Hacksaw v1.0 from InnoVal is an indispensable tool for people like myself who have to automate various Internet-related activities. It provides functions for accessing HTTP, SMTP, POP3, and FTP servers from a command-line interface. Once you use Hacksaw, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.
Put HACKSAW.EXE in your PATH. That's it. This isn't a pretty, GUI application with 10 megs of DLLs that has to put 50 entries in your OS2.INI file. This is a command-line, 150K Swiss Army Knife of an application that packs more features per kilobyte than anything I've seen in a long time. Everything you need is right there in that one executable file, and as long as OS/2 can find it, you've got it installed.
Hacksaw gives you tools for accessing the most commonly used Internet protocols: HTTP for the Web, SMTP and POP3 for e-mail, and FTP for transferring files. For each protocol, Hacksaw has several commands that enable you to do just about anything you can imagine.
For HTTP, Hacksaw has the RETRIEVE and RETRIEVEHEADERS commands. RETRIEVE is used to get web pages and RETRIEVEHEADERS is used when you only want to get the header lines for a particular page.
The e-mail commands are SEND, MAILWAITING, RETRIEVE, AND DELETE. SEND uses SMTP to send an e-mail message. MAILWAITING checks a POP3 account to see if there is any mail to be read. RETRIEVE and DELETE will download messages and delete them from the POP3 server.
The set of FTP commands is extensive. Of course there are the basic things like sending and retrieving files, changing directories, listing directories, etc., but there are also some things like SYNCHRONIZEHOST and SYNCHRONIZELOCAL which will make the remote FTP directory match one on the local machine or vice versa (i.e., mirroring). You can also execute commands on the remote machine using SITECOMMAND.
Hacksaw uses a plain text file HACKSAW.INI to store configuration information. Since it is plain ASCII text, you can edit it with any text editor. You can also change its contents using the DEFINE command in Hacksaw. This file is used to store information such as the default servers for the various protocols, your default login ID and password (which is encrypted before being written to the file), and variables (aliases) for commonly used things.
Hacksaw can take its commands from the command line, from a configuration file, or both. The format of a Hacksaw command is
HACKSAW (PROTOCOL) COMMAND1(DATA) COMMAND2(DATA) ...where PROTOCOL is either FTP, HTTP, E-MAIL, or DEFINE (used to add/change entries in the HACKSAW.INI file). COMMAND#(DATA) are subcommands for a particular protocol (such as SEND for FTP) and DATA represents the data for that particular subcommand to use.
Hacksaw control files let you do some very powerful things, such as perform an action on a list of files or directories. The control files are plain ASCII files that use basically the same syntax for commands as the command line versions. If the program needs information that is not in the control file or the command line arguments, it will prompt you for it. This makes it very easy to use in situations where you have a general script to follow, but need to input specific information for a particular run.
The applications for Hacksaw are very diverse. I have used it to send an e-mail message to a list of about 7000 people. (And no, it wasn't spam!). If you like to work on web sites locally, and then transfer the files to the server, Hacksaw can do the file updating with a simple control file. Want to eliminate spam from your e-mail before you download it? Hacksaw comes with a REXX script that does exactly this. REXX and Hacksaw are a very powerful combination.
Hacksaw is a fully-functional shareware application. You can try it out for free without any limitations. I think you will be surprised by how easy it is to use this very powerful program. The registration fee for the shareware version is $29.95 and it may very well be the best money you ever spent on software. For those of you who work in a multiplatform environment, Hacksaw is also available in a Win95/NT version.
Dr. Dirk Terrell is an astronomer at the University of Florida specializing in interacting binary stars. His hobbies include cave diving, martial arts, painting and writing OS/2 software such as HTML Wizard.
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