We Need an Easier Way to Download PDFs


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Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

As a long time subscriber to the different product lines, I have a 'My Downloads' page with hundreds of PDFs at this point, but downloading them is rather annoying, and I think the process should be improved.

Problem #1 - Customization

I have to click the link twice, after waiting 10 seconds the first time... but sometimes it still isn't done yet if its a hard cover. If I download the same book again? I /still/ need to customize it.

I understand that this is to place the Watermark on the PDF pages, but it means downloading any one file takes several steps, takes time, and is in general an annoying process.

Problem #2 - Downloading Multiple Files

There is no method in place to easily download multiple files. So if I want to download all of my PDFs that I've bought, I have to do the above customization process every time.

It's painful when I'm simply downloading every adventure in an AP, but when I'm trying to get my entire collection? Almost unbearable.

If I'm going to use the PDFs at a convention or on my iPad or other tablet, I need to download them and transfer them to the device. This makes it very difficult to do.

If there were a way to at least batch the process to download multiple PDFs at once, things would be a lot easier.

Problem #3 - The File Names

I just Downloaded Unchained. It comes in a zip file named PathfinderRoleplayingGameUnchainedOGLPDF-SingleFile.zip. But when I open that zip file so that I can pull the PDF out, I find a PDF named PZO1131E.pdf. Some apps won't read the PDFs inside zip files, so I have to unzip them, which means in order to know what file my book is I have to rename the file myself.

Again, in the context of a single file, its annoying but not a huge effort. But when I'm dealing with a catalog of hundreds, having to personalize them, download them, unzip them, and rename them one by one? Very unsatisfying.

So please, improve the system.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Perram, I know what it's like to download multiple files. I had over 100 that I recently downloaded.

What I did was use Google Chrome; this did not have the browser ask you about redirection (like Firefox does).

I downloaded all of the files within a batch at once, then went in to rename them in such a way as that it's intuitive what is in the file. Then, I right-clicked on each and extracted it to it's own directory.

I then uploaded the entire file subset to Dropbox. Now, it's available to my Android tablet, on my work computer, etc.

Here is a short (10-item) directory of the Season 6 Scenarios, as an example:
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-01 Trial By Machine (1-5)
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-02 The Silver Mount Collection (3-7)
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-03 The Technic Siege (5-9)
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-04 Beacon Below (7-11)
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-05 Slave Ships Of Absalom (1-5)
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-06 Hall Of The Flesh Eaters (1-5)
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-07 Valley Of Veiled Flame (5-9)
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-08 The Segang Expedition (1-5)
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-09 By Way Of Bloodcove (3-7)
03/20/2015 11:33 PM <DIR> 6-10 The Wounded Wisp (1)

So, within my Dropbox directory on my computer (home and work), and through my Dropbox application on my tablet, I can get to The Wounded Wisp. Within there, I see the Paizo file PZOPSS0610E- but I don't need to rename that, I already renamed the ZIP file prior to extraction, so I know exactly what it is I have.

Just a thought to help you through the downloading, etc. al.

-- Steve

Shadow Lodge

Steve I think you've adequately demonstrated exactly how it's a huge effort to deal with.

Paizo Employee Senior Software Developer

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My theory is we should shove every new PDF you get into your Dropbox account as they're granted. Or something like that.


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The naming issue is a big problem for me. When I download the PDFs on my smart phone, the easiest way to figure out which is which is not by the name, but by remembering roughly when I downloaded it and going by the date modified timestamp. True, this is partially a problem of how much a PITA it is to rename files on my phone. But I shouldn't even have to run into that problem.


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I certainly wouldn't mind if the file names were a little bit more comprehensible. Having to rename 50+ PDF files is a bit of a pain in the !"#.

Grand Lodge

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Gary I would love for that to happen. DriveThru uses the Dropbox API and its ... OK. I don't know if I'd want instant download to dropbox, but I Would like a one click "Send to Dropbox" type of thing.

Checkboxes for sending a group of them at once, even better.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

(shrugs) - I was able to download 45-60 items per hour and get them renamed, unzipped to folders, etc. al.

It had a few steps, that's true- but it's easily doable.

-- S.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Gary Teter wrote:
My theory is we should shove every new PDF you get into your Dropbox account as they're granted. Or something like that.

