How to make downloading a pain in the butt

I ran across some videos about Atlas, an AJAX framework for ASP.NET 2.0, that I wanted to watch since we’re planning on making some use of this stuff in future development at SnapStream.  I wanted to download these videos.

I’m now going to point out how the whole process made my life harder instead of simpler.

First of all, check out the download page for these videos.  The first thing that you want to do when you go to a download page is download.  Now, try to find the download links.  The primary download links are far below the fold, and in a section that looks equally important to all of the extra useless sections on the page.  There is a jump link that occurs very early in the page, but since it’s colored white inside a title bar, it doesn’t visually appear like a link…and if you scan for links using those visual cues, you’ll completely miss it.

Second, the links are all redirected through some page apparently designed to track downloads.  My downloading program can’t handle whatever they are doing with this wacko link, and my browser won’t show me the full url of the download when it asks me what I want to do with the link.  Failures on three fronts…the link itself, the downloader program, and the browser.  I don’t know about you, but downloading a 1GB file through this system (which I had to do the other way) is asking for trouble.  Browsers really need to build in reliable resuming if companies are going to post huge files like this.

Last, the videos are packaged up in .exe’s.  Good lord, WHY?  It’s just a WMV file.  You’re just wasting my time by packing them up and making me self-extract them.

Next time, put the download links at the top, don’t put misleading visual indicators highlighting unimportant information, and don’t repackage the file in an .exe that the file doesn’t need to be in. Signing out, thanks!

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