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Stuffit Deluxe 7.0

Wednesday 14th August, 2002

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assume that every Mac built in the past 15 years has had an Aladdin product installed on it at one time or another: StuffIt Expander, DropStuff, or possibly StuffIt Deluxe. For general use, Expander and DropStuff can deal with most of your needs, but the people who need a little extra functionality in their compression tool (adding or removing files from an archive, for example) rely on Deluxe.

Version 6.5 was really just a’Let’s make it work properly in Mac OS X' upgrade. Version 6 worked OK, but 6.5 brought back command equivalents in the Finder for stuff and unstuff (command-s and command-u), and re-integrated the Magic Menu into the menu bar, where you can get at most of StuffIt’s commands. Small potatoes, really.

Version 7.0 earns its full point upgrade status by bringing a whole new compression method to the party. As well as the older StuffIt (.sit file) format, you can now also use the new StuffIt X (.sitx file) format. While it isn’t backwards compatible, it does offer definite compression, security and safety advantages. First, it uses something Aladdin calls ATOM to produce smaller archives - around 20% smaller than .sit files as a rough rule of thumb.

Secondly, you can now use four different encryption schemes: 64-bit DES, 256-bit AES, 448-bit BlowFish and 512-bit RC4. Thirdly, having reduced your archive sizes by 20%, you can bulk them up a little by adding error correction, so that you have less chance of archives being corrupted when sent over the Internet, and more chance of recovering useable data from them if they are.

Speaking your language

Despite the reference to OS X, it’s still a cross-platform format that, given Deluxe’s polyglot nature, shouldn’t be too surprising. In fact, Aladdin has also improved the other compression formats it supports. The original StuffIt format now supports long file names, and they also claim they’ve managed to squeeze a further 5% out of the Zip format, without losing compatibility with the usual slew of Windows Zip utilities. You can now browse or search in a Zip archive as you would a .sit or .sitx archive. StuffIt can create and expand encrypted zip archives, but it still can’t deal with segmented archives. As well as .sit and Zip files, Deluxe can create .tar and .lzh archives, and compress single files as Gzip, Bzip, and .Z archives (finally of use to more than a limited number of people given OS X’s Unix origins.)

Of course, there’s always a downside with upgrades, and while Deluxe doesn’t drop any file formats (self-defeating for a compression product) it does get rid of at least one legacy aspect of previous versions. Deluxe has been AppleScriptable (and recordable, and attachable) for some time now, but has also had its own internal pre-AppleScript language. No longer. As one of the few people who has ever used the language, trust me, it’s no great loss, and in fact cures one of those little niggles - no longer will dropping a text file on to the Deluxe icon bring up an odd script monitor window, as it tries (and fails) to execute your document as a script.

Secondly, you can no longer browse through archive files from within a Finder-alike window. Instead, you can browse archives by selecting them and then using the StuffIt command on the contextual menu to run through them using an AppleMenu-type hierarchical menu.

Thirdly, for OS X users there’s the bad news that version 7.0 still doesn’t support True Finder Integration. Mac OS 9 users do still have access to TFI, so adding a'.sit' to the end of a file name in the Finder compresses a file, and removing one uncompresses it. However, OS 9 TFI support is now via a helper application (StuffIt Helper), which must be running in the background for TFI to function. This means the compression is no longer carried out by the OS 9 Finder, and so you can get on with other things while your files are compressed in the background.

For Unix-weenies, Deluxe now has a command line equivalent that lets you compress from within the Terminal.app. Plus, of course, Deluxe still includes the complete set of Droplet applications: DropStuff, DropZip, DropSegment, DropTar, StuffIt Expander, Secure Delete and Drop Converter. Oh, and if you’re a Microsoft Office user, you can now open and save compressed files from within Word file dialogs. Suffice it to say, at $79.95 or $30 for the upgrade, it’s well worth the investment.

Get Further Info
ManufacturerAladdin Systems
ProsOffice integration + Support for long file name + Smaller archives
ConsNo TFI for OS X Users
Originally PublishedMacUser Volume 18, Issue 21