Wow. Awkward. I mean, the license doesn't allow us to disseminate the PDFs we buy and uploading to cloud storage is literally sharing with another (corporate) entity.

Sovereign Court

Anguish wrote:
Gary Teter wrote:
My theory is we should shove every new PDF you get into your Dropbox account as they're granted. Or something like that.
Wow. Awkward. I mean, the license doesn't allow us to disseminate the PDFs we buy and uploading to cloud storage is literally sharing with another (corporate) entity.

A) What Paizo chooses to do with its products is its own choice. If they decide to send a copy of every pdf I purchase to a third party, they're more than free to do so, with or without my permission.

B) Presumably, any Dropbox connection would be strictly opt-in. Not everyone uses Dropbox, and there would be no need to scrap the existing system.

C) Without a warrant from a court, Dropbox couldn't access any of the material stored in your cloud. This would be a business relationship no different than the US Postal Service contracting with Delta to deliver your mail. (EDIT: Well, Americans' mail.)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I am with you 'til the end of time about the filename thing. Completely inexplicable and I've ranted about it before.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Anguish wrote:
Gary Teter wrote:
My theory is we should shove every new PDF you get into your Dropbox account as they're granted. Or something like that.
Wow. Awkward. I mean, the license doesn't allow us to disseminate the PDFs we buy and uploading to cloud storage is literally sharing with another (corporate) entity.

I'm not entirely sure he's serious.

Regardless, I'm not interested in having PDFs uploaded to a third party site when I'm the one that's going to be held responsible if they get pilfered and shared.

-Skeld

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Joe Wells wrote:
I am with you 'til the end of time about the filename thing. Completely inexplicable and I've ranted about it before.

It's not inexplicable. The file names are product codes of some sort and probably named such for organizational purposes. I'm sure from Paizo's POV, those names make perfect sense.

-Skeld

Grand Lodge

Skeld wrote:
Anguish wrote:
Gary Teter wrote:
My theory is we should shove every new PDF you get into your Dropbox account as they're granted. Or something like that.
Wow. Awkward. I mean, the license doesn't allow us to disseminate the PDFs we buy and uploading to cloud storage is literally sharing with another (corporate) entity.

I'm not entirely sure he's serious.

Regardless, I'm not interested in having PDFs uploaded to a third party site when I'm the one that's going to be held responsible if they get pilfered and shared.

-Skeld

Gary has actually talked about this a number of times in the past, so I think he's serious.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Andrew Betts wrote:
Gary has actually talked about this a number of times in the past, so I think he's serious.

Other PDF vendors do that as well. One Book Shelf, for example has a "Dropbox" links next to each "Download" link for every PDF you own.


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Skeld wrote:
Joe Wells wrote:
I am with you 'til the end of time about the filename thing. Completely inexplicable and I've ranted about it before.

It's not inexplicable. The file names are product codes of some sort and probably named such for organizational purposes. I'm sure from Paizo's POV, those names make perfect sense.

-Skeld

I agree, and I actually prefer having the codes... at the beginning of the filename, before the name of the document, so they stay in chronological order in my directory. But I want the actual name to be there!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Illeist wrote:
A) What Paizo chooses to do with its products is its own choice. If they decide to send a copy of every pdf I purchase to a third party, they're more than free to do so, with or without my permission.

That's not news, and of course if Paizo changes the terms of the license then it's done.

Quote:


B) Presumably, any Dropbox connection would be strictly opt-in. Not everyone uses Dropbox, and there would be no need to scrap the existing system.

Sure. It'd be hard to shove a copy into a Dropbox account that doesn't exist. Again, not the issue.

Quote:
C) Without a warrant from a court, Dropbox couldn't access any of the material stored in your cloud. This would be a business relationship no different than the US Postal Service contracting with Delta to deliver your mail. (EDIT: Well, Americans' mail.)

And here we have the issue. Couldn't. You actually use the words "couldn't access" as if they were somehow true. Unless I've missed something and Dropbox is using private key encryption at the client end prior to upload (and I'm reasonably sure they're not, and if they were, Paizo would have to have your private key to submit to your account, which is yet another problem), "couldn't" should be replaced with "absolutely, positively can".

I'm not saying "do" or "will". But absolutely can. But that's still not the issue.

