A New Course on Adobe CEP Panels: Native Installers and Automation!

Davide Barranca —  — 10 Comments

After Adobe Photoshop HTML Panels Development, I’ve now published a new Course, titled “The Ultimate Guide to Native Installers and Automated Build Systems”!

For which title the gods of software development and copywriting will forgive me.

In the business of Adobe HTML Panels, sooner or later you’ll ask yourself: “how the heck do I do… whatever it must be done to let my customers run my software on their Computers?”
The typical stream of consciousness is as follows.

I know I know: it’s just a matter of moving a folder to the right place, isn’t it? And perhaps few extra assets here and there… of course, I don’t want other developers to reverse engineer my own code, so it must be protected somehow. OK, I forgot signing and timestamping. And Code Certificates: should I buy one? Which one? Do they all work the same? I’ve heard that some classy people build Native Installers, like Apple and Windows programs with nice graphic interfaces, that defeat Gatekeeper and SmartScreen security warnings like a pro! Gee, do I have to go through all this, by hand, all the time? Each time I change my code, on each product? For real?

Stream of consciousness ends on a sad note.
Hey, look at that! (Spring from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons plays in background)

This is what the cool guys are doing. Type a command, and look at things that build themselves.

What is looping above is a sample project, including:

  • Input:
    • HTML Panel
    • Multiplatform Photoshop Plugin as .plugin and .8bf files (optional).
    • Readme documentation as a .pdf file (optional).
  • Output
    • Signed and Timestamped Panel folder with:
      • .js files protected with advanced obfuscation algorithms.
      • .jsx files exported as .jsxbin with different advanced obfuscation algorithms.
    • Zipped version for convenience.
    • Hybrid Extension as a .zxp file, ready for submission on Adobe Add-ons.
    • Mac .dmg package, that in turn contains:
      • a .pkg native installer,
      • an uninstaller application,
      • the .pdf documentation.
    • Windows .exe native installer that deploys Panel, Photoshop Plugin and Documentation
      • Uninstaller provided in Windows’ Control Panel.
    • Both platforms’ native installers are signed with paid Code Certificates to comply with Windows and macOS security policies.

After many years of trial and errors, I’ve finally settled to the above setup for my own commercial products, which takes 20 seconds of computer work to automatically build all the above. The final result looks like that, first on Mac:

Then on Windows:

The Course

How to get there? I’ve explained it all, step by step, in The Ultimate Guide to Native Installers and Automated Build Systems, my new Course!

It comes as a PDF ebook, bundled with the entire Sample Project code – both the dummy Panel and assets, plus the automation.

The course draws the big picture first, aka what needs to be done; then shows you how to manually perform each step, why, suggesting best practice and which software to use; finally, it teaches you how to write and customize the code to build the entire automation pipeline.



Does the Course apply to Photoshop only?
I’ve used PS as my Adobe app of choice, but no, the course applies to every CEP-enabled app you’re developing extensions for.

Mac, Windows or both?
I’m on Mac: it’s the only platform that allows you to build both Mac and Windows installers; yet the automation code can run on Windows as well, with the exception of the Mac installers part.

Does the bundle include Code Certificates?
No. On the one side, paid Code Certificates are strongly suggested but optional. On the other side, I could not buy them in your place! In fact, it took me quite some time and effort to acquire them just for myself.

Does the Course cover Panels development?
This one is about installers and automation only. If you want the Big One (300 pages, 3 hours of videotutorials, 28 sample Panels code), head to the Adobe Photoshop HTML Panels Development Course.

Why there’s a 1 in the cover?
You have a sharp eye! I plan to expand the collection with more specific and smaller Courses like this one, in the future. Feel free to suggest topics you’d like to see covered in the comments! And yes, I have a 🦊 as the Terminal prompt, isn’t it cute?

Thank you!

Over the years, I’ve always posted articles on this blog as a way to give back to the developers’ community what I’ve picked up myself in the first place – from Forums, chats, etc. Alas, we live in a (very) material and a (very) demanding world: projects like this one are fundamental for me to sustain my business and my family – and as a consequence maintain and update this blog too.
Thank you in advance for your support! 🙏🏻It is really appreciated.

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10 responses to A New Course on Adobe CEP Panels: Native Installers and Automation!

  1. Just got it! I have created a system for creating installations for mac & pc but I am pretty sure your job will be better, that’s why I bought it! Support and admire your work!

  2. Does this have additional information beyond what is already contained in the HTML Panel course? Or does the larger HTML Panel course already contain all of this same information?
    BTW, your HTML Panel course in very good and I recommend it to anyone starting out with panel building.

    • Hi Damon, the mothership course has a section on installers – which covers not only Native but also mentions different techniques (scripted installers, etc), as you know. This new book goes much more in-depth about the ideas around installers, whether you should apply Code Certificates, how to properly use each third-party software to build them, code obfuscation. Plus, the entire automation walkthrough, which is exclusive to this course. The idea is that with these smaller, cheaper books (plural, i.e. I plan to write more of them, time permitting) will branch from the main course and dig deeper into a subject, possibly in an even more hands-on kind of way. I hope this answers your question!

  3. Wasib Qureshi May 26, 2018 at 3:34 AM

    Hey Davide,
    Can I build panels for Adobe After Effects & Premiere also or this is just for Photoshop?
    (Building plugin for after effects is a huge task in visual studio).

    • Hi Wasib, it works for panels for every Adobe application – actually it would work even not for panels altogether, but for every kind of file/folders you may want to deploy 🙂

  4. Hi Davide,
    Does this let me build products which will work with the future updates of PS including the latest one CC2019?


  5. I just develoed my first panel and I am frustrated with Adobe’s upload process (better: the documentation of said process) to a point that I think about getting this book to be able to safely publish and monetize my panel. I have some pre-sale questions:
    1. Does this book show me how to deploy my panel plus the AiHostAdapter plug-in as a hybrid extension which I can then upload to Adobe AND create Win/Mac installers to sell directly?
    2. Can I include an option to exclude the AiHostAdapter installation for the user to choose whether they like to install plug-ins or not? (my panel offers manual refreshs with a click as an alternative to the event-driven refresh)
    3. Do I need additional paid software to follow your instructions (except for a paid signature if I choose to go that route)?

    Also I wanted to thank you for all the information you provide for free here and on the forums. You helped a lot with getting an understanding of how the extensions world works in general.

    • Hi Mervyn,

      1. On Packages (Mac) you have access to System folders, e.g., Library/Application Support/etc. and /Applications, so if AiHostAdapter needs to go there, then you’re set. For InnoSetup (Windows), this is the list of folder tokens.

      2. I’ve never tried optional components. You may want to look at this doc page for Packages, and here for InnoSetup.

      3. No, you don’t: both InnoSetup and Packages are free. I use also DMG-Canvas (which is $15) because I like .dmg better than .pkg on Mac, but it is completely optional. I also use IconSlate ($4.99) for building custom icons, but it’s completely optional as well.

      Hope this helps!

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