Getting Started in Shareware

Here are some information on getting started in shareware...

[Part 1]  Programming tips

  Some of you may be wondering...  "How can
I improve my programming techniques?"  Well,
there is no right answer.  One way is to look at other
people's code.  It doesn't matter whether that person
codes good or bad, because...

1) If that person codes bad, you will learn
   what that person did wrong, and avoid their

2) If that person codes good, you will learn
   new techniques that you can adapt.

  The secret is to compare their style with your own.
Once you look at enough code, you will improve

  Note that this method might not work for many
programmers because some programmers just hate
looking at any code other than their own.  Well
for these programmers, I suggest that you pick
up some good books.  There are a lot of books out
there.  One good one is Code Complete (by Microsoft
Press), which is general enough and good enough if 
you hate reading lots of code.


[Part 2]  Programmer's rights

  What are the programmer's rights?  Well, you 
have many rights offered to you by the government.
I will talk about the most basic...  The right
to protect your work.  If you publish a book, you
can get a copyright.  Similarly, you can copyright
your code.  Like "Pepsi" and "The taste of a new
generation", you can also trademark names and
descriptions of your programs, and have them
registered.  You can also apply for patents if
you think your program can do something that no one
else thought of.  For info, including forms on
applying for a trademark, point your browser to the
copyright section at...

ESAG Shareware Resources


[Part 3]  Advertising

  Some of you may think...  I may need to get
some advertising done.  I am assuming that you
already have a website for your software.  Well,
there are three basic ways that you can get started
right away without depleting your resources...

1) Find services that rotates ads for you by
   obtaining a real estate of your web page.  They
   charge nothing unless you want more exposure on
   other people's sites.  The biggest right now
   is Link Exchange.  Some others are Wave Co-op,
   TradeBanner, and BannerAd.  Search the major
   search engines, and they will point you their
   website.  (Make sure you create a banner
   for yourself after you join.)  Some urls...

   Resource Marketing

2) Swap links with others.  The more links, the
   more exposure your site gets.

3) Submit your site to major search engines.  Once
   it is indexed, you get the equivalent of
   yellow page advertisements.  You MUST at
   a minimum submit your site to the following...
   (Press the search button on your browser if you
   want to find their addresses...)


[Part 4]  How do I increase my registrations?

  Once you have made a shareware program, you may
be wondering how you can increase your registrations.
Well, that's a good question.  The membership kit
should contain some good files that detail what
constitutes a good "sell."  Something that will
encourage registrations.  But basically, I can
mention some ways that may help general

1) Lower your registration fee.
2) Target your audience.  In other
   words, contact or email people you KNOW
   will be interested in your program, rather
   than put the program somewhere hoping someone
   will download it.
3) Write programs that people need and have
   a use for.
4) Make sure the audience is sufficiently large.
   One good way to achieve this is to make sure that
   the platform the program runs on is the largest.
   This means if you are writing Macintosh shareware,
   then you are going to have 95% less registrations
   than if you wrote for the Windows platform.  In
   about six months, all your shareware should run
   on Windows 95 or NT 4.0.  Stay with the market.

Section 3) Trends

 Here are a few trends that will help you in your future
decisions concerning shareware...

 First of all, BBS is out.  Web is in.  In the past, people
used to dial into BBS's to get shareware, have discussions, 
and play simple games, etc.  But they are a dying breed.
The new web technologies are making them obsolete.  
Discussion forums (like the one recently added to ESAG) 
offers a simpler way to communicate, than through text menus 
of BBS's.  Ftp is more convenient through the browser (just 
drop your file into the browser and it gets uploaded, drag
on it and it gets downloaded).  Even games are more "fun" 
when thousands can reach the same point via tcp/ip.  People
are getting their shareware through the net, not through 
BBS's.  It would be a duplication of effort to upload your 
shareware to BBS's.  Most of them just distribute archives
of and anyways.  Why pay money 
for this service?

 Another trend is that of the market.  Windows 95, the
biggest market for shareware now, is going to be merged 
with NT workstation within 2 years.  This means the Win32
API is going to be important.  ActiveX (simply the OLE
part of the Win32 API) may interest you as well if you 
want to hook up with the internet.  If you are interested
in getting started in Win32 API programming, here are a
few good books...

"Teach yourself Windows 95 Programming in 21 days." 2nd ed.
   By: Charles Calvert.  Sams Publishing.  ISBN:0-672-30531-3

"Programming Windows 95"
   By: Charles Petzold.  Microsoft Press.  ISBN:1-55615-676-6

If you know C++, you can use the MFC (Microsoft Foundation
Classes) to program Windows 95.  These classes simply hook
into the Win32 API, and saves you a lot of time coding.  A
good book..

