Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Firefox and del.icio.us reinvent your bookmarks.

Do you use Firefox? Do you use del.icio.us? Have you installed the new del.icio.us bookmarks manager for Firefox? I am not talking about the original extension that merely added two little buttons near the address bar. I'm talking about a new extension that largely (but not completely) replaces your current Firefox bookmarks system. A few months back, a few of my pals said they didn't know what del.icio.us was really for. They'd bookmark something and never go back there again. To people who signed up for del.icio.us and said, "okay, what now?" the new Firefox extension will seem like a revelation. This simple little add on blows up your archaic browser-based bookmarks (essentially unchanged since 1995), and delivers a pimped-out, 21st century Internet engine.

I should preface this by saying this review is kinda for people who already know what del.icio.us is. If you don't, read this first, then continue.

Okay?  First, del.icio.us makes the old bookmarklet a part of your browser. This becomes the default interface for bookmarking a site in Firefox. It looks similar to the java bookmarklet, but it does something extra. It saves your bookmark on the internet AND in your browser. This interface allows you to tag your bookmark (so you can find it later), and decide whether you want to share it or keep it private. If you choose, you can also share it with people in your del.icio.us network.


So now, the bookmark is accessible in a more meaningful way, on a toolbar in Firefox. This toolbar is more flexible than your old bookmarks toolbar (which, by the way, hasn't been deleted; it's still there). In the del.icio.us toolbar, you can choose to view bookmarks individually, or sort them by tags. Here's an example of my bookmarks in the "tags view" sorted by my favorite tags.


Here, your individual bookmarks are available in dropdown menus. If you wish, however, you can choose to view your bookmarks individually in the toolbar. Just click the del.icio.us logo on the far left, and choose "bookmarks view." You can further choose to view either your most recently viewed bookmarks, or your most visited bookmarks.


This is a major improvement over Firefox's default display. Your new bookmarks toolbar is constantly changing. It's either going to show your most recent additions, or it's going to adapt to your changing Internet habits. Remember, if you're surfing sites you don't want others to see, simply edit that bookmark so that it's private.


If you choose not to make it private, it can be seen by other people. Below, you can see how your bookmarks look on the site. A private bookmark will have a red message next to it that says "not shared."


If you edit a bookmark on the del.icio.us site, your changes will be syncronized with your browser. So no matter where you make your changes, you only have to do it once.
Finally, the whole point of del.icio.us is that it enables you to save many more bookmarks than will fit in your toolbar and access them from any computer. If you're on a computer at work, simply access the del.icio.us Web site and search for it, either using your tags or a text search.  You can do the same thing from inside your browser on your main computer.  Press ctrl+B and start typing. The search engine will find both tags and bookmarks using the text you've entered.


Okay, there are a ton of other features I don't cover here (e.g., RSS feeds for tags, using del.icio.us for research). But If you have any questions or comments, please post them below. Again, you can download the Firefox extension here. If you don't have a del.icio.us account, get one here. And make sure you add me to your network.

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