FTP software: Transmit vs. Interarchy

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 18th, 2005 • 2:21 am

It’s funny how you get used to a particular interface.

Back in 2000, when I made the transition to Mac OS X, I had to find an FTP application to replace my trusty old Fetch application, which was Classic-only at the time. I experimented with various freeware and shareware applications that were available at the time, and ended up deciding to purchase Interarchy 4.0. Some of the other applications I tried simply didn’t work with some of the FTP servers that I had to use, and some of them simply had an interface that was too foreign to a long-time Mac user like me (probably because they came from the NeXT world).

Interarchy felt a bit too much like a Mac OS 9 application with a coat of Mac OS X paint at the time — but at least it was working, and its interface was reasonably familiar and straightforward to me.

Then over the next few years Interarchy evolved in all kinds of strange directions, including, at some point, the use of “skins” to customize the interface, and also the introduction of features that were far too advanced to be of significant interest to me, on my pokey dial-up connection.

During that period, Apple fine-tuned the Mac OS X interface quite considerably — and unfortunately it looked like Interarchy was doing nothing to follow Apple’s lead in that area. I felt increasingly frustrated with the interface.

At some point, I simply gave up on the application, which no longer felt like a Mac OS X application to me, and I switched to Panic Software’s Transmit. It was reasonably priced and it was clearly a Mac OS X application, built from scratch in the Cocoa environment, with the expected customizable toolbar, etc.

I have been using Transmit for a couple of years now. I still like its interface — but over that period I have also encountered a number of interface issues, especially regarding what happens to the uploading/downloading queue when there is some kind of connection failure. For example, if an upload fails, the upload stays in the queue with a failed flag. If you then drag and drop the same file again to initiate a new upload, Transmit actually adds the new request after the queue and starts attempting to complete the initial download again. It’s a rather dumb behaviour. The Batch Download feature has interface problems of its own.

I tried reporting the problems to Panic a handful of times over the years, and didn’t ever get much in terms of a response. More importantly, however, I never noticed any improvements, even though Transmit was updated regularly.

Recently, I also started experiencing a significant problem with the Favorites Editor, seemingly caused by some kind of incompatibility between Transmit and the rest of my Mac OS X environment.

And then yesterday I read John Gruber’s “Apps of the Year” article, and discovered that Interarchy had in fact evolved quite a bit since I gave up on it. I decided to give it another try.

What a pleasant surprise! Interarchy has made great progress in the user interface department and now feels like a true Mac OS X application. It has adopted some UI features from Safari and from Mac OS X’s Finder. And it feels just right. I also really do not mind the use of multiple windows, as opposed to the single-window approach used by Transmit. They each have their advantages, but I am quickly finding that the multiple-window approach actually better meets my needs.

In other words, I am simply rediscovering Interarchy, and finding that, while I had got used to Transmit’s interface, it is not the only possible UI scheme when it comes to FTP applications.

It just so happens that Panic also announced a new major upgrade for Transmit this week. Some of the newly introduced features are clearly in response to Interarchy’s competition. So I looked at my options and found out that my old Interarchy 4 registration still entitled me to the upgrade pricing for Interarchy 7, which is the same as the price for the Transmit 3 upgrade for Transmit 2 users.

My choice was made, and I switched back to Interarchy. And I must say that, so far, I am very pleased with it. We will see how it handles connection problems over time, of course — but at this point I must admit that I simply feel more at home in Interarchy.

3 Responses to “FTP software: Transmit vs. Interarchy”

  1. LoonyPandora says:

    I have an opposite experience with Panic’s support, I have twice emailed for support, and had a reply within the hour. The last time I emailed I had a response form Cabel Sasser himself within 5 MINUTES. I was suitably impressed.

    I did notice the same problems with items getting stuck in the queue in Transmit 2, it annoyed me a lot. It was the first thing I checked in Transmit 3, and lo and behold it doesn’t happen for me anymore!

    I never could get used to any other FTP app, I started with Transmit 1 on OS9, and have stuck with it ever since. It does everything I need, and it does it reliably. Transmit is one of the few pieces of shareware that I have actually bought..

    I keep finding new things in Transmit 3, column view has been a long time coming, searching remote sites is WAY cool (works like a ‘filter’ on the file listing) – This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. Tabbed browsing, WebDAV support (which is very reliable at working with my iDisk) – all great features IMO. Panic’s obsession with drawers takes a bit of getting used to, but other than that it is the ‘perfect’ application.

    There are a few bugs/issues in Transmit 3, which I have dutifully reported, and got a personal response to within a working day.

  2. Olivier says:

    The same thing happened to me. Gave up Interarchy when skins appeared, tried Transmit, never got any acknowledgment that my feedback was received, rediscovered Interarchy at version 7.

    I got really pissed off when Transmit one decided that the gesture I had made to select two folders meant that I really wanted to move the first folder inside the second one, remotely! I never found how to revert the operation. I sent some feedback to Panic regarding this and other, more serious issues and never received a single answer from them. Moreover, Transmit’s keyboard navigation was broken at the time I tried it. The application is clearly aimed at behaving like the Finder but the keyboard behaves completely differently in Transmit than in the Finder. Most annoying.

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    Ideally, we’d choose software based on personal preferences, not bugs or flaws or bad tech support experience. At this point, I’d say I prefer the interface in Interarchy — hence my choice.

    For the record, I did get some response to my reports from Panic’s tech support. It’s just that the improvements I requested (for the Batch Download function) never materialized, even after 16 months. Maybe they finally included the improvements in version 3 — but it’s too late for me now :).

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