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

Civilization VI 1.2.4 - Next iteration o...
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is the next entry in the popular Civilization franchise. Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a strategy game in which you attempt to... Read more
Skype 8.52.0.138 - Voice-over-internet p...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
Bookends 13.2.6 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
BusyContacts 1.4.0 - 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
Chromium 77.0.3865.75 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 77.0.3865.75: A list of changes is available... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 7.5.5 - Catalog your di...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
Alfred 4.0.4 - Quick launcher for apps a...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 10.45 - File, pho...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
iFinance 4.5.11 - Comprehensively manage...
iFinance allows you to keep track of your income and spending -- from your lunchbreak coffee to your new car -- in the most convenient and fastest way. Clearly arranged transaction lists of all your... Read more
OmniGraffle Pro 7.11.3 - Create diagrams...
OmniGraffle Pro helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special...
Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special Delivery is a terrifying new nightmare from developer Illumix. Last week, FNAF fans were sent into a frenzy by a short teaser for what we now know to be Special Delivery. Those in the comments were quick to... | Read more »
Rush Rally 3's new live events are...
Last week, Rush Rally 3 got updated with live events, and it’s one of the best things to happen to racing games on mobile. Prior to this update, the game already had multiplayer, but live events are more convenient in the sense that it’s somewhat... | Read more »
Why your free-to-play racer sucks
It’s been this way for a while now, but playing Hot Wheels Infinite Loop really highlights a big issue with free-to-play mobile racing games: They suck. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying going for realism, cart racing, or arcade nonsense, they’re... | Read more »
Steam Link Spotlight - The Banner Saga 3
Steam Link Spotlight is a new feature where we take a look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Our last entry talked about Terry Cavanaugh’s incredible Dicey Dungeons. Read about how it’s a great mobile experience... | Read more »
PSA: GRIS has some issues
You may or may not have seen that Devolver Digital just released GRIS on the App Store, but we wanted to do a quick public service announcement to say that you might not want to hop on buying it just yet. The puzzle platformer has come to small... | Read more »
Explore the world around you in new matc...
Got a hankering for a fresh-feeling Match-3 puzzle game that offers a unique twist? You might find exactly what you’re looking for with What a Wonderful World, a new spin on the classic mobile genre which merges entertaining puzzles with global... | Read more »
Combo Quest (Games)
Combo Quest 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Combo Quest is an epic, time tap role-playing adventure. In this unique masterpiece, you are a knight on a heroic quest to retrieve... | Read more »
Hero Emblems (Games)
Hero Emblems 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** 25% OFF for a limited time to celebrate the release ** ** Note for iPhone 6 user: If it doesn't run fullscreen on your device... | Read more »
Puzzle Blitz (Games)
Puzzle Blitz 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Puzzle Blitz is a frantic puzzle solving race against the clock! Solve as many puzzles as you can, before time runs out! You have... | Read more »
Sky Patrol (Games)
Sky Patrol 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: 'Strategic Twist On The Classic Shooter Genre' - Indie Game Mag... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save $150-$250 on 10.2″ WiFi + Cellular iPads...
Verizon is offering $150-$250 discounts on Apple’s new 10.2″ WiFi + Cellular iPad with service. Buy the iPad itself and save $150. Save $250 on the purchase of an iPad along with an iPhone. The fine... Read more
Apple continues to offer 13″ 2.3GHz Dual-Core...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ 2.3GHz Dual-Core non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros available starting at $1019. An standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, outer cases are new... Read more
Apple restocks 2018 MacBook Airs, Certified R...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2018 13″ MacBook Airs starting at only $849. Each MacBook features a new outer case, comes with a standard Apple one-year warranty, and is shipped free. The... Read more
Sunday Sale! 2019 27″ 5K 6-Core iMacs for $20...
B&H Photo has the new 2019 27″ 5K 6-Core iMacs on stock today and on sale for up to $250 off Apple’s MSRP. Overnight shipping is free to many locations in the US. These are the same iMacs sold by... Read more
Weekend Sale! 2019 13″ MacBook Airs for $200...
Amazon has new 2019 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $200 off Apple’s MSRP, with prices starting at $899, each including free shipping. Be sure to select Amazon as the seller during checkout, rather than... Read more
2019 15″ MacBook Pros now on sale for $350-$4...
B&H Photo has Apple’s 2019 15″ 6-Core and 8-Core MacBook Pros on sale today for $350-$400 off MSRP, starting at $2049, with free overnight shipping available to many addresses in the US: – 2019... Read more
Buy one Apple Watch Series 5 at Verizon, get...
Buy one Apple Watch Series 5 at Verizon, and get a second Watch for 50% off. Plus save $10 on your first month of service. The fine print: “Buy Apple Watch, get another up to 50% off on us. Plus $10... Read more
Sprint offers 64GB iPhone 11 for free to new...
Sprint will include the 64GB iPhone 11 for free for new customers with an eligible trade-in in of the iPhone 7 or newer through September 19, 2019. The fine print: “iPhone 11 64GB $0/mo. iPhone 11... Read more
Verizon offers new iPhone 11 models for up to...
Verizon is offering Apple’s new iPhone 11 models for $500 off MSRP to new customers with an eligible trade-in (see list below). Discount is applied via monthly bill credits over 24 months. Verizon is... Read more
AT&T offers free $300 reward card + free...
AT&T Wireless will include a second free 64GB iPhone 11 with the purchase of one eligible iPhone at full price. They will also include a free $300 rewards card. The fine print: “Buy an elig.... Read more

Jobs Board

Student Employment (Blue *Apple* Cafe) Spri...
Student Employment (Blue Apple Cafe) Spring 2019 Penn State University Campus/Location: Penn State Brandywine Campus City: Media, PA Date Announced: 12/20/2018 Date Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**732359BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 000171-Winchester Road-Store **Job Description:** Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**732324BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 000013-Fargo-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**732455BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000449-Auburn Hills-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Read more
*Apple* Mobility Pro - Best Buy (United Stat...
**732490BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobility Pro **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 000449-Auburn Hills-Store **Job Description:** At Best Buy, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.