Welcome Guest.   Make a donation to an author on the site September 02, 2014, 12:01:23 PM  *

Please login or register.
Or did you miss your validation email?


Login with username and password (forgot your password?)
Why not become a lifetime supporting member of the site with a one-time donation of any amount? Your donation entitles you to a ton of additional benefits, including access to exclusive discounts and downloads, the ability to enter monthly free software drawings, and a single non-expiring license key for all of our programs.


You must sign up here before you can post and access some areas of the site. Registration is totally free and confidential.
 
The N.A.N.Y. Challenge 2014! Download dozens of custom programs!
   
   Forum Home   Thread Marks Chat! Downloads Search Login Register  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Reply  |  New Topic  |  Print  
Author Topic: Review comments from the ALTools Evangelist :)  (Read 15529 times)
Renegade
Charter Member
***
Posts: 11,204



Tell me something you don't know...

see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« on: September 13, 2005, 12:45:58 AM »

Hello Zaine (and all),

First, just to be clear, my name is Ryan Smyth and I'm the ALTools Evangelist at ESTsoft. But maybe ALVangelist sounds better~!  ohmy   I also maintain the ALTools English web site at http://www.altools.net (and a lot of other things too).

I've actually been using ALZip since long before I joined the company, and never looked back. I'm beyond the power-user stage and actually do a lot of programming on my own. I've released several programs but I only maintain those at my current personal site (http://renegademinds.com) and a few other programs that aren't publicly available (and probably would only be of use to only a handful of people on the planet besides myself...). I do not do any coding for ALZip or any other ALTools.

That's all just so that you know who I am to put this in context. The following is just my personal take.

That was a very in-depth review and you've done an outstanding job. I enjoyed some of the analysis and commentary on the general state of affairs inside of the compression/archiver area. It was nice that you included some history as well. You've clearly done more than just your homework, and it shows. The analysis of the archivers was really good and you've chosen a good cross-section of different programs, even though none of my friends made it in there Wink

That being said, I humbly offer up some of my own observations and comments.

It's obvious that you're very much in favor of the RAR and 7z formats, which is fair enough. RAR is an excellent compression format and you've nailed it on the head there. I met one of the guys from RarSoft at the Shareware Industry Conference in Denver this past July (BTW - WinZip didn't win this year where it has dominated in the past), and said the same thing to him - the RAR format is excellent. He was quite happy to hear that from a competitor  smiley , but to say anything else would be lying. The facts clearly speak for themselves.

The 7z format is also very good, though I'm not a fan of the 7z program (not because it's a competitor - I just don't like the interface). If I were to pick out which of the two I think is a better format, I'd have to side with 7z because it is open source LGPL and can be integrated into other things. RAR is proprietary and just won't work with anything else because only decompression is available outside of WinRAR, as mouser pointed out when he mentioned licensing in another thread. But that's the "compatibility freak" in me.

However, personally as a developer, I'd still side with ZIP over those two as it has far more support at the moment. Part of what is going to keep ZIP popular for a very long time is vendor support from server manufacturers like Microsoft (IIS) and the Apache Foundation. Until 7z is a default MIME type, it's going to be very hard for it to become as ubiquitous as ZIP is. To illustrate that point please see this file: http://www.altools.net/portals/0/A-7z-File.7z. I can assure you that the file is there and that I've done nothing to prevent it from being downloaded. IIS is just lacking the MIME definition for the file. This effectively renders the 7z format dead for distribution on the Internet (except for email and a few other cases of course). Once MS and Apache do include the proper MIME type, things may change. I also don't really see compression ratio being that important anymore with the massive sizes of hard drives now. For larger archives (hundreds of MB or into the GB range), yes, it becomes more important, but this isn't representative of the needs of most applications. At that point, it sounds like we're not talking about compression anymore, but backup solutions, at which point things digress into an entirely different market segment.

However, the different formats each have various strengths and weaknesses that were never addressed or made clear. The ability to create CAB files isn't something that everyone needs, but you can't substitute RAR, 7z, ZIP or other formats in place of it. Same goes for JAR files. For end users they aren't that useful though. A bit of commentary on why you chose RAR and 7z would over other common formats may have been useful for users. 

I would have enjoyed reading a bit more commentary on PPMd. Personally, I just think it's a bad idea to muck around with a format and break compatibility. I expect that from Microsoft.

Regarding TUGZip being able to create RAR files, I think you've been misleading there. "TUGZip" cannot create RAR files - it can detect if WinRAR is installed and use WinRAR. There is a difference. If I had to install another program, and pay for it, I really doubt that I'd use some other program to access it, especially when accessing a proprietary feature of the program I had to pay for. (Well, I'm not counting situations where I use a program like MySQL Front as a front end for MySQL - that's a client/server issue.) I can see there being the point of users wanting to keep a consistent interface though.

Matteo pointed out about making sure to compare the same format in speed and compression ratio benchmarking. I'll second that.

In any event, I would like to point out a couple errors/omissions (my misunderstanding?) in the ALZip comparison/review.

