Flocking

Flock On the advice of David Wilcox, I am giving Flock a go on my MacBook. Not because I am unhappy with FireFox, but more to see if it resolves some of the issues I have with NetNewsWire and the various blog editors I have been trying.

Flock, for the uninitiated, is a browser based on FireFox, but with loads of social media stuff built in. There’s a ‘People’ sidebar, for instance, which gives you little updates on what your contacts have been up to in Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc. It’s quite nice, but the Twitter aspect of this isn’t as nice, I don’t think, as the Twitbin plugin for FireFox. There is also integration with del.icio.us for bookmarking, which is cool, though obviously that can be achieved with FF and the Del.icio.us plugin.

There is also a built-in RSS aggregator for the sidebar, which I am curious to know how often it updates the feeds – it hasn’t done so yet. When I imported my 350-odd feeds from NetNewsWire the folders I had sorted them into got lost, which is a bit of a pain. In fact the element of the people sidebar also seem to update most irregularly, which is annoying. For example, my status update on Twitter shows on the website but not in Flock – even though I did the update within Flock itself!

There is also a nice way of integrating with Flickr (and other media sharing services) in terms of the ‘Media Bar’. This lets you search for media along the top of the browser window, with little thumbnails of images appearing which you can then click on to see the original, or drag into other things, like blog posts, for example.

Ah yes, blog posts! Flock has its own blog editor built-in, and while it is a fairly unflashy affair, it does at least have some basic functionality missing in the others I have tested. There’s no option to add title tags to links from the hyperlink dialogue, which is a pain, but at least the editor is reasonably usable. Even if I don’t use Flock for all my web browsing, the blog editor will most certainly get some use.

The final cool feature of Flock is the “My World” homepage, which lists the latest feeds you’ve been reading, favourited sites you have visited, media viewed etc. Handy to get to stuff you want quickly.

Overall, Flock is pretty cool. The only problem is that whilst Firefox doesn’t have the social functionality built in, there are plugins available for it which do the job better, for a minimal investment of effort. But I will certainly keep using it, not least to blog with!

Edit: one major annoyance with the blog editor is that when you add tags to a post, it uses Technorati rather than the internal tagging system in WordPress – meaning a trip to the WP editor after posting…

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