Saturday, October 29, 2005

Not another Flockin' Browser

I've been trying out a new browser for the past few days called Flock. Actually, it's not exactly new, being another build based on Mozilla and, for that matter, Firefox. It's still at an early stage (the current release is a Developers one), but has a nice UI, with a look clearly based on Firefox with just a hint of Internet Explorer thrown in.

The main selling point of the browser over IE and FF is that it's much more of an interactive browser, designed for Web 2.0 (which is a pompous techie way of saying it has a few built in tools which you can use to manipulate content you've chosen on the net). Of course, Firefox is too, but you have to install a variety of extensions to achieve what the developers of Flock aim to have in the final release version of their software. Whether you think this is a good thing or not depends on your views on browser bloat and what constitutes a vital feature in a browser.

The whole point of Firefox is that what you get is a streamlined, perfectly usable default browser off the shelf in a 7MB or whatever download and you can then add just about any functionality you wish by installing extensions.

Internet Explorer on the other hand offers...well, God alone knows what it offers, but presumably people use it because it comes with Windows.

Flock is trying to fill a niche in between the two - more built in features than Firefox, but without becoming the ungodly sprawling mass of security holes and bugs that is Internet Explorer.

I'm unconvinced. Leaving aside the question of whether there is a need or desire for a Web 2.0 Browser whilst Firefox adequately fills that role already, at the moment there's not that much 2.0 Interaction around for Flock to impliment.

As examples, currently Flock has excellent and wholly intuitive integration with and a less smooth blog interface (which I initially used to type this entry but which then lost the whole thing when I attempted to publish it) plus a flickr button, which seemed adequate but as I don't use Flickr I can't really vouch for the quality of the Flock implementation. And that's about it.

Which, to me, makes Flock just Avant Browser (a version of Internet Explorer with tabbed browsing) for Firefox - the same browser at heart with a couple of optional Firefox extensions included as standard. This is an early point in Flock's evolution and maybe it'll grow and improve, but for now I think I'll stick it back on the shelf.
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Blogger Factory Joe said...

Thanks for your feedback Stuart. Flock is still in its infancy, so your skepticism is valid.

On the other hand, we have a lot of ideas up our sleeves that will differentiate Flock from Firefox -- which is admittedly a great browser.

Flickr and delicious just happen to be the two services we're tapping in to to begin with, but as you can imagine, as more and more sites offer open APIs for us to work with, Flock will rapidly grow to embrace them and build workflows around incorporating all kinds of fun stuff. At least that's the hope.

And I don't want a bloated browser any more than you or the Flock developers do (I just do the browser design) so you can expect that we'll stay lean and mean as much as we can as Flock improves and matures.

7:25 am  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

I'm certainly intending to keep Flock installed at the moment and will keep an eye out for updates etc - as it stands it's better than IE and the delicious tagging in favorites *is* excellent.

Like you say, it's early days for FLock and I remember how buggy early pre-release builds of Firefox were :)

4:27 pm  
Blogger Taoski said...

I have installed Flock too and it seems pretty interesting.
The blog bit needs tidying up though as it frequently crashed my laptop.

For now, i'll stick to the web blogger interface/Quamana/BlogJet trio i am used to. I eventually get a post past my company firewall!

12:18 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Hi Taoski - is BlogJet any good/worth the money?

10:16 am  

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