"Programming Windows 95 with MFC"
   By: Jeff Prosise.  Microsoft Press.  ISBN:1-55615-902-1

These books require that you have a C/C++ compiler.  You
should get Microsoft Visual C++ 4.0, which has the MFC
included.  Those of you who think windows programming is 
hard... try this code...

  int WINAPI WinMain(HINSTANCE hInst,
                     HINSTANCE hPrevInstance,
                     LPSTR lpszCmdParam, int nCmdShow)
    MessageBox(0,"Elite Shareware Authors Group",
    return 0;

Section 4) Where to upload shareware

 Some of you may be wondering... Where can I upload all
my shareware?  Well,  concentrate on the archives.  After
that, go after the distributors.  A thing to remember
though, is that most distributors get them from the archives
anyway.  Therefore, concentrate on putting your products
in all the major archives...

The uploading process usually involves editing a file
with information about your shareware.  Make sure you
edit this file according to the format that they want.
Once you get your file in, the archives have mirrors 
all over the world, so this should save you lots on
time spend uploading.  It usually takes a few days for
them to process your upload.  Be patient.

AFTER you have uploaded your file to an archive, contact
as many distributors as possible.  Give them the link to
your shareware located in the archive.  The more sites you
contact, the better.  One of the famous ones is

For a point and click page of the above archive list, point
your browser to 
ESAG Shareware Resources

Section 5) Credit Cards and Registration

Would you like the ability to allow customers who use
your shareware products to be able to register and pay for
them using a credit card number?  Well you can!
Here are two approaches.

First, you can go to your local bank and apply for 
a credit card terminal.  Or you can look around for
cheaper rates in other states.  Ask around.  Note that
credit cards charge between 2 and 8 percent of the
sales price just for using them.  So be prepared.
Discover Card charges the least, while Visa and Mastercard
are the next highest.  American Express charges the most
per transaction.

Second, you can ask people who already have a credit card
terminal payment system set up to process credit card
transactions for you.  They usually take a cut (a few
percentage points ) right off the top of your shareware price
though (this is in addition of the 2 to 8 percent given
to the credit card companies.  For a listing of some
companies that offer this service visit...

ESAG Shareware Resources

Section 2) How will the internet affect shareware?

 One major trend that is going to affect shareware
authors is the increasingly popularity of the internet.
Many shareware applications are now being tailored to talk
in TCP/IP, so that they may interact with themselves or
with other pieces of software through the internet.

 Here are a few advice that will help you in your future
decisions concerning internet shareware...

1)  Microsoft and Netscape are changing the industry.

Because the internet and PC industry are currently
dominated by Microsoft and Netscape, their current
"internet" activity are affecting how future users are
going to use their PCs.  Right now Microsoft and Netscape
are engaged in a battle for the majority share of the PC
software and internet market.  Netscape is trying to form
a new API that runs on top of many operating systems
(including Win95).  They are also trying to provide internet
ready software that will make users think of the PC as a
"client" or a piece of the "internet network."  Microsoft,
meanwhile, is countering by trying to ship the same (at least
comparable or better) software for free.  They are also
going to integrate the internet into the Win95/NT desktop.
Thus, pretty soon, your desktop will be able to dynamically
fetch and display web pages and ActiveX components.
Microsoft is touting their version as the Active Desktop,
concentrating on ActiveX components and Dynamic HTML.
Netscape, meanwhile is calling their strategy the Constellation
and Communicator, concentrating on Java, plug-ins, and a "OS"
API layer above Win95,Unix, etc.

2)  ActiveX and Java shareware.

Could it happen?  ActiveX and Java shareware?  Why not?
ActiveX are simply programs that run inside the browser or on
your desktop (when Microsoft finished merging IE4.0 with Win95/NT).
Java can run on multiple platforms.  You can make your ActiveX
or Java shareware pop-up a message reminding your users to
register.  You can make your shareware check the clock and
disable themselves after the trial period is over.  In fact,
there are even benefits to programming shareware that is
internet aware...

3)  Self-updating shareware through the internet.

Another trend that you may want to prepare for is
self-updating software.  You can make your shareware check
for internet connectivity, and if there exists one, check a
default home site (could be a URL) for the latest version of
itself.  If there exists one, do a ftp URL to fetch and install
execute) the newer version.  Of course, make sure your
shareware remind the user, so that they agree to let your
shareware connect long enough to download the updates.

Section 3) Website help and advice.

If you are promoting your shareware on your website, make
sure you read the following advice..

1)  Hold off on the Graphics!

