It turns out that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Fetch Softworks has released Fetch 5.5, a notable upgrade to the venerable FTP client, focusing improvements on user interaction with remote files and reliability of transfers.
Most important is an improved Edit command that enables you to edit any kind of remote file with any application that supports the appropriate file type and have the changes saved back to the server automatically. As with previous versions, you choose the application to edit a particular filename extension in the Info window for a file with that extension, although you can also use the new Edit With menu item to choose a non-default editor and, if desired, set it as the new default.
Also useful is the added support for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard's Quick Look feature, though of course using Quick Look in Fetch with remote files isn't as quick as with local files, since Fetch must still retrieve the file before displaying it in Quick Look. Subsequent uses of Quick Look in that session rely on a cached version of the file and so operate at full speed.
Fetch now supports MacBook trackpad gestures in the transfer window. Swiping left takes you back to the previously viewed folder, up navigates to the parent folder, and down opens the selected folder. If only there were an Easter egg that would cause the Fetch dog to do a flip when you used the rotate gesture!
Lastly among the user interaction features, the Info window now contains a Calculate button that calculates the size of the selected folder; by making this an explicit user action rather than calculating it automatically, using Get Info with folders works more quickly than before.
In terms of reliability, Fetch 5.5 can now automatically resume stalled or failed uploads, and in general handles transfers of very large collections of files more reliably than before. Since Fetch was already my go-to application for recalcitrant FTP sites and very large uploads, even more reliability is welcome.
Fetch 5.5 includes numerous other small changes as well. The file list remembers the last sorting choice. Deleting large numbers of files now works more quickly when Fetch is in the foreground. Certain errors when deleting files are now automatically retried. And, in a nod to the increased size of files we now see in the real world, Fetch 5.5 can now display file sizes in terabytes, petabytes, and exabytes. I still don't have sufficient bandwidth to consider downloading a terabyte of data, but I'm sure there are researchers who regularly deal with such large files.
The release includes fixes for various bugs too, such as a problem that caused Microsoft Office documents in the new Office XML formats to be decoded into folders when downloaded, another that caused various file types to be compressed automatically on upload, and one that caused uploading files selected in the Finder's List view to be uploaded twice. See the release notes for a full list of changes and bug fixes.
Fetch 5.5 costs $29, and upgrades from previous versions are $10 (anyone who purchased after 28-Jan-09 is entitled to a free upgrade). As always, free licenses to Fetch are available to students (including the home-schooled) and to employees of educational institutions or charitable organizations. It's a 17.2 MB download.