Maintainer: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ray L. Kaliss)
(Answers to Frequently Asked Questions)
Ray L. Kaliss
Subject: Welcome to alt.comp.shareware.programmer
This document contains answers to a number of Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQ) for the Usenet newsgroup alt.comp.shareware.programmer (a.c.s.p.).
You will also find a list of links to shareware author resources on the
World Wide Web.
Please send comments, suggestions, etc. to Ray <email@example.com> or
post them to the newsgroup.
Subject: What is the charter of alt.comp.shareware.programmer?
This newsgroup was created as a forum for shareware authors to discuss
issues relevant to shareware programs, FROM THE PROGRAMMERS POINT OF
VIEW. It is intended to be an area where shareware authors can discuss
programming, marketing, distribution, and generally exchange information
related to creating shareware software.
The discussion is not limited to programming per se. As a matter of
fact, you will probably find a better technical programming discussion
in one of the programming language or operating system newsgroups, but
your programming questions are also welcomed here.
You can find a lot of additional information and lists of other
newsgroups in an excellent periodic post by Prof. Timo Salmi (University
of Vaasa, Finland) which is appropriately titled:
>>> What NOT to post to alt.comp.shareware.programmer <<<
Subject: What is shareware?
There are a few varying definitions of shareware put forth by various
organizations that can be found and read. The definition I set forth
below is from a practical experience of shareware over many years and is
only meant to guide the would-be shareware author.
Shareware is at once a type of software and a means of distribution of
that software. The author of the soteware gives the users of the
software a license to try an evaluation version, the software for a
specific time span, usually for 30 days. After the evaluation period, if
the user wishes to continue to use the software, the user is required to
register with the author by paying the author a fee. This is often said
to be the "try-before-you-buy" method. If the evaluation period lapses,
and the user does not register the software for further use, the user is
expected to discontinue use of the product and erase the product files.
The software program is usually packaged in a compressed archive. This
keeps all the files that comprise the program together and allows for
easy downloading of the package from posting sites.
The conditions of use, registration and allowed distribution of the
evaluation version, are generally given in a text file included with the
A shareware program, in the pure original ideal, should not be crippled
or limited in it's functions, however in practicality, the term
shareware has come to encompass programs which use registration
incentives such as operational time limitations, registration nags, full
feature release through registration keys, and other such devices meant
to give incentive for the user to abide by the registration license.
Shareware, as a distribution method, is the author allowing by license,
the public to copy and share the program with others for their own
evaluation. The methods of sharing is the distribution process and may
include copying of the distribution archive to disks, CD-ROM
collections, posting for downloading at BBSes, online services and
Internet sites. The author may set limitations to distribution methods.
The distribution methods and any limitations may be given in a text file
included with the program.
Shareware works largely on the honesty factor in people. It relies
mainly on the conscience of the individual to eventually do the right
thing in order to continue use of the program. It completes a trust
that the author initiates releasing the program via the shareware
method. The author's success is not only dependent on the usefulness of
the program and it's distribution, but the conscience of the person
Subject: Can I announce my latest program here?
As a.c.s.p. is mostly read by other programmers, it is not the place to
announce to the public your newest shareware program.
The best place to announce your software is in the user-oriented
Subject: Do associations for shareware authors exist?
There are different types of associations and groups for shareware
authors. Each group has a different specific of charter for a goal. See
the list at the end of this FAQ.
Subject: How can I copyright my software?
The simplest form of copyright is simply to place the following notice
in the code and in the documentation: This banner should also appear at
the opening screen of the program in operation and/or in the "About"
menu option of Windows(tm) platform programs.
<Program title>, Copyright <Year> <Your Name>.
All rights reserved.
The "All rights reserved" statement means the author retains all rights
to the software, it's use and disposition, that are not expressly
covered in the documentation. The rights of the public should be given
as a "limited license" in the documentation and usually cover the use
and permission to copy the full and complete archive for further public
Some sites dedicated to legal aspects of shareware, are listed at the
end of the FAQ.
Subject: How do I take registrations?
You program's documentation should tell users the registration amount
and how to send it to you.
Registrations can be sent in many forms: checks, money orders, and
credit cards debits.
Authors can also consider if a registration service, or subcontractor,
might work for them. The service usually takes a percentage of the
registration in trade for collecting the registration and keeping
If you expect registrations from the international public, it is good to
state the registration amount in U.S. dollars and/or to give the amount
in ways related to the countries were you expect registrations to come
If you're interested in being able to accept credit card orders for
registrations, you can try though a local bank, but may have better luck
with CardService International at 1-800-456-5989.
I have not tried it, but a few electronic cash systems exist on the
Internet. The most prominent is Digicash's e-cash (see
For shareware registration services, see the links listed at the end.
Subject: How can I distribute my program?
Essentially, distribution of your program is grunt work on your part.
Other compression formats may be more appropriate for other operating
system platforms, but as a rule the online community, including BBSes,
online services and the internet, has standardized on "ZIP" compression
format for posting and downloading of shareware programs.
Your program files, including some documentation in pure ASCII text,
should be compressed into one archive and the archive given a file name
that expresses the name of your program and its version number.
