Files are usually stored in compressed archives when they are going to
be sent over the Internet. No doubt you've encountered many compressed
archives of files when downloading BeOS software. While there are a variety
of different archive formats you can store files in on the BeOS, one stands
out as superior: Zip.
There are a variety of reasons why the zip format is just a better
archive format. First, zip archives both collect files together (that is,
stores many files inside a single file) and compresses the archive file
itself, making it smaller, and therefore faster to send somewhere else.
Many of the other formats available under the BeOS, such as tar and gzip,
provide only one feature or the other.
The largest advantage of the zip format, though, is that the zip
compression tool understands the extended attributes which are a fundamental
part of the Be File System. When you store your files in a zip archive, the
BeOS file attributes stay intact, unlike when you store them in tar or gzip
archives. It's only a minor inconvenience when the file is a plain text
file, but if it's a StyledEdit file (which stores it's style information in
attributes), only zip will preserve that formatting information.
Zip files are created by the zip application, normally accessed via the
command line. Last week's Tip of the Week
explained a much easier approach
to creating zip files, though, using a Tracker add-on called ZipMe. Be is
indebted to Chris Herborth for his work on the BeOS version of the zip
application, and also thanks Raphael Moll for ZipMe.
Zip files are uncompressed by the unzip application, also a command line
application. The BeOS includes the Expander application which makes dealing
with zip archives (and other archive formats) much easier -- just