As any of you regular readers know, I’ve been using Flock as my primary web browser since back in November of 2005, despite the fact that it is only a “developer’s pre-release” version. I’ve commented on its features, its family and even its failures. And I have also admitted that, in recent weeks, I’ve been installing a new build each morning. A progress report is now in order, I think.
In the past several builds, I have noticed that it has become more stable, offered less problems, and even that it opens faster than it used to, all of which I welcome. Features that were a bit flaky when they were introduced are taking shape as they are refined. And the paradigm behind some of its features has become addictive for me.
Although some people have complained about the way Flock handles bookmarking, what Flock refers to as Favorites, I find that to be one of its most endearing features. If you are a Firefox user who has explored its features very much, the chances are that you employ the Bookmark Toolbar to display frequently-visited links across the top of your browser window, beneath the icon bar and above the tab bar. Internet Explorer also uses its Links folder to provide a similar capability, though most of the IE users I know don’t understand or appreciate the benefits of that feature.
In Flock’s iteration of this concept, they have taken this ability one step further. You can create collections of links and can change them easily so that the row of links across the top of the browser can be altered at will. With a little thought to how you organize your collections, you can display convenient links at the top of the browser window around certain browsing activities. For instance, I have collections called News, Baseball, Daily Visits, Blogs, Dreamhost (my web hosting company), as well as a number of others. Depending upon what I am doing at the time, I simply change the collection that is displayed, and the links I need are conveniently available at the top of my browser.
Flock’s collections of Favorites is but one of a number of innovative features in this browser. I haven’t even mentioned its Photo topbar, Flickr uploader, Blog editor, My News RSS reader, syncing with del.icio.us, Map topbar, or the new Action bar in this post. So there is much more to Flock that I use and have come to rely on. So far, though, I believe that the evidence I’ve seen fully justifies the decision to create a new browser rather than just try to add extensions to Firefox that might provide the same ability.
In reviewing the Tinderbox Status page on the Flock website, it appears that May 31st is the target date for the release of the BETA version of this browser. Beta versions are typically when software companies ferret out the kinks in their product before making an initial release of version 1.0. With the progress that the Flock team has made during their development cycle of the “developer’s pre-release” version, I would expect that the Beta cycle will go smoothly and that Flock’s initial version will quickly garner a lot of fans among users who want a way to interact much more actively with the web. If you fit that category of web surfer, around the first of June might be a good time for you to take a look at Flock.