Woe is me, I FTP.

I don’t think that I’m asking for too much. Really. I use FTP software to transfer files to and from my machine to a web server when working on web sites. I’ve been doing that a LONG time. When the “Set your connection folders” feature became available, it was a great day for FTP. In particular, WS-FTP let you define a site, and in the middle of a session you could click ONE BUTTON and reset your “local” and “remote” connection folders for a site. Wow, that was handy!

I got used to creating a list of “My Sites” in the site manager, and simply “saving” the locations of whatever folders I happened to be using. It kept things neat and tidy, with typically only one entry per site. If I *really needed* to have more than one set of “connection folders” available, it was possible to simply copy an existing site config, and then set new folders for that entry.

Well, a few years ago, WS-FTP took a turn for the worse. They made their interface a lot “prettier” but dropped some functionality along the way. Namely, my favorite button of all time: “Save connection folders.” I just couldn’t believe they did that!! Setting the local & remote connection folders was (and still is!) something done when a site is initially set up, on a sub-menu. I called and asked their “product specialists” if that button would be coming back anytime soon. “Next version, it’ll be back” I was told.

To shorten this post, let’s just say it’s now several versions later, and still no quick-n-easy “save connection folders” button. In the meantime, however, we’ve now got “Sites” and “Workspaces” and “HotDrops” but no easy way to just save the current local & remote folders. And lately, WS-FTP wants to re-set my local folder to something random after every download. (If this is a “feature” it’s purpose escapes me…) So it’s time to take a look at the current “who’s who” of FTP programs and see if anyone else has got it right:

Just for completeness, WS-FTP doesn’t have the magic “save connection folders” button anymore. You can create “Workspaces,” “Sites,” “HotDrops,” etc… But to modify the connection folders for a particular site, you’ve got to dig into the settings panel on the “Site Manager” and re-type (or copy/paste) the folders you want to start out with.
Grade: F- (mainly because they *had* it right, and took it out.)

FileZilla is a great little FTP program, but alas, no “save connection folders” functionality. Seems like it’s still an active project on SourceForge, so there’s hope anyway.
Grade: C (has the potential to be great.)

TurboFTP *almost* has it right! They are so close it’s actually frustrating… Once you’ve defined a site in TurboFTP, you can right-click on the remote view and “Set default directory” which *gets it right* because that saves the remote connection folder in the site profile. Next time you connect, BAM, there’s the folder you want.

The downside is: When you perform the exact same action on the local file view, “Set default directory” it changes the default folder that TurboFTP starts up in. NOT the folder you go to when you connect to a site. I’m not sure why this would be useful… To change a site’s local connection folder you still have to dig into the settings panel of the “Site Manager”

TurboFTP also lets you save “Bookmarks” of folders, but these appear to be global, and not saved with the individual sites. If “Bookmarks” were associated with the currently connected site, they’d be much more useful. As global bookmarks, I’d have to limit what I put in there. To make a bookmark for each folder I want “instant access” to for every site I work on means that the bookmarks list is going to have 300 entries in it. That tends to cut down on usability.
Grade: C+/B-

3D-FTP is what software *should* look like. Unfortunately, they don’t offer any connection folder management features. But still, they win the “coolest looking FTP software” prize hands down.
Grade: C

More to come! SmartFTP is next, and I’m open to suggestions.

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