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Bookmark Managers entry

A week ago I though it was time to search a better system to manage my bookmarks. I’m using Safari and sometimes Camino, it’s easy to import Safari bookmarks in Camino and that’s not a problem, but the story is different on my Nokia 770 and, more importantly, it’s such a mess that I sometimes tend not to bookmark stuff cause I won’t ever find them again anyway. I need tags. I’m using for a long time, but I never thought it could replace my local links. More on this later., furl, Blinklist, Simpy, Spurl, Jots, Blogmarks, Netvouz, Shadows, RawSugar, Site Tagger, WebNoteHappy, here I come.

2007 Update

Things change quickly. I don’t have much time now to review everything again. Now that allow private bookmarks and that WebNoteHappy is out, my setup is: WebNoteHappy on OS X synced with for sharing and when I’m on another platform.

Desktop apps

First I looked at desktop apps and I tried almost all OS X bookmark managers.

That will be quick. Almost none of them made me even think a minute that I could benefit from using them. Most don’t have tags, which is quite surprising (where were the devs the last two years?) and eliminates all contenders but two: WebNoteHappy and Site Tagger. There is CocoaLicious too, but it’s a front end to, not a stand alone app, it’s still a good idea and I wish it’d work with other services.

Site Tagger has some nice features: Tags, fully searchable links, import and post to/from and furl, backup to ftp, rating, smart folders, etc. But the interface is so weird and ugly that it’s useless to me. Sorry. Multiple views, weird widgets, some info only available on Get Info, etc. Check for yourself. The best of all is that double clicking on a bookmark doesn’t open it! You have to it Return.

WebNoteHappy is really young and only the “lite” version is out, but it’s the only one worse keeping an eye on, IMHO. It has a simple and clean UI, tags (although they are mixed with comments), automatically imports from Safari, but it has no syncing possibility and it’s a show stopper for me. But I’d like to point that at least one dev got it right and I’ll sure look at the shareware version when it will be released.

N.B: There may be a lot of extraordinary apps on other platforms, but that won’t help me, thanks. On OS X, I may have forgotten or misevaluated some apps, of course, but the apps or features I missed are surely well hidden, cause, boy, I did search. Feel free to point me to the good direction if I missed something.

Online apps

Then I tried something like a dozen online “social” bookmark managers.

What strikes me is that bookmark management is one of the rare domain where web applications are way better than desktop applications. Not that they are perfect, far from it, but in this jungle of beta services, you can see some great ideas and implementations. And if you need your bookmarks, chance are that you’re connected anyway.

I will only write about sites I really (if not intensively) tried, so they fit what I‘m looking for. I’m sure some that I didn’t like are a perfectly good fit for other people. Most of these sites are beta too, so some are changing fast.

All of them except have private links, all of them except Furl, Netvouz and Blinklist have an open API.

NB: This is in no way a complete roundup of all available solutions. This is just my adventures in the social bookmarking jungle. You can find a complete listing on 3spot’s “All social that CAN bookmark”.

What I like:

  • Fast.
  • Popular.
  • Well documented API.
  • Nice tag suggestion.
  • Almost standard compliant code.
  • Kind of de facto “standard”.

What I don’t like:

  • No private bookmarks. I’m searching for a way to manage my links, sharing them is a plus, but I need to keep my pron^H^H^H^Hadmin links private.
  • UI is light, but it’s ugly.
  • Import is broken.

Due to its open API and as it’s the most popular service of this kind, there is a lot of nice addons, scripts and apps working with it. e.g.:
CocoaLicious: List, search, tag and add new links.
Safarilicious: Export Safari bookmarks to, exclude folders you want, export only links not already there,…
delicious2safari: Import delicious bm to Safari, although all of them in one folder.


What I like:

  • Clean and fast. Fastest bookmark manager I tried so far.
  • Nice simple text based UI.
  • Almost valid XHTML.
  • Calendar view. Browse by date.
  • API.
  • Private links.
  • You can add notes (non-links).
  • Did I say fast?
  • Ruby is my friend. ;)

What I don’t like:

  • Needs a better search: “goo” doesn’t return google. :(
  • Needs some kind of auto-completion/type ahead for tags.
  • Bookmarklet doesn’t insert selected text.
  • Narrowing tag search. e.g: Selecting tag “one” then selecting tag “two” in the related tags should give results for one + two.
  • No editing of tags name.
  • Needs easier editing (Ajax), at least a “two click” delete. Popup bookmarklet that insert selected text in description field.
  • Needs Import! Without Leandro Ardissone’s tool to import from delicious, I wouldn’t have even tried Jots.
  • Needs Export. Although you can use the Tom Hoffman’s python script to export to

As the two last examples show, the API can be used to create import/export features, but it’s still too basic: All links are imported as private and you have to go through first. Which is bad for private links.


What I like:

  • Nicest UI in the “non text based” category. Really.
  • Refine tag search as much as you want.
  • Lots of AJAX to edit, delete, make public, etc.
  • Private links.
  • Excellent bookmarklets inserts selected text, shows your tags and recommended tags.
  • QuickBlink bookmarklet: Instant private post with “QuickBlink” tag.

