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About PAD files

What are PAD files?

PAD (Portable Application Description) files make it easier and faster for software publishers to list information about their software on download sites, and for owners of download sites to keep the records they hold about software up-to-date.

When releasing a new software program, most software publishers place a PAD file on their website that contains detailed information about the product. Software download sites can then access the PAD file, extract information about the software, and list it for their visitors to view. When the software publisher releases an updated version of their software, they update the information contained in the corresponding PAD file. Most download sites regularly "poll" PAD files for updated information. When updated information is found, they make the necessary changes to their records, thereby ensuring visitors to their site always have access to up-to-date information.

Information contained in PAD files is stored using a standard data format in XML.

Most download sites support PAD files.

For an example of an actual PAD file, you can view/download the one for the Aurora Web Editor using the URL below:

http://www.aurorawebeditor.com/padinfo/aurorawebeditor.xml

What file extensions do PAD files have?

Most pad files have the file extension .xml. According to the official PAD file specification, as well as .xml, other permitted file extensions for PAD files are .cgi, .php, and .asp.

What information do PAD files contain?

PAD files can contain a large amount of information about a software program. They also support 'PAD Extensions', which allows more information, in addition to the standard PAD specification, to be added.

At a minimum, some of the information contained in a PAD file includes:

  • The title of the software product
  • The software publisher's name
  • Contact details for the publisher
  • URLs related to the software such as the publisher's website, a product-specific site or page, a screenshot, icon and download URL(s).
  • File size information
  • and more.

How do I create PAD files?

If you are a software publisher and you want to create PAD files for your products, there are many PAD creation tools and software programs available to download. Some are free, others can be purchased. Searching for suitable software using your favourite search engine will return many results.

You will also need to create accompanying files and upload them to your website so that you can list them in your PAD file such as a screenshot and 32x32 icon graphic (in GIF or JPEG format).

How do I list my software on download sites?

Once you have created your PAD files and you have uploaded them to your website, you can start submitting your software to download sites. You can use our list of software download sites as a guide. On each site, look for a link titled Submit or Add your software (or similar) then follow the prompts.

If you are a Software Industry Professionals member, you can also list your software in our Members' software directory by submitting it through your Members' Area.

PAD file tips & common PAD file mistakes

We recommend that all software publishers read our tips on creating PAD files and common mistakes to avoid.

A brief history of PAD files

The PAD file specification was developed by the Association of Shareware Professionals. Version 1.0 of the specification was released in October 2000, and there have been numerous subsequent updates since. Version 3.01 of the specification was released in November 2006.

In January 2007, the Association of Shareware Professionals implemented PAD signing support that can be used to validate the authenticity of the data contained in PAD files using Authenticode signing keys.

References:
Association of Shareware Professionals. PAD Digital Signature Specification Details. http://www.padspec.org/padsign.php
Association of Shareware Professionals. PAD Specification History. http://www.padspec.org/history.php

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