Akeeba eXtract Wizard has been discontinued

Akeeba eXtract Wizard has been discontinued since November 2018. This article explains why and what are your alternative.

We'd like to let you know that we discontinued Akeeba eXtract Wizard since November 2018. There are no plans to create a new version in the future.

Why we discontinued it

Akeeba eXtract Wizard was a desktop product, written in a different programming language than the rest of our software. The latest incarnation of Akeeba eXtract Wizard was written in C#, a language in the .NET family. The reasons were practical:

  • PHP, the main programming language we use in the company, has non-existing desktop support. for mass-distributed software aimed at beginners.
  • The previous programming language we were using, FreePascal Lazarus, lacked support for modern cryptography used in JPS archives and had started lagging terribly in supporting modern operating systems, to the point that the macOS port was unusable and the Windows and Linux ports looked like they are from the early 2000's. This made it necessary to write the software from scratch on a different programming language.
  • Akeeba eXtract Wizard only had one developer who can only speak so many programming languages. If they were to learn C++ for a Linux port and Swift for a macOS port it'd take 1-2 years of doing nothing else. Clearly, not an option we could pursue.
  • No, they don't speak <insert your favourite language here>. See above.
  • No, JavaScript was NOT a good fit for extracting backup archives unless we're talking about using Node.JS which has the same problem as PHP: non-existing desktop support for mass-distributed software aimed at beginners.

We're talking about Yet Another Implementation of the backup extraction engine, in a different programming language that has different assumptions and quirks. Most notably, there is no error reporting when Windows decides to NOT create a folder or file because the pathname contains invalid characters or exceeds 255 characters including the drive letter. Working around those issues was possible, but it'd require "going native" and giving up the cross-platform abstractions afforded by C#. Therefore fixing the biggest source of confusion was going to require a significant amount of resources we could not afford.

We also saw that there were several cases that perfectly valid JPS encrypted backup archives were reported as broken by Akeeba eXtract Wizard but worked just fine with Kickstart. It appeared to be a bug outside our code, to the best of our ability to debug it. As any cryptographer will tell you, rolling your own crypto ranges from outright idiotic to incredibly dangerous. Barring that option, we would have to look fora different crypto library... but none was available that supported all the features we needed and didn't cost an arm and a leg.

Moreover, we had quite a lot of people complaining that they had to install an implementation of the .NET framework, especially on Linux and macOS which don't come with it by default. The objections ranged from ideological to misinformed (people equating the .NET libraries to malware, despite our explanation of what it is and why you need to install it). We even had two folks who demanded that we learn different programming languages for each supported platform and port our software bug-free, overnight to them and of course release these versions free of charge. Let's just say that these comments did not help make the case for maintaining eXtract Wizard...

Another issue was the advent of .NET Core. This is bound to replace the "classic" .NET framework and it's where Microsoft has put all its development effort. Currently, it only supports desktop applications on Windows. There is no port of the GUI implementations, that we know of, for Linux and macOS. This means that just like with FreePascal Lazarus a few years ago we're stuck with an outdated language that receives little to no bug fixes and falls behind supporting modern operating systems.

At the same time we knew that Akeeba Restore -- the archive extraction engine powering Akeeba Kickstart, the integrated restoration in Akeeba Backup and Akeeba Solo and even Joomla! Update -- was rock solid and worked with every single valid archive. Error reporting from PHP is awesome and we can present fairly sensible error messages. Even when we can't, the error messages and the debug log let us help people. Moreover, setting up a local server with fairly modern versions of Apache and PHP has become dead simple even for beginners with packages like XAMPP, MAMP and WampServer. Not to mention that the main application of every computer nowadays is the browser.

If you put everything together it comes down to a choice. We can either expend resources trying to improve eXtract Wizard with an outcome that's not guaranteed, at the expense of not improving our main software, a solution where everyone suffers to an extent and damages our reputation. Or we can tell everyone to use Kickstart, a well-tested solution that works with minimal push-back and mostly from people who don't realise that using Kickstart IS NOT the same as restoring a site. Easy choice. Akeeba eXtract Wizard was thus discontinued.

What you can use instead

If you are using the ZIP archive format you can use PKZIP for Windows or WinZIP. These are the only two desktop applications which correctly support multi-part archives that adhere to the ZIP standard (a.k.a. the APPNOTE.TXT document). We also had success with 7-Zip. All other implementations use the InfoZIP library which does NOT support standards-compliant multi-part archives (InfoZIP uses its own, incompatible, multi-part ZIP specification). If you ever wondered why multipart archives are most likely to be RAR than ZIP, that's the reason: two incompatible standards for multi-part ZIP archives.

If you are using JPA or JPS (or simply not using Windows) you can always use Akeeba Kickstart to extract your backup archives. There are two ways to do that.

Most users will need to install a local development web server. The easiest way is to use XAMPP (Windows, Linux, macOS), MAMP (Windows, macOS) or WampServer (Windows). There are other similar solutions. Then you need to put the backup archive and Kickstart on the web root of your local server. Run Kicksart on your browser. DO NOT click the "Run the Installer" button. Just look at the web root of your local server. All your files are extracted.

AT WORST, YOU CAN USE Kickstart ON A SUBDIRECTORY OR SUBDOMAIN OF YOUR LIVE SITE. Just DO NOT click the "Run the Installer" button! Remember, Kickstart only extracts the backup archive. It DOES NOT -- REPEAT: DOES NOT -- restore your site. Your site is restored by the installer, called ANGIE, which is included inside the backup archive. If you do not click the "Run the Installer" button the installer (ANGIE) does not run, your backup is not restored, only its files have been extracted. This is literally printed on your screen every single time you run Kickstart. Thank you very much for reading the content of that box and understanding it instead of dismissing it without a second thought.

Advanced users can also use Kickstart from the command line. Run php ./kickstart.php from the directory where you have put your kickstart.php file for instructions, where php is the PHP CLI executable of your version of PHP.

If you are a subscriber with access to a Professional version of any of our backup products you can also use Akeeba UNiTE for automated extraction and restoration of your backup archives.

Both Kickstart and UNiTE use Akeeba Restore, the archive extraction engine written in PHP which is also our reference implementation for extracting backup archives taken with Akeeba Backup.

Can I still download Akeeba eXtract Wizard?

No. The whole point is that it does not work reliably. We don't want you to use software that's not working right.

Will you make a new version of Akeeba eXtract Wizard?

No. We already explained why.

Just use such and such programming language instead; it's dead simple!

Fantastic! This means that you, having a head start in learning that language, can implement a software identical to Akeeba eXtract Wizard in it, distribute it free of charge and do all the support for it. Thank you! Where's your GitHub repo with your implementation of eXtract Wizard so we can link to it?

But I need Akeeba eXtract Wizard!

No, you don't need it. You only need Kickstart. The fact that y'all can extract backup archives despite Akeeba eXtract Wizard having been broken in one way or another since 2012 proves the point.

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