Here are my collected impressions of the new Flock browser (I’ve been messing around with the developer version all weekend).
-I love the fact that you can import favorites from del.icio.us. Being that I regularly browse the internet from about three different computers, it’s GOLD, Jerry, GOLD! for me to be able to take my favorites wherever I need to go. However, I could use a little easier access to them from within the browser– right now, I either have to add them to a collection and go link by link or open the favorites manager and double click from there. Ideally, I would be able to simply make seperate collections from each of my delicious tags, and browse by tag on the toolbar. I passed this into Flock’s feedback system already, hopefully better features in this vein are on the way.
(Oops – I just logged into del.icio.us, and all my handmade tags have magically disappeared. Which sucks because I had a lot of them, but that’s what I get for using such an early version of Flock. I’m guessing it won’t automatically delete all your tags in the future.)
-As for actual browsing, right now it seems to work about like Firefox, which is pretty darn well. Thank you, Flock, for finally implementing moveable tabs! I’ve been waiting for years to organize my tabs that way. However, since it’s 2005, do you think that maybe we could get mouse gestures finally built into a browser? Sure, there’s plugins for IE, Firefox, and Safari, but maybe you could be the first to finally make them standard!
-It’s a little slower than Firefox over all (or at least FasterFirefox, which is what I normally use), but I’m not sure how much of this is a problem with the early version, and how much is the actual browser. It will get faster, I’m sure.
-The other big feature is the blog editing tool. I like it overall. There’s a nicely done system that automatically plugs into your blog’s api from just the web address, and it works just fine (I’ve done a few miniblog posts from within flock). The only real problem I see is that there’s no clear way to edit categories. The few posts I’ve made from Flock have allowed me to make posts quickly and easily just fine, but I have to log back into Wordpress to change the categories to my liking. The “topbar” is a neat little RSS (I’m guessing) driven thingy, but I’m not super sure what it’s for. I guess you could use it to drag flickr photos into your posts, but I’ve never done that on my own blog.
-And then there’s the Shelf, basically a glorified clipboard. I didn’t use it much, because I don’t do a lot of “quote” blogging, obviously, but I can see how it would have its uses, once you actually got used to realizing it was there and how it worked. One problem I’ve seen with it is that it seems to copy text wholeheatedly, with formatting and everything. With a thrown together blog that may not matter, but with a more professional blog (such as this one, ahem), I’d want everything to be pretty format free whenever I posted it in.
-And speaking of cleanliness, I’m not thrilled that the blog and shelf windows open in their own panes. For someone like me (I have two monitors coming off my Powerbook), space isn’t really a problem, but I’d guess most people usually browse fullscreen, and it would be a pain to switch around everywhere. I’d like to see those implemented within the browser window– maybe shelf across the bottom and blog entry on the sidebar. That, I think, would make the workspace a little more organized.
I wish I knew how close this thing was to actually flying, but I’m guessing not very. There’s a lot of good ideas here, and they’re getting closer and closer to making blogging not only easy, but transparent, in the same way that apps like Quicksilver (and for some people, Photoshop) are– if you think of something you’d like to do, it’s a few keystrokes away from being done. See a photo that would be perfect for that blog post? Put it on the shelf. Go grab a few more quotes, open up the editor, copy and hit Publish and it’s up. Flock hasn’t completely got it down yet (despite the fact that they’re apparently working around the clock over there), but they have a really good chance here at doing something very right.