Customizable - ALZip allows a fair bit of customization in it's preferences, but I might be misunderstanding what you mean bu customization...

Command Line Support - ALZip does have command line support, but it is not as robust as you would find in WinRAR or some others. For more information, in ALZip > F1 > Miscellaneous > Command-Line Functionality or you can see this:

http://www.altools.net/Po...ne_script_exe_zip_wsh.htm

That's for v5.5, but is still valid.

The command line functionality in ALZip is currently well suited to light duty stuff in scripting like WSH or the like.

Keyboard Shortcuts - They are there for the most common things, but missing for archive testing and password retrieval. (I'll chat with HyoTak about this to see that we get more shortcuts in.) In the meantime what is "most" smiley

Pause/Continue archiving - It's in there. You can even choose between Background/Foreground processing which is useful for really large archives that take a long time.

Archive Comments - ALZip supports archive level and file level comments for formats that support comments. e.g. Not TAR.

Batch Archive Extraction - Supported. For this, you need to right-click on a selection of several archives and select the option you want.

Anti-Virus Integration - This is in the preferences - F4 > Programs (tab). You can browse for your virus scanner and set parameters.

Robust Help File - I'm not sure what robust means, but the documentation is ALZip is certainly better than most software that I've ever purchased. The help file is meant to be graphically intensive as opposed to lots of text. People don't actually read them anyways, but they will "look" at them, so pictures help smiley

FAQs - This is in the help file. There's no real need for an FAQ at the web site. FAQs generally degrade over time and become unmanageable messes. Instead, I've got an Online Support Desk (very good) and the ALTools Support Desk InfoBase that similarly will degrade like an FAQ smiley  However, with the help files and the ease-of-use for ALZip, we have very few questions from people that needs answering in an "FAQ".

Tutorial - I think this would be the "Quick Start" in the help file or the "Getting Started" page on the web site: http://www.altools.net/Default.aspx?tabid=42  They aren't massive tutorials on every aspect of the program - that's what the help file is for. But they are more than enough to kick start things for a beginner.

License Type - It's freeware for home users while commercial users have an unlimited trial period, but are asked to purchase a license. It's most certainly NOT adware. None of the ALTools have any adware, no spyware, no junkware, no third party bundled wierdness - nada, zilch, zip smiley I really don't want people to think that ALTools are adware. The info banner in the upper right only mentions ALTools and does not serve ads for any third parties. PLEASE - Would you kindly fix this. I really don't want anyone to get the impression that we're associated with that seedy underside of the Internet...

Under the WinRAR part - "Pause during archive operation. WinRAR allows the user to pause an archive operation (creation or extraction) for whatever reason. Only 7-Zip and WinACE offer the same feature." This is in ALZip as well.

In the ALZip review before PROS - "But its lack of broader format support and dearth of options leaves it wanting." ALZip supports 36 formats (not extensions) for extraction and creates 8 formats. That's pretty good compared to anything else. It supports more extensions than that (any compatible format - extensions don't matter), but there's no real point in listing them all except as a marketing gimmick (Hey... I think I'll try that Wink ). But Seriously, ALZip is one of the best out there in this area. To be a bit more explicit, you can rename "file.zip" to "file.anything" and ALZip will still open it correctly. That goes for all but 10 formats. As an aside, the fellow who does our Swedish translation (Leif Larsson - fantastic guy) always sends "ALZipSwe.piz" files by email, reversing the zip extention to piz. For some reason zip files get filtered for him when sending emails. The extension isn't important.

You're quite correct about a lot of things being "missing" in ALZip. Some of that is just done automatically for users. Another thing is auto-correction - there's no real reason to tell a user that a file is corrupt but fixable - it's easier and faster to just fix the error, making for a seamless experience for the end user. For other things, there's no real need to confuse most people with dictionary sizes and other techno-babble that make sense to you and me, but will only elicit dumb stares when trying to explain it to dear-old-dad or mom. ALZip is designed to do 99.9% of everything that 99.9% of people will ever need in an archiver without becoming confusing. And you've hit the nail on the head about ALZip - it's meant to be really easy to use - even for beginners.

One last thing, the ALZip format is actually ALZ, not ALS. It serves a different purpose than ZIP or other formats. The ALZ format is literally unlimited as to how large it can be. There is no theoretical limit on the size of an ALZ archive. Most people won't need it, but it is useful for people that want to archive massive amounts of data like raw video.

Well, that's about it. I hope I haven't come off as being too biased smiley

Cheers!



Logged

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker
mouser
First Author
Administrator
*****
Posts: 33,294



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2005, 04:09:59 AM »

what a fantastic post!

i have to say from my personal standpoint i find myself very close in position to ALTools, especially regarding the proprietariness of rar, and the bad things that brings, and the decreasing importance of compression ratio.

i think zaine will be along soon to update the review to update the review with some of the points you've made about ALZip.

