Monday Dec 11, 2006

FoxMarks

One of the things that has bemused and frustrated me since I first started using the web in the early 90's was that your bookmarks were always stored in the client and there seemed to be no simple way to store them in the network. It is a problem that I have returned to periodically (every couple of years) since the early 90's. I have even tried at various times to implement solutions of my own such as storing bookmarks as an HTML file on a secure website of my own creation. These attempts were always doomed to failure since it required me to remember to make manual edits to an online file rather than simply click on a button in the browser.

 With the rise in popularity of social bookmarking sites I decided to revisit the problem recently and here are the results of my investigations. I was not really interested at this point in time in the aspects of social bookmarking other than the fact that it appeared to be a route to store my bookmarks in a central repository that could be accessed from anywhere. What I really wanted was a simple, secure online store that could be accessed from anywhere and updated (automatically) from anywhere. The problem was that in a Sun office I use a SunRay to access the network, at home I use my laptop or my desktop and on the the road I use my laptop. This is further complicated by the fact that my laptop and desktop multi-boot into different operating systems depending on the work that I am doing.

It appears that for MAC users there is the .Mac service that seems do what I was looking for but I assumed that it was for MAC users only and did not investigate further. Google offers google bookmarks. This provides an on line repository and there are a number of firefox plugins that allow you to access them from the control bar of the browser. These include GMarks, Firefox Google Bookmarks, Google Bookmarks Button and Deng Google bookmarks amongst others. The two main shortfalls of this were a) that the online repository does not offer a file/folder like structure, just tags and although some of the tools available use the tags to generate the look and feel of a directory structure it is only one folder deep and b) the plugins generate a new control panel for the google bookmarks that is separate from the "standard" bookmarks.

 Then I discovered FoxMarks. The answer to all my prayers. The plugin integrates seamlessly with the browser using the standard bookmarks menus. It even allowed me to merge the bookmark folders from the three browser instances I already had offering me the option to merge or overwrite (local or remote). The only limitation that I have been able to discover to date is that there appears to be no plugin for browsers other than firefox but since I use only firefox this is not a limitation that affects me.

 

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