I'm way, way late on this, but we have officially released the Shareware Starter Kit on Channel9!!
Download: (C# download, VB download).
The Shareware Starter Kit is a sample application of the common features in all shareware applications. You can easily modify, extend and integrate these into your own applications. The Channel9 guys even have a contest where you can write code to use the Shareware Starter Kit and code your way to a free ticket to the PDC. Michael Lehman also has a video walkthrough of the Shareware Starter Kit. After installing the application, make sure to read the SSK Developer Documentation for a full overview of everything it can do. Both Michael, Jed Rose, and I will be at the Shareware Industry Conference in Denver, Colorado later this week (ping me if you’re interested in a nerd dinner).
Multi-Threaded Splash ScreenA sample Windows Form that shows how you can use a timer control to create a beautiful fade-in/fade-out effect.
This feature makes purchasing a licensed copy of your software just a click away by integrating PayPal’s payment services directly into the client application using Web services.
Many shareware applications enable to try-before-you-buy, and this feature enables developers to control how you want to configure your application trial period. For example, you can explicitly state that your application can only be used for 30 days before activating the product. While it’s not a bullet proof mechanism, the built-in version provides a sample of how you can configure product activation.
This form makes it dirt simple to enable product registration directly in the product using Web services. Everyone wants to know more information about their customers, heck Visual Studio 2005 is the first version of Visual Studio with in-product registration capabilities.
Do you want to know what your customers think about your application? Why not add the ability to send feedback directly in the product? This feature enables them to do just that using Web services.
Exception Handling Reporting
You’ve probably had a Windows application hang on you, where you get a “Send Error Report” message. That feature is known as Watson, and the error information is sent to Microsoft where if you have a certificate from Verisign, you can actually pull the dumps for your application. The version in the Shareware Starter Kit is the “poor-man’s Watson”, and it captures information about the thrown exception and records it in a database. That way you can report on your application crashes by date, exception type, version, operating system, all using Web services.
You can access all the features directly from the included Sample Application Toolstrip as shown below:
Walkthrough: An unhandled exception is thrown
To show you all the bits and pieces here’s a simplified walkthrough of how the kit works:
[WebService(Namespace = "http://tempuri.org/")]
[WebServiceBinding(ConformsTo = WsiProfiles.BasicProfile1_1)]
public class SharewareService : System.Web.Services.WebService
Database Stored Procedures
Here’s a view of the architecture (pics from the included documentation) showing both the client and server architecture.
We Want Your FeedbackSend us your feedback! The Shareware Starter Kit is in beta and we want your feedback and comments on the feature design, new features and anything in-between. We are currently also working on a fully unmanaged (at least from the client side) C++ version of the Shareware Starter Kit and an Avalon/Indigo version of the kit.
Special thanks to Personify Design who did the design and development of the kit and Foundstone for the security review.