FTPDropper IconI don’t know about you, but using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) can sometimes be a bit of a pain in the butt. Don’t use FTP? Well you probably do without realizing it, but spend time with the web long enough and you’re bound to run into this protocol at one point or another. Start a weblog like this one, or be required to update a web site and you’ll be sure to use it.

Take this weblog as an example. I made the decision that I would include an image with every post. As innocent as that decision sounded at the time, it meant that I would always have to create an image. It also meant that after that image was created, I would have to upload that image to my web server. MovableType has an upload feature, but since I typically use Zempt to post my articles, I don’t use the web based interface. Instead, I would fire up my FTP program WS FTP, log into the server, browse to the directory and then upload the file. Not a huge deal, but it’s a series of steps that I would like to avoid if at all possible.

I found a cool widget called FTPDrop that works in AveDesk. I use AveDesk for other widgets, so this was a no brainer, but what I really wanted was a stand alone program. Why? Because I have clients that need to FTP stuff and trying to explain what FTP is and how the interface works, yada yada yada. Additionally, I didn’t want the solution to require installing a widget program like AveDesk, or Konfabulator just so that they could use one widget. I just wanted a simple program. Luckily, I found it. 🙂

What I found was a program called FTPDropper. With FTPDropper you create special shortcuts that allow you to “drag and drop” files to your web server. When you drag and drop a file onto the shortcut, that file is automatically uploaded to your server into the folder that you specified earlier. Pretty cool huh?

Here’s how I use it. I place all of the images for my posts to this weblog in a particular folder (/images/posts). With FTPDropper, I simply create a shortcut with all the information necessary to transfer a file to that folder via FTP. After I’ve completed creating the image in my graphics program, I simply save the file on my desktop. Then all I have to do is drag it over the FTPDropper shortcut and the picture is uploaded to my web server. I can’t tell you how easy it is for me to upload images now. I love it!

As great as this shortcut feature, FTPDropper takes things a few steps further. In addition to being able to create desktop shortcuts, you also have the ability to create a “Quick Launch”, or “Send To” shortcut. A “Quick Launch” shortcut adds a shortcut to the Quick Launch toolbar which is usually found next to the “Start Button”. If you don’t see that toolbar, you can right-click on your Windows task bar and choose the following “ToolbarsQuick Launch”. The “Send To shortcut will give you the ability to right click on any item and FTP it to your chosen location simply by choosing the shortcut under the “Send To” menu item.

If the “Send To” shortcut sounds a little confusing, try the following example:

1. Right-click on an icon on your desktop (this won’t work with My Computer, My Network Places, My Documents, or Recycle Bin).

2. A menu should appear. In the menu listing, you should see an item called “Send To”. If you mouse over it a sub-menu will appear.

3. If you had created a “Send To” shortcut, you would see the option to send the selected file to your server

Overall FTPDropper is a very handy tool and even though it’s listed as “beta” software, I’ve found it to be very stable and have no reservations in recommending it to clients and friends. It should be noted that Microsoft’s .NET Framework 1.1 is required and should be installed prior to installing FTPDropper. Instructions are on the FTPDropper web site on how to automatically check and see if you already have it installed on your system.

If you do some occasional work with transferring files to a web server, then I highly recommend checking out this free program. If you have a weblog and you like to include images with your posts, then I’d say this application is a must have. Once set up, it could make your life a heck of a lot easier. I know it has mine.

Since FTP is a bit foreign for most people, here are some simple instructions of how to install it and get it running. You will need some basic information about the server that you’re uploading to. If you don’t have this information, your web host, or IT Manager should be able to provide this for you.

1. Download and install the program.

2. When you complete the installation, the program should launch automatically.

3. Enter in the name of your server in the “Server” field.

4. Enter in your username in the “Username” field.

5. Enter in your password in the “Password” field.

6. Enter the exact directory that you would like this shortcut to point to. To find this information, I find it best to log into your server with a standard FTP client, browse INTO the folder you’d like to use, and then copy and paste that information into FTPDropper. A typical directory, should look something like “/public_html/images”.

4. With the above information entered, press the “Test Connection” button to make sure that everything is correct. If you receive an error, you will need to check your settings and try again.

5. Once the test says “Connection successful!”, enter in the web site URL, such as “http://www.mashby.com”

6. In the “General” section, you can enter the in the name of the shortcut that you’d like to create. If you plan on having multiple shortcuts, you might name this one “[NAME OF YOUR SERVER] Images” for example. For my shortcut, I chose “mashby | images”.

7. Click the “Save Connection”, which will save all of your settings. You should see a connection entered in the “Connections” window.

8. Now it’s time to create a shortcut. Select the connection you just created in the “Connections” window and then from the task bar, select “ConnectionCreate Shortcut” and then the type of shortcut you want to create: Desktop, Quick Launch or Send To.

9. Assuming you’ve chosen a Desktop shortcut, now when you have an image you’d like to upload, you just drag and drop it over the shortcut and the image is transferred to your /images folder on your web server.