So... I posted on twitter (trying the #eprdctn folk) looking for an archiving utility on the Mac that has the same sort of feature set as WinZip. Clearly 140 characters wasn't enough space for me to explain myself. So, here goes…
I teach EPUB creation to people a lot of the time. Mostly people in publishing. Most of the time, those people are not going to be hardcore EPUB hackers. What we teach is the basics of how an EPUB is put together. That means understanding that the mimetype file needs to be uncompressed and first and why. We've found, over the last six years, that understanding what goes on at that basic level makes understanding everything else simpler. These are generally editorial folk who will need to (for example) unzip the file, add a marketing page and then rezip it. They're smart people and we want to make sure they understand what they're doing. I strongly believe that publishers and anyone else creating eBooks are going to do a much better job in terms of quality if they understand what they're doing properly.
That's the background.
When I work with people on a Windows platform, we use WinZip or JZip because they both allow the storage settings of a file to be controlled individually so we can say "add the mimetype file but make sure that it's uncompressed". And, because they are familiar with WinZip it's only a little step to learn how to add an uncompressed file. That means they can concentrate on the EPUB file itself and the important learning outcome will generally happen.
Now, on the Mac I use the shell (I'm a UNIX gee, sue me). And I introduce the students to things like EPUB-Zip (I still think we should have a tool that uses the package file to drive the process - avoids all sorts of errors; but I digress). So… I've looked at every GUI zip tool on the Mac that I can find and not one of them allows me to choose file storage settings on a per file basis in a simple way. WinZip for Mac is particularly depressing in its lack of features. That means that the actual learning outcome I'm after (mimetype must be added uncompressed and why) is obscured by the fact that I need to teach people some unfamiliar software that actually hides what's happening.
So, I thought I would open myself up to the wisdom of crowds.