I often find myself setting up shop in public places like libraries, coffee shops, or universities to work on websites. In theory it works out great, but in practice, there is sometimes a problem – firewalls that block FTP access.

So using an FTP client is not an option. How else can I upload my files to a web server? I found a great solution a few years ago called Web2FTP. It did exactly what I needed it to – nothing more, and nothing less. It let me upload and download through a web browser to and from any server for which I had an FTP address, user name, and password. No questions asked.

It had that special charm of functionality with zero visual design behind it. The same charm that makes Craigslist so endearing and successful. Also the same charm that makes you want to put up a sloppy drawing from a six-year-old on your fridge.

Much to my dismay, in 2008, it was shut down due to people exploiting it for phishing activity. I’m not entirely sure what they were doing, but in March, 2008, all of the Web2FTP users were greeted with a window that said “Web2FTP deactivated !!!”.

[expletive deleted]! What now? I Tried those little flags up on the top for versions in other languages.

Turkish – deactivated.

Spanish – deactivated.

Italian – deactivated.

French – deactivated.

English – we were already here, and it’s deactivated.

German – still works!

Web2FTP Deactivated! March 2008

Odd that they shut it down in every language except for German. I am quite curious as to what brought about that choice and why they kept a link to the German site in all of the sites that have been shut down.

Regardless, it was interesting to have to use an interface that was written in a language I don’t know.

Log-in Screen

I found myself accidentally having to navigate this interface by non-verbal cues.

Okay, red background – that tells me it’s a close button or some function to stop what I am doing. “Ausloggen” – ah, that must mean “logout”. Got it.

Breadcrumbs along the top, that’s clear enough.

HTML code of “./” for “root” and “../” for “up one directory” in the navigation. Check.

Up at the top, “FTP Server” and “Lokaler PC”, well that’s 75% in English.

Is this a great example of interaction design? Despite my sentimental attachment to this site, I would have to say no, not really. Actually, not at all. But it did make me think – taking away most of the verbal cues brings the importance of visual cues to a new level. It would be interesting to do this as part of my design process – first indicate as much as I can visually, then only fill in text where absolutely necessary.


Main Interface

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