Logged
mouser
First Author
Administrator
*****
Posts: 33,294



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2005, 04:10:57 AM »

btw that little creature on the ALTools website is very cute.
Logged
Renegade
Charter Member
***
Posts: 11,204



Tell me something you don't know...

see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2005, 06:04:39 AM »

The little creatures are eggs. "al" in Korean means egg. It's a clever twist on the Korean to get the cartoon characters, and the English for "all". There are a few different ALTools, but only 4 publicly available in English at the moment. Zaine's comments about ALZip being simple would also apply to the others as well. e.g. Compare ALSee to ACDsee, and you'll see a real difference.

Some of my favorite characters are Baby Santa and the Lunar New Year characters smiley They're just fantastic! I wish that I had some artistic ability to do that kind of thing. My personal web site is dismally boring - the anti-design thing there...

I found this site through a comment at Fileforum.BetaNews.com. It would have been better to find it before though. With all the great reviews you have here, I could have used some before and saved some time smiley

Cheers,

Ryan



Logged

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker
Jibz
Developer
***
Posts: 920



Cold Warrior

View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2005, 09:44:07 AM »

Quote from: ALTools
License Type - It's freeware for home users while commercial users have an unlimited trial period, but are asked to purchase a license. It's most certainly NOT adware. None of the ALTools have any adware, no spyware, no junkware, no third party bundled wierdness - nada, zilch, zip smiley I really don't want people to think that ALTools are adware. The info banner in the upper right only mentions ALTools and does not serve ads for any third parties. PLEASE - Would you kindly fix this. I really don't want anyone to get the impression that we're associated with that seedy underside of the Internet...

Quote from: ALZip Help FAQ
13. I thought ALZip wasn't spyware, but my firewall alerted me that ALZip is accessing the Internet! What's going on?

Don't worry. That just means that your copy of ALZip is unregistered.

If you look in the upper-right hand corner of ALZip, you'll see a little info banner. ALZip is just getting the latest information. All information is completely blind. i.e. No information is collected about you or anything like that. The small info banner blindly grabs whatever information (info banner) we send it and displays those info banners to whoever is looking. ALZip isn't sending any information; it's just getting some information. You need to register if you want to get rid of the little info banner.

In my book, displaying (and especially downloading, which I find appalling) banner adds in the app if it's unregistered, constitutes adware -- even if the banners advertise for your own products huh.

Other than that, it seemed like a nice enough tool thumbs up.
Logged

"A problem, properly stated, is a problem on it's way to being solved" -Buckminster Fuller
"Multithreading is just one damn thing after, before, or simultaneous with another" -Andrei Alexandrescu
Carol Haynes
Waffles for England (patent pending)
Global Moderator
*****
Posts: 7,952



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2005, 12:03:10 PM »

I'm affraid I agree with jibZ, the ad banner is extremely irritating (irrespective of internet connections) - it makes you think there is something that needs attention all the time. Can you not just include a link in the Help menu to other products?

WRT internet connections home, this is quite disconcerting - as users we only have your word that nothing nefarious is going on ...
Logged

zridling
Friend of the Site
Charter Member
***
Posts: 3,290


Linux captive

see users location on a map View Profile WWW Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2005, 01:44:09 PM »

Ryan, I truly appreciate you taking to the time to respond to the review. That's a strong statement of ALZip's assets for all to read. I'd love to sit down with you at a computer and show you how I used ALZip for several weeks. My sparse comments do not do it justice, that's for sure. We will change the ALS to ALZ as soon as mouser returns. My apologies there.

In the review, I wrote: "It includes unobtrusive ad screens that rotate ads for their other products, all of which are free," and in the feature grid, I listed it as adware. The free version of the Eudora email client works on the same mechanism, and it is considered by everyone to be adware. Whether you're advertising (or marketing) your own or another's products, such devices are seen as adware by users. So I think that's fair.

However, some of the features you list here are not listed on your own feature comparison page with WinZip, WinRAR, and WinAce. And the version of WinRAR you are comparing is from May 2002. No big deal, as 7-Zip does the same thing. And after a month of use, I found no pause button/feature during archiving. It must have gone right over my head! That's not a negative feature, but is a nice one to have. And I am at fault for not knowing how to do batch archive extraction in the manner you describe. I was looking for a specific option inside the program itself, found often in the menu structure. This too will be corrected.

I'm going to include FilZip later this week to the review, and if you ever have the time, I urge you to study your competition. Check out the interface of ZipZag and take a look at the keyboard shortcuts or either WinRAR or FilZip. Consider moving the rotating ad to the status bar if possible, and making it smaller. You may like it, but it's a device users plainly don't care for. While ALZip is free for individual use, you still have competition for users' desktops. I won't disagree that my review perhaps does read like an ad for WinRAR, but that's only because of the features it has, it implemented them in a thoughtful, straightforward, and easy-to-use manner.

WinRAR does complex things, but is not complicated by any measure. After a month of use in direct comparison with other archivers, I was impressed. I actually thought PowerArchiver would easily win the review going in. But reread it and there's almost no mention of PowerArchiver except its capsule review!

