Update: (2/20/2014) Since this post is still so popular I wanted to update it to point out that the Mac App Store version of Cyberduck now comes bundled with Java. Thanks Jeff Mitchell
Transmit has long been the gold standard of Mac FTP clients. Made by Panic, it’s loved for it’s elegant design, speed and intriguing features like it’s “disk mode.” The only downside was price. It was once priced at $40, if I am remembering correctly, and now sits at $34 in the Mac App Store. The only other Mac-native FTP client I am aware of is Flow, which I acquired in a software bundle at some point, but was never a fan of. It presently retails for $30. Two popular non-native apps are, Filezilla and Cyberduck, both of which are free. Filezilla was long my client of choice on both Windows and Linux, and Cyberduck, until just this week had long been my choice on the Mac.
For more than five years, I used the open-source Cyberduck for all of my FTP needs. When I installed Lion on my “development” machine, I went hunting for the latest Cyberduck installer. When I got to their website, I saw the easy-recognizable “Available on the Mac App Store” badge. When I clicked on it, and iTunes launched, I was startled to see $23.99 where I expected to see “Free.”
This surprised me for a few reasons. First, I was surprised because this app is open source, and generally you don’t see people charge for open source apps. Second, $24 seemed like a lot for an app that used to be free. Third, I confirmed after going back to their website, that the application was still freely downloadable.I have no problem with developers deciding to start charging for their apps at some point. I know the business, and I know the time and effort involved, but it did puzzle me that the app was still free on their website. How was Cyberduck handling customers who bought the app in the App Store, only to discover later that they could have just downloaded it for free? I know I would have been frustrated.
I decided to download the free app, at least for the time being. (I would like to note that I have donated to Cyberduck multiple times, so I don’t think I am out of line for choosing the free option). After downloading it and copying it to my Applications folder, I tried to launch it. I was greeted with OS X’s built-in software updater letting me know that Cyberduck requires a Java run-time.
I knew Cyberduck was open-source, and I knew that it was multi-platform, but I never put it all together and realized it was a Java application. I have nothing against Java, but Apple’s decision to not include Java by default made me pause.
After the MacBook Air shipped without Flash last year, I took John Gruber’s advice and opted not to install it system-wide and instead just install Google Chrome (which comes packaged with Flash) for the rare cases I need it. A clean install of Lion not only leaves you without Java, but without Flash as well. So in the interest of keeping things in an “as needed” state I decided not to pull the trigger and install Java. That left me needing an alternative to fill my FTP client needs.
As I mentioned early on, the other choices are few and far between. So I used this as an excuse to drop $34 on the Mac App Store version of Transmit. My friend Dave immediately pointed out my insanity of spending that much money on an application that I only use a couple of times a month, but sometimes I am just too impulsive.
The early returns on Transmit on favorable. Like all Panic apps, it’s definitely good looking, and definitely fits into the Delicious Generation. I haven’t tried the disk feature yet as I have heard it has some issues in Lion, but I am anxious to.
It’s amazing to see what Apple’s decision to leave Java uninstalled by default did to my purchasing decision. 30% of $34 is is $10, so that decision alone has already made them ten bucks. Meanwhile I am left feeling dirty about turning my back on an app I loved and dropping $30 on an app I don’t need. Such is the world Apple created.