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WAR files are simply ZIP files with a renamed extension. I'd like to configure a compression program to handle these (on double-clicking the file), but mine doesn't recognize them unless I rename them to .ZIP. I have setup Windows file associations, but my file compression program just wants to 'add them to archive' instead of opening them.

Which compression program would you recommend?

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Far (and maybe other OFMs) usually ignores the extension and tries looking for an archive before handing the file to the OS for launching with the associated application. Has nice consequences for anything-that-is-zip-in-disguise, but unintended consequences for things like .docx. – Joey Aug 27 '09 at 9:19
Amm, yeah, handles :) – ripper234 Aug 27 '09 at 9:26
up vote 5 down vote accepted

WinRAR and the open source 7-Zip will extract any file you throw at it, regardless of file extension. Personally, I prefer WinRAR (mainly because of 7-Zip's clunky UI, but this may have changed since I have last used it) over 7-Zip, but i know many people swear by 7-Zip

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Windows cannot do exactly what you are after. The whole purpose of file extensions is to assign each unique extension to a program to open them. In theory, every file extension is a completely different format and therefore a program should not be set as a 'catch-all' for file extensions. Besides, what if you have a .zip file renamed to .jpg? What happens then?

What you could do though is to have an icon in your quick launch bar and drag-and-drop the files onto the program. If the program supports it, they should then launch and extract the file (or do whatever they do with them).

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7-Zip does indeed have a less-than-stellar GUI, but it opens even more things than WinRAR. For example, 7-Zip can open most EXE installers (eg NSIS, WISE, etc.), MSIs, and even most regular EXEs (shows the segments and resources). – Synetech Apr 18 '10 at 16:06

I think 7-zip will be able to manage such stuff.

enter image description here

All compressed files have header information describing the compression used.
Smart compression tools work with that header information.

If your compression program uses file extensions to figure such things out,
drop it -- 7-zip will probably handle the format you are working with.

Update on the comment:

From your question notes I presume you refer to the Sun *war*, Web Archive format.
I have successfully opened filename.war archived with this format
using a 7-zip installation on Windows XP.

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7-zip doesn't do it. – ripper234 Aug 27 '09 at 9:29

I find Izarc has support for a huge number of compression formats including .war files. It integrates nicely with the windows shell and come in a portable flavour too! (IZarc2Go)

See here:

Izarc supports a far higher number of formats than 7Zip and most other archive software. From the website here is a list of features:

IZArc is the best freeware archive utility supporting many archive formats like: 7-ZIP, A, ACE, ARC, ARJ, B64, BH, BIN, BZ2, BZA, C2D, CAB, CDI, CPIO, DEB, ENC, GCA, GZ, GZA, HA, IMG, ISO, JAR, LHA, LIB, LZH, MDF, MBF, MIM, NRG, PAK, PDI, PK3, RAR, RPM, TAR, TAZ, TBZ, TGZ, TZ, UUE, WAR, XXE, YZ1, Z, ZIP, ZOO. With a modern easy-to-use interface, IZArc provides support for most compressed and encoded files, as well as access to many powerful features and tools. It allows you to drag and drop files from and to Windows Explorer, create and extract archives directly in Windows Explorer, create multiple archives spanning disks, creating self-extracting archives, repair damaged zip archives, converting from one archive type to another, view and write comments and many more. IZArc has also build-in multilanguage support.

With IZArc you can open CD image files like ISO, BIN, CDI and NRG. It is also possible to convert such files from one type to another (BIN to ISO, NRG to ISO).

If you need to send large files to your colleagues, friends or customers who may not have archiving tool you can easily create self-extracting archive that can be extracted by simple double click.

IZArc can be configured to run your preferred Anti-Virus scanner when you open any archives.

IZArc supports 256-bit AES encryption to secure your data.

IZArc is integrated in Windows so you can perform all archiving operations by using right-click menus in Windows Explorer.

If you have broken archives IZArc can help you to repair them with ease.

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Try ALzip. ALZip support 36 file formats. This means, ALZip can extract almost all the archives from usual to unusual.

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I found that the so-often-mentioned Total Commander is great to go inside Java archives. Even if the file is not associated as a zip-file, by pressing CTRL-ENTER you enter the archive and can "navigate" in it, even if you have several levels of zip-like archives embedded.

It's great for J2EE applications, as you can drill down into an EAR file, then a WAR file inside the EAR, then a JAR file inside the \WEB-INF\lib directory of the WAR ... And if you edit a file inside an archive (say the web.xml inside \WEB-INF\ in the WAR), when you go back up, Total Commander will detect the change, recompress the WAR with the edited file, and as you continue to go up, recompress the EAR with the updated WAR.

Makes "quick & dirty" editing of J2EE applications a breeze! I love it!

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If you are using Windows, then right click the .WAR file. Goto Properties, and on the General Tab displayed, press the Change button next to 'Open with'. From there select whatever Zip program you use and press OK. You have now associated your WAR files with your compression program, so that double clicking on them will open them inside your compression program.

The properties box should now look something like this:

alt text

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You've misunderstood the question. I have associated the WAR extension with jZip, but it still won't open it. – ripper234 Aug 27 '09 at 9:25
My apologies, it was not explicitly stated as such in the original question. – Szetak Aug 27 '09 at 9:29
True, I didn't formulate it well enough. Fixed. – ripper234 Aug 27 '09 at 9:31
@ripper234, As an aside, I see 7-zip associated on that screen-shot (not jZip) -- these are two different tools. – nik Aug 27 '09 at 11:39
Yeah, I had 7-zip to hand, but alas not jZip. – Szetak Aug 27 '09 at 11:42

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