You are not the only one who is not impressed by either 7-Zip the program or 7z the format. I've been emailed extensively by compression experts who are wary of 7z. I outlined these in several places throughout. But it is where users are going, and that's where the review led me. And I don't understand the reluctance of developers (especially the recently released WinZip 10) to include 7z creation in there archivers. It's free. The longer WinRAR takes on implementing 7z creation, the more they will fall behind, and when archive tools are revisited next year, will likely not win if they don't shore up its few weaknesses. I agree that there's not much to love about 7-Zip's interface, but it shares several qualities with ALZip: it's simple, easy to use, and never confuses the user. But ALZip's ALZ format is not widely supported and can only effectively be considered for personal compression needs, not shared ones.

Again, I thank you for sharing your thoughtful response with us. You have a good product. Maybe next year, our results are different, and ALZip wins? It's one review away.
Logged

- zaine (on Google+)
Renegade
Charter Member
***
Posts: 11,204



Tell me something you don't know...

see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2005, 09:23:43 PM »


< -snip- >

Quote from: ALZip Help FAQ
13. I thought ALZip wasn't spyware, but my firewall alerted me that ALZip is accessing the Internet! What's going on?

Don't worry. That just means that your copy of ALZip is unregistered.

If you look in the upper-right hand corner of ALZip, you'll see a little info banner. ALZip is just getting the latest information. All information is completely blind. i.e. No information is collected about you or anything like that. The small info banner blindly grabs whatever information (info banner) we send it and displays those info banners to whoever is looking. ALZip isn't sending any information; it's just getting some information. You need to register if you want to get rid of the little info banner.

Whoops! GLARING OVERSIGHT... And completely my fault. That is not correct. That FAQ entry was written quite a few years ago (2001 I think...) and was almost correct when it was written. I've updated the online FAQ to be more accurate.

That entry in the FAQ was for ALZip 4.8 or 4.9 or something like that. It's quite outdated and the function was taken out of the English/International version years ago. There is no network connectivity in the English/International version. The Korean version has an auto-updater which lets you upgrade automatically from inside the program. Currently you need to visit the web site to upgrade for the English/International version.

The Korean versions do update the info banner, but is not considered adware in Korea. That's a cultural issue where some things are just different.

Thanks for pointing that out FAQ problem! And sorry for the confusion there. 


In my book, displaying (and especially downloading, which I find appalling) banner adds in the app if it's unregistered, constitutes adware -- even if the banners advertise for your own products huh.

Other than that, it seemed like a nice enough tool thumbs up.

I've fixed the FAQ - it was incorrect.

Now, personally I'm not against adware at all. I don't have a problem with it as long as I know what's going on. (Yes - I read license agreements before I install anything new.) I'm also an ISV, so I understand the need to generate revenue. None of my own software includes any, but I can understand why there's a need for it - food on the plate and all that stuff smiley

The disappointing thing is the popular attitude towards adware. It is too often confused with spyware, and that's a real problem for legitimate developers.

So for ALTools, I really want to distance them from the seedy side of the Internet - spyware - and also distance it from legitimate software that is advertising supported. ALTools are not advertising supported.

I would like to briefly point out a couple things from Wikipedia about adware:

Quote from: /en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adware
Adware or advertising-supported software...

...Adware helps some developers recover programming development costs...

...What differentiates adware from other shareware is that it is primarily advertising supported...

Though it is blatant self-promotion, it's pretty hard to call it "advertising-supported software" as it's all free.

I'm affraid I agree with jibZ, the ad banner is extremely irritating (irrespective of internet connections) - it makes you think there is something that needs attention all the time. Can you not just include a link in the Help menu to other products?

WRT internet connections home, this is quite disconcerting - as users we only have your word that nothing nefarious is going on ...

Hi Carol. You've just illustrated why I'm so eager to distance ALTools from adware: "nothing nefarious is going on...". There's a legitimate problem with users not being able to trust software vendors. There are far too many dishonest ones out there. Hiding things deep inside an EULA is hardly being honest.

To try to put people's minds at rest, let me briefly outline a couple things about ALTools and ESTsoft.

ESTsoft is a profitable company. We do not need to resort to underhanded tactics to make money. Just for 1 example, ALZip is used in government, fortune 500 companies, defence (military), by IT consultants, SMEs, etc. They pay for ongoing development, and home users get to reap the benefits. We also have other product lines that are profitable. We really don't need to resort to ads to pay for things.

That's about all that I can do to reassure you that there's nothing sinister happening. Of course you can get Ethereal and a debugger like SoftIce to look into it and verify what I've said, but that's a lot of work.

Ryan, I truly appreciate you taking to the time to respond to the review. That's a strong statement of ALZip's assets for all to read. I'd love to sit down with you at a computer and show you how I used ALZip for several weeks.


Hopefully that would be on a laptop down at the local pub over a beer or two smiley But I think you've pointed out probably the most important thing in software design - how people use software. That's really important and very often overlooked.