We've had countless cases of well-known web services (including password repository sites) being found to be insecure. Username/password databases have been pulled via SQL injection attacks and similar. It's one thing to have some creep on the outside have access to my work-in-progress manuscript, or my resume, or cookie recipe or whatever personal crap I've shoved into Dropbox. It's something entirely different to have watermarked, purchased PDFs there. While Paizo's site being hacked is an equal risk, Paizo won't ban us if that happens. If things start trickling off Dropbox, it's our problem.

I'm a believer in the right tool at the right time for the right reason. And cloud storage is a tool. I don't see it as a personal dump for copyright-applied materials. It's like carrying your entire PDF subscription around on a USB memory stick 24/7 just in case you maybe possibly might "need" it all somewhere unplanned and can't be bothered to log onto Paizo to download the one or two you need. You're one butterfingers moment shy of losing your Paizo account.

There is such a thing as too convenient. And no, I don't think this is a huge deal. It's not. It's just... kind of uncomfortable on the risk/reward scale and I think bearing some minor consideration. In short, the Fappening illustrates the down side of putting things in popular cloud storage that maybe shouldn't be there.

Silver Crusade

My personal experience with Dropbox has been far from positive, so it wouldn't be high on my priority list. However, a better way to organize the My Downloads page would be appreciated. I have a ton of pdfs now, and it's a pain when I have to run through tbe list just to locate the new stuff for download.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Anguish wrote:

We've had countless cases of well-known web services (including password repository sites) being found to be insecure. Username/password databases have been pulled via SQL injection attacks and similar. It's one thing to have some creep on the outside have access to my work-in-progress manuscript, or my resume, or cookie recipe or whatever personal crap I've shoved into Dropbox. It's something entirely different to have watermarked, purchased PDFs there. While Paizo's site being hacked is an equal risk, Paizo won't ban us if that happens. If things start trickling off Dropbox, it's our problem.

I'm a believer in the right tool at the right time for the right reason. And cloud storage is a tool. I don't see it as a personal dump for copyright-applied materials. It's like carrying your entire PDF subscription around on a USB memory stick 24/7 just in case you maybe possibly might "need" it all somewhere unplanned and can't be bothered to log onto Paizo to download the one or two you need. You're one butterfingers moment shy of losing your Paizo account.

This is very much my concern as well.

Andrew Betts wrote:
Gary has actually talked about this a number of times in the past, so I think he's serious.

Color me surprised.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
sowhereaminow wrote:
My personal experience with Dropbox has been far from positive, so it wouldn't be high on my priority list. However, a better way to organize the My Downloads page would be appreciated. I have a ton of pdfs now, and it's a pain when I have to run through tbe list just to locate the new stuff for download.

Do a search for the word "NEVER" and you will find the files that have not been downloaded (Ctl-F in Firefox).

-- david

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Papa-DRB wrote:

Do a search for the word "NEVER" and you will find the files that have not been downloaded (Ctl-F in Firefox).

-- david

This gets to be a pain after a while, as I don't download ePub versions of the Pathfinder Tales, one-file-per-chapter versions of the rulebooks, etc.

I keep the "My Downloads" page sorted by "Date Added To My Downloads", so finding newly-added stuff is reasonably straightforward. Every now and then I resort by "Date Download Last Updated" to see if I missed anything. That catches most things, but not quite everything - occasionally something gets updated without that field getting changed. This usually seems to happen when errors are spotted (and reported on the forums) almost as soon as a new item gets added; the actual download item gets fixed, but presumably the new file is copied in by hand, and whoever is doing that doesn't always remember to update the timestamp. Or, perhaps, the field really is "Date Last Updated", so multiple updates on the same day are a problem.

In any case, it would be really nice to have a way of batch-downloading a bunch of files without having to be ready to click two or three times on every item. Ideally I'd be presented with a list of newly-added items, complete with a checkbox for each, and be able to download everything at once.

P.S. Can anyone enlighten me as to what the "Mark All As Downloaded" and "Mark All As Not Downloaded" links actually do?

Grand Lodge

Mark all as downloaded does just that, if it says it was downloaded "Never" it'll mark it as downloaded and vice versa.

Paizo Employee Senior Software Developer

The biggest blocker is that it's too easy to share a file from your Dropbox account. Right now you can download a file and then put it in your Dropbox and then share that, which is I guess just enough friction to ensure that more people don't do it.

