling resources directly. To run a script, you can drag and drop it on Resorcerer’s icon, or open and run it directly from within the application.

Another useful feature is the value converter. This window lets you see the value of any arbitrary 32 bits as up to a dozen or so standard Macintosh types. The value converter hooks to any editor that displays hex data.

Unlike consumer-oriented applications where the number of options is kept to a minimum, Resorcerer has a rich set of preferences settings to accommodate the whims of all but the most finicky programmers. For example, in most cases, when you copy a DLOG resource from one file to another, you probably want to take the corresponding DITL as well, and that’s exactly what Resorcerer does. But if you like, you can change the preferences to not include related resources in a selection. In that case, Resorcerer warns you that your selection doesn’t include the related resource. And if you don’t like that, you can change the preferences so that Resorcerer doesn’t even warn you that your selection doesn’t include the related resources. There are options that let you choose whether Resorcerer should use animated zoom rectangles to when you double-click on a dialog item, which keys map to the tools in the icon editor, whether Resorcerer should give you hints about commands and short cuts, and, of course, whether to convert straight quotes to curly smart quotes. Being able to tune Resorcerer like this means that there are a lot of preferences dialogs. In addition to a multi-page program-wide preferences dialog, many of the major editors have their own preferences dialog.

Documentation

The Resorcerer documentation comes in two wire-bound volumes. The first volume, “User Manual,” discusses the basics of resources and resource editing and has a chapter for each of the editors. The second volume, “Technical Stuff,” covers the more technical editors including the code editor and the template editor, as well as the syntax of the script language. There is a good tutorial section on designing custom resource templates. Although you can use Resorcerer for a long time without reading the manuals, they contain useful information about shortcuts and idiosyncrasies of the Resource Manager.

For a technical application, Resorcerer has a surprising amount of on-line help. The Balloon Help goes well beyond what you’ve probably come to expect (“Clicking this check box turns this option on”). Resorcerer uses its Balloon Help to remind you of the shortcuts and techniques to help you work faster. See, for example, the Balloon Help for the lasso tool in the bitmap editors. This implementation probably doesn’t follow the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines for Balloon Help (in fact, I don’t think it will even fit on a 9-inch Classic screen), but it’s nice to know that the information is available. Besides, you weren’t really going to read the manual anyway.

For some commands, Resorcerer displays a hint dialog that lets you know about ways to perform some tasks and shortcuts you may have overlooked.

Conclusion

Resorcerer is a well-supported resource editor for professional programmers, software localizers, and serious amateurs. If you use a resource editor only to change application icons, to add or change menu command key equivalents, or to explore applications, ResEdit may be good enough for you. But if you write Macintosh applications for a living, particularly if your application stores some of its data in application-specific resources, Resorcerer is the tool of choice. As far as I could tell, there’s only one or two things that ResEdit can do that Resorcerer can’t. ResEdit gives you some rudimentary tools to edit bitmapped fonts; it can change a folder’s Finder attributes; and it can verify and make minor fixes to a damaged resource file.

This review just covers a few of Resorcerer’s editors. There are many more that might be of particular use for you such as the code editor or the color table editor. The best way to find out whether Resorcerer is for you, download (or call for) the demo version. All of the editors are fully functional, you just can’t save changes to them.

Product Information

Resorcerer costs $256 and comes with a 60 day money-back gurantee. The current version is 1.2.4. Upgrades from previous versions are $77. Volume and educational discounts are available. A demo version is available free from Mathemaesthetics and on AppleLink, America On Line, and CompuServe.

Mathemaesthetics, Inc.
P.O. Box 67156
Chestnut Hill, MA 02167 USA.
Telephone: (800) 738-8803
Fax: (617) 738-0164
America Online or AppleLink: Resorcerer
Internet: resorcerer@aol.com
CompuServe: 70521,1114

