Many of you may not know the history of inSSIDer and how it came to be created. Work on inSSIDer began back in 2007 when MetaGeek was still a tiny company of four people, and we had just created Wi-Spy 2.4x.
Netstumbler was still the most popular Wi-Fi scanner, but the developer hadn’t worked on it since 2005, so it had issues on 64-bit Windows XP and on Windows Vista. At that time Chanalyzer only showed spectrum data, no Wi-Fi information at all, which meant you had to use a separate tool to get a list of Wi-Fi networks while troubleshooting with Wi-Spy, and with Netstumbler development stopped, this was starting to become a problem for our customers.
We decided to build Wi-Fi scanning into our Chanalyzer software, so that it would show RF spectrum data from Wi-Spy *and* list all of the nearby Wi-Fi networks. Being a tiny company with a very limited marketing budget, we decided that creating a free Wi-Fi scanner to replace Netstumbler would get us more awareness than any advertising would. We built inSSIDer at the same time that we were building Wi-Fi scanning into Chanalyzer and released inSSIDer 1.0 in January 2008 (Chanalyzer didn’t get Wi-Fi scanning for another six months).
inSSIDer started getting noticed by places like Tekzilla and Network World and after 14 months it reached 100,000 downloads! Since then it has steadily gained popularity and has now been downloaded 8 million times and has almost 40,000 users every day!
The original inSSIDer design was influenced by Netstumbler, which was mainly used for wardriving. The Channels View was introduced in inSSIDer 1.1 and was heavily influenced by our Chanalyzer application. Since then some colors have changed and we’ve added GPS logging, but the overall design of inSSIDer hasn’t changed very much.
Today about 90% of users use inSSIDer to help improve their personal home Wi-Fi. Over 80% of users identify their Wi-Fi skill level as beginner or intermediate, yet over 30% say Wi-Fi is critical and troubleshoot Wi-Fi at least monthly. Given these statistics we decided it was time to rethink inSSIDer and design it from the ground up with the goal of helping users improve their Wi-Fi quickly and easily, while providing education on Wi-Fi best practices.
Upon launching inSSIDer 3, the first thing you’ll notice is that “Customize inSSIDer” options allowing you to specify your expertise level and your location type (home, office, school). The “Learn” screen has also been streamlined to show more relevant information based on the user customizations.
The Networks Tab contains the standard Networks Table and Channels Views, and also adds a Network Details panel to the right of the table. The Network Details panel shows extra information about the selected network in the table, allowing the table to be simpler. This also provides a place to add additional information, such as showing the MCS Index for 802.11n networks (coming in a future release).
The Channels Views below the table looks similar to the Channels View in inSSIDer 2. All networks are displayed the same, regardless of which network(s) you are interested in.
In inSSIDer 3 you can now identify your network in the Network Details panel by starring it. Once a network has been starred, the colors of all the networks in the Channels View changes to highlight your network, networks on the same channel as your network, and networks that overlap your network. This provides a quick snapshot of the networks that could be conflicting with your network. Clicking the small clipboard icon in the top right corner of each panel will copy the table or image to the clipboard; this makes it easier to create a report if you are using inSSIDer for work.
In the Works…
Upcoming releases will include channel recommendations and security warnings, customized for each users skill level and environment.