Liberty's Edge

Starfinder Superscriber

I suspect that most of the people who purchase PDFs -- certainly the subscribers -- have enough respect that they don't illegally pass the PDFs around. The watermark is probably also a bit of a deterrent.

I am sure that some do. But, my guess is that most don't, and the reason they don't is respect for Pazio, not because of any technical difficulty.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

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I'd be happy enough with checkboxes and the ability to download all checked PDFs at once.

Second priority would be more user friendly file names. Keeping the zip files with Paizo internal friendly names is fine though.

The Exchange

Gary Teter wrote:
The biggest blocker is that it's too easy to share a file from your Dropbox account. Right now you can download a file and then put it in your Dropbox and then share that, which is I guess just enough friction to ensure that more people don't do it.

I believe that you could just download it straight to a shared folder.

On the other hand, people have been willing to manually dissect entire books and feed them through a scanner to create a PDF that they can then 'share', so I'm not sure that removing a single operation from the process will encourage piracy.

I know that I love being able to buy books from O'Reilly and have them magically appear on all of my machines and devices via Dropbox.

As to a Dropbox employee accessing my stuff, I rate it on the same level as someone gaining access to my machine via my router — technically feasible but of low probability.

TL;DR — I'd love delivery via Dropbox.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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Skeld wrote:
Joe Wells wrote:
I am with you 'til the end of time about the filename thing. Completely inexplicable and I've ranted about it before.
It's not inexplicable. The file names are product codes of some sort and probably named such for organizational purposes. I'm sure from Paizo's POV, those names make perfect sense.

I understand that, but there's no reason at all to force them on customers. They're meaningless to anyone outside Paizo and should be easy to change within their process.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

as someone who has over 700 Paizo PDFs and a hundred or so 3pp PDFs that I want to download to my new external hard drive that I got after my desktop crashed.... it would be awesome if I could download them all in batches instead of one at a time.


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I download my files, unzip them, rename the PDFs, drop them into organizational folders and put a copy on an external hard drive in case my laptop hard drive crashes. It's simple and not that time consuming. In short the present system works fine for me. I have zero interest in using cloud storage for proprietary files of any type or for any files I need access to at will. On the other hand I have no problem with other people having that option as long as I do not have to use it.


Illeist wrote:
C) Without a warrant from a court, Dropbox couldn't access any of the material stored in your cloud. This would be a business relationship no different than the US Postal Service contracting with Delta to deliver your mail. (EDIT: Well, Americans' mail.)

IANAL, but my understanding is that this is not currently the case in the United States (though the courts may at some point change their minds). The view of the government is that anything entrusted to a third party is not protected by the fourth amendment, so anything on Dropbox would be fair game (in addition to hosted email, etc).

Anguish already replied about the fact that Dropbox could access your files if they wanted to (without being ordered by the government).

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Gary Teter wrote:
The biggest blocker is that it's too easy to share a file from your Dropbox account. Right now you can download a file and then put it in your Dropbox and then share that, which is I guess just enough friction to ensure that more people don't do it.

You should never handle sharing issues by making it more difficult for your paying customers. The people that are going to steal are going to take those two steps. Those two steps save them $10-20. The people that just paid $10-20 want their products available in as friendly a way as possible.

Whether it's dropbox, the ability to check multiple files for download, or whatever, it would be nice to more easily get at my numerous documents that I have with Paizo.

It would be interesting to see your priority list though to see if this would be my top one. :)

Grand Lodge

Yeah but as they've said before they still have to TRY and protect the stuff.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

So, when I get my monthly new downloads which is probably from six to a dozen new files I want to download, I go to the My Downloads page amd right-click on every link I want to download to open in a new tab. About half of the files will start to download within a few seconds. For the rest I go to the through the tabs and click again on the links that haven't started downlaoding yet and they will start. This process has never taken me more than 5 minutes all in all.


Zaister wrote:
So, when I get my monthly new downloads which is probably from six to a dozen new files I want to download, I go to the My Downloads page amd right-click on every link I want to download to open in a new tab. About half of the files will start to download within a few seconds. For the rest I go to the through the tabs and click again on the links that haven't started downlaoding yet and they will start. This process has never taken me more than 5 minutes all in all.

That's what I do on my PC.

On an Apple device, it's not quite so easy.

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