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

BusyContacts 1.0.2 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
Capture One Pro 8.2.0.82 - RAW workflow...
Capture One Pro 8 is a professional RAW converter offering you ultimate image quality with accurate colors and incredible detail from more than 300 high-end cameras -- straight out of the box. It... Read more
Backblaze 4.0.0.872 - Online backup serv...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac.With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Little Snitch 3.5.2 - Alerts you about o...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Monolingual 1.6.4 - Remove unwanted OS X...
Monolingual is a program for removing unnecesary language resources from OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space. If you use your computer in only one (human) language, you... Read more
CleanApp 5.0 - Application deinstaller a...
CleanApp is an application deinstaller and archiver.... Your hard drive gets fuller day by day, but do you know why? CleanApp 5 provides you with insights how to reclaim disk space. There are... Read more
Fantastical 2.0 - Create calendar events...
Fantastical is the Mac calendar you'll actually enjoy using. Creating an event with Fantastical is quick, easy, and fun: Open Fantastical with a single click or keystroke Type in your event details... Read more
Cocktail 8.2 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Direct Mail 4.0.4 - Create and send grea...
Direct Mail is an easy-to-use, fully-featured email marketing app purpose-built for OS X. It lets you create and send great looking email campaigns. Start your newsletter by selecting from a gallery... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.6 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more

MLB Manager 2015 (Games)
MLB Manager 2015 5.0.14 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 5.0.14 (iTunes) Description: Guide your favorite MLB franchise to glory! MLB Manager 2015, officially licensed by MLB.com and based on the award-... | Read more »
Breath of Light (Games)
Breath of Light 1.0.1421 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1421 (iTunes) Description: Hold a quiet moment. Breath of Light is a meditative and beautiful puzzle game with a hypnotic soundtrack by... | Read more »
WWE WrestleMania Tags into the App Store
Are You ready to rumble? The official WWE WrestleMania app, by World Wrestling Entertainment, is now available. Now you can get all your WrestleMania info in one place before anyone else. The app offers details on superstar signings, interactive... | Read more »
Bio Inc's New Expansion is Infectin...
Bio Inc., by DryGin Studios, is the real time strategy game where you infect a human body with the worst virus your evil brain can design. Recently, the game was updated to add a whole lot of new features. Now you can play the new “Lethal”... | Read more »
The Monocular Minion is Here! Despicable...
Despicable Me: Minion Rush, by Gameloft, is introducing a new runner to the mix in their latest update. Now you can play as Carl, the prankster minion. Carl has a few new abilities to play with, including running at a higher speed from the start.... | Read more »
Dungeon of Madness (Games)
Dungeon of Madness 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Dungeon of Madness is an action game where you rotate tiles to create our own route. Help the hero by connecting the... | Read more »
Filters for iPhone (Photography)
Filters for iPhone 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Jump'N'Shoot Attack (Games)
Jump'N'Shoot Attack 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A mobile game for gamers! Join Louise Lightfoot, the legendary "Master of Jumping and Shooting", on her mission to save... | Read more »
Space Bounties Inc. (Games)
Space Bounties Inc. 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: SuperGameDroid: 4/5 "Satisfying futuristic RPG combat, high replay value, and a heavy dose of nostalgia make Space... | Read more »
Gamebook: Pocket RPG (Games)
Gamebook: Pocket RPG 1.0.11 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.11 (iTunes) Description: Walk into the Land of Lanthir Lamath ruled by wicked skeletons and fight for your life in a thrilling adventure.... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Logitech Says MX Master Is Its Most Advanced...
Logitech’s new MX Master Wireless Mouse incorporates the best of Logitech’s many computer mouse innovations into a striking hand-sculpted design. The company claims that the MX Master creates a new... Read more
Save up to $300 on a new Mac, $30 on an iPad,...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available...
The Apple Store lowered prices on Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs recently, with models now available starting at $679. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and... Read more
Mac Notebook Evolution; A Desktop Replacement...
More often than not right from the beginning, Apple’s Macs have tended to skew toward small. The original Macs were called “compacts,”, and notwithstanding a few exceptions like the honking Big Mac... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air (Apple refur...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Airs available for $759 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is $240 off original... Read more
YEP! Alternative Browser for iOS Now Supports...
Pfaeffikon, Switzerland based Power App AG has announced the release of an update to their Yep! Web Browser (v1.3.0) for iOS8 iPhone and iPad. Yep! hit the App Store shortly after the release of iOS... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $250 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
Clearance 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros availab...
B&H Photo has leftover 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1098... Read more
Clearance 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has MacBook Airs on sale for up to $180 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 128GB MacBook Air: $789.99 110 off original MSRP - 11″ 256GB... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available for...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for $100 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $199, $100... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail...
**Job Summary** Job Summary The Lead ASC is an Apple employee who serves as the Apple business manager and influencer in a hyper-business critical Reseller's store Read more
*Apple* Pay - Site Reliability Engineer - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.