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StuffIt Goes to 11

Smith Micro Software, which purchased Allume Systems (previously known as Aladdin Systems) last year, has released StuffIt Deluxe 11, the latest version of the compression program that has been a part of the Macintosh landscape since 1986. StuffIt Deluxe 11 makes some significant changes to the way users interact with archives, but leaves the core functionality from StuffIt Deluxe 10 alone (see “StuffIt Deluxe 10 Plays with Tiger,” 19-Sep-05).

StuffIt Archive Manager Takes Over — The most notable change in StuffIt Deluxe 11 is StuffIt Archive Manager, which brings an iTunes-like interface to archive management. A pane on the left lists “collections” which are essentially the equivalent of smart folders in the Finder – automatically created groups of files that meet specific criteria. StuffIt Archive Manager comes with pre-defined collections for archives of various sorts, and you can also create your own collections with any criteria you want, and StuffIt Archive Manager keeps those collections up-to-date using Spotlight. In this respect, StuffIt Archive Manager isn’t doing much more than creating a set of smart folders that appear in the Finder’s sidebar, although it lets you filter the list of files quickly, providing a way of narrowing the list without redefining the collection.

But the point of StuffIt Archive Manager isn’t to replace smart folders, it’s to provide an interface for working with archives, and it replaces the old StuffIt Deluxe application. Toolbar buttons in StuffIt Archive Manager enable you to create new archives, browse existing ones (double-clicking them also works), and expand selected archives. When browsing an archive in its own window, you can create new folders, drag additional files in, get info on files in the archive, extract individual files, delete items, and add comments about the archive.

If you work with a lot of JPEG images, a preview pane in StuffIt Archive Manager displays thumbnails of images inside archives, eliminating the need to go outside the program to figure out which files to work with. StuffIt Deluxe’s Spotlight support has gone in the other direction; it installs Spotlight plug-ins that enable Spotlight to look inside compressed archives. StuffIt Deluxe 11 also includes support for opening encrypted Zip archives that use the 256-bit AES encryption method.

Not surprisingly, StuffIt Deluxe 11 is now a universal binary for improved performance on Intel-based Macs. It also takes advantage of multiple PowerPC processors and Intel cores, and is multi-threaded, so rendering thumbnails for the preview pane doesn’t restrict access to the rest of the program.

Other aspects of the StuffIt Deluxe 11 package include:

  • Archive Assistant, which helps users schedule archive creation and copying to a variety of locations; it could be a useful tool for automating certain backup and copying tasks.
  • DropStuff and StuffIt Expander, which provide a drag-and-drop interface to compression and expansion.
  • Magic Menu, which puts an item in the menu bar that provides access to all the basic StuffIt features (they’re also available from the contextual menu if you Control-click an item in the Finder).
  • StuffIt SEA Maker, which lets you create what are essentially simple installers that automatically expand files to a particular location and can display splash screens and Read Me files.

StuffIt Standard Edition Updated — Also updated was StuffIt Standard Edition, a bundle of DropStuff and StuffIt Expander (the latter remains a free download on its own). The only new feature in StuffIt Standard Edition 11 is support in StuffIt Expander for encrypted Zip archives.

Pricing and Requirements — StuffIt Deluxe costs $80, with upgrades from previous versions of either StuffIt Deluxe or StuffIt Standard Edition priced at $30. StuffIt Standard Edition costs $50, with upgrades from previous versions at $15. StuffIt Deluxe requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later, with Mac OS X 10.4 required for the Spotlight importer and Automator support in StuffIt Deluxe and for StuffIt Standard Edition 11 (older versions of StuffIt Standard Edition are available for earlier versions of Mac OS X and Mac OS 8.6 through 9.2).

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