Friday, July 27, 2012

Your free software website, for dummies

There is a certain art to buidling a website for your open source project.Before you create your own, make sure you know and follow the rules. You’ll thank me later.

It’s simple, really. It’s all about the first impression.

In particular, your site’s first page must communicate the following points:


  • It must mention the fact that your software is open source or free, or whatever bastardly combination of the two, even before explaining what your software does. Extra points if you mention exactly which license you use, and if you help educate the masses about how speech and beer are in fact, different worldly entities. Studies show that if your users do not understand exactly whether binary linking is allowed with your software, they will not use it.
  • If the name of your software is an acronym, you must explain what the acronym stands for, with even more confusing terms.
  • You must note which programming language your software is coded in, because that’s the first thing that any potential user will care about.
  • You must note how your program is modularized, and anyone can add modules and customize it to actually do what it was supposed to just do in the first place.
  • You must mention that your software is localized. Because, crappy software is somehow better when it speaks your language.
  • You must immediately jump into a “recent announcements” section, which has items that only the 3 developers on your project would possibly understand or derive any value from. Extra points if you have an embedded commit log.
  • You must mention that your software runs on at least 5 irrelevant platforms.
  • A personal favor, please note whether your application is multithreaded. I only download multithreaded software.
  • Refer to your application as a framework. Since all good great applications are framework. Firefox is a browsing framework. Gimp is a image processing framework. iTunes is a music listening framework. See?
  • Don’t ever call it an installer. Call it a binary distribution. Better yet, make sure the only way to install is through github. Make sure your github page offers no clues on what to do once you’re there.

There. Now you’re equipped to go create a site can compete with the best of ‘em. You’re welcome.