For this installment in my series about FTP Clients I'm going to review the SmartFTP Client from SmartSoft Ltd. For this blog post I used the SmartFTP Client Ultimate Edition version 4.0.1105.0, and it is available from the following URL:

http://www.smartftp.com/

At the time of this blog post, SmartFTP is a for-retail product that is available in three editions: Home, Professional, and Ultimate. A description of the prices and features that are available in each edition is currently available from the following URL:

http://www.smartftp.com/features/editions.php

As for myself, I would use at least the Professional edition, and that statement is based on the features that I typically look for in an FTP client. (Although I would have loved to have had the Ultimate Edition several years ago when I used Telnet to connect to servers. <grin>)

The SmartFTP Client is pretty intuitive and it's easy to navigate within the application. If you are used to using typical Windows applications then you should find that the user interface follows most of the established paradigms that you would expect from a Microsoft application; it seemed to me that the design emulated the relevant parts of Windows Explorer, Visual Studio, and Office with an FTP focus.

For example, switching your directory listing views align with most Windows applications, and the site management functionality is managed through a hierarchical set of "Favorites."

Each "Favorite" has a variety of additional settings that you can edit by open the properties dialog for the favorite.

One of the great features in all editions of the SmartFTP client is a nicely-implemented Remote Edit functionality, which allows you to invoke your favorite editor from inside the client's GUI.

Command-Line Support versus Extensibility

The SmartFTP Client does not have a built-in command-line interface, although there is a script-based command-line interface that you can download separately from the SmartFTP web site. That being said, that script is not created by the folks at SmartSoft, and it's functionality is extremely limited.

For me personally, the SmartFTP Client's extensibility model more than makes up for the lack of command-line functionality. More often than not I'm simply using the command-line in order to script FTP operations, and the SmartFTP extensibility features provide a great deal more capabilities than I would have available to me when automating a command-line FTP client.

I haven't spent a great deal of time working with the extensibility features, but so far I am pretty impressed. I was able to take one of the samples and retool it into a simple FTP client pretty easily. (I will include that as an example in a later blog post.) In the meantime, you can download the SDK for the SmartFTP Client from the following URL:

http://www.smartftp.com/features/sdk/

Using FTP over SSL (FTPS)

The SmartFTP Client supports both Implicit and Explicit FTPS, so the choice is up to you to decide which method to use. The FTPS method is stored as the Protocol in a favorite's properties, which is easily located in the General settings for a favorite.

Once again, the following rules apply for FTP7 when determining whether to specify Implicit or Explicit FTPS:

  • If you enable SSL in FTP7 and you assign the FTP site to port 990, you are using Implicit FTPS - the SmartFTP Client refers to this as FTP over SSL (Implicit).
  • If you enable SSL in FTP7 and you assign the FTP site to any port other than port 990, you are using Explicit FTPS - the SmartFTP Client refers to this as FTP over SSL (Explicit).

If you are using Implicit FTPS, make sure that you configure your FTP client to connect on port 990.

Using FTP Virtual Hosts

Because the SmartFTP Client's properties for favorites allow you to specify the virtual host name as part of the user credentials, the SmartFTP Client works great with FTP7's virtual host names. All that you need to do is use the "ftp.example.com|username" syntax when specifying your username, and when you connect to the FTP7 server it will route your requests to the correct FTP virtual host site.

Using True FTP Hosts

The SmartFTP Client provides built-in support for the HOST command, which means that you can have real multi-homed FTP sites when using the SmartFTP Client to connect to FTP7 sites that are configured with host names. In order to use true HOSTs in the SmartFTP Client, you need to configure the client to send the FEAT command before logging in. This is configured in the Connection settings in the drop-down menu for "Send FEAT."

As an FYI - I had some discussions with Mat Berchtold from SmartSoft while I was writing this review, and Mat informed me that the SmartFTP Client doesn't automatically assume support for the HOST command; sending the FEAT command before logging in allows the client to discover if HOST is supported before continuing.

Host Names and Firewalls

Mat Berchtold from SmartSoft also mentioned that some firewalls do not yet recognize the HOST command, and therefore those firewalls may not pass the HOST command through the firewall. That's something to think about if you start to see connection failures related to hostnames not being found - you can check your FTP server's logs to see if the HOST command is arriving at the server.

Scorecard for the SmartFTP Client

This concludes our quick look at some of the features that are available with the SmartFTP Client, and here's the scorecard results:

Client Name Directory
Browsing
Explicit
FTPS
Implicit
FTPS
Virtual
Hosts
True
HOSTs
SmartFTP Client Ultimate 4.0.1105.0 Y Y Y Y Y 1
1 As noted earlier, true FTP HOSTs are fully supported, but you need to configure the SmartFTP Client to send the FEAT command before logging in.

Note: I've included the following disclaimer in all of my posts, and this post is no exception. ;-] There are a great number of additional features that the SmartFTP Client provides - once again I'm just keeping the focus on those topic areas that apply to FTP7.