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Ordering the Chaos of Bookmarks? 23

Posted by Cliff
from the bookmark-once-access-anywhere dept.
Jón Ragnarsson asks: "I'm loosing my mind over my bookmarks. I use 3 computers on a daily basis, and not even one of them is mobile. I have about 10 instances of browsers on them, each and every one with it's own bookmark system. I have countless times cursed when I'm at home but need some obscure bookmark on my computer at work, and just can't remember the url or phrases to find it in Google. So last night I went on a mission: I decided to think up a standard to store and retreive bookmarks. But first I deceided to search the Net just in case if somebody else had done the same thing. I typed 'bookmark protocol' in Google and behold, the fourth link mentioned the ACAP - Application Configuration Access Protocol, defined in rfc2244. So, why isn't it used?"

"It's much more than a simple bookmark storage, the RFC remarks:

The Application Configuration Access Protocol (ACAP) is designed to support remote storage and access of program option, configuration and preference information.

Probably the main reason this isn't being used is because you can't rely on every user having access to an ACAP server. Well, why not have both? Your browser could implement a mini-server until you find one that you can use. So should I suggest this to Mozilla/Microsoft/Opera? Or is there a simpler way. When Netscape was the king, I simply uploaded the bookmark file to my homepage area, it worked (more or less). And since I use browser 90% for content not on my computer I'm very likely to have net access when I'm using my browser. So could this be feasable, or am I daydreaming again?"

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Ordering the Chaos of Bookmarks?

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  • Browsers at work, browsers at home, booting different operating systems. Used to send myself email with links, still have a pile in the mail client that I've never visited again. Tried all sorts of bookmark merge programs, wasn't happy with some of those. Tried the Yahoo thing, was way past their limit of 1000 bookmarks. Tried the Blink thing and at least one other service that went out of business (deapleap I think), they were too slow even over my cable connection.

    So I rolled my own, well actually I snagged the useful phpHoo [thewebmasters.net], read the pages at webreference [webreference.com] to lend myself a clue and put it up where I've got some cheap hosting. Now I just have to remember to use it instead of the browser bookmark functions. Advantages, well, its searchable, its available as long as my host is up, It lets you create tree like organization kind of like Yahoo, and some other stuff I can't think of now. It doesn't import other bookmarks, but I think that would be a good challenge for my limited skills. I also think some buttons tied to 'scriptlets' for the most popular browsers would be a great useability addition, that way you could make the system nearly as painless as a bookmark file.

    Looks like some more stuff has come out since I did this, I might take another look at the alternatives. But take a look at phpHoo and its relatives, they just might work like you want them to.

  • by cdh (6170)
    I had the same issue. I use using Netscape's roaming access, but that doesn't do me much good if I'm at somebody else's house, a cafe, etc. I am now using Bookmarker [renaghan.com]. This stores all of your bookmarks in a MySQL database and has some nice features. Best of all, for all the people who will only use open source, you're in luck.
  • A couple of quick and dirty solutions:

    • For browsers that use the same bookmark scheme, upload your bookmarks to a CVS server whenever you update them, and update them from the CVS server whenever firing up the browser on a given machine.

    • For all browsers - instead of using bookmarks, keep a bookmark page in your web directory. Update this whenever you want to remember a site. You can use a trivial CGI script do to this from anywhere, or do it by hand and use the cvs method to update it (with the machine with the master copy of the page doing a cvs update at regular intervals via cron).


    A friend of mine uses a simpler version of the bookmark page method. It works reasonably well.
  • Some versions of netscape used LDAP to implement roving profiles (including bookmarks). I'm not sure if mozilla/netscape 6 does this or not.
  • by RossyB (28685)
    XBEL is a XML-based bookmark language which is fairly cross-platform. It looks a bit like Netscape HTML pages if you remove the HTML tags and replace them with sensible names. The Python group that created it have some tools to convert to/from XBEL/IE/Netscape.

    I'm working on patches to Galeon and Gnobog to read/write XBEL. Gnobog, is a GNOME bookmark editor, and the plans for 0.5.x look very impressive. It already drag-and-drops to and from 11 (I think) different browers on Linux and it plans to have remote access to bookmarks. Maybe this is what you want? I know it's what I want and I'm about to start helping out the group.
  • by dist (30121)
    I have over 500K of bookmarks, and it grows by a few bookmarks every day. While I don't know if this is a "record" number of bookmarks for an individual, I can surely tell you it is an insane number.