My sparse comments do not do it justice, that's for sure. We will change the ALS to ALZ as soon as mouser returns. My apologies there.

No problem. Hey - I even mucked up the FAQ by not updating it smiley

In the review, I wrote: "It includes unobtrusive ad screens that rotate ads for their other products, all of which are free," and in the feature grid, I listed it as adware. The free version of the Eudora email client works on the same mechanism, and it is considered by everyone to be adware. Whether you're advertising (or marketing) your own or another's products, such devices are seen as adware by users. So I think that's fair.

Perfectly fair. It's your review. I just wanted to point out our position on adware/advertising-supported software. For a good article on the topic, please refer to Spyware, Adware, Malware, Thief by Jerry Stern. Just for reference, the Association of Shareware Professionals has adopted Jerry's position on what constitutes spyware.

However, some of the features you list here are not listed on your own feature comparison page with WinZip, WinRAR, and WinAce. And the version of WinRAR you are comparing is from May 2002. No big deal, as 7-Zip does the same thing.

Yeah - it's really out of date. I think that's from 2002 or so. It was current when it was originally written. I should either update it or just delete it. Just another task on my massive TODO list... (I literally have enough work lined up to last easily 6 months...)

And after a month of use, I found no pause button/feature during archiving. It must have gone right over my head! That's not a negative feature, but is a nice one to have. And I am at fault for not knowing how to do batch archive extraction in the manner you describe. I was looking for a specific option inside the program itself, found often in the menu structure. This too will be corrected.

When I looked at the screenshots you had in the review, I saw ALZip v6.1. ALZip 5.52 did not have that feature. It was introduced in v6.x. That could be it.

ALZip has an SDI interface, and not an MDI interface, which is why there's no menu option inside the program, and why it's in the Windows Explorer context menu.

I'm going to include FilZip later this week to the review, and if you ever have the time, I urge you to study your competition. Check out the interface of ZipZag and take a look at the keyboard shortcuts or either WinRAR or FilZip.

This is on my TODO list, but not for a few months yet. I've got a few things that need to get done before I start pushing for interface/functionality changes with the lead developer and the project manager. I've got a long list of things piling up for other ALTools as well. e.g. A random password generator for ALPass. I'll see if I can push this up in my schedule.

Consider moving the rotating ad to the status bar if possible, and making it smaller. You may like it, but it's a device users plainly don't care for.

I've been wanting to revisit this for a while, but I've still got some brainstorming to do before I come up with a solution to the problem that will keep everyone happy. Ideally, I'd like it to be something that users like and enjoy.

While ALZip is free for individual use, you still have competition for users' desktops. 

That's a massive understatement~! smiley I know a few other developers who make compression/archiving software and everyone agrees that it's an over-saturated market with far too many products in the category. Conversion rates for some of the guys selling it commercially are extremely low.

I won't disagree that my review perhaps does read like an ad for WinRAR, but that's only because of the features it has, it implemented them in a thoughtful, straightforward, and easy-to-use manner.

You've done a great job with the reviews. It's not easy to do a review like that, and especially for such a crowded market space. There are a lot of excellent products in the area.

< -snip- >

You are not the only one who is not impressed by either 7-Zip the program or 7z the format. I've been emailed extensively by compression experts who are wary of 7z. I outlined these in several places throughout. But it is where users are going, and that's where the review led me. And I don't understand the reluctance of developers (especially the recently released WinZip 10) to include 7z creation in there archivers. It's free. 

Free isn't the point for many developers. Take Dolby Digital AC-3 audio compression for example - it's VERY expensive to implement. But it's a good standard and if you've got the money for it, it's a solid choice. Other examples would include AAC, MP3, and GIF (before the patent expired). For a lot of uses, licensing something isn't the main cost - it's the development costs or marketing costs. Though there are better audio compression schemes than AC-3 or DTS, trying to create the wide-spread use and branding that they have is beyond the means of even large companies like Microsoft. Compare those to WMA for example. Microsoft has tried to enter the audio compression and DRM markets with limited success. Granted, more than small companies would ever be able to achieve, but never-the-less, they haven't made WMA the ubiquitous things that AC-3 or MP3 are.

At the end of the day, it's not always the best technology that wins out. Just ask some of the guys at Apple smiley

The longer WinRAR takes on implementing 7z creation, the more they will fall behind, and when archive tools are revisited next year, will likely not win if they don't shore up its few weaknesses. I agree that there's not much to love about 7-Zip's interface, but it shares several qualities with ALZip: it's simple, easy to use, and never confuses the user. 

smiley

But ALZip's ALZ format is not widely supported and can only effectively be considered for personal compression needs, not shared ones.

Internationally, true. The ALZ format is actually quite popular in Korea. However, we're looking into this and perhaps in 6 months or so we may come up with a solution for this problem.

Again, I thank you for sharing your thoughtful response with us. You have a good product. Maybe next year, our results are different, and ALZip wins? It's one review away.

