Software

Xenu's Link Sleuth - still the best link checker

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A very important tool in a web developer's toolkit is a good link checker. There are tonnes of different ones on the market, some that promise to make your whites whiter and floss your cat, but in the end you just want a simple program that will check your site for broken links, maybe broken code too if you're so interested. A few of the features I'm always looking for include:

  • Option to include or exclude external links, e.g. if a page on mysite.com links to yoursite.com I may not care if that site itself is working.
  • The option to override what is considered an external link, which is useful if you put your media files on a separate hostname.
  • An option on how many checks it runs simultaneously. Some can handle hundreds of outgoing simultaneous requests (if your machine and net connection can cope) but I tend to turn this down and leave it running in the background.

After years of trying different ones I continually return to Xenu's Link Sleuth, a simple yet powerful app that does what is needed, without a load of unwanted fancy options. Xenu's doesn't confuse you with a list of unimportant non-broken URLs, and it doesn't take a ten-page wizard interface to set up each project, instead you can simply paste in the starting point and let it go to town, selecting extra options if you specifically need to. Why does it have to be more complicated than that?

Though it is a Windows app and I use a Mac, it works fine in Parallels for Mac, and probably would work in Crossover Office too; failing that, there's always holding on to a PC for these occasional tasks ;-)

A great utility that is well worth using.

Panic Transmit 3.5.6 incompatible with Vandyke VShell 3

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I use the excellent Transmit FTP/SFTP client from Panic Inc both at home and at work - it is easy to use and is generally bullet proof. Well, it turns out that it is incompatible with version 3 of Vandyke's equally excellent VShell SSH/SFTP server. After bringing this to Panic Inc's attention they put their minds to it and in a day or two came up with a custom install of Transmit for me that fixed the specific problem experienced. Excellent stuff! Of course my custom Transmit has problems of its own, like not working with plaintext FTP, but this should be all cleared up with their next release, whenever that happens.

Windows compatibility on OSX just got better

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Parallels Desktop, the app that lets you run a virtual copy of Windows or Linux on your Mac, has just gotten better with the announcement of the forthcoming version 3 which adds two really snazzy features:

  • You can now set software on one of the OSes (Windows on the virtual machine, or the host OSX) to run software on the other side when it is launched, e.g. if you're running Outlook on the virtual Windows you can launch attachments in OSX apps without any stupid fiddling. Awe-Shum!
  • 3D support for games and other uses; how well this works is left to be seen, but it will hopefully mean being able to run Diablo 1 at the very least :)

Apache commercial support

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Many corporations require that all software used have a commercial support structure available to cope with worst-case scenarios. Typically many open-source applications in use today don't have support available from the core development team, and the ubiquitous Apache HTTPd web server is no different. To the rescue is the company Covalent who can provide not only support for several of the Apache products but also make a customized bundle available of Apache HTTPd, Tomcat and several other applications. Obviously this support is not going to be free, but if you need it they're worth giving at try.

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