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Intro

Welcome; I wanted to offer a little "something" back to the XDA community in the hopes that it will benefit others and to show my appreciation to the folks that make XDA the great community that it is.

If you've gotten excited about the idea of cooking your own ROM's, you've probably had to spend several weeks of reading, asking questions, getting acquainted with your facility, and figuring out where you're going to plug your utensils and/or appliances. Now comes the easy part, cooking quality ROM's ... right? It's gotta be simple after that, I mean that was all the hard stuff ... right? Well ...

As any seasoned chef will tell you, the quality of a meal greatly depends on quality ingredients, utensils, and appliances. Ingredients are a personal preference and some chefs can make Macaroni & Cheese taste like the best meal in the world; and how do they accomplish this? In many cases, they use quality utensils and appliances and understand the limitations of them.

Equipping your kitchen with the right tools ensures that you're able to provide quality meals to your patrons - resulting in return visits.



Outro

The goal of this thread is encourage seasoned chefs to share their knowledge of quality tools that they use in their day-to-day activities of ROM cooking.

Some of these tools are free, others have a trial version, and others must be purchased. The goal isn't to promote any one specific tool, it is to provide objective (and hopefully unbiased) reviews of these tools. Lastly, a moderator or senior chef may periodically review and cleanup this thread/post to ensure that it remains on-topic and consistent in format ... so don't take offense; you'll always be credited for your contribution.



Format For Each Post

Take a moment to review existing tool reviews; the goal is to share your experiences in using the tool. The review should contain the following information:
  • Name of the tool (same as in Title of post)
  • Version
  • Author
  • Link to tool
  • Cost (Free, Adware, Trialware, Purchase)
  • Reviewed by [your XDA member name]; in case the post is moved near the top of the thread at a later date.
  • Summary of what the tool does (uses) and any example you can think of.
  • Tips on how to use the tool; things you discovered when using the tool.
  • Potential pitfall (gotcha's) when using the tool; things you discovered when using the tool.
  • Reference threads (optional); links that might offer some additional usage information.
  • No attachments please. Post them in the original thread for the tool.
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23rd March 2010, 02:51 PM |#2  
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List Of Tools To Review
List Of Tools To Review

Here's a list of tools that I'd like to review and add to this thread. The goal is to review the various tools that chefs will often use while preparing their ROMS; any seasoned chefs (aka volunteers)? If so, post your review in the thread.


Any others? Feel free to post a request in the thread or send me a PM.
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23rd March 2010, 02:51 PM |#3  
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Quick Post Index
Quick Post Index

Sorted alphabetically; at least I hope it is.


CAB/OEM Package Converters

CAB2OEM
CAB to OEM to EXT GUI Suite
Package Creator


Device Side Manifest (.DSM) Editors

BuildDSM
DSM Analyzer
DSM Builder
DSM Dependency Dumper
DSM Editor


Editors

EditPad
SciTE
Syn Text Editor
XML Notepad


Graphics (.BMP, .JPG, .PNG, etc.)

GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
IcoFX


Kitchen Porting Tools (SYS, OEM, etc.)

Initflashfiles Hex2Text
SYS Porting Tool For Ervius Kitchen


Process, Registry

FDC Task Manager (aka DotFRED)
Registry Workshop


Resource (.DLL, .EXE, etc.)

Dependency Walker
File Editor Suite
PEinfo
Resource Hacker
ROM Squeezer


Search/Comparison/File Managers

Beyond Compare
Compare It
Directory Opus
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23rd March 2010, 09:32 PM |#4  
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Resource Hacker
Name: Resource Hacker
Version: 3.5.2 beta

Author: Angus Johnson
Link: http://angusj.com/resourcehacker
Cost: Free

Reviewed By: Sous-Chef


Summary/Review:

Resource Hacker is a freeware utility to view, modify, rename, add, delete and extract resources in 32bit Windows executables and resource files (*.res). Cursor, Icon, Bitmap, GIF, AVI, and JPG resource images can be viewed and WAV, MIDI audio resources can be played. Menus, Dialogs, MessageTables, StringTables, Accelerators, Delphi Forms, and VersionInfo resources can be viewed as decompiled resource scripts. Menus and Dialogs can also be viewed as they would appear in a running application.

