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On Product Feedback

It's been a few months since the installation programs for our products were updated to request feedback on when the affected product is uninstalled. Since percolating through our different release channels we've been receiving more and more feedback, particularly regarding WebCopy.

What surprises me is that while the vast majority is anonymous "reason code" feedback without context, there is quite a lot of quality and useful feedback describing problems and shortcomings. Which is really helpful, and I wish I had thought to put this in years ago. (It was only after a third party tool I use prompted for feedback and then fixed the issue that my feedback related to that I belatedly thought "Oh, wouldn't this be a good thing to do".)

There seems to be three rough groupings in regards to WebCopy feedback

  • Firstly, when WebCopy doesn't download a website properly due to issues with the software
  • Secondly, when WebCopy doesn't download a website properly, but the user didn't know that it would have if they had modified project settings from their default values
  • Thirdly, that WebCopy is too hard to use

Software Issues

Fortunately, some users have take the time to explain the problems they had using WebCopy, and either their descriptions were valid enough for me to trace the issue, or they provided contact details and provided additional details when I followed up with them.

Regretfully however, some feedback would mention a problem, but without any context (such as source website) or details that would help me isolate the problem. As feedback can be anonymous (which is perfectly fine), there's no way for me to follow up in these cases.

Some feedback was noting the lack of features (e.g. multiple downloads at once) which are on the list but just haven't been implemented yet. Or the ability to copy dynamic JavaScript sites

  • I'm going to have to get that done sooner rather than later, but to support some of these features is going to require changes to WebCopy's licensing model.

Default Values

If there's one thing the feedback is proving, it is that a lot of default values in WebCopy are no longer sensible defaults and cause numerous issues that mean a site isn't copied correctly and the user assumes it's a bug rather than bad settings.

As WebCopy has evolved over the years, many settings have been added or expanded, but often are left at "safe" default values, or it just wasn't considered to change the default. This is something I'll be looking at in a future update, to go over all WebCopy settings and redefine sensible defaults.

Too Hard To Use

I was astounded when this feedback started appearing. When I receive donations for the software, I usually respond with a note thanking the user for the donation - and I would use words such as "stubborn", "quirky" or "unwieldy" to describe the program. But while I always thought bits of the UI were clunky to use, I never thought that the program as a whole was that hard to use. Clearly I'm wearing blinkers when it comes to WebCopy.

Changing the user interface is a fairly massive job, especially to try and simplify it (which probably means Hide Almost Everything once the default settings are resolved). One sensible suggestion was to make use a of New Project wizard which would ask questions and then configure a copy project accordingly, that will be happening. I'd like to get a few more bugs out of the way before I start tearing up the UI, but I've been scribbling ideas on bits of paper and hopefully future versions of WebCopy will be easier to use.

Also in the too hard to use camp were feedback items saying the documentation was lacking. So I'll be looking at trying to make the documentation more comprehensive too, as well as expanding the Knowledge Base with better tips and helpers that don't belong in the core docs.

Moving Forward

Although I'd guess that most of the users who try and discard WebCopy as not being fit for purpose will never see this post, I'd like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has provided feedback and I hope future versions of WebCopy will be that much better because of it.

It's also worth pointing out that submitted feedback isn't going into a bin where it will be stamped on by some angry bytes - your feedback is being read by real humans and real humans are following up if more information is required or ensuring that genuine issues are logged in our issue tracker tracker to be fixed in future versions of the product.

And if you download any Cyotek product yourself and decide you don't like it - that's absolutely fine. But if you could take just a couple of minutes to explain why it wasn't suitable for you that could be of enormous help to us - the more detail the merrier. And it won't hurt our feelings too much - honest feedback is appreciated!

And, you can always contact us with bug reports or suggestions.

Update History

  • 2017-10-22 - First published
  • 2020-11-23 - Updated formatting

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