I’ve been frustrated with browser bookmarks for a long time now. I’ve been frustrated with using bookmarks on Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc. Here are my issues with them:
Can’t locate what I bookmarked already
It might be easy to organize a handful of bookmarks, but when you have hundreds of them, it starts getting unwieldy. There is no effective way to organize bookmarks outside of using folders. It’s difficult to locate folders that you might already have, with related links inside of them, etc. It’s also difficult to find a folder that a bookmark is in, once you’ve located the bookmark.
Here’s a look at what my bookmarks manager looks like in Firefox 2:
This just a small viewport into the hundreds of bookmarks I have in who knows how many folders, that are nested who knows how many levels deep. I try to organize these bookmarks as best I can, but using current bookmarks managers, it’s not possible to move things around easily. Here’s an example of another frustrating thing with Firefox bookmarks manager, when you try and create a new folder in an existing folder, Firefox adds the new folder not as child of the currently selected folder, but as it’s sibling! Here’s a screenshot of me trying to add a folder under Dev:
Behold, Firefox adding the New Folder as a sibling, rather than a child!
There are lots of other quirks in the Bookmarks Manager itself… it’s not possible to drag/drop anything on the left pane of the manager:
Another issue I have with Firefox, is locating which folder a bookmark is stored in. This occurs when I search for a keyword in the bookmarks manager, and it won’t tell me where the result came from (which folder it’s located in):
In the example above, I’ve searched for "java" and it found plenty of results, but it won’t tell me where "Java VM adoption" is stored!
Internet Explorer 7
The IE7 bookmarks manager is just as unusable as the Firefox 2 one. Same frustrations with both of them. The IE7 bookmarks are stored in a folder, and their bookmarks manager is very awkward to work with; it’s just easier to open up the favorites folders and move things around in there. Very unusable.
Firefox 3 beta
Things aren’t much better with Firefox 3. It’s easier to associate metadata with each bookmark that’s added, and it might be easier to search, but it’s not easy to find where the actual bookmark is located in my bookmark folders.
Unlike IE7 and Firefox 2/3, Safari does a pretty good job of managing bookmarks, and has a very usable Bookmark Manager, that makes it easy to create folders, drag and drop bookmarks and folders around, and works very intuitively.
And unlike Firefox 2/3 and IE7, when I perform a search through my bookmarks for "java", it will take me to the folder in which any selected bookmark is actually stored:
Very cool and very useful! Unfortunately, Safari is still in beta for Windows, and it does strange things with font rendering on Windows, and doesn’t look the same as other Windows apps due to the strange font anti aliasing that it performs.
No easy way to sync bookmarks across multiple machines and browsers
It’s difficult enough syncing bookmarks across multiple machines running the same browser, it’s even more difficult to that across different browsers running on different machines. I have to use Firefox, IE, and Safari to test all the web content and web apps that I create for my company (ScreamingToaster). And I have to resync a lot of my bookmarks across each browser on more than one machine, and that’s just tedious busy work that has to be repeated, over and over again. Not too happy about that. Too bad there isn’t some kind of SVN interface that these browsers could dump their bookmark store into, in an interoperable format .
On Firefox, I use Foxmarks. I’ve setup my own FTP server, so that I can sync my bookmarks across all the machines I have. However, the plugin is slow and it tends to freeze Firefox everytime it runs, including any web pages, plugins, anything running in the browser at the moment. I have to tolerate this, since it beats having to sync these files myself. Firefox 3 has Weave, and bookmark sync service that comes with it. It only took until 2008 to build this into browser infrastructure? . And it’s an add-on for Firefox 3… it’s too bad this isn’t built in.
On a Mac, you could always sync your bookmarks using .Mac, but that doesn’t help if you don’t have a .Mac account, and if you don’t want to pay $90 or so per year for a .Mac account. Even if I had a .Mac account, it still doesn’t help me sync with Firefox and IE7.
With IE7Pro, you can sync your bookmarks across multiple IE instances, however, you have to install IE7Pro, which is probably a good thing to do anyway if you use IE7 as your primary browser:
It would be nice to have some sort of service that allows me to sync my bookmarks across multiple types of browsers across multiple machines. It would also be nice to have an easy to use bookmarks manager that allowed me to easily organize my bookmarks. Each of these browsers has the ability to import/export bookmarks such that other types of browsers can import them. So technically, the code to load the bookmarks is there already, there just needs to be a service that could sync it between multiple instances. It would be cool if this sort of thing could happen via SVN or something. Other software, MS Onenote comes to mind, has the ability to sync stuff between multiple notebooks, and it would be really cool to have this kind of functionality built into browsers or another software/service offering.
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