WS_FTP 2006 and Maximum Client Maturation

By Deane Barker on June 17, 2005

WS_FTP Professional 2006 – What’s New: Ipswitch just released the lastest version of WS_FTP, one of the most venerable FTP clients around. They come out with a new version every year, and I keep wondering what else they’ve thought up each time around.

Looking over their feature list this year, I find myself wondering if this is the ultimate evolution of the FTP client. I mean, just how much functionality can you shove into an FTP client? FTP ain’t a complicated thing, so in order to get people to keep upgrading, you apparently have to keep pushing feature after feature into the software.

This one includes the ability to automatically zip files before transfer, WebDAV integration, about every form of encryption possible, more scripting functionality with email notification, more Explorer integration, etc.

At what point does a product manager sit back and say, “Well, I think we’ve pretty much done all there is to do.” Put another way, if your protocol doesn’t really advance (FTP is, after all, still just FTP), how far outside the lines do you color before you don’t have an FTP client anymore?

Looking back, I said this exact same thing almost exactly two years ago when they came out with version 8.

FTP software is essentially a commodity product — the functionality and purpose is narrow by definition. At what point do you run out of bells and whitsles to add? WS_FTP does almost everything we can possibly think of for FTP and a lot that we never considered. When does a product reach complete and utter maturity?

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  1. Other file transfer clients who rely on 128 or 192 cipher keys are just not as secure. WS_FTP Professional 2006 uses 256 bits to protect your data at maximum security levels.

    Sounds like they’re getting desperate for new features.

  2. Yeah, it was a joke… “saturation” as in “saturated”. Lots of features. You know… saturated.

    (Ba dum dum.)


  3. On the one hand customers expect regular new software releases with new features and on the other software developers like me face the dilema of creaping featurites. This blog post I’ve just written touches on this and points to a good article “Featuritis vs. the Happy User Peak” by Kathy Sierra.

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