    ...I have 2.33MB.
  • Blink [blink.com] is an (apparently) ad supported repository for bookmarks. Privacy implications aside, I have found it useful for uploading and consolidating the bookmarks from disparate machines. I don't actually use the site to browse from, because I usually have JavaScript turned off, which it uses to track usage of each bookmark.

    IIRC, you can also tell it to not accept duplicate bookmarks. (i.e. you'll only end up with one bookmark for Slashdot when you're through).

  • by cr0sh (43134)
    You are going through this too? Information junkie, I suppose? Perhaps like me?

    I have over 500K of bookmarks, and it grows by a few bookmarks every day. While I don't know if this is a "record" number of bookmarks for an individual, I can surely tell you it is an insane number.

    I use Netscape on both my home PCs and my work PC, and in order to keep the chaos down, and keep my bookmarks up to date, the system I currently use is this:

    I only add bookmarks when I am at work. When I find a site at home that I want to bookmark, I email the address to my work, and bookmark it there. Almost every day I copy the bookmarks (with a script) from my work box to a floppy, and take them home. At home I run a script to copy them from the floppy to Netscape. The script also makes a copy to my shared samba area so that the Windows PCs can get to the links.

    This has worked out well, but it was frustrating to update the links this way. It has been even more of a problem organizing that many links. I recently spent a couple of days reorganizing the links to make them "fit" better, and be more hierarchical to find them better, but it still isn't what I want. My solution?

    I am going to write my own bookmark CGI (in PERL - which I am learning as I work on it), and host it off a small webserver from my cable connection. While such sites (as mentioned prior) do exist that does this, that is way too much information to allow just anybody to have access too (do you really want people to know all your favorite browsing areas?).

    My goal is to create this system to allow a few security levels, like Admin, Trusted User, User, and Guest, and put in the links database what level can view what - ie, a link marked as User could be viewed by someone with Trusted User and Admin Access, but not by Guests. I would have logins and passwords - so I could give out access to friends. I would be able to access the server from nearly anywhere, on any machine. With admin access, I will be able to add links, move links, delete links, change links, do all that with users and privilege levels, etc. Maybe even have templates to customise the look of the site - maybe add "news of the day", and clip headlines from /. and k5.

    Yeah, I checked freshmeat for such systems, and found a few, but none had the security options - most seemed tailored for a "free-for-all" type situation, with the ability to do remote maintenance, but no way to limit viewability of links. I plan on my system to be different, and much more flexible.

    It is a big task, and not suited for everybody, but it is the road I am going down, to preserve my sanity!

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • by cr0sh (43134)
    Ack! I feel for your chaos (or, maybe it isn't chaotical (?) for you)...

    Anyhow, that line is what I am wanting to stave off, the point where I can't transport my bookmarks via floppy and have to start zipping them, then finally emailing them - until there are too many to email...

    One thing I noticed when I was reorganizing my bookmarks, that I had a fair amount of duplicates, scattered all over the place. This was from creating a bookmark in multiple places, due to it being able to fit into multiple categories - thus, a bookmark to the Livid site might actually fall under "computers/software/video/linux", as well as "computers/hardware/dvd" or some such. This inability to cross reference bookmarks is something I hope to overcome with my code using categorical meta-tags on the bookmarks, coupled with a search engine - so you can browse the categories ala Yahoo, or search them instead. It is a VERY complicated system that I am still designing, in order to make it as easy as possible for me to code it.

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • As far as I can see, you have two solutions to a bookmark blizzard.

    the first is to find a online bookmark host (Yahoo do a nice one if you download their toolbar; you can easily upload your existing bookmarks and can access the list with a simple pulldown tool each time you are online)

    The second is to sneekernet or email your files back and forth.
    Believe it or not, the best tool I have found for this under windows comes free from microsoft! if you download the Export/Import tool [microsoft.com] and run it, it will ask for two things - a filename for a Netscape style HTML file containing a bookmark list and a subdirectory containing windows-style URL shortcut objects. You can then export and import these back and forth - merging multiple HTML bookmark files into a single Internet-Explorer style subdirectory tree, then re-exporting as a single NS-HTML bookmarks file. If you don't trust Yahoo but still want web-bookmarks, this is also the easiest way to go - just upload the HTML file to some free webspace, and then make it your startpage. not as convenient as a pulldown - but be honest. how often do you need to jump directly from the current page to a bookmark? other than translation sites, I can't think of any, and it is semi-trivial to just import those separately ONCE and then forget about it.
    --

  • I maintain two main bookmark files.

    One I keep on my website, and use for sites that I visit fairly regularly, like Slashdot, CNN, my job, some friends, etc. I set this as the home page on computers that I use regularly (home & work).

