Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I recently purchased some electronic media from Simon & Schuster.

Apparently the technology guys at Simon & Schuster believe in "Java Over Functionality." Unlike most companies that sell DRM-free digital media, I was not given a link to download zip file containing the contents of my purchase.

Instead, I was given a JNLP file, which is nothing more than an XML file. A little Googling revealed that these files should be openable by javaws, a Java Web Starter application. After getting the file to successfully run, I was greeted with a custom download manager. This is great because why offer a simple download that will be managed with my browser's download manager when I can have some half-rate, custom download manager to fudge things up?

So the download manager asked me where I would like to save the file, downloaded each file individually for about twenty minutes, and then told me it was done. There was a big problem, my files where not in the location I specified. In fact, a hard drive search revealed they didn't exist anywhere on my machine.

I tried again, no dice.

So, if Mother Necessity if the driver of invention, then welcome her new baby, ssdownloader. I wrote this Python app up in a little over an hour. It was a good chance to strengthen my weak command of Python, and to actually get the stuff I paid for.

It simply parses the JNLP file to find the other XML file that defines where the actual downloads are. It then loops through that file, grabbing each file and saving it locally. If anyone out there gets frustrated trying to make good on their Simon & Schuster purchases, feel free to use this to make your life happy.