30 September 2006

Keeping it simple

With my work almost done on a new minor release of Clippings, my attention is turning to other projects to work on. One idea I had been floating around for some time was something related to del.icio.us. I've already created a rough prototype - a simple XULRunner app that retrieves all the user's tags for display or copying to the clipboard. The prototype app is woefully simplistic - but the couple of hours spent on it is a great way to explore some ideas.

I have noticed that there are a lot of Firefox extensions out there for integrating del.icio.us with Firefox - some of them good (like Another Delicious Sidebar), and others not so much (like VeryDelicious, which is reportedly riddled with problems, as the user comments on the Mozilla Addons page for this extension indicate).

A common task is getting a list of bookmarks tagged with a particular tag name or a combination of tag names. A Firefox extension or even an XULRunner app was considered, where there would be a text box for the user to enter a tag (e.g., "sanity") or a combination of tags (e.g., "sanity+chocolate"), and a list of del.icio.us bookmarks with the given tag(s) then appears in a list box below it. A tag browser, basically. And then there are some nice-to-have features, like jumping directly to the URL or being able to edit a bookmark - add/remove tags, change the title and URL, delete it, etc.

But then I realized that a simple browser custom keyword can do the trick. Simply create a new bookmark with the URL of the form:
Substitute <your_delicious_userid> as appropriate. Give the new bookmark a keyword, e.g. "tag". Then in the browser window, just type "tag <tagname(s)>" in the location bar, and presto! The del.icio.us site loads up, with all your bookmarks tagged with the given tagname(s) listed.

So to list all bookmarks tagged with "sanity", you would type in the browser's location bar:
tag sanity
And to list all bookmarks tagged with both "sanity" and "chocolate":
tag sanity+chocolate
With such a simple solution that most adept users can implement, it's laughable that one would create an extension (or hell, a complete XULRunner app) that would do the same thing. The custom keywords feature found in Firefox, SeaMonkey, and Mozilla 1.x is sufficient enough for listing all your del.icio.us bookmarks tagged with a particular tag or tags; and the del.icio.us site itself works very well for managing your tags and bookmarks. It's all about keeping it simple - and leveraging existing solutions to solve new problems.

Update: Apparently, there is a del.icio.us search engine addon for Firefox.

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