What I don’t like:

  • They don’t want to support Safari until now, they even hide the bookmarklets if you use Safari. If you want to use them, you just have to change “document.getSelection” to “window.getSelection”, BTW. They answered my email (good point!) and explained they still are changing things all the time and will add support for other browsers later.
  • Lots of small glitches with javascript make it hard to use in Safari, see point one. ;)
  • I’d prefer having less candy and more speed.
  • Totally non standard compliant code (declared as strict!).


What I like:

  • Tag hierarchy (When you tag with a “subtag” it adds the parent tags), this helps showing tags in the sidebar by grouping them. This could be great except for a little flaw. See hereunder.
  • Private links.
  • Fast.
  • Lots of well used AJAX goodness make editing and managing tags easy.
  • Well documented API.

What I don’t like:

  • You have to explicitly enter a tag as a subtag or the tag is recreated in the top level: e.g. I have to enter tag apple>mac>osx to keep the tag hierarchy.
  • You need the mouse to selected the proposed tags when entering a bookmark.
  • Bookmarklet doesn’t insert selected text.
  • The navigation is fine but the look can be improved.
  • Small glitch with Safari: The subtags sometimes go out of the sidebar.
  • Totally non standard compliant code.


What I like:

  • Clean. Fast.
  • Text based UI. (Not that nice but still.)
  • Private links.
  • Batch editing.
  • Tag proposal based on page’s content.

What I don’t like:

  • No API.
  • Categories. They just get in the way.
  • Auto tagging of imported bookmarks based on page’s content: I don’t care having tags like “2003”, “0.6”, “home” or whatever and this totally ruins the type ahead for tags.


What I like:

  • Not much, so I didn’t test it a lot to be honest. ;)
  • Private links.
  • Text based simple UI.
  • Fast.

What I don’t like:

  • Have to clic on a small icon the open a bookmark, clicking on the title open the detailed page on furl. :(
  • More based on categories than tags.


What I like:

  • Clean UI.
  • Fast.
  • Sync your public bookmarks to
  • Bookmarklet inserts selected text.

What I don’t like:

  • I’m not found of the categories + tags system. Trying to maintain both is too hard, IMHO.
  • Bookmarklet layout sometimes screwed in Safari.
  • No type ahead for tags.
  • Non standard compliant code


What I like:

  • Nice UI.
  • Almost standard compliant code.
  • Bookmarklet inserts selected text.

What I don’t like:

  • No related tags or tag hierarchy.
  • No way to combine tags to refine search.
  • A bit slow sometimes.
  • Thumbnails. I prefer a text based UI.


What I like:

  • You can post comments every links.
  • compatible API

What I don’t like:

  • No way to search only your bookmarks. You can just browse your tags. :(
  • No export feature for now.
  • Too slow.


What I like:

  • You can add notes (non-links).
  • Documented API.
  • Nice “- exclude ~ optional + require” tag search.
  • Browse by date.
  • Bookmarklet inserts selected text.

What I don’t like:

  • Can be really slow.
  • UI is a bit cluttered.
  • No AJAX, every action loads a page (see point 1).
  • Problems with bookmarklets in Safari.
  • Non standard compliant code.
  • Never answered my mail.

After these tests here is what I found important:

  • Speed. I don’t want to wait 15s to see my bookmarks.
  • Ability to make links private.
  • Open API. Only way to have some nice devs, or even me, invent new ways for using the service.
  • RSS everywhere.
  • A way to see all tags without scrolling 10 min.
  • I don’t like having folders organisation on top of the tags, this make two levels of organisation. You can forget about folders, but this doesn’t helps organizing and gets in the way.
  • A somewhat nice text based UI. I don’t see the point for thumbnails too small to see what’s in the page.
  • Type ahead tags suggestion.

I don’t really know why but even if I tried lots of solutions with a lot more features, I keep coming back at Jots. It just feels right, even if it miss some important things (They could be implemented very quickly, btw. I really hope they still working on it).

Beside Jots, the other services I may consider are:

  • If they ever allow me to make some bookmarks private. It’s huge adoption is a plus, considering how many addons you can find.
  • RawSugar: Its tag hierarchy feature could be really smart and it’s really fast to edit/manage bookmarks, but the look is not that nice and they could at least declare a DOCTYPE. ;). Open API.
  • BlinkList: I’m not sure at all that something else than a text based UI is necessary, but BlinkList looks nice and is packed with features. Maybe they allow me, Safari user, to use it one day. XHTML Strict? Comon’! No API.
  • Netvouz: Text-based. I just which there was a way to avoid auto tagging on import and a way to disable categories. Look is ok, but could be better. No API.
  • Google social bookmarks if they ever make it.

As you can see, I can’t really find the ultimate solution so the future is open. Anyway, thanks to OnlyWire, you can post to all those service at the same time (works for public links only).

One thing that disappoints me is that the Nokia 770’s browser can’t handle bookmarklets and I don’t know if there is some workaround…

If you find inaccuracies or have any question, please, leave a comment.

Posted on 28/2/2006 .