21 December 2010

Del.icio.us Exporting And Alternatives: An Update

A few days ago, I blogged about some ways to get data out of del.icio.us and into FluidDB, and also about the fact that I was working on a kind-of old-style del.icio.us clone.

Things have moved on a little since then, so I thought I’d update.

First, although bad, the situation doesn’t look as dire as it did. By all accounts, the del.icio.us staff are gone, but Yahoo has made a very public statement that our bookmarks are safe, for the time being, the the service will continue to operate, and that its intention is to sell or otherwise migrate del.icio.us somewhere else, rather than simply to stop it. Given that del.icio.us has always had excellent export options, supported by (as far as I know) all of its competitors, there is certainly no reason why anyone aware of the situation should lose any significant amount of data.

Another way in which the situation has moved on, for me, is that I’ve discovered and signed up for Pinboard and started using that. Pinboard is the first alternative to del.icio.us that has felt like its developer was on the same wavelength as Joshua Schachter (who created del.icio.us). So far, I’m impressed with it. Although I don’t particularly like the aesthetic, I do like the minimalism. Functionally it looks strong and technically it appears credible. Despite some heavy breathing, it appears to have stood up well to a deluge of sign-ups and imports, and clearly has a energy and momentum in a useful direction; something that hasn’t been true of del.icio.us for far too long. It also has interesting and potentially useful extra features both in production and on its (commendably public) roadmap. I definitely wish Maciej Ceglowski and Peter Gadjokov, who run the site, all the best and hope that Pinboard site has a great future. Right now, it looks to me like the best alternative to del.icio.us on the net, and a better medium-term bet than del.icio.us itself.

None of this is to suggest that I don’t still think it’s an excellent idea for people to import their bookmarks into FluidDB, as discussed in previous posts; FluidDB is a completely different kind of system, allowing things it is most unlikely Pinboard will ever even wish to support. But to be clear, FluidDB alone is not a del.icio.us competitor, and could only be so if a client were developed. In fact, FluidDB’s ideal role is as a secondary store for bookmarks from any and all bookmarking sites, so if you use something else (or even just store bookmarks in your browser), that’s something to consider.

Finally, what of my plans? Well, I still fully intend to release a site that will include old-style del.icio.us functionality (not unlike Pinboard’s) with some new twists (mostly rather unlike Pinboard’s twists). The main focus of that site, however, will be content creation, with bookmarking as an organizational paradigm that can be extended to existing web resources, rather than a site developed with the primary goal of supplanting del.icio.us (or Pinboard, for that matter). Inevitably, even if things go supremely well, there will be a bedding down period, and it will be a while before I recommend anyone to use it as a primary repository. But now that the urgency has gone, I’ve decided to wait at least a month before opening it up in any form.. I have all my bookmarks in there (as well as in del.icio.us, Pinboard and FluidDB!), and am really enjoying being able to tune it to operate in the way I think it really should. I remain hopeful that some time fairly early in 2011, some others will come in give it a try. But for now, my advice is:

  1. Export your bookmarks from del.icio.us regularly; (this is good practice regardless; I extract mine several times a week);
  2. Try Pinboard if you haven’t given it a spin and want something in the mould of old-style delicious; (there’s a modest sign-up fee, currently $8.88, and rising in direct proportion to the number of users.)
  3. If you’re so inclined, get a FluidDB account and import your bookmarks in there too, for the powerful query and extended tagging capabilities, the rich permissions and the cool (and useful) visualization that this brings.
  4. Watch this space. I don’t know when, but some time fairly early in 2011 I hope to offer something else for people to try; I have high hopes for it.

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