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Development setup

This site focuses on getting your work ingame, as well as all aspects of addon, pbos as a subset, development.


  • Correct setup to use binarize to track down errors and improve the quality.
  • Best addon design for easy recognition, updating and quality.
  • Dev setup to work with least time and resource effort.

Related topics

Unpacking Armed Assault / Arma 2


For non simple addons you have references to BI configs, textures or proxies. More specially the BI namespace CA. Binarze is trying to locate these references during the optimization process. In other words without these files available binarize is unable to do its job properly.

The models referenced by other models or wrp files can be both MLOD or ODOL format.


Virtual partition P

We will create a virtual partition P: to map your arma folder.
This is required by the BI toolset and allows easy access to the arma folder.
It is recommended to create a link on your desktop or quicklaunch bar to P.

As a sidenote, at the same time you should create one central folder with
all your arma related tools in it. Map this one to T.

Are two Arma installations necessary

The BI tools create by default a separate folder/location called ArmAWork. This may or may not be needed.


  • Two separate folder/locations to keep your play-install clean.
  • Duplication of files may be needed for two separate.
    Possible to avoid with Junctions (dead link), if both are on the same HDD.
  • Both play and dev combined in one folder avoids messing around.
    You only need to keep your folder structure well designed.
    You can ensure that only PBOs, and NO unpacked data, are loaded via

Done via ArmA: Startup Parameters.

Create P drive

  1. Create a file called mapGameFolderToP.bat.
Add the line and adapt the path your arma folder:
subst p: "D:\Games\arma" Move the file to the autostart location. IE (XP32b):
C:\Documents and Settings\YourUserAccount\Start Menu\Programs\Startup or C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

Extract files from the PBOs

There are several PBO tools out there to do the job.
Personally I recommend you ExtractPbo.exe (dead link) made by mikero
as part of the PBOdll suite (dead link).

.\ExtractPbo.exe -a -d -y .\pathToArmA\arma\addons\PboFileName.pbo

Do this for each PBO in .\arma\addons and all PBOs in .\arma\dta.

Move the files in the appropriate place:


The folders of the unpacked PBOs should be moved to .\arma to look like:


For the dta PBOs:


One Click Complete Extraction

mikero has built a batch to extract all Arma pbos from BI in one go to the P drive: InstallArmA2P (dead link)

You find the batch in the files section (dead link), as well as the dll and extractPbo.exe.

Addon development

Use namespaces

In Operation Flashpoint the engine rebuild the file-folder structure in the memory from the folder naming of the addons: .\ofp\addons\MyAddon.pbo. Results in the path in the memory: MyAddon\*.

Armed Assault / Arma 2 support the namespace or also called (pbo)prefix.
It is not required to use it, yet it is BAD practice not to use it!
The namespace is defined in a file called $PBOPREFIX$.
The $PBOPREFIX$ site directly in your addons location: .\myAddon\$PBOPREFIX$.
The $PBOPREFIX$ is basically a text file with no file extension.

It allows you to name your pbo independent from the future in memory structure:

PBO location and name: .\arma\myMod\addons\myTag_PboName_2009_06_02.pbo
$PBOPREFIX$: x\myMod\addons\myPboName

Create a PBOPREFIX file

$PBOPREFIX$ has been superseded in later tools by $PBOPREFIX$.txt for hopefully obvious reasons. Both names remain compatible and achieve same result.

1. New file -> text file. 2. Rename to $PBOPREFIX$. No file extension!

  Make sure your windows OS displays all file extensions.

3. Open the $PBOPREFIX$ with your favorite text editor. 4. Add your namespace:


Or better (see more info below):


5. No newline, no space before or after the namespace!
6. Save the file.
7. Move the $PBOPREFIX$ file to the root of your addon: .\myAddon\$PBOPREFIX$.
NOT in a subfolder of your addon!


  • Different pbo to memory naming (the later is the namespace).
  • Use version/date tag for the pbo and have same inner namespace without it for every release.
  • Define your own home via the prefix: myMod\.. instead of just myAddon,
    or worse to use the BI CA namespace - NEVER do this!
  • Avoid addon (model/texture/sound) path conflicts with your own namespace.

In addition it allows you to utilize it for a few design and development tricks:

Develop with unpacked data

Note that the system also works for non development, yet it is not recommended.

Binarized files loaded faster and give better performance. PBOs are needed to have the verifySignatures system work.


Let's start with the benefits this time:

  • Only re-pack PBOs if you are adding new files (more details to below).
  • Ability to modify unpacked data during runtime. Readable; always possible
    to modify a file's content (except configs); modifications available live
    or via mission restart.
  • Nicely manageable system to decide which addons are active in your dev setup:
    • Have both PBO and unpacked data to have the unpacked data loaded.
    • Delete the PBO to have it disabled.
    • Create PBO again to have the unpacked data loaded.
  • If you have both your dev env combined with binarize env, you can easily
    binarize your addons during dev to see, if that works or check the log
    for errors.

In short:

  1. You work with the unpacked data.
  2. You create a PBO to have it active.
  3. You repack a PBO if you add new files (and restart the game).
  4. You binarize it in the same setup to get the log and to have it available
    optimized once (the current version/release is) complete.
  5. You can ensure that only PBOs, and NO unpacked data, are loaded via
-noFilePatching in ArmA2

Done via ArmA: Startup Parameters.

Mikero provides an excellent pbo and rapify toolset (dead link) to make the handling very enjoyable.


The key to understand that if you have $PBOPREFIX$ defined, the engine looks
for the data unpacked in the same place:

$PBOPREFIX$ contains: x\myMod\addons\myPboName
The engine looks at .\arma\x\myMod\addons\myPboName for the data.

If it finds data there, it will replace all data in the namespace,
x\myMod\addons\myPboName here, with the unpacked data found at the path.


  1. You are recommended to use a subfolder with one char for your dev env. x is easy to type.
  2. You are very much advised to use your ofpec tag as namespace in the next level.
  3. To be able to have both PBO and unpacked data in the same folder, to have the string addons as 3rd folder level.
  4. Finally PBO name is the last folder level.


You can have the PBO and unpacked data in the same directory. This makes it easier to re-pack or delete the PBO if needed. At the same time it can become messy with lots of PBOs in one folder.