Frequently Asked Questions for Developers

What is shareware?

Shareware is a marketing method, not a type of software or even just a distribution method. When software is marketed through normal retail channels, you are forced to pay for the product before you've even seen it. The shareware marketing method lets you try a program before you buy it. Since you've tried the program, you know whether it will meet your needs before you pay for it. A shareware program is just like a program you find in major stores, catalogs, and other places where software is purchased - except you get to use it, on your own computer, before paying for it.

Why do authors use shareware to distribute their programs?

Basically, it's efficient. Costs are generally less than for software sold through traditional channels. Lower operating costs mean shareware authors can concentrate on writing great programs, while often charging users less. Shareware also allows authors to retain complete control. Microsoft and Netscape are just two software companies that have recognized benefits of "try before you buy" distribution.

How can I legally distribute someone else's shareware?

You'll need to check each program you wish to distribute for any distribution restrictions that the author may have placed on their software. Check the PAD file, the program documentation, and files with names like DISTRIB.TXT, VENDOR.TXT, and VENDINFO.DIZ for restrictions. When in doubt, you should contact the author for permission - failing to do so could leave you liable for copyright infringement.

COMMON MISTAKE - Some folks think that if they purchase a CD-ROM collection of software they may feel free to distribute that software, or if they've downloaded a copy from the Internet that they can sell copies if they wish. Unfortunately these statements are not true. A number of software publishers are using exclusive distribution licenses to allow distribution of their software, and violating one of these licenses could result in a very expensive lesson when you're sued for your actions. Better safe than sorry![BACK TO TOP]

Which programming language is used to produce quick, easy, quality software?

There are a large number of programming languages, and your choice will depend greatly on what kind of prior programming experience you have and what kind of software you're interested in producing. In addition, there's a lot more involved in writing good shareware than just writing software. You need to consider marketing plans, software design, registration incentives, press releases and publicity - and more. Finally, the type of computer and operating system you're writing software for will have a great effect on the available tools and languages. The answers to these questions can - and have - filled books.

With that said and done, you may be able to find some advice in the ASP Newsgroups. Many of the shareware authors who are active on the Internet hang out there. Their answer may likely sound a lot like the one above, but it won't hurt to try anyway.

How much money should I expect to make as a shareware author? How many people will register my software? How many people register shareware overall?

There are no real statistics on registrations - just guesses. There's really no way of even knowing total download counts and there's absolutely no way of knowing how many people who download a program use it past a preliminary evaluation.

Additionally, registration rates probably vary wildly by category of program. Business applications are probably pretty high as a percentage because people who rely on software to make money are more likely to feel the need for support of and from the author. Businesses also tend to be more concerned about proper licensing of their software. Small games and utilities are everywhere and are easily replaceable, so a smaller percentage of the people who use the software generally register these programs. You may make up for the lower registration rate by having a larger audience of total users, however.

So what's the percentage? It might be as low as 2% for some programs and higher than 50% for others. But that's just a guess.

I'm not a member, but can I upload my software to your site anyway?

We do not store or host programs on our site, but you can add your file to the PAD Repository, a searchable database of programs that use the next-generation PAD file format. [BACK TO TOP]

How do I get my site listed on the ASP web site? I want to exchange links with you. What do you need to know?

If you are an ASP member, you can receive a link on our member link page by updating your membership information. Make sure to include your web site's address and choose the option to have your information included on the members links page.

We do not ordinarily provide links to non-members. If you feel that you have a product or service that would be of interest to ASP members, contact the ASP Webmaster with a description of your product/service and the URL of the page on our site where the link would be appropriate. Also consider offering a discount to ASP members.

How do I join the ASP?

Go to our Membership Application or contact our Executive Director to apply via phone or fax. [BACK TO TOP]