Review: Fetch 5 - Macenstein

Review: Fetch 5

Posted by Lab Rat

2005 seems to be the year of the “redesigned interface�. We have seen many products this year streamline their GUIs to deliver a more intuitive and “Mac� like user experience. Sadly, more often than not, the new interface seems to be all that has been updated. The latest release of Fetch Softworks’ Fetch ftp software manages to sidestep this trend, and adds some very nice productivity-enhancing features in addition to a more streamlined interface.

(above: Fetch 5’s new toolbar and list view (top) and new “View� window)

So let’s start with that interface. It wasn’t that long ago that we were lucky to even have a GUI in an ftp program. In past versions of Fetch, the interface was easy enough to navigate, however it did not seem to have evolved much past OS 9’s design sensibilities. Fetch 4 introduced a unique “circular� aqua-themed progress bar, which was nice, but it was hard to find much further evidence of any direct OS X-inspired design influence. Fetch 5’s designers have made an “up-to-date feel� more of a priority. The new version adds a “Finder inspired� list view that will seem instantly familiar to Mac users. Additionally, a new customizable toolbar has been added to the main Fetch window, giving quick access to the most commonly used commands for sending and receiving files. Users of Fetch 4 will be happy to see that not only is the circular progress bar back, but it has also been added to Fetch’s dock icon, making it easy to get a quick status update during transfers. Fetch’s trademark dog cursor also has received a makeover.

(above: Fetch 5’s icon with progress circle)

Some of the nicer new features in version 5 include the new “Get Info� window, and the addition of the “view� command. The Get Info window is inspired by OS X’s own Get Info window, and allows you to quickly change the permissions of a file (without needing to know UNIX). Additionally, Get Info allows you to now choose which local application to use when opening a downloaded file type (such as Firefox for .html files) and which application to use when editing a file (like Photoshop for JPGs). This last feature is very welcome as you can now edit files directly via Fetch 5 by selecting a file and choosing “Edit� from the new toolbar. Fetch will open the file in the selected application, allow you to make your corrections, and then put it back up on the server when done.

(above: Fetch 5’s new Get Info window)

The new “View� window allows you to see large thumbnails of your files, be they image or text. This is useful if, like me, you aren’t the most consistent labeler of files, and occasionally get confused as to whether you still need a file on the server. Renaming those confusing files is now also easier than ever. In the new Finder-based list view, you can rename files simply by clicking on them.

Additional enhancements include support for SFTP (using the SSH File Transfer Protocol), the ability to automatically decode Stuffit X, Zip, Gzip, Gzipped Tar, and many more formats when downloading, as well as to automatically encode TO those formats when uploading. Bonjour support is introduced in this version, as is support (finally) for resuming interrupted binary uploads. There are numerous interface tweaks, added shortcuts, and reorganized menus throughout, all designed to make the user experience easier, and more intuitive. Fetch’s scripting capabilities have been greatly enhanced as well, and most of Fetch’s task can be controlled via Applescript. Fetch Softworks claims speed for file transfers has also been increased.

There was a time when Fetch was the only game in town when it came to FTP clients for the Mac. Now, with strong competition from Transmit, Fetch has been forced to take its game up a notch. In fact, Fetch acknowledges this increased competition by allowing users to import Transmit bookmarks into Fetch. Competition almost always benefits the consumer, and this is the case here. Fetch has delivered a respectable update that while not perfect, certainly matches or surpasses the feature sets available in most other programs. It would have been nice to see native .Mac support, perhaps a “column view�, and maybe even a widget (which is all the rage these days) to really play up the whole “Mac� thing. Still, these are not major drawbacks, and do not get in the way of speedy file transfers, which is after all, what Fetch is built for.

Fetch 5 delivers a more polished look and feel to one of the most beloved Mac utilities out there. Whether or not the new features and interface enhancements are worth the cost of upgrading is normally something I would say depends on how you use the software. Basic users of Fetch 4 might not find much new here to get excited over. Yet at the same time, I could argue that it is these basic users that have the most to gain, as many of Fetch 5’s changes are geared towards making the basic FTP tasks easier to manage. And let’s be honest. Fetch is not Maya. An upgrade is only $15, and a full license is only $25. At this price point, and given the current feature set, I’d say upgrading to Fetch 5 is a no-brainer.

Price: $25 (full version ), $15 (upgrade)
As an application 8.5 out of 10
As an update 7.5 out of 10

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