As I promised, BLPNG Converter is my "practice" for getting the hang of XCode and Cocoa to prepare for the Mac version of my Photoshop BLP Plugin. Today I'd like to share a preview of what this version is going to look like.

At this point, the UI is about halfway done. Drag & Drop, as well as all the major code to set up the actual conversion - including the progress bar, and related text. Menu items still need to be done, as well as the finishing screen and the error report, but the most complicated Mac-related part is done.

More information will be made available as I get closer to finishing, including a projected release date. Currently, I'm targeting 10.6 and newer.
I spent most of the day struggling my best against an inconvenient truth - so to speak. My initial goal was to maintain the same requirements for BLPNG Converter v2.0, as they were for 1.0 - and unfortunately, settled for a mixed result.

The good news is, that those of you still sticking with Windows xp, aren't going to be left out - even if it did require moving the code over to VS 2010, as (amusingly) VS 2012 projects are only compatible with Vista on up.

The bad news however, is that you're going to need to upgrade to .NET 4.0, and due to the switch in language, you'll also need VC++ Redistributable. The irony of having to require more, and newer for a switch to a more "basic" language (from C# to (M)C++) does not escape me. However, chances are, you most likely already have the latter - if not the former.

Beyond that though, the UI, and its features are nearly complete. All that remains is saved settings support, for those of you who would prefer using different BLP settings than the default (DXT5 w/ 8-bit Alpha).

With the goal of maintaining the utmost in portability by default, choosing to have settings saved will be an option that will be off by default. If such an option is chosen, a simple .xml file will be stored in a subfolder within your Application Data/App Data folder. So even then, there won't be any nasty registry entries, or obnoxious installers to have to worry about.
My first actual WoW-related application, BLPNG Converter, was originally intended as a simple little tool for doing mass conversion to PNG format, from Blizzard's BLP image format. This was created because the popular, BLP2PNG didn't support all of the BLP formats - and well, I needed support for all the formats.

However, surprisingly there seemed to be a demand for a better mass converter that went in both directions - both to PNG, and to BLP. Although I initially thought such a request would be easy enough to fill - I quickly ran into a problem. The problem of course, was how to handle such a simple interface for both ways, without running into interference - such as one format overwriting the other.

Every so often I'd think about this - and each time, It would end up requiring the user to jump through hoops. Something, that I'm not exactly fond of, and wouldn't expect other users to be either. But eventually, I just thought, why continue trying to squeeze a round peg into a square hole, when I could just make a round hole?

So, the solution was to move away from the whole "drop on an icon" mechanic, and instead, go to a simple, small UI that would balance ease of use, and function.

Below is a first look at the UI for the next release of BLPNG Converter:

Not much to say here - the two Drag & Drop zones, and what their function is, is pretty straightforward. Menu options do exist, to both change the desired format of BLP, and, if dragging and dropping isn't your thing, you can still do so through the good ol' fashioned file/folder dialog.

Continuing with the theme of mixing simplicity and flexibility - upon starting a new conversion, the application window will expand to show your basic progress bar, and information:

But, those of you who use Windows 7 or 8, that enjoy the progress bar in the taskbar button, don't fear - because that feature will still exist in the new version. So feel free to minimize the app while you're converting.

Once the conversion is done, hopefully you'll see this:

However, if it did run across any misbehaving files, that green checkmark will be replaced with a warning symbol, and a link will appear to allow you to see what files it couldn't convert. Generally speaking though, if you do see such a thing, it's likely to be either files with the wrong extension, or BLP files that are actually patches.

That's all for now! The update should be ready by the end of next week at the very latest. So keep your eyes peeled, either here - or just look for the recently updated addons section!
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08-01-13 06:11 PM by: Digital_Utopia
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