Cyberduck 2.3.3, by David Kocher
Posted: 4-Nov-2004

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: David Kocher Type: FREEWARE

Reviewer: Judd Spitzer Class: INTERNET
     
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Overview
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is one of the best ways (and most popular) to transfer files between directories on two computers across the internet with ease. Unlike sending files via email, this protocol ensures that the files are immediately available online when posted. One of the biggest usages of an FTP client is to upload your HTML files to your website. With the Mac in the pre-OS X days, we had Fetch for free (Fetch was free with early versions - 3.0 and before - when it was a University Project). However, Fetch has not been free for awhile, and never on OS X, so if you wanted to send and receive files using FTP for free, you would have to use the Terminal within OS X. That is, until Cyberduck came around. Cyberduck is a free FTP client made for Mac OS X (with the GNU license). This program allows users to FTP without the UNIX awkwardness of the Terminal program, or the extraneous excess of expensive HTML editors such as GoLive.

Test System

iMac 800Mhz G4 17" Wide - 512MB


System Requirements

Designed for OS X 10.3 (According to the author, your mileage may vary with older versions, but it didn't work on 10.1 on my iBook)


Setup
Setting up Cyberduck is a snap. Download the Cyberduck dmg file (disk image), and it will open up as a disk on your desktop. Drag the file Cyberduck to your Applications folder and you're done! No special installation, or need to get to your keychain (yet).

Interface
David Kocher chose to use much of the standard interfaces that we have seen in many types of standard OS X apps such as Mail, or iJournal. The main window of the program is called the Browser. Here you can find all of the basic features needed to setup and start "FTPing". There is a customizable toolbar, as well as a location for putting direct FTP addresses (aka, "Quick Connect"). The main portion of the window displays the files in a list format. Multiple FTP sessions are able to be accomplished using multiple browser windows.


The Cyberduck Browser window


In Use
The look and feel of the main window is similar to your experience in OS X's list view in the Finder. Cyberduck provides a detailed listing of the files on the web-server. You can chose what columns that you want in the main browser window, and they are sortable. Other aspects of the program have a similar look and feel of many of the other OS X programs that you may use, such as MAIL, iJournal, and Preview. For example, the software designer makes good use of the drawers interface, reducing clutter from your desktop. The learning curve is dramatically reduced due to the simple OS X-savvy design.

The first element of working with FTP is setting up your account for the server that you are using. The side drawer contains shortcuts to saved servers that you use, and the drawer is fully customizable. You can add different servers here, and edit your passwords for those servers. Double clicking a server starts the login process for that server. If you desire, you can watch the system connect to the server by pulling down the bottom drawer which is a text log of all FTP communications. This can be helpful for troubleshooting connection problems. 

Once connected you can begin viewing and managing files on that server (depending upon the access you have). Uploading and downloading files with Cyberduck is a snap. Files can be dragged and dropped from the desktop, or you can search your machine for files to upload. Downloading is just as easy. You can selected different files, and either press download, or drag them to the desktop. Deleting files from the server is just as easy. You can select the files in the browser window, and select delete from the pulldown menu.

What makes this program nice is the ability to customize your toolbar with commonly used FTP functions. For example, adding the delete button to the toolbar makes deleting much easier. You can add other shortcuts such as Get Info, Download, New Folder, etc., all of which provides a handy button instead of having to use pulldown menus.

When managing folders and files on a server, permissions are important. The way to make those changes in Cyberduck is by using the Get Info function. Just select multiple files to change the permissions, and make your changes. Being able to perform these changes on multiple folders and files at the same time is quite handy. The Get Info function is also used to change the name of a file.

There are two features that are included with Cyberduck that I couldn't use: SFTP (Secure) and support for Rendezvous. I do not have access to an SFTP server, nor an FTP server capable of Rendezvous. As technology pushes ahead, these two technologies are important for transferring files, due to the secure nature of the protocol. If you are working on private networks where security is a risk, these features will help you maintain a higher level of security. I have seen many other FTP programs out there, and many don't support this level of security.

I've spoke about the ease of use and advantages of Cyberduck, yet is there room for growth. I believe that this program has potential to grow into a powerhouse FTP program. This can be done by adding some additional features, such as scripting. Adding scripting will allow for automated task events to occur, such as updating photos from a webcam. Another feature that would enhance this program would be a Sync Folder. A Sync Folder is basically setting up a folder on your hard drive that could be mirrored to an FTP server with just a push of one button. This would be great for people who design websites on their machines, but upload those files to another webserver.

Summary
FTP is still an important way to transfer files efficiently across the internet. Cyberduck is a very effective FTP program, enabling you to upload and download files quickly, and to manage your files directly on the server, supporting file renaming and single or batch permission updates. While many web designer programs have FTP programs built in, this standalone application is a great addition to my collection of internet utilities. It's fast, free and friendly. This program supports most of the features of a good FTP program, and is also OS X-savvy supporting drag and drop as well as drawers (eliminating the need for extra window clutter). This is a program that you can learn easily, letting you accomplish your file tasks very quickly. One feature that would be great to see in the future is scripting feature, in case you want to keep uploading files automatically. A synchronize folder would also be an excellent feature for maintaining websites. The bottom line is that Cyberduck provides a fully functioning and Mac-savvy FTP client for free, and I highly recommend it.

Pros

  • Cyberduck is freely licensed under the GNU license
  • Short learning curve
  • Offers more than basic features, such as SFTP and rendezvous support


Cons

  • Not scriptable
  • No shortcut to toggle the Log drawer
  • Only OS X 10.3 supported


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice