Review: MindVision FileStorm

For creating disk images, Apple's Disk Copy annoys me to no end... (April 1st, 2003)

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Product Manufacturer: MindVision Software

Price: $19.95 for Light, $79.95 for Pro

The Good

  • Extremely intuitive interface, ability to add license agreements to disk images, $19.95 version an incredible value.

The Bad

  • None.

The annoyance

As a developer who frequently makes disk images, Apple's Disk Copy annoys me to no end. In order to create a professional-looking disk image, you must constantly switch between the Finder, Disk Copy, and Terminal (to copy over background graphics and hide them inside directories). If you are using a different background image each time you distribute your application (for example, your background image has the version number stamped onto it), you could be looking at repeating this task over-and-over again for each release.

This isn't hard to do - it's just time consuming. After I finish a long session of bug-hunting, I don't want to fiddle with Disk Copy. I want to hit a few buttons, upload the package, microwave some tea, and plop in front of the TV in time to watch those early-morning infomercials. Is that so much for a programmer to ask?

FileStorm

Fortunately, the folks at MindVision Software have developed a solution to the packaging peril. FileStorm is a nifty $19.95 shareware program with one main goal: make beautiful disk images - quickly.

This quickness stems from FileStorm's intuitive WYSIWYG interface. Instead of using Disk Copy for tasks related to the actual .dmg file and Finder for task with the disk image, everything is combined. With FileStorm, simply create a new project, add files to it, click on "Build", and your disk image is created. Want a background image? Click on Inspector and select the file to use for your Background Picture. No messing with hidden files in the Terminal!

You can also add license agreements to your disk image. For weeks I tried to figure out how to add a license agreement using Disk Copy. My quest has finally reached completion - simply click on a file to use as your license agreement and FileStorm does the rest.

FileStorm Pro

In addition to the "light" version, MindVision also sells FileStorm Pro for $79.95. The Pro version adds one feature: the ability to create installers. At first I couldn't believe that one feature could be worth $50. Why would anybody want to pay $50 more for the ability to create installers, especially when Apple includes a free PackageMaker utility with their Developer Tools?

I was missing the point: just as I hate using Disk Copy because of its shortcomings, other developers may hate PackageMaker for the same reason. Armed with this revelation, I delved into the world of creating installers.

The really neat concept behind FileStorm Pro is simultaneous creation of installers with your disk images. Instead of having PackageMaker chaos on your left side and Disk Utility havoc on your right, you simply open up one project and work on them at the same time. The integration of the two creation tools is seamless.

From the main FileStorm screen, simply click on "Add Installer." By using the Inspector window, a variety of tasks can be performed. Tasks such as selecting installer backgrounds, adding minimum OS requirements, and creating uninstallers can be accomplished with great ease.

Actual installer tasks are created using "action files" and scripts - similar to PackageMaker. However, because of the tight integration mentioned above, the speed of installer creation is much quicker.

by Ricci Adams


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