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The social web browser – Flock revisited! February 16, 2008

Posted by oktyabr in browsers, cross platform, open source, software, web.
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http://www.flock.com

Over a year ago I posted about my fondness for this mozilla powered offshoot. How has it changed? Does it still rock?

If you look closely at the bottom of my posts on this blog you will more likely than not notice the little “Blogged with Flock” tag. So yes, I’ve been using Flock as my primary web browser for well over a year now! Back in July of 2006 I posted about how great this app was and while there has been a few bumps here and there along the development path I can highly recommend this latest version to anyone that wants the most that any single browser can offer!

So what’s it do? Flock aims, above all, at being a “social” web browser. Expect things such as integration with popular blog software (wordpress, blogger, typepress, etc.) for starters as well as online bookmarks. This is really nothing new… the “old” version of Flock that I posted about over a year ago could do that and as many Flock critics have pointed out these are features that Firefox can easily do too, once it’s extended with the proper plugins… So what’s Flock got that makes it really stand out?

For starters let me touch on plugins for a moment. At the time of this posting the current version of Flock was compatible with ALL of the firefox/mozilla plugins that I tried with it! As always, your mileage may vary…

So really two things jump out at you that you will not find in any other web browser… that string of extra buttons down there:

extra buttons

Blogged with Flock

From left to right they are:

“My World”  which opens a tab supplying you with your latest bookmarks, media uploads, rss feeds, the date, the time, WHEW!  I’m sure it’s configurable.  It’s also a tab that opens by default when you start the browser.

“People Sidebar”:  I could write a whole post (or two!) on just this one button!  Basically it tracks everyone you have labeled as a friend/contact on any of a multitude of services including flickr.com, facebook, youtube, your favorite blogs and more!  The only thing I found obviously still lacking was the integration of instant messaging and perhaps webmail notification.  While I’m sure those two things can be accomplished with aforementioned plugins it would still be nice to see a “social” web browser capable of dealing with all of the facets of online communication… maybe even a skype directory or similar in the future?  🙂

“Media Bar” was one of the first features to really stand out even in the early versions of Flock that I tried.  This gives you instant access to media accounts such as flickr and photobucket and can even browse other social media sites such as youtube or likely anywhere offering a media stream.  I know for photo management it doesn’t get any easier!  Simply click the Media Bar icon (the bar opens along the top of your current tab) and drag and drop images from your PC directly onto the bar.  Assuming you took the time to sign up for one or more accounts (flickr, etc.) and followed the easy setup in Flock itself you then just have to select what account you want to upload to, what set or collection, tags, etc. and you are done!  Moving photos from your online collections is just as easy… in fact all I do to add images to this very blog is click on the media bar icon and drag and drop right into the blog (setup required!) I’m working on.  SO much easier than messing around with separate file handling agents or FTP.

“Feeds Sidebar”  Any of you news junkies should already be drooling at this one and yeah, it works THAT good!  Click the button and all your feeds are just a mouse click away, opened in a neat, compact side bar.  Find a new feed you just have to have?  Flock automatically detects news feeds and indicates that it has found them by “lighting up” a news icon next to the address bar.  Click it and it’s added to your feed library!

“Favorites”  Have a million bookmarks all cross referenced with a million tags?  Yeah, me too.  Del.icio.us users will already be accustomed to a nice sidebar popping open that lets you sort by tag, frequency, etc. but Flock is different in that it not only supports Del.icio.us but many other services as well, all in the same integrated sidebar!

“Accounts and Services” is like your personal preferences for anything requiring a password or Flock integration, all easily accessed and administered from a single side bar with a single click of the mouse.  🙂

“Web Clipboard” is another hold over from the early versions and a good thing too!  It really needs to be used to be understood but simply think of it like a clipboard that can store all kinds of things…  text, links, even images, that you can store for later use in a blog, email, forum post, whatever.  How convenient!

“Blog Editor” is exactly as it would suggest.  As previously mentioned Flock’s blog editor is capable of working with many of the popular free services.  Truth be told I still prefer wordpress’s online editor for my blogging, more out of habit than anything else, but if I switched to a blog system that didn’t have it Flock’s integrated editor would be all I would need.

“Photo Uploader”  is also appropriately self-titled.  This application opens automatically when you drag-and-drop photos to the media bar but by clicking on the icon you bring the dedicated upload window to the top for quick glances at progress, etc.  Especially useful if you multitask like I do while uploading several photos at once in the background.

Flock is really too elaborate to cover in one post.  The best thing to do is go get it and find out for yourself!  Definitely one of my favorite “open source cross platform softwares of all time”!

Shared with Flock – The Social Web Browser
http://flock.com

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Comments»

1. Evan Hamilton - February 16, 2008

Hey oktyabr,

Thanks for the great, in-depth review. Glad to hear you’ve been using Flock for so long!

FYI, Webmail integration is coming in Flock 1.1, which should be hitting public beta in the next week or so. Keep your eyes on http://www.flock.com for more info.

Flock on,

Evan Hamilton
Flock Community Ambassador
evan at flock dot com

2. Owen - March 25, 2008

Wow, this looks really cool I guess I’ve been out of the loop for a while. I only just started using stumble upon (I made a separate user for the toolbar.) I have been trying to get digsby working on Linux but it looks like I might be able to just use flock and stick to Pidgin. Any one see a trend in names here?


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