    The other file -- well, actually several files -- is the internal bookmark file for the individual browsers on each computer. These are of course typically way out of sync with one another, but for the most part that doesn't bother me. Anything important enough that I'd want to go back to repeatedly can be put into the website bookmark file, and in practice the pages that I come across at home are mostly different from the ones I find at work.

    That said, some sort of bookmark document management system would be pretty nice, if only to manage the way they tend to grow drastically, accumulating dead & irrelevant links over time. A way of running a sort of `diff` against them would be useful, though at the moment I can't see a clean way to synchronize e.g. Netscape's format (one html file, last I checked) against IE's (one or more directories, containing individual .url files). I'm sure it's doable though, if someone were that worried about it. I'm just not that person... ;)



  • Well, as a result of seeing this post I've just nabbed MyBookmarks.org.uk [steve.org.uk]..

    While Blink.com, and Blacklink.com may be very reliable, and honest I just don't like the idea of entrusting my private bookmarks to them...

    I think I'll be setting up something very similar though - Wouldn't it be interesting if you could moderate somebodies, (anonymous), bookmarks?

    Hmm, this will be a fine excuse for me to learn how to deal with databases... ;)


    Steve
    ---
  • There are many sites like this, a comprehensive-ish list is available :

    http://www.webwizards.net/useful/wbbm.htm [webwizards.net]


    Steve
    ---
  • by LinuxParanoid (64467) on Friday March 16, 2001 @08:26AM (#359412) Homepage Journal
    Try the free service at blink.com [blink.com] if you want to access and manage your bookmarks from anywhere.

    On a side note, they have quite a few "Celebrity's Bookmarks" lists there and while many are trite or stupid, a few stars have interesting lists.

    --LP

  • I use Blink.com [www.blinkcom].
    You can upload and download bookmarks through your account on their site, as well as organize them and share them out with other users.

    May not be the solution you were looking for .. but if works pretty good for me!


  • I use a utility called SyncIt [syncit.com] to keep bookmarks on three PC's synced. I can add links on any one of the PC's and it will appear on the other two. No web pages to visit. It's transparent to me that it's even running.
  • Personally, I use Yahoo! Companion [yahoo.com] to do this. It's a Windows only browser helper object. (But it does claim to do Netscape.) They have a limit of 1000 bookmarks (which I discovered about a week after I hit the limit). It's not perfect (ok, it isn't even very good) but it meets 90% of my needs with very little effort. I've had my bookmarks on there for well over a year without any problems (except when I hit the 1000 limit). You can also get to the bookmarks through your "My Yahoo!" pages if you feel the desire or are on a browser that doesn't have the software installed. That's damn handy for when I happen to be at someone else's place and need to find a site I bookmarked on my work desktop three weeks ago.

  • I store all of my bookmarks on Backflip [backflip.com]. The site lets you categorize your bookmarks, write comments about them, and access them from any computer. New bookmarks can be added by clicking on a button you add to your browser or through their site. The best feature, I've found, is it lets you set access controls for your bookmark categories. That lets me give my co-workers access to my work-related bookmarks, such as Java resources, without letting them see my personal links.

  • If you used a "global" filesystem, like GFS or coda or AFS or something similar, all your content, bookmarks, email, everything, would be available to you anywhere.

    Why screw around trying to fix one application at a time?
  • (shameless plug, but very relevant)

    Orangatango [orangatango.com], the company I work for, is working on web mobility and privacy. We've built a web browser that you can log into from anywhere on the internet. You then have access to all of your bookmarks, your cookies, and other settings. (It's free.)

    Some of the features we provide:

    • Anonymous surfing (ala SafeWeb or Anonymizer)
    • Very, very cool spam protection that really works
    • Anonymous e-mail (check out my e-mail address above)
    • Web mobility (your settings, including bookmarks, follow you)
    • Cookie management (and selective blocking)

    Although I work for Orangatango, I am posting this becuase the VirtualBrowser is so cool. It's fun to work on it, and we almost exclusively use open source products (Apache, mod_perl, Linux, etc). Our developers have even made open source contributions themselves.

    If you're interested in privacy, anonymity, encrypted surfing, mobility, or spam prevention, I'd urge you to come on over and try us out [orangatango.com] (it's free).

  • Konqueror uses the XBEL format for its bookmarks and has a Bookmark editor that can import/export Mozilla & Netscape bookmarks. This is kde-2.1 of course. The bookmark editor wasn't present in 2.0
  • I'd never really thought to look. 3.25 MB. Time for some housecleaning, methinks!

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