The majority of the shareware users visiting your site are
at home running on 14k and 28k baud modems.  DON'T go crazy
and put too much GIF graphics in your website!  They take a
long time to load.  People do not like to wait 3-5 minutes
just to get to the meat of your page.

2)  Secret to placing your site on top of search engine lists.

To make your site appear on TOP of the list of some search
engines (not yahoo, but the rest), write in background
color (so the users don't see them) repeating word(s) that
describe your site.  For example, if you want others to see
your site when they type in "Shareware" in the search
engine prompt, write about 100 times the word "shareware"
at the bottom of the main page of your website.  The grapevine
tells me you may actually have success increase your hits by
writing 100 times the word "sex" on your pages. :^)

3)  Use your browser to upload your pages to your web site.

One feature that you may not be aware of is that the Netscape
Navigator allows you the capability to upload using drag and
drop.  All you have to do is point your browser to your ftp
site with info on your username and password.  Navigator
supports username and password inside the ftp URL.  The format
is like this...


Example: To upload to site with username
         uploader, and password secret, type the following URL
         in the browser...

         Next, you would drag your html files (or any file you
         want) into the browser.  It will then get uploaded!

Section 2) Marketing your shareware.

There are now so many shareware programs being churned
out every day (new and patched), and there are now so
many distributors (sites promoting shareware), that many
shareware authors need a lot of resources to market
their shareware and get noticed. To alleviate this
problem, here are some information that will help you
navigate this state of frenzy. . . (all free, but
require some dedication on your part) A step by step
guide allowing you to succeed in marketing your shareware
follows. . .

1) Upload your shareware to shareware archives with a lot
of mirrors, or have a prominent name in the shareware
community. Shareware archives are places where you
can ftp your programs to, and mirror sites are sites
in other cities or countries that duplicates what
is in a main site.

The archives with a lot of mirrors are
Coast to Coast and Simtel. Famous archives are
WUArchive and WinSite. (Garbo is famous also, but
it is dedicated to MS-DOS only)

The URL address of these sites are located at

ESAG Shareware Resources

2) Announce your shareware to major distributors.

The free ones are usually websites with links to
the archives, or to your website. Some sites
even offer to do registration for you if they
get a cut of the sale.

For your shareware to succeed you need to upload to the
biggest distributors, sites with big advertising
budgets. Currently, the two biggest are at . . ., and just duplicates files
in the Coast to Coast and Simtel archives, so you
do not need to announce your products there.

Of course, the more locations you distribute to,
the higher the chance people will see your shareware.
A list of other distributors are located at
ESAG Shareware Resources

3) Advertise.

Now that you have your shareware out, concentrate
on advertising. This can be done through email,
usenet posts, and banner advertising. Free
banner advertising sites are located at

ESAG Shareware Resources

An alternative form of advertising is to get as
many sites in the world to link your site. You
can use link swap as an incentive to achieve this

4) Remember those that helped you the most!
Section 2)  Java and shareware

It seems Java as a language is getting very mature 
these past few months, but it still has an 
unstable API and very shakey future in browsers.
Looks like Microsoft might not support all the
standards created by JavaSoft (Sun Microsystems).
Therefore not all browsers will run the same Java 
applets in the future.

For programming shareware in Java, there could be
nothing easier.  The language is very clean and
simple.  Java is basically C++ with all the
ugliness taken out.  (Macros, pointers, header files,
etc)  If you know C++, you know Java.  If you
program in C++, you can program in Java.

How might shareware relate to Java?  Well there are
three possible ways to create shareware with Java.

1) Create a Java "applet" that supports JDK 1.02
   All Java applets run inside of a browser, and
   is run when the html contains commands to
   load the applet.  All major browsers support 
   JDK 1.02, which has the first major release
   of the Java API (similar to Win32 API)  
   You can then run your shareware applet 
   inside the clients browser.  They would need to 
   access your web page each time they run your 
   shareware program, however.

2) Create a Java "application" that runs stand-alone
   (outside of a browser), but if you do this,
   you must distribute it with the Java Runtime Environment
   (which is free).  The JRE acts like a browser (contains
   the Java Virtual Machine), but runs the program directly, 
   not needing html files to load the Java program, freeing
   the Java program from the browser.  The JRE is quite
   a few megabytes in size, so it will add to the size
   of your program just to run.  It also needs to be
   installed on your clients machine, but only once.

3) Create your Java applications, but wait for major
   operating systems to support it natively.  Right now
   the only OS that supports it natively is the JavaOS,
   which runs on JavaStations from Sun Microsystems.
   You have to be very careful relying on this option,