I’ve been toying with the idea of adding a software repository to this site. I thought it might be a cool idea to become a download mirror for every piece of open source software mentioned here. It would certainly be an ambitious undertaking to try and keep up with all the new versions as well as add new ones along the way. The problem I’m experiencing is that none of the open source software repositories I’ve found are very good looking. They all seemed a bit challenging to figure out too, so I set out to find a commercial one instead. I began my search with iDevSpot’s SoftDirec Software Repository script, and although it looked decent at first glance, I was instantly turned off by the misspelling of “repository” right underneath the product title. I’m certainly no spelling champion and make my fair share of errors, but geez man…if you’re going to make an attempt at selling your visitors a product, at least know how to spell what you’re selling. Maybe it’s just me, but this was a major detraction and not a very good first impression.
Unfortunately, there was nothing else out there that looked as clean and organized as this SoftDirec one, so after hours (literally) of searching and installing, I ended up coming back to this one as my favorite. From the demo, I really like how it’s organized. The individual listings are also well laid out and visually appealing. A number of the others, both open source and commercial, have a cluttered look and feel. I usually hit my back button when I arrive at sites like that because there’s too much going on and I don’t feel confident I’ll be able to find what I’m looking for quickly. At least with this script, your eyes can concentrate on one thing at a time.
There’s a subscription service built in where users can upgrade a listing via PayPal. In the admin demo, there is one option for “Highlight” and one for “Sponsored”, but those can be edited and/or deleted and other custom packages can be created. There’s not a lot of ways to differentiate between the different packages other than highlighting them with a color or making them sticky by keeping them at the top of the list. I’m actually okay with that because if I were to go forward and purchase this script, I wouldn’t be going into it with income in mind. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice to sell some sponsored spots somewhere down the line, but it certainly wouldn’t be my primary motivation for adding the repository.
As I go back and forth between writing this post and fiddling with the demo, I’m really starting to like this script more. It’s simple, it’s attractive, and it’s cheap. I’m still a bit cautious though as I do not want another SoftBiz incident where I instantly become a beacon for hackers because it’s not securely coded. Sometimes cheap scripts are cheap because they’re not actively developed and I really hope to steer clear of software that isn’t (at least occasionally) improved or patched. I think I’ll send the folks at iDevSpot a few questions and see how I feel about the responses. It would be a shame if it’s a bust because it’s really a decent looking, functional script repository. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…