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Project of the Month, September 2008

WinSCP


Project Leader:

Martin Prikyl

Martin Prikryl
Age: 29
Occupation: Software developer
Education: Information technology on University of Economics in Prague
Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Why did you place the project on SourceForge.net?

Initially I used SF simply to host the project (once I finished my studies I lost the chance to host it on college servers).

How has SourceForge.net helped you?

Without SourceForge hosting I wouldn’t be able to sustain the growth of the WinSCP popularity.

The number one benefit of using SourceForge.net is:

Being on SourceForge is great promotion for an open source project.

Project name:WinSCP
Date founded/started: 2003
Project page: http://sourceforge.net/projects/winscp

Description of project:

WinSCP is an open source SFTP client and FTP client for Windows. Its main function is the secure file transfer between a local and a remote computer. Beyond this, WinSCP offers basic file manager functionality. It uses Secure Shell (SSH) and supports, in addition to Secure FTP, also legacy SCP protocol. It was the first ever GUI SCP (and later SFTP) client for Windows.

Why and how did you get started?

At a beginning of 2000, my colleague asked me to develop a GUI SCP client for Windows because there were none at that time. It was huge challenge for me then, considering my programming experiences at that time.

What is the software’s intended audience?

With its basic functionality, WinSCP is usually used by people to update their web pages. The advanced features are used usually by administrators

How many people do you believe are using your software?

With the default configuration, WinSCP checks once a week project server for updates (providing it is enabled). There are about 400 thousand checks every week.

What are a couple of notable examples of how people are using your software?

As mentioned above, basic usage of WinSCP is updating web pages. Advanced users use WinSCP for general administration of remote machines. Recently, WinSCP is frequently used to mod iPhone/iPod (via openSSH service installed on the device). With scripting functionality added in later versions of WinSCP, new unexpected uses emerged. An example is working with remote data in business intelligence tools such as Microsoft DTS/SSIS.

What gave you an indication that your project was becoming successful?

Although there was a little promotion done with initial release back in 2000, I started to receive couple of emails daily shortly. People were asking for support, reporting bugs or just thanking me.

What has been your biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise was the pace at which WinSCP found its users around the world.

What has been your biggest challenge?

To design the application in way that allowed its extension with new (even unanticipated) features over the past years, such as reusing the core for filemanager plugins, adding new protocols (SFTP, FTP), and adding scripting support.

Why do you think your project has been so well received?

As mentioned before, WinSCP was the first application of the kind on a Windows platform. Moreover, it uses a proven user interface that is easy to learn.

Where do you see your project going?

WinSCP is feature rich application, which evolved quickly. At the moment it mainly needs stabilization, bug fixing, and performance improvements.

What’s on your project wish list?

Once of the most demanded features is FTP over SSL support. Personally, I would like to improve responsiveness of the user interface under load, which means a major redesign of the code.

What are you most proud of?

To design the code in a way that proved viable for many years.

If you could change something about the project, what would it be?

If I were to start with the project now, I would use avoid using proprietary libraries and development tools. They prevent others from contributing to the project.

How do you coordinate the project?

I work on the project mostly alone. During initial phase of feature building there was little need for any coordination. Recently, with the increased focus on bug fixing I started to track the bugs using Bugzilla.

Do you work on the project full-time, or do you have another job?

I’m working on the probject in my spare time, about 10-15 hours a week.

What is your development environment like?

Borland C++Builder 6 on Windows XP.

Milestones:

Please see the entire history of the project here.

How can others contribute?

I always appreciate when experienced users help me answer questions on support forum. Being not talented in graphics, I do need help with anything regarding graphics design, like web design, icons design, etc. I also appreciate patient users willing to help track down tricky bugs.


Check out our previous projects of the month.