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Using FTP


FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a widely used protocol for transfering and accessing files over the internet, or any other network. It consists of a client-server architecture which is basically very simple: the client sends a command to the server, which executes it and sends a response back to the client to inform him about the success or failure of the operation.

SFML provides a simple class which implements a FTP client and all the commands it can send to a FTP server: sf::Ftp.

FTP responses

Before using our FTP class, let's explain the concept of responses. Every FTP action is internally a command that is executed by the server, and which returns a response containing a status code and a message. Thus, every call to a sf::Ftp function returns such a response, wrapped in the sf::Ftp::Response class. This class is a straight-forward wrapper around FTP responses, and contains the returned status code and message from the server.

sf::Ftp Server;
sf::Ftp::Response Resp = Server.xxx(); // See later...

sf::Ftp::Response::Status Status = Resp.GetStatus();
std::string Message = Resp.GetMessage();

The status code and message are useful only if you want to display detailed informations about what is done on the server side, otherwise they can just be ignored. The only important thing is to check whether the status code means a success or a failure, which can be done with the IsOk helper function.

bool Success = Resp.IsOk();

Thus, every FTP command can be checked directly:

if (Server.xxx().IsOk())
    // Success
    // Failure

Connecting to a FTP server

The first step is to connect to a FTP server.

sf::Ftp Server;
if (Server.Connect("ftp.myserver.com").IsOk())
    // Ok, we're connected

The server address can be any valid sf::IPAddress: an URL, an IP address, a network name, etc.

The Connect function can accept two more optional parameters: a network port and a timeout value.
The default port for FTP is 21, but some applications may need to use another one.
The timeout can be used to make sure your application won't freeze for too long if the server is not responding; if you don't specify an explicit value, the default system timeout is used.

Here is an example using the port 50 and a timeout value of 3 seconds:

if (Server.Connect("ftp.myserver.com", 50, 3).IsOk())
    // Ok, we're connected

Once you're connected to the server, you have to log in in order to identify yourself.

if (Server.Login("username", "password").IsOk())
    // Ok, we're logged in

You can also log in anonymously if the server supports it:

if (Server.Login().IsOk())
    // Ok, we're logged in as an anonymous user

You're now connected and identified on the server, let's see what you can do with it.

FTP commands

Because the FTP protocol aims at accessing files, it can basically be seen as a remote filesystem. Thus, the command it defines are similar to those you can find on your favorite OS: browsing directories, displaying content, copying files, etc.

Here is a list of the FTP commands implemented in sf::Ftp.

GetWorkingDirectory retrieves the current working directory. It returns a specialized response of type sf::Ftp::DirectoryResponse which contains the directory as an additional member.

sf::Ftp::DirectoryResponse Resp = Server.GetWorkingDirectory();
if (Resp.IsOk())
    std::string Directory = Resp.GetDirectory();

GetDirectoryListing retrieves the contents of the given directory, relative to the current working directory. It returns a specialized response of type sf::Ftp::ListingResponse which contains the listing as an additional member.

sf::Ftp::ListingResponse Resp = Server.GetDirectoryListing("some_directory");
if (Resp.IsOk())
    for (std::size_t i = 0; i < Resp.GetCount(); ++i)
        std::string Filename = Resp.GetFilename(i);

ChangeDirectory changes the current working directory, relative to the current one. It can be a complex path, separated by slashes.


ParentDirectory changes the current working directory to the parent of the current one. It's in fact equivalent to a call to ChangeDirectory("..").


MakeDirectory creates a new directory as a child of the current one.


DeleteDirectory deletes an existing directory. Be careful when using this command, it can't be undone!


RenameFile renames a file (doh!).

Server.RenameFile("file.txt", "new_name.txt");

DeleteFile deletes an existing file.


Download transfers a file from the server to the client. There are three transfer modes: binary (the default one), Ascii (optimized for ASCII text files) and Ebcdic (optimized for EBCDIC text files).

Server.Download("distant_file.txt", "dest_dir", sf::Ftp::Binary);

Upload transfers a file from the client to the server. The transfer modes are the same as for the Download function.

Server.Upload("local_file.txt", "dest_dir", sf::Ftp::Binary);

Note: the Download and Upload function may take time to complete, depending on the size of file to transfer. If you don't want to block your application it may be a good idea to execute them in a separate thread.

KeepAlive is a special function that does nothing. Many FTP servers automatically disconnect clients after several minutes of inactivity ; this function can be called when nothing happens, to prevent this automatic disconnection.


Disconnect disconnects the client from the server. Calling it is not mandatory (but recommended), as it is done when the sf::Ftp instance gets destructed.



This was the last tutorial about the network package. You can now go to another section, and learn a new SFML package.