I really like to win. No, let me rephrase that... I really, Really, REALLY LOVE TO WIN~! smiley So you can count on me going over your reviews for all the products with a fine toothed comb to dig for little nuggets that I can take back to the product manager and lead developer. smiley

User feedback is so important, and reviews like yours are a fantastic way for developers to find out how to improve their products.

Cheers,

Ryan


Logged

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker
Jibz
Developer
***
Posts: 920



Cold Warrior

View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2005, 02:53:53 AM »

Quote from: ALTools
That entry in the FAQ was for ALZip 4.8 or 4.9 or something like that. It's quite outdated and the function was taken out of the English/International version years ago. There is no network connectivity in the English/International version.

I am happy to hear that thumbs up.

Quote from: ALTools
Though it is blatant self-promotion, it's pretty hard to call it "advertising-supported software" as it's all free.

I kind of disagree with this. The problem I see is that your software is not free -- it's free for non-commercial use. So you do have a commercial interest in advertising for your other products. While the banner adds may not generate revenue directly from some advertisement company, it does indirectly.

Also, no matter how free all your products may be, users who see the banners will immediately think "adware".

Quote from: ALTools
Now, personally I'm not against adware at all. I don't have a problem with it as long as I know what's going on. (Yes - I read license agreements before I install anything new.) I'm also an ISV, so I understand the need to generate revenue. None of my own software includes any, but I can understand why there's a need for it - food on the plate and all that stuff.

I don't have anything against it either, as long as it's made perfectly clear before I download and install an application that it contains advertisements.

Quote from: ALTools
The disappointing thing is the popular attitude towards adware. It is too often confused with spyware, and that's a real problem for legitimate developers.

It's one of those things that could be a great idea, but has been ruined by people exploiting it. There has simply been so many bad examples of hidden spyware and other tricks that people find it hard to trust adware.

Quote from: ALTools
So for ALTools, I really want to distance them from the seedy side of the Internet - spyware - and also distance it from legitimate software that is advertising supported. ALTools are not advertising supported.

May I suggest to consider removing the add banners and instead just put a static image with your company name. This would also make the interface less distracting Thmbsup.

Btw, I think it's great that you, as a developer, come here and discuss the review and our opinions of your software thumbs up.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2005, 02:56:20 AM by Jibz » Logged

"A problem, properly stated, is a problem on it's way to being solved" -Buckminster Fuller
"Multithreading is just one damn thing after, before, or simultaneous with another" -Andrei Alexandrescu
Carol Haynes
Waffles for England (patent pending)
Global Moderator
*****
Posts: 7,952



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2005, 04:07:22 AM »

Quote
You've just illustrated why I'm so eager to distance ALTools from adware: "nothing nefarious is going on...". There's a legitimate problem with users not being able to trust software vendors. There are far too many dishonest ones out there. Hiding things deep inside an EULA is hardly being honest.

To try to put people's minds at rest, let me briefly outline a couple things about ALTools and ESTsoft.

ESTsoft is a profitable company. We do not need to resort to underhanded tactics to make money. Just for 1 example, ALZip is used in government, fortune 500 companies, defence (military), by IT consultants, SMEs, etc. They pay for ongoing development, and home users get to reap the benefits. We also have other product lines that are profitable. We really don't need to resort to ads to pay for things.

That's about all that I can do to reassure you that there's nothing sinister happening. Of course you can get Ethereal and a debugger like SoftIce to look into it and verify what I've said, but that's a lot of work.

Thanks - I wasn't actually suggesting that there is anything going on, but you can understand that with a program like ALFTP where internet access is inherently required it can be difficult to judge what is going on for the average user.

I note that phone home ads have been dispensed with (thatnks that's good) - I was waiting for the firewall to pop up Wink - but can I reiterate that I find the animated banner very distracting. As suggested above could you either relegate this to the help menu or incorporate a static image instead. I am not against a company promoting its own products in free to use software at (enough vendors do it in commercial software after all) but whilst any promption has to be visible to satisfy your needs it must be non-distracting to the end user if it isn't going to drive them potty!

I don't know about other people's views on this but I find desktops get overly distracting at times with pop-ups appearing here and there (email / automatic virus updates / IM clients). They can all be helpful, but too often they just distract from the task in hand. It is a bit like a telephone - very hard to ignore.

Can I ask a simple question - what purpose does the animated ad serve? You say commercial customers don't see it - so it won't generate sales, home users have found you and if they like your software they will return to your site for updates etc. anyway.
Logged

Renegade
Charter Member
***
Posts: 11,204



Tell me something you don't know...

see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2005, 06:28:45 PM »


Thanks - I wasn't actually suggesting that there is anything going on, but you can understand that with a program like ALFTP where internet access is inherently required it can be difficult to judge what is going on for the average user.

I note that phone home ads have been dispensed with (thatnks that's good) - I was waiting for the firewall to pop up Wink - but can I reiterate that I find the animated banner very distracting. As suggested above could you either relegate this to the help menu or incorporate a static image instead. I am not against a company promoting its own products in free to use software at (enough vendors do it in commercial software after all) but whilst any promption has to be visible to satisfy your needs it must be non-distracting to the end user if it isn't going to drive them potty!

