Incidentally, looking for other file extractors, I noticed PeaZip has a hefty number of formats under it's belt. It claims the ability to extract 150 formats. Does this better UniExtract? As PeaZip is maintained by PortableApps.com it would better suit me. I could try it out, but I just thought, as you seem to know a great deal about these processes of how extractors work and such that maybe you could give me your professional opinion please...
Is UniExtract a 'special case' that stands alone in it's field? I'm surprised something as good as this has been left high and dry for the most part. Several dev's have taken it on only to abandon it. Is there any hope for this great app? I've found it invaluable for creating portable apps, it's far easier and less messy than installing every app and copying to a USB drive to check portability.
The theory of operation of the two programs is slightly different.
PeaZip (no offence intended) is essentially a "graphic frontend for multiple "engines" performing archiving, compression, encryption and volume split features":
once set aside the "own" Pea format (which again, with all due respect , is not - yet - relevant) and the nice (but very rarely used) Paq family of compressors, the now not anymore widely used Ace format, and a few other "minor" formats, the large majority of the extractions is done (or can be done) through 7-zip,so it makes more sense (to me) to just use 7-zip and get the - say - 95% of extractions be done by it.
As well, if you need support for the nice ARC format, I would suggest directly using the FreeArc tool.
Additionally PeaZip has rather good (wide and what not) set of compression capabilities AND some of the newish compressors providing an "easy" way to use them as many of these less used compression tools (but also UPX, as an example) simply miss a good, easy UI (or a GUI at all, being only command line).
UniExtract is just an extractor, and an extractor ONLY.
It's approach is "sound" (and that is one of the reasons why LupoSuite, Gora and now SevenOptimus were able to update/better it/what not), at it's core there is the (exceptionally good AND constantly updated) Trid tool by Gabriel Pontello and it's definition files, which are used to identify the file at hand with a rather good level of accuracy.
Then one among a whole lot of "narrow", sometimes obscure, tools is used to actually perform the extractions.
The UniExtract is more "suited" to installers than PeaZip, AFAICT, while Peazip is a good solution for having a "unified" app for uncompression AND compression of archive files.
What somehow changed the rules of the game is IMHO 7-zip , the Author, Igor Pavlov has added to it in the last few years (very often "silently", i.e. without an explicit addition to the docs/site) a huge number of formats not only for archivers but also for installers and for "disk/volume images" (including - recently - some of the .wim ones).
A few years ago, when I had to deal with an unknown file, I would have first thing tried UniExtract on it.
Nowadays, my personal approach in practice is the following (not necessarily a good one, BTW) when I encounter a compressed file (or a self extracting or installer file) or more generally an unknown file:
1) try opening it in 7-zip <- when it cannot open it properly, if it doesn't throw an error right away, often it opens it *somehow*, enough to "peek" into the file and get some info on the compression used
2) if it fails try UniExtract <- getting of course the latest updated version by one or the other good guys like Gora or SevenOptimus
3) if it fails analyze the file with Trid
4) find specific extractors for the filetype identified by Trid
In - say - 90% of cases or more I don't need to go past step 1), very rarely I need to go past step 2).
I do understand how in a perfect world the Uni Extract would be maintained and constantly updated by a "central" single developer (or pool of developers/contributors) but the real world is different (and largely sucks ).
You have to consider how the tool (and yes, IMHO UniExtract is "a 'special case' that stands alone in it's field" ) is a "cross-breed" .
I mean, the large majority of users nowadays use at most three or four compression formats (namely the now getting "obsolete", but still remaining the more "universal" .zip, the .rar (version 4) and (increasingly) the .7z one with some using the .arc), they also actually RUN the stupid SFX's and installers, so the Uni Extract is a "niche" product, only useful to a restricted number of "advanced" users, that - on the other hand - often can provide directly the latest version of very specific extractors and/or are not in the least intimidated by the command line and/or when they use for some reason some less common archive formats do so directly with the "original" tool.
Peazip, on the other hand, is also currently (please, again, this is NOT to be intended as criticizing the project) a largely *unneeded* tool, for the same reasons, 7-zip will cover 95 to 99.98% of common *needs*, FreeArc will cover the 0.01% to 2.50% representing half of the remaining and the rest will be fractioned over a zillion "minor" formats (and possibly the actually really obscure or rare one won't be covered by it).
As I see it, Uni Extract is "better" (because of the Trid approach) and provides a wider support for "installers", Peazip is "better organized" and supported but it represents a "universal compressor" as opposed to an "universal extractor", both provide to the vast majority of users a zillion unneeded features, while providing to a restricted number of users some convenience in automating what this restricted number of users are able to do (and in some cases will need to do anyway) "manually".
Both, from what I can understand, are very good programs, but they are written by programmers (which can be an issue sometimes ), in the sense that the procedure of updating them is not "simple" and we need to have/find the (few) good guys that update/maintain them.
In the same hypothetical "perfect" world they could be "merged" in a single project with a "common" detection engine and a simple, plain support for .ini's (or similar configuration files) allowing even the end user to simply "drop" in the right place an updated .exe/tool/.dll and if needed add/modify the parameters used in the new version, thus making the whole thing more "modular" (more or less the way good ol' BartPE or more recently Winbuilder were setup).
Edited by jaclaz, 09 July 2014 - 04:23 AM.