This month saw the long-awaited release of Anarchie Pro 3.0 from Peter Lewis and Stairways Software. Anarchie, an FTP client, has been an essential part of many people’s Internet tool kits for years. Although its chief competitors – the venerable Fetch from Jim Matthews of Dartmouth College and the upstart NetFinder from Peter Li and Vincent Tan – don’t lack for strong features, Anarchie has long been my favorite FTP client. With Anarchie Pro, Peter added a few new features that even more solidly cement Anarchie’s place on my hard disk.
What is It? For those new to the Internet or those who have never explored past a Web browser’s all-encompassing window, Anarchie is an FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, client program. You can use it to upload files to or download files from FTP servers on the Internet. Before the advent of the Web, people used FTP more heavily; today FTP has faded into the background somewhat, although it’s no less important. For instance, most of the Info-Mac mirror sites that store gigabytes of Macintosh shareware provide access via FTP. And when you publish Web pages, you must upload them to a Web server – the most common method remains FTP.
Anarchie introduced several important features when it was first released, including a Finder-like interface with multiple windows, support for drag & drop, and bookmarks that could exist as separate files in the Finder. Anarchie was fast, easy to use, and very much a Macintosh application. (For more information see "Anarchie Rules" in TidBITS-211.) Jim Matthews took up the challenge, improving Fetch tremendously to bring it on par with Anarchie, and Peter Li and Vincent Tan released NetFinder, an even more Finder-like FTP client.
It’s safe to say that Peter Lewis isn’t the sort of person to move quickly without cause, and Anarchie generally didn’t require many updates. The occasional bug fix here, a small feature release there, sure, but major revisions of Peter’s products appear infrequently. In part, Peter can get away with it because his software is good from the beginning, and also because he adds major features to major revisions.
HTTP Support — I said before that Anarchie was an FTP client, and that remains true. With Anarchie Pro 3.0, though, Peter made Anarchie into an HTTP client as well. Does that mean it’s a Web browser too? Yes and no. Anarchie Pro can now download Web pages and display the links on them, but it doesn’t display the text or graphics on a Web page. Anarchie Pro is essentially the guts of a Web browser sans the display engine.
It’s clear why Peter didn’t go to the effort of making Anarchie Pro into a full-fledged Web browser. For one, parsing and displaying HTML – particularly with all the wonky HTML that’s out there – is a mind-bogglingly difficult task. Worse, once you’ve done all that nasty, horrible, annoying work, you get to compete with Microsoft and Netscape and their free Web browsers. It’s not a recipe for sanity, much less success.
So what’s the point of adding HTTP support to Anarchie Pro? Some Web sites are essentially just lists of links – Yahoo is a perfect example. If you don’t want to waste time downloading graphics and rendering tables, Anarchie Pro can download the same lists in much less time – sometimes half as much according to my informal tests. Plus, you can then sort the listing by name or path (try sorting www.cnn.com by path to group the different listings). Once you’ve found a file you want, you can download it with a double-click or view it in your Web browser by choosing View Selection from the Remote menu. Unfortunately, you can’t drag items from Anarchie Pro directly into a Web browser window to display them, nor does Anarchie Pro have a command to send an item’s URL directly to a Web browser, rather than downloading the file and asking the Web browser to open it. Peter’s planning to add a Command-click shortcut to do that, much as Internet Explorer uses Command-click to open a link in a new window or Anarchie itself enables you to Command-click URLs in the Transcript window. Of course, you can copy an item’s URL and paste it into a Web browser, but that’s too much work.
Another feature enabled by Anarchie Pro’s new HTTP support is the capability to download an entire Web site. Obviously, you shouldn’t go around pointing this feature at just any Web site, but it can be a great way to snag all the files on a Web site so you can work on it. Note that this feature doesn’t fix links in the downloaded site so it will be guaranteed to work locally, unlike WebWhacker-type programs.
Better FTP Support — While adding HTTP support, Peter hasn’t ignored FTP. Anarchie Pro can now resume failed transfers for both FTP and HTTP, assuming the remote server supports it (some do, some don’t). If you use Anarchie to maintain your Web site, a new Mirror Put FTP Site command enables you to keep all your files locally and have Anarchie Pro automatically upload new or changed files, and delete files that you’ve deleted from the local version. You can even save a bookmark to your mirror upload, so starting an upload becomes a matter of double-clicking. Unfortunately, you can only use this feature with folders that won’t change on the server or else Anarchie Pro overwrites the changed files on the server. For instance, even if I downloaded my entire WebSTAR folder and then made a local change, Anarchie Pro would try to overwrite the new log file with the old one, since the two would be different sizes. I’d like to see Peter add some more intelligence to this feature so it could either synchronize files in both directions or be taught to ignore certain files (considering our WebSTAR log files can be over 20 MB in size, I don’t want to download them regularly).
People using BBEdit to create Web pages can now use Anarchie Pro to edit Web pages directly via FTP, without needing to go through the download/upload cycle. Of course, Anarchie Pro still must download the file when you choose Edit with BBEdit from the Remote menu, but when you save the file in BBEdit, Anarchie Pro immediately uploads a new copy. You probably wouldn’t want to edit your entire site regularly this way, but it’s a great way to make a quick change.
