Successful shareware promotion using PAD files

There isn’t that much of a secret to using PAD files successfully, yet many seem to rush the process and end up with poor listings in software directories. It is vitally important to remember that what you put into the PAD file is what will be shown on pages promoting your software. If you can’t be bothered to write a few words to promote your software who will believe that your software is worth bothering with?

What is a PAD file?

If you don’t know already then here’s a quick explanation. PAD files (Portable Application Description files) are XML based files meant to speed up the process of submitting your software products to software directories. Instead of typing the same data on each site's submission form you submit your PAD file and the form fills automatically. Some sites does require confirmations and or extra data to be entered but on the whole this is a much more painless submission process than manual entry.

What can go wrong?

Having seen my share of submitted PAD files I can say that the parts of the PAD files causing most trouble are the description tags. There are three common problems: not using all fields, writing to short descriptions and not spell checking your text.

Don’t leave any description fields empty. Correct PAD files should specify all description fields and contain acceptable length text in all fields. Some sites use the longest description they can find but many sites will only check one or two fields and fail if that field is empty.

Use the space given to you. The length of the fields should be close to the maximum length for at least the 45, 80, 250 and the 450 character fields. There’s no need to write an essay and fill the 2000 char field but write as long a description as you can without becoming irrelevant.

Before you submit your PAD file to any directory you should spell check your texts. Copy the text to a word processor and hit the spell check button. A correctly spelled description will be accepted into more directories and give you far more downloads. If possible have someone you trust read through the descriptions. Choose someone with descent language skills, if this is your English teacher you can collect points for nothing (don’t think you won’t be rewarded for asking for help with non school issues, most teachers love to be trusted enough to be asked to help).

While running the spell check, be sure to check your punctuation. One common mistake is to leave out the space after commas, lists of comma separated items without spaces (“item,item,item,item”) will be treated as one word in browsers. This will make for strange line breaks and make your descriptions look unprofessional.

A final word about descriptions

There are fields for non English language description. If you write your description in another language that English, use them. Do not use the regular fields for your Spanish or Russian description. I know we refuse such files and I’m sure others do as well.

Use a recent PAD file creator

Most sites follow the development of the PAD file format and so should you. When a new version comes out you should recreate all your PAD files to include the new options. Most sites, this site included, regularly update their databases and include new information from the PAD files.

Submit your PAD file

After you have made sure that all necessary fields are filled (some PAD file creation programs can validate your files) your ready to start submitting it to software directories. You can submit your PAD file here and to many other sites.