How to Package Content for Adobe Exchange
The new Adobe Exchange is an ideal resource for free and paid content and extensions for Adobe products. From a customer standpoint, this service provides quick and easy way to browse for and install desired content or extensions without having to leave the application. From the publisher side, this service is the best possible way to offer products directly to a targeted and interested group: Adobe users.
Why Adobe Exchange is a must for PublishersAs you already know there are several markets on internet where publishers can sell their solutions for Adobe products. None of these markets have all Adobe users under one umbrella as Adobe Exchange does. If a user searches through search engines there is a high probability he will miss your solution, in todays World nobody has the time to open all links and browse throughout all markets and sites which will be returned as search result. Adobe Exchange provides best way for user to find exactly what he is looking for in a minimum time with minimum effort. For publishers, the Adobe Exchange panel ensures that your solution will be listed and presented to user interested for your solution. If you are not aware, the Adobe Exchange panel is integrated into all CC products (download for CS6 from here) what is guaranty that all Adobe users will have instant access to browse and install content at any time without to leave application and spend time to search internet, register on site or marketplace, read boring guidelines and specific rules and deal with navigation and categories, which varies from site to site and marketplace to marketplace. Time is money and everyone can appreciate that.
Requirements, price and how to joinThe requirement to start publishing on Adobe Exchange is an Adobe ID (to join click here). With a basic free account, you are allowed to publish up to 10 products, of which 2 are paid. For more, you can send request for unlimited products. There isn't any limitation: you can sell your solution on any other site or marketplace, offer discounts, bundled products and free trials. The minimum price for paid products is $5. Payments will be processed by FastSpring and you will receive your money in scheduled intervals twice per Month. FastSpring will charge you $1 + 5% from each sale and that is all cost to sell through Adobe Exchange. Free products can be signed with self created certificate, which is very easy to create and will be explained later. For paid products, it is recommended to get Digital Signature, which you can obtain from several sources recommended by Adobe (starting at $60/yr).
Package your content for Adobe ExchangeUsers (buyers) can install content and extensions directly from the Adobe Exchange Panel. In order to provide them this convenience, Adobe published free Adobe Exchange Packager, which creates packages with a ZXP extension in a seconds (this can take longer if packaging larger files). Although you can watch video instructions which explains everything you need to know directly from the welcome Adobe Exchange Packager screen, I will give you some step by step instructions on a real world example with one of my products.
Prepare your files
First task is to prepare your files. Files can be organized into folders structure and imported in Packager from once or you can manually navigate to each file.You will also need to prepare in advance the following assets:
three (3) one(1) icon in png file format: 22x22px, 30x30px and 60x60px. Optionally (although recommended), create up to 5 preview images. Each preview set should have two(2) one(1) image: 200x200px and 331x331px in PNG file format.
Step 1 Download and install Adobe Exchange Packager
First step is to download and install this free packaging tool (you must be signed in) from Adobe Exchange portal.
Step 2 Create signature
As mentioned earlier, you can create a signature on your own for free products. It is very easy, and can be done from within the Adobe Exchange Packager, and best of all it is a one time process. After launching packager, click on the Certificate and Settings (1) in top right corner. Next task is to click Create Certificate (2) button to open Create certificate pop-up window.
Choose country of residence from the Country drop-down list and type: name and password in Create Certificate: pop-up window (3). Lastly click Create button (4), navigate to folder where you want to store your certificate and a type certificate name before clicking Save button to confirm and finish. After saving your certificate Packager will close Create certificate pop-up window and you will be returned to Certificate and Settings dialog.
Click Browse button on the right side of Certificate Location: (5) and navigate to location where you have saved certificate on your computer. Enter a password in the Certificate Password text field.
Click on Java Installation > Browse button (6) and navigate to java.exe file which is on Win 8: C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre7\bin\java.exe. In Mac OS, Java is installed in a hidden folder, typically /usr/bin/java..
Ensure the Remember Package Details + Settings option is checked so you do not need to navigate to stored certificate for each new product. Click Save button (7) and you are done.
Step 3 Create New Package
After creating your certificate, you will be returned to Welcome screen. By the way, this will be step one for each new product after installing Packager and configuring the Certificate. There are two options: Common Files and MXI based. I am always creating packages using first option and to follow instructions ensure that Common Files is selected. Click on Create New Package button.
