Monday, March 3, 2003

I've been programming from my new mac recently, and ran into a few issues. I thought I would post them, not only to share with others, but in hopes that people may share their workarounds to some of these issues:

Creating an Application Bundle

Packaging my application was much easier than I originally thought. There really isn't an excuse not to provide an application bundle for a java application if you intend to support the Macintosh platform. I got really good use out of a book called Mac OS X for Java� Geeks. I'll probably post a detailed review when I finish it.

I initially used an application called MRJAppBuilder, (which looks very slick and easy to use), but it's output was missing two very important lines of code: the classpath and the main class. It's not that MRJAppBuilder didn't know what they were... it just failed to write the files out correctly. Very strange. Thankfully, the book had very detailed instructions for editing these files by hand.

I ended up copying all the resource bundle files into my source tree (for version control), and made an ant task to assemble them as an application bundle at deployment time.

Creating a Deployment File

I wanted deployment of my application bundle to be very Mac-like. I didn't want the user to see a hint of my Windows background in the download and installation process.

My first instinct was to create a disk image. As it turns out, creating a disk image from the command line (or ant) requires a bit more interaction than I would have liked. You must do a du on the source files to determine the sector count, then bump that up by a few percent for metadata, then create the image, format it, etc, etc. This would have required a hand full of support scripts and a lot of hair pulling. Someone should just put together an ant task for this mess.

My second attempt was to tar and gzip the files. It almost worked fine. Application bundles for Java contain a stub file (written in C) that executes your Java program for you. By default tar removes permissions from the files it archives (including the executable permissions). Ant's task has a option for specifying permissions, but I didn't have much luck getting it working.

I finally decided it wasn't worth the trouble. I used zip. It works great.

Refresh issues

For some reason, when I run the application bundle, I sometimes have issues with the toolbar not refreshing correctly. I haven't tried debugging it yet, but I suspect my property settings in the application bundle. Idea seems to have a similar problem in their message window (sometimes words don't redraw correctly).



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