Ok I found out my problem and the solution. I am going to post it here for others who might be experiencing the same problem. Hopefully the rest of the development community is not as dumb as me...but just in case I want to contribute. It took me several hours to figure this out.
1. when you zip your source folder you cannot zip the entire folder. For example if your folder is my channel/source, if you select the "my channel" folder and zip it, it actually creates a zip that is "my channel.zip/my channel/source". The roku then does not recognize the source folder to run your application.
To fix this when zipping your folder open the channel folder, use command click on mac or shift click on the pc to select all the folders inside the root folder and then compress or zip the files that are inside the root folder. On the mac this creates a zip file named "archive.zip". simply change the name from archive to the name you choose, then side load that zip and your channel will work.
I hope that made sense?
Makes sense, and I'm glad you got it sorted. But that's counter to what RokuJoel stated for the Mac. I wonder if different versions of Mac OS treat the zip root differently.
Anyway, here's the cheat sheet version of what good and bad channel zips would look like:
Most importantly, the manifest and source folder has to be at the root. The images folder is more of a convention, because the manifest and brightscript code can point to any resource within any directory within the package. Other folders and subfolders may also exist, if needed.
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