Resources can be saved as image files (*.ico, *.bmp etc), as script files (*.rc), as binary resource files (*.res), or as untyped binary files (*.bin). Resources can be modified by replacing the resource with a resource located in another file (*.ico, *.bmp, *.res). Dialog controls can also be visually moved and/or resized by clicking and dragging the respective dialog controls prior to recompiling with the internal compiler. Additionally, resources can be added to an application by copying them from external resource files (*.res).


Tips:
  • Always keep a copy of the unaltered file as a backup.


Gotcha's:
  • Even though it is possible to alter the resources, some applications automatically resize controls and dialogs during operation.
  • Some applications may cease to function when the resource file is altered.


Reference Links:

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=511876
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=562645
http://asukal.seesaa.net/article/6114096.html
23rd March 2010, 11:27 PM |#5  
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Directory Opus
Name: Directory Opus
Version: 9.5.3

Author: GP Software
Link: http://www.gpsoft.com.au
Cost: Trialware, Purchase

Reviewed By: ceesheim


Summary/Review:

Directory Opus 9 is a Windows File Manager & Explorer replacement that includes, user-definable file display views, User-definable toolbars, menus, file types, powerful image and file viewers, built-in ZIP and Secure SSL/SSH FTP, easily synchronize files & find duplicates, quick or advanced search and rename functions.

The file manager is extremely useful for moving files between folders, making backup copies of files, viewing pictures and playing sounds, running other utility programs on lists of files, deleting unwanted files and many other "housekeeping" tasks. If you are working with a lot of files in kitchens or Manila, this is a must have.


Tips:
  • Take a few moments to get familiar with the options.
  • Can view .XML , HEX , .TXT , .DOC , .CPR , .PROVXML , .MSCR , .DSM , .RGU And many more
  • In view mode it can tell you if a manila file is a lua or a QTC1 file (in HEX)
  • Download lot of Plugins & Media Capabilities (RTF-Viewer , CSV-Viewer , Source Code Viewer , Postscript-Viewer , RVF File , EXE/DLL Metadata)


Gotcha's:
  • None discovered.


Reference Links:

None.
25th March 2010, 12:06 AM |#6  
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XML Notepad 2007
Name: XML Notepad 2007
Version: 2.5

Author: Microsoft
Link: http://www.microsoft.com/DownLoads/d...displaylang=en
Cost: Free

Reviewed By: Sous-Chef


Summary/Review:

XML Notepad 2007 provides a simple intuitive user interface for browsing and editing XML documents. XML Notepad provide synchronized Tree View with Node Text View for quick editing of node names and values, incremental search (Ctrl+I) in both tree and text views, so as you type it navigates to matching nodes, Cut/copy/paste with full namespace support, drag/drop support for easy manipulation of the tree, even across different instances of XML Notepad and from the file system.

Additionally, XML schema are instantly validate while you edit with errors and warnings shown in the task list window. It includes intellisense on expected elements and attributes and enumerated simple type values, inplace HTML viewer for processing xml-stylesheet processing instructions, built-in XML Diff tool, support for XInclude, dynamic help from XSD annotations, and goto definition to navigate includes and XSD schema information.

It's a must have when working with .XML and .PROVXML files.


Tips:
  • Ensure that .NET Framework v2.0 (or higher) is installed


Gotcha's:
  • None discovered.


Reference Links:

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=519548
25th March 2010, 12:57 PM |#7  
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Field Notes: Beyond Compare
Quote:

Name: Beyond Compare
Version: 3.1.10

Hi Hilaireg Long time no talk

I want to emphasize the usage of Beyond Compare. This is the MOST important tool a chef can own. It will save hours of time. There is no better way to compare new builds and look for what has changed. When properly set up it shows file versions making integration of multiple sets of OEMdrivers a breeze. Swapping sys files is never easier as you get to see dates of creation and can easily move files from one set to the other with two clicks.

There is one thing not mentioned as far as cons. Using it on initflashfiles.dat is not recommended. Every time I have done so major issues followed by a restore of the original files.

