A matter of the Download links... ..and Release Notes ... and Webpage layout

As a software person (with a hardware background) – who regularly downloads software and firmware updates – the naming convention is generally device_name…blah…version_id.zip or driver_name…blah…version_id.zip or software_name…blah…version_id.zip and the <webpage_link> to these is <device_name version_id> or <driver_name version_id> or <software_name version_id>.

Whatever else happens the target zip file contains the name and version_id so that if the target zips get mixed up you at least know what they are for.

The other day I ended up having to reload all the psaudio firmware files I had as I didn’t know what the proverbial they were for – and then I had to create the name_id directories so that I could download the alien_stuff.zip (for alien_stuff think blah in the above convention) files into them as holding pens since their name doesn’t tie back to their parent at all when downloading psaudio files. (And yes this is my problem for having assumed the release zip files would directly imply their targets and versions - but really who would have thought?..) (I have since also discovered that some are identifiable by the prefix of the hex files within - but others (like NPC) even that doesn’t match up with the internal hex device identifier.) But really - that shouldn’t be something a customer has to know - the main zip files needs to provide the device_name and version_id values and then we extract the zip file contents to a SD disc for import. Although - it would be nice to be able to find an identifier within the zip file contents that specifies a device name so we are sure we import the correct files to the device - like device_name version_id.id eg. DSD6115.id or PWT122.id keeping within a 8.3 file structure.)

I look forward to the day when there is a strategic renaming of these download zip files to include the name and release_id (and for those wedded on the old convention the alien_stuff can replace the blah in the conventions above. eg. Directstream 6115 firmware will point to Directstream_11-061-01-1-FMC-6_6115.zip or similar if you want to tie back to the existing files. As a newcomer I’m not fussed if that changes but reading the PWD firmware thread for example; PWD customers have grown through a number of iterations that the alien_stuff is now their bread&butter; plus it’s out there already so no point hiding these at least – so likely would prefer old alien_stuff be kept – but most likely from now on the alien_stuff of internal Build id’s can be changed to 2014-Rel3 or something psaudio might like to refer to (Boulder mountain peaks ?).

There should also be really nothing stopping the almost immediate renaming of the target files of the Download pages to include the name & version_id as top & tail to envelope the existing zip file names as the target of the link is likely already in a separate directory on the web-server and not tied directly to the main psaudio Development Build Server. You could limit the change to the last 2 or 3 release links of each product - but eventually should do the entirety for consistency. Then for subsequent releases don’t include the internal release identifiers so that eventually these get phased out to (say) a date with a result like DirectStream-2014-Rel2-6115.zip .

I see the benefit of having a repository of all the firmware releases - but generally most companies would only support the last 3 releases and if you want a fix to a newly identified problem - then upgrade to the latest release only. In psaudio’s case there doesn’t need to be that same distinction (although Directstream 5407 and DirectStream 6115 releases tends to imply different internal streams … but not why? ) - it is new firmware for a device - and not (say) 2 different generations of hardware for the same device. It was a major hardware/design change that brought forth a new product DirectStream from a previous PWD …but completely different from buying software with upgrade rights to minor updates - and having to pay to upgrade to a new software release. Here we buy device(s) and firmware updates are usually to correct existing defects - although occasionally new functions are also added.

I would also like to see more formal Release Notes being provided if that is possible (I discovered PWT122 has already - and they were exactly as I am suggesting) – it can be a pdf file either within the zip or as a pdf_link beside the zip_link – and contain a list of what has changed in terms of functionality added, or major_errors corrected or things changed – the key items that are relevant to this release - or even (better) a growing record of the changes/releases. If you make the existing download link icon half the width you could likely still also include a release notes link to the right and stay within the same paging standard. (Or as in PWT’s case leave them within the zip file.) I tend to be cautious about new firmware updates as some in the past (from other companies) have not been so benign and fixing one thing breaks another so knowing what has changed so as to assess the risk before applying that change also means thoroughly reading the Release Notes before any import. As our home devices become more and more complex internally whilst externally simple there is a lot that can be broken with what is meant to be a minor change. (It’s like never make a “quick” change just before bedtime - you’ll spend the next 6 hours trying to unravel the resulting mess!) I am also very familiar with the Corporate Change Management Process such that I impose my own version at home now too. For that we need Release Notes. Please.

If psaudio were also prepared to go outside their current Download web page formatting layout – I would have the drivers & firmware each listed in groupings based on the device or driver name – with each individual entry filling an entire page width with a zip link and a pdf link (rather than 4 entries per page width) – and if they use an icon for each download link that does not exceed more than a normal line height’s worth then have a line spacing before the next entry – you would then have scrolling on the entire list so that you can quickly find the grouping – and then find the entry within that you are after. This also helps minimize downloads as the release notes are separate for those just wanting those. So rather than rows of 4 large icon’s per row there would be one long list with 1 narrow height entry (or icon) per row and each entry inserted alphabetically based on the name and also the version_id.

While the large Download icon being used currently is a novel way of displaying the download links it is also (channelling Spock) not an efficient way of accessing information.

… please consider.


ps. I acknowledge that reading part of the PWD Download firmware section thread after having first discovered the current problem of the alien_stuff.zip files I drafted a response to Paul’s acknowledgement (Dec 2013) to Elk that this was being worked on - and then afterwards found Elk’s brief comment preceding that - that seems to mirror the above but without the detail (& length) obviously. I even posted (briefly) the original response - but deleted it after I discovered the old Download part of the Forum is no longer active. This is the revised (& longer) version…

I make it a point when I download files from PS Audio (or anywhere for that matter) to add the manufacturer name, equipment/purpose and version number to whatever random greek name it comes as. I am not always successful and it can be a challenge to remember to add all appropriate information to the file name. File names can get long too!


Good thoughts, Geoff.