I don't know about other people's views on this but I find desktops get overly distracting at times with pop-ups appearing here and there (email / automatic virus updates / IM clients). They can all be helpful, but too often they just distract from the task in hand. It is a bit like a telephone - very hard to ignore.

Can I ask a simple question - what purpose does the animated ad serve? You say commercial customers don't see it - so it won't generate sales, home users have found you and if they like your software they will return to your site for updates etc. anyway.


Well, that's a bit of a complicated question to answer, but here goes.

ALZip is free for home users - commercial users pay. When they pay, they need to get something for their money, and not just warm fuzzies from doing the right thing and supporting the products they use. They do get personalized license keys, but so what? At some point there needs to be some kind of differentiation for commercial users. All the functionality is the same - there's no difference between paying and not paying - except that registering removes the animated GIF at the top. It's really just about trying to deliver the best product possible and at the same time trying to deliver a good feeling about purchasing the product. We want our commerical users to feel good about their purchases, and this is just one way that we can help do that.

Silly? Perhaps. It's just how people work though.

I think that question kind of leads into another area though - how people feel about a product.

I personally spend a lot of money on software - too much at times probably. One of the major decision factors is support for the product. If a vendor treats me like a person, and gives me real answers to my questions, hey - I'm there and they've got my money. On the otherhand, if I'm having a hard time with the software, and I'm not getting good support - hey, I'm gone in a heartbeat. I think that too often a lot of vendors forget this. Treat people well, and they'll treat you well. And yes - I am a support FANATIC. (I'll skip my rants on support smiley )

Now, I'm not always the fastest, but I get people answers as quickly as possible, and always make sure that and problems get addressed. That goes for ALTools and my own software as well. The only real frustration is when users have something misconfigured on their system and there's no way to solve their problem without examining the computer itself. I've had 2 incidents like that for my own software and wasn't able to fix the problem for the users.

But, back to the other half of your question - the home user side... The animated GIF is just a gentle reminder that there are more ALTools available for free. That's all it's supposed to do - gently remind people that they can get more ALTools for free.

I'm going to revisit this issue though and try to come up with something a bit better. I've got a few ideas at the moment, but we'll see... 

I hope that I've answered your question satisfactorily.

Cheers,

Ryan


Logged

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker
Carol Haynes
Waffles for England (patent pending)
Global Moderator
*****
Posts: 7,952



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2005, 07:47:08 PM »

Thanks Ryan,

I know how you feel - I spend far too much on software too ... as my credit card statements testify  thumb down
Logged

mouser
First Author
Administrator
*****
Posts: 33,294



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2005, 08:06:41 PM »

i'm reallly enjoying this thread - it's great to hear developers and users talking like this.
i'd like to express some opinions about adware that i've been chewing over for a while, and i think it relates to the issues faced by donationcoder.com.

i intuitively find myself in the camp that is very bothered by things like ads in programs (adware).
the thing is if i ask myself "does this really have a negative impact on me?" usually the answer is no.

carol has it right i think, animated banners are very distracting and would i think interfere with using a program that required any level of attention.  and the more often you use a program the more minor issues like ads would negatively effect the experience.

but i think its also a psychological isse - like it you put in the about box an ad that no one ever saw unless they opened the about box, i'll bet ya you'd get people who would refuse to use the program just because they were "bothered" by the ad in the about box that they never look at.  or for example if you had a pop up ad that came up once per month - is that really going to inconvenience anyone? probably not in any significant way, but the mere fact of it would bother people.

it's not that i don't understand and empathize with this anti-ad sentiment - like i said i am prone to it myself.  but its very similar in spirit to the approach here to require people to now sign up at forum to download a freeware license every 6 months.  it's an attempt to find an alternative to charging people, whether for business reasons or ethical reasons, or combinations.  the trick is finding a balance that people are comfortable with, and also as jibz said, being upfront with people about what they are installing.

one of the ways we are trying to avoid real problems is to have a kind of opt-out for people who are particularly averse to our approach, saying hey if you take the time to personally email us and tell us that you can't handle it and have considered and rejected donating, then we'll just give you the license.  this at least separates the impulse objections from the hardcore objections.

Logged
Jibz
Developer
***
Posts: 920



Cold Warrior

View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2005, 03:05:34 AM »

Quote from: Renegade
ALZip is free for home users - commercial users pay. When they pay, they need to get something for their money, and not just warm fuzzies from doing the right thing and supporting the products they use. They do get personalized license keys, but so what? At some point there needs to be some kind of differentiation for commercial users. All the functionality is the same - there's no difference between paying and not paying - except that registering removes the animated GIF at the top. It's really just about trying to deliver the best product possible and at the same time trying to deliver a good feeling about purchasing the product. We want our commerical users to feel good about their purchases, and this is just one way that we can help do that.

I know exactly what you mean .. some of my software is also free for non-commercial use, so I face many of the same problems.

