Why We're Improving Sun Download Manager



In my last post, I hinted at the "shortcomings" of the current Sun Download Manager (SDM) and that we're working on version 2 to address them. Let me elaborate a bit...

The main issue is that SDM is not integrated into the download experience. When a user arrives at the SDLC download page, he/she will see a message highly recommending the use of SDM to insure a successful download. However, the message links to the SDM pages where customers have to stop what they're doing, download SDM, install SDM, take a moment or two to figure out how it works, then return to the SDLC download page. At that point, the user adds the download links to SDM and begins the download. Obviously, this hurts adoption, because people have come purposely to get a particular product and then we say, "Stop, go get this tool first because it will help you." People don't always want to stop what they're doing, so many won't install SDM.

Why do we care so much if our customers use SDM? Because we know SDM works well (it's a proven product and has been downloaded over 1/2 million times the last few years), and it's a win-win when our customers use it. For our customers, it allows them much more control over their download (pause/resume), the ability to restart from an interrupted session (broken connection, browser crash, etc.), and the built-in file verification routines prevent file corruption. A successful download is key to kicking off our desired chain of events:
Successful download --> happy customer --> installs product --> loves product (of course) --> customer loves Sun and buys lots of our software, hardware and services --> customer tells his/her boss and company to buy Sun solutions. (And that's how you make money with free software!)

So there's the main benefit to Sun of encouraging use of SDM to insure download success. There's more, though, as the numerous capabilities of SDM prevent users from having to start failed downloads over again from the beginning, and that saves us (and potentially customers) money on bandwidth. (You may not think bandwidth is expensive, but when you're pushing a billion files a month, you can save a lot when your customers use download managers.)

The plan to integrate SDM with SDLC so it will install and start up automatically revolves around Java Web Start technology. More details to follow.

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About

I helped design, build, and manage download systems at Sun for many years. Recently I've focused on web eMarketing systems. Occasionally, I write about other interests, such as holography and jazz guitar. Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/garyzel

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