February 3, 2007

How to create a PAD file

Avangate writes "If you're a software author, you're probably familiar with those never ending requests and the need of updating the info on your programs, over and over again. The Association of Shareware Professionals (ASP) also thought of this and decided to do something about it. That's how the Portable Application Description (PAD) came about.

This standard was created to simplify the information synchronization between developers and their promoters. PAD files allow for all the software information to be updated from a single location on the developer's website.

Here are some details about the PAD standard:

  • PAD contains the most important and frequently requested information on a software program, all in one place. Many download sites demand and support it;
  • PAD uses the XML web technology, which means data can be easily extracted by any XML toolkit;
  • As a webmaster, you get all the needed information, just by using an XML extractor, without having to contact the author
  • Now, if you want to add some extra information in the PAD, you simply insert additional fields, by creating HTML forms;

The PAD file needs to go in two places:

  • Inside a ZIP file, from where anyone distributing your software can extract it and retrieve the information. You can include the PAD files inside the ZIP as PAD_FILE.XML.
  • On your website. Don't use a version number in the link, as it's important to use an address that won't change, because some sites are automatically checking PAD files for changes, updating their lists. Remember that many download sites ask for the URL of your PAD file as they import all the information contained in it.

Other facts:

  • PAD file generators are free. Here's a link where you can download some of them: http://pad-files.qarchive.org/
  • When you generate a PAD file, fill in all the fields. Failing to do so will generate incomplete information that will be displayed as such by vendors. PAD files are used to increase your shareware sales, so you should fill out everything;
  • You need to provide a URL in the PAD file that points back to the file, because they're used for automatically updating the information.
  • To make sure your PAD files are working properly, you have to validate them. Visit this website to learn more about how to validate PAD files: http://www.padspec.org/validate.php.

To promote your software and submit it to download sites, you need to create a PAD file. First install a PAD generator, next follow these steps (I've used PADGen):

1. Complete all the fields regarding your company and the contact person. This makes it easier to be contacted and it also increases your website credibility. It's very important to have the company URL and e-mail address, as most likely, vendors will contact you this way.

2. Fill in all the details regarding the program you want to sell: its name, version, release date and type, select the languages and also the operating systems that it supports.

Additionally, by selecting the Configure tab, you can select alternative languages then fill in all the description fields in the selected language.

3. Fill in all the description fields. Some websites may have a certain maximum number of characters they display, so better fill in all of them, respecting the number of characters suggested. Also, avoid using characters like: " ; ", " / " "," ", " * " etc. because some software sites may not display them correctly.

4. Complete all the fields regarding the URLs where clients or vendors can download the program. Point out the URL where more information can be found about the program and where the program's icon is displayed. Your icon should have the standard 32X32 size, and be in GIF, JPG or PNG format, as browsers don't know how to display ICO files.

5. Include the distribution agreement or at least contact details for this and the end-user license agreement.

6. Complete the affiliates PAD extensions, if your payment processor accepts affiliated programs.

7. Let people know if you're a member of ASP.

8. Click on File Generate PAD file. If you include your PAD file in your distribution file, keep the default name. (pad_file.xml)

When you're storing the PAD file on your website you can give whatever name you desire, just remember not to use version numbers in the URL and leave the name unchanged until you update your product.

Put your PAD files in the same folder, so that they can be easily identified, and give distinct names for each product.

PAD files are easy to create and use. Because it's a standard way of sharing information about your program, it makes it a lot easier for webmasters and program librarians to generate program listings and basically saves everyone a lot of time."

Link: avangate.com

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