How about putting some text in the topic line (or about box) of the program saying it's unregistered but free for non-commercial use, and for your registered users remove that line?

The problem with the current solution seems to be that it's both annoying and relatively easily mistaken for adware.

Quote from: mouser
i'm reallly enjoying this thread - it's great to hear developers and users talking like this.
i'd like to express some opinions about adware that i've been chewing over for a while, and i think it relates to the issues faced by donationcoder.com.

I think there is a big difference between the approach taken on this site and adware. Here, the user is in charge, and downloads and enters the key. With an add supported program, the author (or some advertisement company) is in charge of the code inside the program running on the users computer and connecting to the internet from it.

That's a pretty big trust to put into an application. For instance, on my machine only very few programs have access to the internet, and I wouldn't dream of opening up access for some advertisement mechanism in random programs.
Logged

"A problem, properly stated, is a problem on it's way to being solved" -Buckminster Fuller
"Multithreading is just one damn thing after, before, or simultaneous with another" -Andrei Alexandrescu
mouser
First Author
Administrator
*****
Posts: 33,294



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2005, 03:13:07 AM »

i agree that any app that downloads ads is going to really cause concern from users (and i include myself) who don't like the idea of programs connecting out to the internet.

jibz and i have also talked about his idea of putting some "unregistered" text in the titlebar or taskbar - it does seem an intriguing possibility in terms of not being too distracting but being enough of a motivator to get people to purchase who really love the software.
Logged
Carol Haynes
Waffles for England (patent pending)
Global Moderator
*****
Posts: 7,952



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2005, 07:45:51 AM »

It has been established that current versions of ALzip etc. do not connect to the internet to serve ads, but the principle of connecting to the internt (in other apps) exercises me too.

Usually I just tell my firewall to block communication - if the the app were to cease to function then it would be uninstalled. The problem becomes more acute when the app MUST have access to the internet. Personally I am not really prepared to make the effort to monitor which ports an application is using and build complex rules to keep control. Consequently any ad supported software that downloads ads is not going to get used on my system if it is a web enabled app (eg. an FTP client etc.).

The problem then arises in software that 'appears' to fall into this camp - the widespread growth of dangerous software out there is beginning to make savvy users paranoid about what they are prepared to download, install and give access to the internet - and rightly so.

Here is what I do if I go to a site like "www.lots of freestuff.com" and want to download a utility.

  • Read user reviews - if there aren't any I am already suspicious
  • Do a google search on the app name + Review
  • Do a google search on app name + Spyware/AdWare/Malware etc.
  • Download the software and virus scan
  • Unpack the archive/installer and virus scan again
  • Use SpySweeper to check the unpacked folder contents
  • Set a system restore point
  • Install app but don't run it
  • Run virus & spyware check on installation folder, memory and registry

Only if it is still clean do I run the app.

If it unexpectedly asks to connect to the internet I check to see if there as automatic update and switch it off. If it still wants to connect to the internet for no good reason than I block it. Anything odd starts to happen it is uninstalled and the system restore point applied.

Am I paranoid? Probably - but it takes a hell of a lot of hours to sort out a screwed up system ....
Logged

mouser
First Author
Administrator
*****
Posts: 33,294



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2005, 07:46:51 AM »

Quote
Usually I just tell my firewall to block communication - if the the app were to cease to function then it would be uninstalled.

same here.
Logged
Renegade
Charter Member
***
Posts: 11,204



Tell me something you don't know...

see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2005, 04:50:34 PM »

I'm very careful when I install new software, and generally virus scan it before I run the installer. But I don't go to the same lengths that you do Carol. Then again, I'm very selective about what I even bother trying.

Quite often I know who the developer is, so I'm less worried. e.g. I wouldn't bother scanning Sword Searcher or FileBoss - but I also know Brandon and Dexter (the developers) and I know that they wouldn't try anything underhanded. Same goes for the CoffeeCup Zip utility - I know Nick and I know that he wouldn't go that route.

Another filter for me is personal referrals. I've bought software simply from hearing about it from people without even trying it. I just bought a VistaDB license and never bothered downloading it or trying it beforehand because I Mitchell Vincent (a developer that I trust) recommended it. Word-of-mouth is a very powerful thing.

For adware, I'm ok with stuff like Opera. That doesn't bother me as I know what's going on. They are a reputable company and they try to gain trust from users. But they also need to pay bills. It's the popup junk and the like that I don't go for.

I've read license agreements that let the company install anything they wanted, at anytime, for any purpose, and allowed them to change the EULA at anytime. That never got installed smiley

However, in the future you'll find that more and more software will use network connectivity to provide services for the software. Web Services is just starting to become important. FeedForDev is just one example of what kind of thing is in store for the next generation of software.

Logged

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Reply  |  New Topic  |  Print  
 
Jump to:  
   Forum Home   Thread Marks Chat! Downloads Search Login Register  

DonationCoder.com | About Us
DonationCoder.com Forum | Powered by SMF
[ Page time: 0.072s | Server load: 0.12 ]