We've been doing some Web site work recently and all of the uploading and downloading stuff was starting to get pretty tedious. We've been using an outstanding utility called FileZilla, a free open source FTP client. FileZilla is so good that it will be nominated for the Gearhead Awards.
Allow us to digress: If you have written in for a form to nominate your favorite software and hardware for the Gearhead Awards and haven't got a reply it is because there's been a problem with the form submission system we're using . . . hold hard and a form will be wending its way to you in due course.
FileZilla is really well thought-out. It supports resuming uploads and downloads (if the server supports that feature); customizable commands; a site logon manager (you can group sites in folders); timeout detection with "keep alive"; firewall support; SOCKS4/5 and HTTP1.1 Proxy support; SSL connection support; support for SFTP; upload and download queuing; drag and drop; localization; and GSS authentication and encryption using Kerberos.
FileZilla is easy to use but even so, when you are moving files to and from a remote server you'd really like to handle the remote file system and its contents exactly as you would if you were working with a local file system. This would allow all of your tools to be used on the remote system without any problems or modifications. There must be a way to do this . . . yes, yes, its called WebDrive!
WebDrive is a really neat utility from South River Technologies that creates logical drives that can be mapped to remote servers running FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, FrontPage or SRT's own GroupDrive file server product.
When you run WebDrive it presents a site logon manager interface that looks a lot like FileZilla's and includes folders for grouping related sites. You can create a connection using the manager and assign a local drive letter to it and voilà! Look on that drive using any program and you'll see what looks exactly like a local drive, access speed notwithstanding. (Connections to servers on remote networks mapped to WebDrive drives are always slower than local drives mapped to Uniform Naming Convention paths.)
As we said, you can treat WebDrive drives as you would local drives and use any tools you like on them, such as backup and disk utilities. The WebDrive manager also provides a file transfer manager for unidirectional or bidirectional, full or incremental transfers, which can be executed immediately or scheduled to run at a given time.
WebDrive also integrates with Windows Explorer's context menu by adding a WebDrive entry. This item leads to a submenu that lets you change from online to offline (and vice versa), provides file caching control and offline file and folder management, as well as starting synchronization of offline content.
WebDAV, the Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning protocol, is a great addition to WebDrive. It is more firewall friendly than many other protocols, and supports file locking to ensure integrity.
We are totally sold on this product. It makes life, or at least file transfers, easy. WebDrive pricing starts at $55 for a single license with a year of updates.
Finally, to catch up on our complaint that MapPoint 2006 doesn't create a detailed trail of GPS-derived positions, Microsoft says this is planned for a future update.
Reader Patrick Paulson suggested an alternative to waiting: Check out the Advanced GPS Add-in for Microsoft MapPoint.
This neat tool shows the geeky GPS satellite position detail that MapPoint doesn't, and GPS tracks get the detail we wanted. There's also the Driving Assistant, which uses text-to-speech to tell you what directions to take and when your ETA changes. The combo of MapPoint 2006 and AGPS is better than most GPS navigation systems in top-end cars.
AGPS is yours for only $10, which removes the nag screens and allows the Driving Assistant to run for longer than 10 minutes.