I have been a Delicious user since 2006. Of course, some time ago, we had a long episode of uncertainty, but that has come and gone. Things have quieted down around Delicious. I’d almost say too quiet, and I’m wondering if we are going to suddenly be greeted to a “Sorry, Delicious is no more” message some time in the not too distant future. Also, I’ve had some small frustrations lately, which I won’t go into here. To make a long story short, there were some reasons for me to go and look for alternatives to delicious. There are many articles about that on the Internet, but obviously, none are based on my priorities. So, what am I looking for in a bookmarking solution?
- It should be online. I like to be able to access my bookmarks anywhere, on any device. An iOS app scores points. I won’t really be revisiting this point, because each and every service/product I considered is online. It’s been a long time since I seriously used the bookmarks feature of my browser.
- It should be pretty, or at least not too ugly. Yes, I’m funny that way. I’ve been putting off switching to PHPStorm from Eclipse, despite raving comments from colleagues, just because it looks ugly to me. (I have since switched despite its looks, which should be taken as an accolade for the greatness of this piece of software)
- It needs to support tagging and comments.
- It needs a way for me to get my Delicious bookmarks into it. A pre-baked solution might be ideal (but depends on completeness – no use if it doesn’t migrate my tags, for instance), but an API will suffice.
- It needs to have some way of creating a list of my latest bookmarks, for this blog. RSS is ideal, otherwise some sort of API I can talk to.
- A serious Nice To Have is suggested tags, based on the tags applied by other users. Delicious suggests tags based on the tags other people have given the same link. Even though publicly shared links is not a must, it probably is for this to be available.
- A bookmarklet (or similar) that allows the creation of bookmarks quickly and easily.
A word about payment models
You might notice I did not include a bullet point about price. Although I am a fan of “free” as much as the next Dutchman, the problem is that “free” with online services rarely is actually free. If you don’t pay some fee, often there will be ads. That’s fine, but it does mean to me I pay with my time and attention, or at least with my sense of aesthetics (ads rarely make a web page look better). If you’re not paying for it, you are the product. When it is free, but there are no ads, that’s even more of a head scratcher. How are they making money? Surely, these servers need to be kept running somehow? So, expect me to comment on that as well.
Delicious is the one I am currently using, as I said. Overall I like the aesthetics, but boy is that huge banner ad ugly up top (that does address the point about the payment model, though; I am the product). Obviously, this has most bullet points down. Online, check. Pretty? Well, see above. Tagging and comments? Check and check. Of course, the bullet about getting my Delicious bookmarks in here doesn’t really apply, because they are already there. Delicious does have a fairly complete API, though, so if I want to write a script to migrate here from some other service, it should not be a problem. It has RSS, which is in fact feeding the block on this site as we speak. It does offer suggested tags and the bookmarklet is pretty solid, by now. It is opened in a nice overlay, it is prefilled with the page’s title, which you can then edit, and the mentioned tag suggestions are part of it.And, there’s an iOS app. I hope it will be updated for iOS 8, so that it is possible to bookmark links from Safari through the app (the bookmark doesn’t work very well, on iOS devices). In short, why did I want to leave, exactly?
- Already there
- OK aesthetics, although the huge banners are ugly
- Suggested tags
- Complete bookmarklet
- My own small annoyances. The grass is greener, etc.?
