Dr Nic

ChocTop – packaging and deployment of Cocoa applications


I’m getting close to releasing a new Cocoa application, CommitChat, a sexy interface to having conversations for each commit in each watched project in GitHub. It was time to start thinking about packaging and distribution.

The result is a new project for all Cocoa developers, called ChocTop, and a 30-minute tutorial screencast on how to use it. ChocTop is to Cocoa apps what Hoe is to RubyGems; except prettier.

Packaging Cocoa apps

You can package and release Cocoa apps in a number of ways. Each app is actually a folder, so they need some packaging. Zip files are easy and the bonus is they auto-open when people download them. But for me, without a doubt, is the DMG packaging with a custom background image and the embedded symlink to the Applications folder, like the one for CommitChat below.

CommitChat DMG

I’ve always loved it. It made me as a user feel that this piece of software was special. A custom DMG is like a piece of magic.

Now like most magic, its really only magical when you don’t know how its done.

But there in lies a problem. You want to release your own Cocoa software with a beautiful custom DMG but you don’t want to know how to do it. You want the magic, even as a developer, but that means you can’t know how to do it.

And trust me you do NOT want to know how to do it. Ever.