FTP Lives

I read a lot of blogs related to software development. Previously I used to find the posts through Reddit. Now I find myself locating blog posts through Y Combinator News. Today I read a rant by Steven Frank arguing against the use of FTP. The introductory paragraph cited the technology as being 23 years old, and therefore obsolete. Apparently the guy got ripped by the feedback he has received from this viewpoint. Maybe that is a good thing. Controversy sometimes gets you readership. Initially I also thought this guy was off base by discounting the technology due to its age. Steven has since tried to explain himself and clarify the true reason why he advocates dropping FTP.

There is some legitimate concerns about FTP. It is not secure. We use FTP all over the place in our production system at work. However we are replacing the transfer technology with one that is truly secure. It is a variant of Secure FTP. It will take some time to implement the changes. Changing our own code to initiate the secure method is easier than getting the feeders of our system to change their code. Luckily we have some security mandates that we have to meet that require the disuse of regular FTP.

Now FTP will still have some uses. If you do not have security concerns, then FTP might be the right tool for the job. It does not matter how old the technology is. It does not matter when the technology was last updated. The technique is valid if it does the job and meets the requirements. We developers always like to jump on the latest technology. It is in our blood. And it seems more prevalent among the younger generation of programmers.

As I was meditating on the complaints about FTP, I had to chuckle a bit. I wonder if the opposition has heard of Trivial FTP (TFTP). Maybe they would go on a rampage against it if there was continued widespread use of it as well. TFTP is 28 years old. And it totally lacks authentication. Yeah. We better not tell them about TFTP. It could cause a ruckus.