After several years of quiet bit-rot, CiderPress and NuLib2 have received a new coat of paint.
Both projects are now in git repositories on github.com, migrated from their CVS repositories on sourceforge.net. NuLib2 still lives at http://nulib.com/, with sources in http://github.com/fadden/nulib2. CiderPress has a new github-hosted domain, http://a2ciderpress.com/, and its sources are at http://github.com/fadden/ciderpress.
The updates to NuLib2 were fairly minor — some changes to the build and config scripts, mostly to get it to work with Visual Studio 2013, and a few tweaks. The new version is v2.2.2.
The updates to CiderPress were more significant. It now requires WinXP or later — Win98/ME/2K will not work — so I’ve bumped to the next major version, v4.0.0. This is still a work in progress, but it seems stable and offers some usability improvements over 3.x, so I’m releasing it as a “development” version (4.0.0d1) for people to play with.
A summary of changes, starting with the user-visible stuff:
(1) File+folder selection dialogs fixed
Windows has standard dialogs for selecting files. With Vista it even gained a standard dialog for selecting a folder. Selecting a collection of both files and folders is still very difficult. The previous release of CiderPress used “old-style” dialogs, the new release uses “explorer-style” dialogs. Other file selection dialogs, such as for opening an archive, use the current “vista-style” dialogs. It would be more visually appealing if all the dialogs looked the same, but vista-style dialogs don’t exist on WinXP.
The most significant impact of all this is that the Accept button in the Add Files dialog should no longer go AWOL.
(2) Help system updated
CiderPress used WinHelp, but recent versions of Windows dropped the WinHelp viewer, requiring a separate download. To complicate matters further, the help file was developed with HelpMatic Pro, which used a proprietary format and didn’t provide a way to get at the “raw” help data. I decompiled the WinHelp output file and used HelpScribble to convert it to HtmlHelp. The HTML sources are now checked into the source tree.
It appears that HtmlHelp is on its way out, so this is probably just kicking the can a bit farther down the road, but converting the help file from a proprietary format to HTML is a useful first step.
(3) File type associations fixed, sort of
You’ve probably seen installers that ask whether you want to install for all users or the current user. In recent versions of Windows, the registry keys for the machine have tighter access controls than the keys for the current user. This caused the code that handled file type associations by manipulating HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT to break.
The correct way to deal with this is to let the installer set and clear the associations, and use the Windows control panel to make any changes. The DeployMaster-based installer currently has a UI limitation that prevents it from showing all 18 file types that CiderPress handles, which means it may not give you an opportunity to prevent CiderPress from taking charge of a file extension.
So I’m keeping the file type association code in CiderPress, but now it only affects the current user rather than all users on the machine. The current-user entries take priority over the local-machine entries, so it generally works, but it may fail to recognize a previous entry that only exists in the local-machine part of the registry.
(4) Build system changes
CiderPress 3.x required Visual Studio 6, which was released in 1998. Getting VS6 installed on Windows 7 was something of an exercise, and I don’t expect that to get easier. My goal is to keep CiderPress going for another 10 years, so I updated everything to work with Visual Studio 2013.
This required a pretty significant revamp of the project/solution files, and I took the opportunity to rearrange the output directory layout a bit. The automatic conversion of the project files left a bit to be desired, but I think I’ve hammered out most of the weirdness.
In the past, NufxLib and zlib were built externally, and included as pre-built libraries. This was annoying, so now the CiderPress project includes source code snapshots, and just builds them from scratch.
Building for WinXP in Visual Studio 2013 requires selecting a WinXP-compatibility Platform Toolset, and including a couple of hefty redistributable libraries in the install package. Because of the popularity of WinXP, I went ahead and made these changes. If WinXP ceases to be interesting, we can shave a few MB off the size of the installer.
Many Windows APIs come in two flavors. When you call SomeFunction, a header file remaps it to SomeFunctionA or SomeFunctionW, depending on whether you have “MBCS” or “UNICODE” defined. Use of the older ANSI / Multi-Byte Character Set APIs are discouraged in favor of the UNICODE / wide-character APIs.
CiderPress v3.x used MBCS. The new release uses UNICODE, which meant changing a lot of code to use wide-character UTF-16 strings for the UI and filenames.
The diskimg and nufxlib libraries still work with narrow-string filenames. This makes some sense for names of files on Apple II disk images, but will need to be fixed for the names of files on local disk. The code made some effort at separating “storage names” from Windows pathnames, but not nearly enough. (Nine years of Java has improved my understanding of character set issues.)
(The use of Unicode strings creates an opportunity for improvement: we can use “Mac OS Roman” characters. The IIgs used the Mac definitions for high-ASCII values, and there’s an official Unicode definition for each value. The current code bludgeons Mac OS Roman into Windows CP1252, which can screw up filenames on HFS volumes and in ShrinkIt archives created from HFS data.)
(6) Source code and documentation improvements
Various minor improvements have been made to the source code. Visual Studio discovered variadic macros in 2005, so the debug log macros have been redone. Variables with specific bit widths now use appropriate types, e.g. “uint8_t” replaces “unsigned char”.
The README text has been ported to markdown for easy viewing on github. The diskimg README was expanded, and a Linux build README was added.
The current state of testing can be summed up:
+ All basic features have been exercised on Win7. Some light testing has been done on WinXP.
+ CF cards and HFS CD-ROMs work (tested on Win7).
– No testing on Vista or Win8, as I have no machines running those.
– No testing of SCSI-attached devices, due to lack of SCSI card. Win7 disallows access to the boot volume, not sure what it will do with an external drive.
– No testing of 3.5? floppies, due to lack of 3.5? floppy drive.
Because the testing is a bit thin, and because I’m not done adding features, this is a “development” release. v3.0.1 is still the official “stable” release. From a user perspective, 4.0.0d1 is feature-equivalent to v3.0.1.
Win32 installers for the various releases can be found on http://a2ciderpress.com/.
NOTE: the 4.0.0d1 executable has debug logging enabled. It will try to create a file called “C:\Src\cplog.txt”. If it succeeds, you’ll get a running commentary of CiderPress activity. This can be handy if something fails.