Now and then in this UPDATE, I'll briefly review products that I've found useful in my daily computer use. This week, I discuss an inexpensive utility I've found that makes my Web development efforts significantly easier.

The tool is WebDrive 3.0 from RiverFront Software.

WebDrive lets you add ftp, FrontPage, or HTTP-DAV sites as drive letters in Windows Explorer. Because the sites appear to Windows as network connections, most Windows utilities, including Backup, will treat them as such.

I've used WebDrive to map ftp links as dedicated drive letters for the Web sites I maintain. Updating the files on those sites is just like working with any other local drive (of course, reading or writing files is a bit slower). Unlike some other utilities that I've used to manage ftp sites, WebDrive integrates with Windows Explorer and doesn't require you to launch another interface after you've configured the sites to which you want to connect. I have a good feel for this situation: Some of the Web sites I maintain are on servers on my local network; others are on commercial hosting services and connected strictly via ftp. With WebDrive, I treat both local and foreign hosts the same. For $39.95 for a single license (it's cheaper in bulk), this utility is a major timesaver. And it's significantly easier and more intuitive to use than the Add Network Place Wizard you'll find in My Network Places. Because you can map any ftp site to a local drive letter, you can use WebDrive to connect to sites that you spend a lot of time downloading from (e.g., Microsoft's FTP site).

I admit to being a bit of an HTML troglodyte (I write most of my code by hand, using the Coffee Cup Software HTML Editor, so I haven't tried WebDrive using a FrontPage or DAV connection, though I have used it on Windows 2000 Pro and Windows 98.

This week's tip: Using the Character Map Applet
Have you ever wanted to add special characters to a document or presentation or add characters from one of the special alphabets that Unicode support in Win2K allows? Changing fonts is simple in applications that support that functionality, but adding the special characters found in the Winding font sets requires that you know what those characters are and how they map. Adding characters from other alphabets usually isn't possible. But the Character Map applet lets you see all available fonts and the characters (and languages) available in those fonts, and copy those characters (or combinations of characters) to the clipboard.

You can find the Character Map applet at Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Character Map. Selecting Advanced View displays additional controls that let you display character maps by Character Set and search for a specific character by its code (if you know it).

If you click multiple characters from any of the font sets and click Select, the characters move to the Characters to Copy window. You can then copy and paste them into any application that supports multiple fonts.