Issue: 7.3 (March/April 2009)
Author: Brad Rhine
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Article Length (in bytes): 4,121
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RBD Number: 7307
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IN BRIEF Product RBFTP Manufacturer Brian Rathbone Price Free and open source Contact Info http://www.brianrathbone.com/wordpress/rbftp-free-open-source-ftp-client/ Pros FTP browsing works well, open source Cons Non-standard, quirky UI, no file uploads on Linux at this time Rating (1.0-5.0): 3.2
For several years, there have been two main players if you wanted to add FTP capabilities to your REALbasic project. The 800 pound gorilla in this space is FTP Suite by Apogee Development, having been around since 2002. The other is FTPKit by Bains Software. Both are commercial products, both take decidedly different approaches to exposing various elements of the file transfer protocol, and both offer competent implementations thereof.
But now there's a new game in town, and it's open source. RBFTP is, according to its website, a free, open-source FTP client. But is the promise of no-cost FTP access enough to make Apogee Development and Bains Software worry?
I downloaded the Mac OS X binary of RBFTP. Right off the bat, I noticed some interface quirks. For starters, I accidentally typed in the wrong password when I went to log in the first time. I was presented with a helpful message that I was not logged in properly. So I closed the FTP browsing window that had opened up and then went to the File Menu and chose Connect. The connection window appeared for a moment, then disappeared. Further experimentation yielded the same results. The only way to recover from a mistyped password was to quit the application and relaunch it. While I'm willing to give open source projects the benefit of the doubt when it comes to design issues, this is far from elegant.
At any rate, I got into my server on the second launch. Once logged in, I was presented with a nice view of the default directory on my FTP server. Interestingly, files and directories are listed in separate listboxes. Aside from that little quirk, directory navigation seemed to work as expected, and I was able to drill down into directories and work my way back up.
I then double clicked on a file, assuming it would be downloaded from my server. The Download button (which, like its brethren, remained enabled whether I had a current selection or not) flashed to confirm my assumption. But an error dialog appeared, notifying me that a 550 error had occurred: "Requested action not taken. File unavailable (file not found, or no access)". After this, the application became unresponsive and had to be force quit. It was then that I noticed a zero byte file on my desktop, which had the same name as the file I was trying to download. Not terribly encouraging.
When I relaunched RBFTP, I was again successfully logged in, but this time I was given no list of file or directories. That was when I noticed that hitting Apple-Q closed the FTP browser but left the application running.
Just to be clear, my issues with RBFTP are with the interface. FTP browsing worked well, and I have a strong suspicion that Brian Rathbone is primarily a Windows developer, and further that he released the Mac OS X binary without a lot of testing. However, the project is open source, and that buys the developer a lot. I could (and I very well may) open up the source code and change the interface to whatever I want. In fairness to Brian, I have to say that I think this a project with a future, and I'm sure that there are many developers out there who will put his open source to great use.
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