In Package Details dialog you must type a product name, bundle name, publisher name and description of product. If you want to provide a trial version (can be small sample of patterns, actions, or templates from main package) that will be separate package and do not forget to type trial in Version text field: 1.0.0.trial. Optionally you can include EULA or End User License Agreement. If you do not have prepared EULA there is quick and easy way to copy and paste the example from Adobe Exchange site. Click on See Example link, copy and paste Consumer License Agreement Template. Note that you must change only parts where developer (your) name appears.
Step 4 Navigate to files and save package
After entering the package details, click on Next button bottom left corner. New dialog will appear: your product name: X Files. In this dialog you can just drag and drop files or click on Add files.../Add a directory... buttons and navigate to files or folders. when you add a new file with an extension like .pat, packager will automatically detect content (File Type) intended product(s) and set installation location (Install Location). After adding all of the files or directories you want to include in the package, click on Package button, navigate to folder on your hard drive where you want to store the file and type a name in File name text field (for instance, "your_package.zxp"). Click the Save button and Adobe Exchange Packager will do the rest. After packaging all of the content, you will be returned to the window where you can create an additional package (trial for example) or to click on Sign in to Adobe Exchange link and upload your package.
For example of created package and trial version search Adobe Exchange for Wood! Wood Patterns and click on Try button to install trial or sample version (Photoshop CS6/CC > Extensions > Adobe Exchange).
Step 5 Test your package
After creating your package, you will need to test the installation process on your machine. Navigate to your_package.zxp and double-click it. Adobe Extension Manager will appear and guide you through installation process (you can download the Adobe Extension Manager from here). Once the installation process has been completed, you can check that your content has been installed to the proper location, for example: patterns should be installed in Adobe Photoshop CS6\Presets\Patterns folder. I am also checking installed files in application (for example loading installed patterns) and do not forget to provide detailed instructions for user in the Notes field when uploading package on Adobe Exchange site for review.
Step 6 Upload package and assets for review
After testing the package, you should upload it on Adobe Exchange site and submit for review. The review process is pretty quick from my experience (usually within 48 hours). First sign in on Adobe Exchange and go to My Products > New Product.
On Create New Product Page you should type the product name, version number, set price (leave 0.0 for free products), summary, description and type tags to help user find your product. On the left side of screen navigate to prepared ZXP file (Upload Product), type Notes for user (e.g. where to find files after installation and how to load the files, if needed), add any notes for the reviewer and if your product does not use encryption check that option. Lastly, click the Next button and wait for files to be uploaded.
Uploading assets and product are two separated processes. After the product is uploaded, you will need to upload prepared icons and preview images described under Prepare your files above. When uploader finish its job click on Images then on Edit icon and start uploading.
After uploading your product and all related assets, you will have 2 options: to submit product for review or to Submit With Auto Publish which means you do not need to visit Adobe Exchange to click Publish button after product is reviewed.
Approval process is pretty quick and you will get an email notification in your inbox once your product is approved. If there are any issues with your product, you will get an email notification with a detailed description of required changes.
Step 7 Promote your product
After your product is approved and published, you will now need to promote it on your blog, Website, and through social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and so on. On the published product page you have access to all major and popular social network sharing icons to promote your product.
My adviceMy general advice is to create unique products and spend enough time to make them shine as best as possible. Include help files with every product. In order to increase usability of your product and protect your customers, I recommend that you create detailed help files. Describe your solution, your intent with publication and step by step tutorials so even beginner can use your product. In this way you will ensure that every single user and customer, regardless of level of knowledge and skills, will be able to use product in all its glory and as intended. Create a separate trial version of your product whenever it is possible. A trial version can be small sample of patterns, actions, or templates from main package. I am creating a trial or test files for my paid products to give potential buyers an opportunity to see the quality of my files and engage people to search for my products and trial versions. These trial versions should also include all of the help files that will be provided with the full product. This will provide a glimpse into the capabilities or variety offered in full product and should remove any questions they might have about purchasing the paid version.
Examples of published productsHere is list with links to Adobe Exchange site to see real life examples of free and paid published products by author of this post. Note: you can search all listed products by name using search box in top right corner of Adobe Exchange panel. Easiest way to see all my products listed is to type bojan in search field then to press Enter/Return.
Wood! Wood! Patterns (trial or sample version available)
Painting & Classic Frames (Free)
Instant Cool Photo Frames (trial or sample version available)
Puzzle Overlays (Free)
Cool Photo Edges (trial or sample version available)