Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

January 1999
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NFTP for OS/2

By Richard Steiner

Version: 1.41
Size: 442,255 bytes
System requirements: OS/2 Warp 3+, EMX 0.9c fix 4

NFTP for OS/2 is an advanced text-mode ftp client featuring an easy-to-use interface which is similar in many ways to what you would expect to find in a graphical ftp client.

Unlike most other text-based ftp clients, NFTP doesn't use a command line at all, although it does provide a method for entering raw ftp commands if you have a need to do so. Instead of the traditional command line, most operations in NFTP are performed using a combination of pull-down menus and hot keys, and the selection of files for common operations such as uploading, downloading, or viewing is done using a very straightforward point-and-shoot interface.

For people like me who like the command line but don't like having to remember a pile of obscure commands, NFTP comes very close to providing the best of both worlds. It's a file manager for ftp sites.


Installation of the program is controlled by a REXX script. Unzip the NFTP program archive into a temporary directory, and run the included INSTALL.CMD to perform the installation. The installation utility first asks you for the language you wish to use (the version reviewed supports 16 different languages), asks you for the path in which to install the program, asks for confirmation, and then creates the target directory if it doesn't exist and copies the proper files into that directory. The installation script also creates a folder on the desktop which contains a number of WPS objects pointing to the NFTP program itself as well some of its key documentation files.

NFTP uses an ASCII configuration file (NFTP.INI) which controls most aspects of its basic behavior. This can be edited using any text editor, and is also accessible from inside NFTP via a pull-down menu selection. This configuration file controls more things than can be easily described in a short article, but it is well-commented, and it wasn't very difficult for me to figure out.

When NFTP is first invoked, it presents you with a series of pull-down menus. These menus may also be activated at any time using the F9 key. Menu navigation (and movement within other screens within the program) is done using the arrow keys and the enter key, and almost all of NFTP's commands have an associated hot key, enabling a user who is more familiar with the program to do things very quickly.

There is no mouse support at this time.

Using NFTP:

The program provides a two-level bookmark facility, allowing you to create "folders" in which you can place pointers to related ftp sites. Each entry in the bookmark list contains a short description of the site as well as the actual ftp address, and also optionally contains such information as a starting directory, the port to use, and a userid and password if the site does not accept anonymous logins.

To log into a site, you can select an entry in the bookmark list by using the arrow keys to move around and pressing enter to make the selection, or you can use hot keys (or a menu selection) to log into any site you specify. NFTP also maintains a site history, allowing you to bring up a list of ftp sites you've visited using the client and select one to log into.

There are three different full-screen displays which NFTP presents to the user during a typical ftp session, and you can flip back and forth between them during the session.

The first display is a command status display where NFTP displays the actual ftp commands it is issuing, as well as the responses it receives from the ftp server. All client commands are shown as green text and server responses are shown as white text, so it is quite easy to tell the two apart. NFTP can be configured to automatically flip to this command display when it's issuing commands, or you can look at it manually using the space bar.

The second display is the remote directory display which shows the current directory on the remote ftp site. This shows a text list of the directories and files in the current directory on the remote machine, and NFTP can also be configured to automatically extract and display file description information from the site if that information exists. The arrow keys and the enter key are used to move around the remote ftp site, and various hot keys, function keys, or menu items can be used to tag, view, or otherwise manipulate remote files.

The third display is a display of the active local directory on your own machine, and you can navigate it in the same way that you can navigate on the remote host, and use the tab key to flip back and forth between the local and remote displays.

NFTP is a point-and-shoot utility. To download a single file, you can grab it in one step using the menu, Shift-D, or F5. If you want to grab more than one file in a batch, you can tag the files you want by using the Insert key, and then use one of the above download commands to grab the whole bunch at once. The tagged files can reside in the same or in different directories, and NFTP will even let you tag files on multiple sites at once and start the download of the whole thing at one time. Very useful.

While a transfer is going on, NFTP will display the percentage complete and the estimated transfer rate as part of the process name, meaning it shows up in any task list displays you might have up as well as in the title bar if you're running NFTP in a window. It also has a very nice transfer status display which shows running totals and time estimates for both individual files and the total batch. All file transfers are logged, which makes it easier to figure out later where you obtained a particular file.


All in all, I've found NFTP to be a very pleasant ftp client to use, and since the author has ported it to several platforms (a version is available for Linux, Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD, and BeOS as well as OS/2), I can use the same client even if I choose to boot into another operating system.

NFTP is shareware. Registration is US$25, and gives you a registration key which may be used across multiple platforms. The unregistered OS/2 version of NFTP is fully functional in most respects but is limited to downloading files smaller than 1024KB in size. More information about the program's features, status, future direction, and the benefits of registration is available at the author's web site -, and a copy of the shareware version of the program may be obtained either there or

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