Saved.io is an extremly simple service. One feature that draws me to this service is, it looks pretty! It’s a very clean, uncluttered design. Each site is illustrated with its favicon, which is a nice touch. You can save a bookmark in various ways, but all currently only support simply adding a URL, nothing more. The most interesting way of saving a bookmark is simply sticking “saved.io/” in front of the URL in your browser’s address bar. The other options are a bookmarklet and using the “Add a Bookmark” box on your main page. Each option drops you into your main page, with the newly added bookmark at the top. The title is simply the web page’s title. It is now possible to go and edit the bookmark to change the title and to add a comment (including tags, which are hash tags entered into the comment field), but I would prefer a way to do this all in one go, allowing me to accept the defaults when they are OK, but changing them right then and there whet they are not. Saved.io does have an API, but the call to create a bookmark does not include a way to add a comment (note, in saved.io terms), so I can’t migrate my Delicious tags. There is no RSS feed, but the API would allow me to do some custom coding to get my list of bookmarks. Saved.io does not do any sharing of bookmarks (some, maybe even most, might consider this a feature), so obviously there is no way to mark bookmarks as private. That might become a concern for my public list of bookmarks on my blog; usually, I don’t mind people seeing what I bookmark, but once in a while I do have the need to keep something private. When I build something custom, I suppose I can also define my own mechanism of marking something as private, e.g. by tagging it with a “private” tag. Again, because Saved.io does not share bookmarks, it does not offer suggested tags, which for me is a total time saver (I am extremely bad I coming up with appropriate tags). Saved.io is completely free, and does not have ads. There is, however, a voluntary donation option. It looks like a one-man-effort, which at least goes some way in explaining the (lack of a) payment model. It does raise concerns about the future of the service. Will it be sustainable in the long run? Or, in case it becomes popular, what happens then? Will the same guy continue maintaining it or will he sell it, for whatever reason? If so, what will the new owners make of it? These are probably not questions that anyone can answer at the moment. It does mean that you need to have an action plan in case things change for the worse. Which makes it quite similar to Delicious, actually.
- Pretty! I like the clean design, the favicons add some playfulness.
- Free, and not in a creepy way. This is just a guy who made something and lets the world benefit.
- Free (if you don’t count donations), so the question is how this can be maintained in the long run.
- Very bare; no direct way of editing bookmarks upon creation, no suggested tags.
- API does not allow migration of my Delicious tags.
- No iOS app (although it could be an interesting practice project).
This seems like a good contender, but it collides head first with my sense of aesthetics. The main page (I am assuming it is similar for the user themselves, the screenshot is of a public profile) is sort of OK. The bookmarklet, though, is just plain horrible (screenshot taken from Pinboard’s “tour”). (Incidentally, all lower case seems to be part of the aesthetic of this service. Sorry, but don’t like it). OK, so that’s the moaning out if the way, because it really is downhill from here. Tagging and comments are supported. Tags are auto-completed, and it also seems to suggest tags, although I haven’t had a chance to try. It imports Delicious bookmarks, although again, I haven’t actually tried that to see if it is a complete import. But, just in case it isn’t, there is also an API, which apparently is modeled on the Delicious API. It has RSS, so my list of bookmarks is covered as well. Pricing is based on a one-time fee of $10.47. (Whaah..? Must have some inside reason). This is the reason I haven’t actually tried it yet, but all things considered, I believe I should. I will update this once I have. Still, I always wonder how it can work that I pay once, and then have unlimited service. Maybe it’s based on some sort of average amount of time people tend to use the service before moving on. It does also have something called archival accounts, which do have a returning (yearly) fee, which also dowloads the content behind the bookmarks, just in case the page goes missing.
- Everything I ever asked for (almost literally).
- Ugly! This might be a reason to check out some user style sheets extenstion, maybe I can make Pinboard look like Saved.io.
- No iOS app (but a dedicated mobile version of the site). Again, maybe I should try my hand at one.
I also had a quick look at the other services mentioned in this (old) LifeHacker article. Diigo seems interesting, although it is more than just bookmarks. Pricing is clear, it simply has several price tiers. It does again somewhat clash with my feeling for aesthetics, it looks very nineties. EverNote is also mentioned, but I’ve never seen the light of that service (which is no fault of the product) and LifeHacker admits that bookmarks are not its main purpose. So, I won’t start using it now just because I have some bookmarks to store. The same seems to go for SpringPad, but that service is no longer around. I don’t use Firefox anymore, so Mozilla Sync – which simply syncs your browser bookmarks to a cloud account – won’t cut it. XMarks seems to be a similar service, but for any browser. It won’t tick many of my bullet points and the first impression of the web site again is just offending to my sense of taste (sorry, but I do judge books by their cover, which has turned out not to be a bad strategy at all). It seems I need to give Pinboard another, serious chance, because it has most things going for it. Being a web developer, it should be too great a challenge to make it look a little smarter too.