Those who have never been fond of downloading files in Web browsers will be pleased to learn that Anarchie can step in for Web browsers when downloading files via FTP. In the past, setting this feature required an AppleScript, but Anarchie Pro puts it up front in the Settings menu. With the help of an extension, Anarchie Pro can override Internet Config’s settings and handle downloads for files via HTTP as well. Anarchie Pro does this by telling Internet Config to send HTTP URLs that point at BinHex, MacBinary, or similar files to Anarchie Pro. Unfortunately, Web browsers don’t route URLs through Internet Config, so this works only in other programs that do send all URLs through Internet Config, but it might still be handy.
Finally, although this feature has existed in Anarchie for a while now, I’ve found the Mac Search command in the Search menu quite handy of late. Basically, Mac Search looks in the listings for the Info-Mac Archive (and the UMich archive, though that seems to be defunct these days) for matches to your search string. Anarchie displays those matches in a normal listing window, and double-clicking one downloads it from your preferred Info-Mac or UMich mirror site, as set in Internet Config.
Ever More Nice Touches — Peter puts a lot of effort into the details of his programs, and nice touches abound. Many of these you might not find right away, although Anarchie does include tips that you can have displayed at startup or whenever you want from the Window menu. Here are a few:
Support for the Mac OS 8 Command-Delete keyboard shortcut for deleting files.
Support for Mac OS 8.5’s Appearance and Themes.
Support for Apple Internet Address Detectors (IAD), so you can hand off URLs to Anarchie Pro from any application that supports AIAD. (Find out more about IAD in the Internet Data Detectors section of the article "Of Mice and Menus" in TidBITS-398.)
Support for Apple’s forthcoming Keychain, which helps you save passwords securely.
Support for saving passwords in bookmarks, something Peter resisted doing before because it’s a huge security loophole. In the past, you could add passwords to Anarchie bookmarks by editing them in a text editor like BBEdit, since the bookmarks were just text files containing URLs. Now Anarchie Pro warns you of the problems and makes you enter the password again before saving.
Display of the transfer mode (Text, Binary, or MacBinary) in the progress window.
Extended login capabilities for people who must connect through firewalls.
Completely reorganized menus to account for Anarchie’s new capabilities.
Audible feedback when transfers start and finish if Anarchie is in the background.
A recent transfer display that’s useful for telling if a download has stalled. Check out all the other transfer display options by clicking the labels in a progress dialog box while a file is downloading.
The capability to set permissions for files, at least with FTP servers that support the SITE CHMOD command. Occasionally, FTP servers assign incorrect permissions to uploaded files, preventing anyone else from downloading them, so it’s nice to be able to fix this from within Anarchie Pro.
Order from Chaos — Overall, Anarchie Pro 3.0 is an impressive upgrade from 2.0. It adds useful new features and extends its reach past FTP to downloading via HTTP as well. New users will appreciate Anarchie Pro’s broad set of features, and existing users have plenty of reasons to upgrade.
Anarchie Pro’s documentation is split between SimpleText files that list new features and provide a quick start tutorial, a local HTML file that contains all the documentation, and a remote FAQ file on the Stairways Software Web site. All the documents exist on the Web site as well in HTML format. On the whole, they’re clear and well-written, plus they include background information and tips you probably won’t stumble on otherwise.
Although I have little experience with different character sets, our diligent Japanese translation team tells me that there’s an issue with Anarchie and double-byte character sets. Apparently, Anarchie’s default Latin-1 character encoding conversion scheme can play havoc with text encoded in the MS Kanji (also known as Shift-JIS) encoding scheme. A widely distributed patch from Motoyuki Tanaka <[email protected]> solves the problem for MS Kanji, plus EUC-JP (Japanese), Big-5 and EUC-TW (Chinese) and KS C 5601-1992 (Korean). To install the patch, download it and open it using ResEdit. The file contains only a taBL resource. Open the taBL resource, copy resource ID 128, open a copy of Anarchie Pro in ResEdit, open Anarchie Pro’s taBL resource, and paste the new resource 128 over the original one. Save and close the copy of Anarchie Pro, then test to make sure the patch works.
I expect to see a 3.0.1 or even 3.1 version of Anarchie Pro relatively soon, since Peter has received a bunch of feedback about the new features, and he’s evaluating how to tweak them right now. Things like being able to Command-click HTTP links to open them in a Web browser and more intelligent mirroring would be welcome.
Anarchie Pro requires System 7 and MacTCP 1.1 or later, although Peter strongly recommends using System 7.5.5 and Open Transport 1.2 or later. Anarchie Pro 3.0 remains shareware, so you can check it out to see if you need its new capabilities. If so, you should pay the $35 shareware fee, or if you upgrade from a previous version of Anarchie, the cost is $20 (with a $5 per copy discount for registrations after 01-Jan-98). Remember, unlike certain massive companies, Peter can’t afford to give Anarchie away for free, so please pay your shareware fee if you use it. You can download Anarchie Pro from a number of mirror sites as a 1064K BinHex file or a 788K MacBinary file.