I’m using the bookmarks bar that is supplied with any browser for a decade or so, and one of the more useful tools in the browser has not changed since the browser started to evolve.
The bookmarks on our browsers are lame at best, and at worse cases they are barely usable, and from where I’m standing, a user that is trying to get the most out of the browser, there are some changes that are needed to be made.
Better Bookmarks Bar
The bookmarks bar is simple yet powerful tool, allows a user to see his favorites at a glance, without opening or closing anything (like the bookmarks manager or sidebar).
I use the bookmarks bar as my main bookmarks directory, everything I add to favorites, it goes there. Unfortunately I have very little control over what’s going on on my bookmarks bar, and I’d like to change that, so here are a few ideas:
- Separation and Grouping – Allow the option to create separation with horizontal or vertical (depends on the view) bars, and the ability to add Titles to logically and visually separate similar content in the same favorites folder.
- Change Icons for folders and favorites
- Different Views – Allow of easy change of the viewed bookmark bar – allowing custom views, where each view is a different folder, and will be displayed as a top folder for the bookmark bar
- Tag Folder – A simple “live bookmark” that will display all the tags and under each tag a list of bookmarks
Our bookmarks these days are the same as they were 15 years ago; you have a basic link, a title you assign to the link, maybe some description (which I imagine no one ever reads), and in some cases tags (which are usually not used by the browsers).
Our bookmarks should become smarter, better, and adapt to our way of using bookmarks, so here are a few ideas I have for the bookmarks themselves:
When I’m searching for a bookmark, the browser never uses the logical assignment of the bookmarks, and only searches for titles and the URL of the links.
Why can’t I search “CSS grid” and one of the links that would popup would be a link from my CSS folder with the word grid in the title/url?
- Assign tags for bookmarks – I want the ability to give my bookmarks some tags, and when I’m searching for bookmarks (using the awesome-bar of course) these tags will show up on the bottom-right of the bookmark in the results, allowing me to better understand what I’m looking at
- Symbolic Links – This is a concept from the linux file system that a lot of you are familiar with it, and I guess you curse windows every time you need a symbolic link and you can’t create one.
Symbolic Links for the bookmarks will allow the user to logically assign a folder/bookmark to another folder with duplicating content, allowing me for example to put “Drupal” directory under the “PHP” folder, and under the “Frameworks” folder, and under “References” folder, and all of those would be automatically updated with change to any of them.
- Use Meta-tags – Meta tags are there, everybody creates them, but no one seems to actually use them, not us, not the browser, and not the search engines (debatable).
I want my browser to save the page’s meta-tags (keywords AND description) I’m adding to the bookmarks, and they will also become searchable
Already mentioned in the privous lists, I’d still like to make it an official request.
By searching bookmarks I mean using the awesome-bar, the address bar which has become extremely powerful in all the browsers, but when it comes to bookmarks, we are still hanging on those poor decade-old bookmarks.
My only request is for the browser to consider tags, folders, and parent-folders – when searching for bookmarks the browse should consider all of the above, and should use the search term to combine them in any way possible along with the regular title/URL match.
This is more like a bonus feature – but I think it would be a welcome feature, and should be seriously considered.
The browser should allow an easy way to plug and unplug sets of bookmarks – a simple flow can describe the necessity of such a plugin:
A new employee is joining Company A, lets call that user User B, the company has a long list of links related to the day-to-day work of the employee. What usually is done is that the user is simply given a list of links, and he than manages (or usually just refers to that list) these links any way he see fits. Most of the time a lot of useful links are not even shared between employees, causing a lot of delay for all of the users and employees of that company.
Instead of creating a shared Word document that contains a list of links, Company A creates a bookmark plugin, which is called Comp-A Bookmarks, User B is then simply attaches the plugin to his bookmarks, and all of the above features (especially Symbolic Links) are than available to the user instantaneously.
When leaving Company A, the user simply removes the bookmark plugin, and all the related bookmarks are no longer available to the user. It’s not that the bookmarks are unavailable to the user, it’s that the user doesn’t have any clutter to clean with tens if not hundreds of bookmarks which are no longer relevant to him in any way.
This simple yet powerful tool can allow a smarter way of creating and managing bookmarks and bookmark clubs, allowing users to have a very fine control over what exists in his list of bookmarks and what does not with a few simple clicks.
A Single Shared Standard
Standards are non-existing when it comes to bookmarks, although there are some general guidelines which are shared between browsers, implementation of the requests above would deviate from those guidelines even further, especially when every browser will find it’s own and unique way of implementing those features.
Up until recently I was heavily relying on X-Marks, which has started to make a real mess of my bookmarks after moving to Chrome, so these days I’m relying solely on Chrome Sync which connects all my Chrome browsers and syncs all the bookmarks around.
These tools are great and awesome, and I love X-Marks for making it a reality, but it does not changes the fact that our bookmarks are a mess when it comes to changing a computer or a browser.
There aren’t any differences between the bookmarks you have on Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome, they are just bookmarks – even with the features above, a simple list of text, URLs, some tags, and we’re done. Why can’t it be shared across all the browsers?
The feature requests above are easily implemented (so are easier than others), but none of the major browser vendors are even thinking about improving the usability and user experience of the users bookmarks, while creating mishmash of features that the general public rarely uses.
This feature list is not intended to a specific browser vendor, and from my point of view all the browser should have such basic features implemented. These are not “nice to have” features, with the boom of social bookmarking in the past half-decade showed us that we do need smarter way to manage our bookmarks, and our bookmarks are becoming so cluttered that we are finding it frustrating to even use them, and instead we resort to external solutions which are not adequate to say the least.
The use of an external plugin, like delicious is nice, but it requires from the user to migrate his bookmarks from his browser – where they belong – to an external website. Although this provides extra tools and features for the user it requires a lot of effort from the user, and basically obsoletes the browser’s own bookmarks features and capabilities.
I write this post as a plea to all browser vendors, it’s not something that I hope will be implemented, it’s something that needs to be implemented. We have a heap of features that come with any browser these days, and none of those features are making our lives easier when it comes to bookmarks.
This has change.
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