Review: RB Package Maker

In part one of our Mac App Store Utilities review we talked about AppWrapper from Ohanaware.  In this review we’ll review RB Package Maker Studio from blueColin Software.

RB Package Maker does many of the same things that AppWrapper does.  Like any two applications that accomplish the same thing it handles things a little differently.

Start RB Package Maker Studio.  It’s simple interface is designed around getting your app into the Mac App Store.  The first option you have is to select your Certificate used for code signing.  There are four tabs:  Basic, Resource Files, Sandboxing, and Override Info PLIST.

In the Basics tab, start by dragging, or selecting, your Real Studio built application.  RB Package Maker then parses the available information and puts in what information it can.  The other file you have to provide to the utility is the icns file containing your high resolution icons for the Mac App Store. In the info.plist settings are you need to provide the Application Category for the MAS and the version you’re submitting (this might require some clean up and the utility will flag it if it’s wrong).

In the Resources tab you can set up your help folder and have the utility index it for you.  An interesting twist in this is that you can tell the utility to NOT copy files with certain extensions.  This is handy if you are using subversion or other source code management systems that like to include hidden files.  In the Resources tab you can also specify additional files you want to placed in your bundle.

The Sandboxing tab is kind of…odd.  It lets you check off which Entitlements your application is going to be using.  However, you turn all of that on in the area above the tab control.  It seems kind of an odd choice and I guess the other oddity is that the listbox containing the entitlements looks to be enabled.  Anyway, once you’ve click on the Sandbox Main Switch above the tab control all the controls in this tab become active.

If you are unsure what each area does, RB Package Maker has an interesting build in help system.  Select the entitlement in the list and a more detailed description of what that entitlement does is presented to you including any other properties that it might be mutually exclusive to.

In the Override Info PLIST tab you have the ability to add your own information to the applications PLIST file.

To make your package you must be in the Basics Tab and then select the Make & Sign Package at the lower right corner of the window.  A new window is presented where you have a couple of options including Force Code Signing anything else in your bundle that might already be signed (Monkeybread Plugins, for example, are signed by them).  You also have the option to leave it as an application or make a package.

You have the ability to see what the command line commands will be by checking the See Bash Commands button.  This is an interesting option as you might be able to include this in your IDE script later on.

To sign and make your package, click on the Sign Application button.  The utility then creates your application and you get to see the Bash commands happening and the resulting messages from the Apple utilities.  Then it’s up to you close the window when you’re done.

RB Package Maker comes with extensive online help which includes a 25 page PDF file.  In addition they have a number of videos showing you how to use the utility as well as an extensive Q & A area on their website.  The Q & A entries go into some of the reasons why some things are the way they are.  If you like a lot of background information their website is chock full of additional information.

All in all, this utility does what it does very well and I’ve used it extensively for a couple of months.  It’s not without some flaws though.  While it’s not very hard to create an icns file using Apple’s Icon Composer application, this seems a little unnecessary step as you can make an icns file from any image object.

I really wish the utility would remember more of the settings between runs.  I find it annoying that if I’m creating the same package I have to setup the same information, Certificate, icon file, Application Category over and over again.  This is ripe for errors to occur.

As with App Wrapper I would love the ability to add this to my IDE script so I didn’t have to switch applications.  If either utility added this it would rank very high on my recommended apps list.

RB Package Maker Studio is $29.95 and is available at http://www.bluecolin.com/rbpms/

1 thought on “Review: RB Package Maker

  1. I have to do a little mea culpa here. RB Package Maker Studio *does* keep settings in between sessions. However, it’s not automatic. You see, I never checked the File menu. It does allow you save your settings. And then you can simply double click the document to reopen RB Package Maker Studio.

    One little, somewhat annoying thing, is that you have to use the Save As menu command when you want to save your settings the first time. I’m confused as to why Save won’t do the same thing. I can’t think of another application that requires me to do a Save As before I can save a document.

    Regardless, RB Packager Maker Studio is a fine utility!

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