Last night, the first official beta of Flock (version 0.7) became available for download from their web site. Because I have been referring to Flock here at my blog since late last year, most of you regular readers have at least some inkling that it is a web browser that is based on Firefox. This morning I’d like to recommend that you get some first hand experience with it. And even though this is a beta release, my own experience with it since last October indicates that it is certainly stable enough now to take for a spin so you can discover some of the conveniences it offers.
To my friends who are bloggers, for instance David Steele, Jerry Pounds, Colm Smyth, Tom Simpson, Terry Preston and Mike Neel (to drop a few specific names), I would suggest that you will find a couple of Flock’s features particularly appealing. One of them is the blogging editor. When you are surfing along and come upon a website or comment somewhere that stimulates you to want to blog about it, you can call up the blogging editor by pressing Ctrl-B. A separate window then opens atop the browser. For those of you who use Blogger as your blogging platform, this means that you don’t have to go to your blog site to reach your editor, which is a significant convenience to my way of thinking.
And if you don’t want to stop surfing but do want to remember that snippet of information you found so you can blog about it later, Flock includes a place to store it for later retrieval. The so-called Web Snippets area, found at the bottom of the browser, can be called up just by highlighting a paragraph, image, or URL and simply dragging it down to the bottom of your browser where a window will open and you can drop the copied item. When you move your cursor back into the browser that Web Snippet window will close so that you can continue surfing. Later when you are in the blogging editor and want to recall the stored information, you can open that window at the bottom of the blog editor and simply drag the content you saved into your blog post, and Flock will paste it there as a block quotation and also post the citation with it. This same Web Snippet area can be used to make notes to yourself about ideas you have for blogging later. All in all, Flock makes posting to your blog much more convenient than other browsers.
To people like my sons Mike and Jeff who aren’t bloggers but are users of Flickr, Flock offers real convenience for browsing your own or your contacts’ photostreams and for uploading your photos to Flickr straight from you browser. Just like the convenience offered the bloggers through the blogging editor, you don’t have to go to a separate application, such as the Flickr Uploader, to interact with Flickr. You bloggers can also use this feature to drag and drop photos from Flickr into a blog post where Flock will handle creating the code for you to display that photo in your post.
Flock also handles other photo sharing services like Photobucket, but since I don’t use that one, I can’t comment on how well Flock works with it. Here I am only commenting on the features and services that I have used and found helpful in Flock.
Okay, let’s say you are neither a blogger nor a user of Flickr (or Photobucket), does Flock have anything to offer you, the average web surfer? Yes indeed it does. One of the more important features is called My News. Flock has integrated an RSS reader into itself so that you can subscribe to RSS feeds, from blogs, news sites, or any source that provides such a feed, and then when those sites are updated, you’ll see a change in your browser’s tool bar that indicates there is new content. You can click on the My News icon and the updated material will appear in a new tab so that you can quickly catch up on the sites that you have chosen to monitor.
In addition to the integration of RSS reading, Flock has a new search feature that permits you to enter a search term in the search area of the browser and get items, immediately, that are either in your favorites, your history or any of a number of search engines that you can specify.
And finally, at least for this post, Flock has integrated its Favorites feature so that when you bookmark a site as a favorite, you can tag it, describe it and update your online link sharing service, such as del.icio.us or Shadows, at the same time.
If I’ve convinced you to at least take a look at Flock, I’d recommend that you read the release notes where you’ll find the usual disclaimers that it is still a beta version and also read the introduction to Flock by Bart Decrem, who is Flock’s CEO. Flock deserves your consideration because it integrates so much of what we do nowadays on the web. The longer you examine it, the more likely you’ll be to discover things you like about it. I know I certainly have.
Blogged with Flock