May 12, 2016
Adobe decommissioned the Extension Manager, their tool for managing 3rd party extensions for Adobe software in 2015. Max at CreativeDo built ZXPInstaller as a replacement to aid the community of extension developers that found themselves handing command line installer scripts to users. Max was looking for design contributions for both the application and the application’s site, so I offered to lend a hand.
I based the design’s maroon color on the maroon in the Extension Manager’s package icon. The application icon is also a reference to the original package icons, with a twist. Every Adobe extension developer knows that the Extension Manager’s method of handling extension packages was a bit rough. As a subtle jab at that history of unreliable deliveries, the package is a bit dented.
The application itself is very simple. Drag a .zxp file (Adobe’s extension format) onto the window and the extension will install. Max built ZXPInstaller on an Adobe command line tool called
ExManCmd. Unfortunatelly, it does not return the most helpful of errors, and as with most Adobe products, errors are pretty common. As part of the upgrade I added human friendly errors to help out end users and made things a little easier to debug.
This was a pretty fun side project, as it let me flex the technical side of my skill set along with the design side. Max hosts the site using GitHub Pages, so I converted it from static HTML to a Jekyll site to take advantage of the Sass and CoffeeScript support. In addition to the development work on the design itself, I spent extra time cleaning up the application development experience by improving the build and debug processes.
I’ve already been able to see the result of my work in action. With ZXPInstaller as one of the recommended installation methods for GuideGuide, the number of support issues I’ve had related to installation has dropped significantly now that users are able to use it.