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Compact Pro
Compact pro icon.png
Developer(s) Bill Goodman, Cyclos
Stable release 1.52 / 1995
Operating system Mac OS
Type File Compressor
License Shareware
Website Compact Pro

Compact Pro is a software data compression utility for archiving and compressing files on the Apple Macintosh platform. It was a major competitor to StuffIt in the early 1990s, producing smaller archives in less time, as well as being distributed via shareware which greatly helped its popularity. StuffIt 3.0 "fought back" with an even more powerful compression algorithm, a shareware version called StuffIt Lite with most of the same features, including self-extracting archive creation, and the freeware StuffIt Expander which could decompress StuffIt archives and CompactPro archives. Compact Pro maintained a niche among loyal users and as a preparation tool for Cyclos's "Smaller Installer" delivery package (which was notably used by Ambrosia Software), but disappeared from the market by the late 1990s. It is no longer supported.

Compact Pro sported a clean interface and a variety of features that made it much nicer than contemporary (early 90s) versions of StuffIt. Some of the simpler, yet useful, features were the ability to extract everything from an archive by double-clicking on it with the Option key held down, and that Compact Pro recognized and automatically converted BinHex formatted files back into native format. Compact Pro also featured an easy-to-use system for splitting files into parts to fit on floppy disks, a feature that most such systems implemented in an external program, if at all.

Compact Pro also included the ability to produce self-extracting archives. Although this was becoming common in archivers at the time, its particular implementation was notable because the extractor "stub" code was quite small at about 18kB (compared to StuffIt at 38kB). In an era of 14400 bit/s modems, this was a worthwhile savings. Many considered even this to be too large to bother with, and there were a number of small third-party utilities to strip the stub off from an existing archive. Compact Pro's stub could also expand files that had been split into parts, a rare feature at the time.

Normal archives created with Compact Pro use the .cpt file extension, while self-extracting versions used .sea. File extensions are not normally needed on the Mac, but were commonly used on archives because they would typically be stored on some other system that would normally require them (PCs for instance). These files were generally stored in MacBinary format on such machines, however, making the extension somewhat superfluous.

Users were able to uncompress Compact Pro archives within MS-Dos/Windows based PCs using the ExtractorPC utility from Sylos. This utility runs in MS-DOS and was helpful as a cross platform tool.

Compact Pro was unequaled by any other compression utility in its preservation of HFS metadata, such as creation dates, labels, and other data found in the 16 byte long HFileInfo which HFS associated with each file.

External links

  • Compression Wars — in this article the compression and speed of Compact Pro (referred to as "Compactor", the name for an early version) are clearly superior to StuffIt. It is over twice as fast decompressing a StuffIt archive as StuffIt itself, and even faster on its own files.
  • Compact Pro 1.52 — a similar review showing even more dramatic differences in archive size, as well as Compact Pro's ability to display custom self-extracting notices.
  • macutils, converts between different Macintosh file encodings; supposedly can unpack Compact Pro archives
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