Social Bookmarks in the Next Flock

Published on 06 February 2007

The blog module being pretty stable now, just requiring bug fixes and incremental improvements, I have been spending some time on the "online favorites" part, both on the engine and the user interface. "Online favorites" means social bookmarks websites, such as Delicious. As you may know, we introduced nested folders to our favorites model; it gave us an opportunity to rethink the way we work with online favorites services, and I ended up rewriting almost everything from scratch. So, what do we have now? You could rush to your Cormorant build, but the user interface being still in progress I would only recommend it to people who would be able to read the source code. But trust me: the engine is ready, and make the interface is just a matter of deciding what to show and write a few lines of XUL. (Maybe in one week or two, we will have a user interface providing enough functionalities for power users to test it.)
In short, here are the major changes:
  • The services are more visibles in the interface. Rather than choosing an option such as "share with everyone", you will see an option saying "publish to del.icio.us".
  • There is a better distinction between local favorites and online favorites. We had reports that some users were accidentally deleting online bookmarks because they thought they were working on a local clone. This confusion will now be avoided, and your data will be safer.
  • In the search fly-out (the search box on the right of the url bar), online favorites will have a distinct visual showing on which service they are published.
  • You don't have to set a "default" service to publish to. You can set up one delicious account and one shadows account, and choose where to publish to when you star a page. Publish to Delicious? To Shadows? To both? You choose, each time if you want. It also works with several accounts on the same service if you're a real social bookmarking geek.
  • Using Shadows as an example was not a mistake: we now have support for Delicious, Shadows and Magnolia. I know we announced that we were dropping Shadows because of the lack of support from Pluck, but the code became simple enough to write a Shadows module even if Shadows.com's future is uncertain. As long as Shadows.com is usable, it will be usable in Flock. Magnolia support has been added because it's a great service and we want to offer as much choice as possible to Flock users.
There is still one point where I am still wondering what the best user interface would be: the "Favorites" menu (still called "Bookmarks" in Cormorant, but this will be fixed). You will be able to access your online favorites from the favorites manager, the search box and of course the website of your service. But I don't think it's enough to really integrate online favorites in the browser. We need a quick way to access online favorites, and the obvious location for that would be in the Favorites menu. But since these favorites are not organized as a tree but with tags, how would you represent that in a menu? Would you show your most used tags as pseudo-folders? Show only the recent favorites rather that the whole list? I have a few ideas but I would love to hear what other people have to say about it.

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