Xword v1.0 word processor --> xword10.zip
The pure ASCII text documentation file name can be one of the generally
used names such as READ.ME, README.1ST, or README.TXT. Whatever name you
choose, the file itself should be nothing but pure ASCII text (text
without hidden formatting codes) and contain your copyright,
distribution permissions, a statement that it is shareware, registration
information, the purpose of the program, and how to install it.
An old and widely used standard is to include a file called
"FILE_ID.DIZ" (the DIZ extension stands for Description In Zip). It
consists of 45 characters per line, 10 lines max, and the first line
should be able to "stand alone" as a short description of the program.
Originally designed for bulletin board systems, this file has become a
de-facto standard. A more recent proposal is the VENDINFO.DIZ/DOZ file,
by Rudy Ramsey. See the link mentioned in the list at the end of this
Once archived into a zip file, you can upload it to BBSes, online
services, and ftp sites on the Internet. You can also send it to CD-ROM
publisher and shareware disk vendors. In most cases, it will be reviewed
by the system operator of site management, and then posted along with a
short description, for user downloading.
Although the actual registration to download ratio has a variety of
factors, extensive distribution is the key to obtaining the highest
number of registrations. As a general rule, the more people download it,
the more people will register it.
Most shareware authors begin by uploading their program all over the
place, wherever they can. This can take hours, days, even weeks.
A variety of places offer distribution of an author's shareware program.
Be sure you read through their information and pick the distribution
service that is right for you. Some services overlap, some do not, some
are free, some are not, some create CD-ROMs, some do not.
Subject: How much success can I expect?
Expect - none. Accept - whatever you get.
After your programming job is done, you must then follow through with
_distribution_ and _promotion_. Simply uploading your shareware to
several archives is NOT enough.
The success of your shareware program can be a little like hitting one
of the lottery prizes. For a decent program with decent uses, you can
expect some registration returns if you have good distribution.
I have served many shareware authors, and the definition of success
varies. Some do it just as a pastime, they are very pleased with a
dribble of a return. Other dedicate all working hours to it. Almost all
authors keep their results private. I have had the pleasure of
performing personal distribution services for some of the most
successful authors so I can say that results can run from a few hundred
dollars a month up to over twenty thousand dollars a month income. On
the whole, I have not seen many wildly successful authors maintain the
top position for more than a couple of years.
For the most part, do not expect wild success. The authors that are
wildly successful are full time - complete with well thought out
marketing plans, great distribution, constant marketing, constant
programming improvements, and hired help. They work hard to be
In a way - you can compare the shareware market to book publishing, and
c|net and ZDNet Most-Popular Downloads to the New York Best Selling
Books list. Some publications fail, most do a little business, a few go
Subject: Links to resources for shareware authors
The following list of links may help you find your way in the huge
variety of resources available on the net. Chances are that you will
find many far more comprehensive lists when surfing around - but this
can be a start.
[ASP - The Association of Shareware Professionals]
[CGA - Computer Game Artists]
[CGDA - Computer Game Developers Association]
[ESC - Educational Software Cooperative]
[NAP - National Association of Programmers (U.S.)]
[RSAC - Recreational Software Advisory Council]
[SPA Europe - Software Publishers Association Europe]
[SPA U.S. - Software Publishers Association USA]
[STAR - The Shareware Trade Association and Resources]
[SALT LAKE DELPHI - Salt Lake City Delphi Users Group]
[TEAM JAVA - TeamJava - Java programmers association]
[Basic - All Basic Code homepage (ABC)]
[C++ - A wide range of pointers to C++ resources]
[Cetus OO - Over 3000 links on object-orientation]
[FAQ's - Kent Landfield's archive of FAQs in HTML format]
[Gamelan - Java development]
[SiteLink - One page with all major Macintosh resources]
[Oasis - Programmer's Oasis - well organized set of pages]
[WDVL - Web development]
[WinSock - Windows sockets - network programming]
[AUSTRALIA - The Australian Shareware Author's Legal Guide]
[ROSE - Advertising Law]
[U.S. COPYRIGHT - United States Copyright Office]
[CORNELL - U.S. Copyright Law At Cornell University]
[European Commission On Advertising - consumer policy and rights]
[U.S. PATENT - United States Patent and Trademark Office]
[MMG - Multimedia Marketing Group]
Junk Yard http://www.winbet.sci.fi/junkyard/
[ASP - Pointers to other resources]
[Rudy Ramsey's links page]
[SALDS - Shareware Authors List of Distribution Sites]
[SHAREGS - List of shareware registration services]
[The SAX resource browser]
ZD Net http://www.hotfiles.com/
[LaserPoint Software Publishing]
[SAX - Shareware Author Index]
[DOS - Links to MS-DOS shareware]
[FTP search - find files on most public FTP sites]
[Sleuth - organizes a huge number of search forms]
[SSRL - Worldwide Catalog of Software Websites]
[What's new pages]
PC Win http://pcwin.com/software/latest.html
These lists were derived from "The SAX Resource pages" and "The TOP" at
http://mini.net/sax/resource/ and http://mini.net/sax/top/,
Subject: End (shareware-faq/programmer)
This FAQ is posted and maintained in the public interest by:
Jean-Claude Wippler - firstname.lastname@example.org (auto-posting)
Ray. L. Kaliss - email@example.com (content)
Robert Lindsay Wells - firstname.lastname@example.org (initiator)
Special thanks to:
Cary Farrier - email@example.com (founder of a.c.s.p)