Monday, July 28, 2008

Google recreates Bookmarks in Notebook’s image

According to Google Operating System, Google is ditching the old Bookmarks interface for something that looks a lot like Google Notebook. You can still access the old interface at http://www.google.com/bookmarks/. The new hottness is at http://www.google.com/notebook/bookmarks, which makes sense because bookmarks has effectively become a fully-integrated feature within Google Notebook.

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Of course, this isn’t a surprise. When the Notebook team launched their blog, they announced that bringing Bookmarks into Google Notebook was primary goal. In a statement that practically screams “notemarking,” they declared:

It turns out we're starting this blog at an auspicious moment. As you may already know, Google Notebook is about collecting, organizing, and sharing information from the web -- but in many ways, so are bookmarks. Which is why we've been working to combine Google Notebook and Google Bookmarks.

imageIn fact, Google Bookmarks has been integrated with Notebook since November of last year. But that implementation was a bit kludgy, leaving Bookmarks with one foot still firmly rooted in Google’s Web History product, while creating a purgatory of “Unfiled Bookmarks” within Notebook.

Sadly, the clumsy unfiled bookmarks section remains part of Google Notebook. But the new Bookmarks URL reveals a clean, bifurcated interface that gives you two clear browsing options: Bookmarks and Notebooks. GOS blogger Ionut Alex Chitu thinks it’s a better look:

The old version of Google Bookmarks was integrated with the web history and allowed you to bookmark previously visited pages with one click. Another feature that's missing from the new version is full-text search, since bookmarks have been converted to notes.

On the bright side, the new interface is more responsive, it uses "infinite scrolling" to display the bookmarks and the notes can be formatted using a rich-text editor. Google Toolbar 5 (IE-only) lets you save the selected text from a page, which appears highlighted every time you visit the page.

It’s an improvement, but I’m not all that enthusiastic. Notebook and Bookmarks remain separate applications, when they should be seamlessly joined together. And what about Google’s other notemarking applications? Shared Stuff and Google Reader each have their own bookmarking functions and bookmarklets; neither is compatible with Google Bookmarks. GOS already tackled this fragmentation, and Google’s approach to bookmarking will remain fundamentally “broken” until they fix it.  But I’m hopeful the Notebook team will continue to work toward a more elegant, fully-realized notemarking application.

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