Also when using beyond compare be SURE to set it to send files to the recycle bin. If not it will permanently delete them
16th April 2010, 10:55 PM |#8  
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GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
Name: GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
Version: 2.6

Author: The GIMP Team
Link: http://www.gimp.org
Cost: Free

Reviewed By: chrisjaffe


Summary/Review:

GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc. You can create and edit almost any image file including: jpg, png, gif, animated gif's, ico, psd, raw, tif, xcf and more.

GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.


Tips:
  • Make sure to use the latest version. Some older versions are harder to use because of the modular style of the program.


Gotcha's:
  • The tool palettes are separate windows. The developers have moved to make a more unified experience but there is still room to improve.


Reference Links:

None.
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27th March 2010, 09:45 AM |#9  
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EditPad
Name: EditPad
Version: Lite

Author: Just Great Software Co. Ltd.
Link: http://www.editpadpro.com/editpadlite.html
Cost: Free (Lite), Purchase (Pro)

Reviewed By: Laurentius26


Summary/Review:

EditPad Lite is a general-purpose text editor, designed to be small and compact, yet offer all the functionality you expect from a basic text editor. EditPad Lite works with Windows 98, ME, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista, and 7.

Additionally, You can open as many files in EditPad at a time as you want and change between the open files by clicking on their tabs without the hassle of overlapping windows. EditPad reads and writes UNIX (LF only) and Mac (CR only) text files (in addition to DOS/Windows CR+LF files, of course). EditPad natively supports Unicode text files and text files encoded in a variety of legacy code pages. EditPad supports all Windows and ISO-8859 code pages, plus a wide selection of DOS, KOI8 and EBCDIC code pages.

This means EditPad can edit any text file, whether it was saved on a Windows or Linux computer, an old DOS PC or an IBM mainframe. EditPad fully supports double byte character systems (DBCS) so you can edit texts written in Far East languages, such as Chinese, Japanese or Korean, as easily as those written in European languages.

EditPad is a very handy editor for viewing/editing .rgu, .dat, .xml, .html, and multiple formats - a must have for your kitchen.


Tips:
  • If you run EditPad again when there is already an instance running, the file(s) you wish to edit will be opened by the existing EditPad window. This means there will be at most one EditPad window open, which will save you from a lot of task switching. Of course, if you do need more instances, simply pick View|New editor from the menu.
  • EditPad puts an icon in the system tray that remains visible, even if EditPad is closed. This way you have easy and fast access to EditPad, without the need to keep it running all the time.


Gotcha's:
  • None discovered.


Reference Links:

None.
28th March 2010, 03:24 PM |#10  
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DSM Editor
Name: DSM Editor
Version: 1.7

Author: ervius
Link: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=523139
Cost: Free

Reviewed By: Sous-Chef


Summary/Review:

In early kitchen and ROM cooking, chefs used to delete Device Side Manifest (.DSM) files from OEM packages that resided in the .\PACKAGES and/or .\EXT folder. Other chefs would delete the .DSM file and create an empty version of a .DSM file as a placeholder. As we learned more about the Windows Mobile, we discovered that .DSM files contained pertinent information that was used during the compilation of a ROM and should be properly managed. DSM Editor is a utility to view and modify components of a .DSM file .DSM such as certificates, dependencies, shadow order, and list of modules/files.

A Device Side Manifest file (.DSM) describes the contents of a package and has the name <GUID>.DSM. Each package has its own .DSM file. The .DSM file is a binary file and the format may change at any time. The .DSM file is created by parsing a package definition file, package shadow file, and a build manifest file. Each item specified within a build manifest file is used to determine the item's file type.

The .DSM file contains the following information:
  • Public key certificate data used for signature validation.
  • Version information which includes the previous version of a package so as to create a delta package between an older or baseline package and a new package.
  • Package GUID
  • Dependency GUID information
  • File names and file information in the form of raw file size and original VBase for MODULES so they can be re-based and differentiated during an update.


Tips:
  • Always keep a copy of the unaltered file as a backup.
  • A .DSM file should contain a complete (exact) list of all modules/files found in the package folder.
  • The .RGU file should be excluded from the .DSM file.
  • Kitchen-specific files should be excluded from the .DSM file.


Gotcha's:
  • Hidden (H) and/or System (S) attributes may need to be cleared (ATTRIB -s -h -r) from .DSM files before they can be edited.
  • Requires .NET Framework.


Reference Links:

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=520009
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