30 July 2008

Upcoming changes to del.icio.us -- er Delicious

I'm an avid user of del.icio.us, the online social bookmarking service where you can organize your bookmarks into tags and share them with other users. It's convenient and addictive -- more so if you've got the del.icio.us browser bookmarklets and the Firefox extension installed. I've become so dependent on it for bookmarking interesting links that I rarely post to my browser bookmarks anymore. And the web-based nature of del.icio.us lets me share my bookmarks across multiple machines without the need to resort to tools like Foxmarks or Google Sync (the latter is no longer available for download).

Screen shot of my del.icio.us page, taken on 30 July 2008

Today, as I was visiting my del.icio.us bookmark page, I found a notification at the top of the page informing me that I will need to remember my login info because the permanent del.icio.us browser session, which eliminates the need to log in to that site every time I start Firefox, will expire when the "new Delicious" is rolled out in the coming weeks.

New Delicious? And with a capitalized "D" with no dots?

That piqued my curiosity enough that I had to read more about it in the del.icio.us blog. Turns out that a new version of del.icio.us has been under development for over a year. There is little mention about it, despite the claim in a post penned by the founder of del.icio.us, dated 1 February 2007, that the del.icio.us team would provide regular updates to keep users informed:
I feel that during this very exciting time for the team I’ve personally had less capacity for talking more openly to the delicious community about what’s been going on. Given that we’ve undergone a lot of changes and have a lot more in store in the future, I want to resolve to be better about communicating.
. . .

Going forward, we’re going to be talking much more about what’s changed, where the bugs are, and in general, more explicit about what we’re doing.

But over a year later, only four posts after this one made any reference to the new version of del.icio.us.

I wish I was in on the limited preview, but I doubt I'll get an invite now since I signed up so close to the launch date, which is supposed to be very soon. It would have been a good chance to see what the upgrade would be like, and to offer my feedback as a regular del.icio.us user. For now, the closest thing to a preview are these screen shots on TechCrunch.

Based on what info I could find on the upgrade, as well as what I've learned whenever a small Internet company is gobbled up by a larger corporation, I have a few concerns:
  • Will the old del.icio.us URL, http://del.icio.us, co-exist with the new URL, http://delicious.com? If not, this change will most certainly break a lot of users' bookmarklets.
  • Despite the takeover by Yahoo! in 2005, del.icio.us users have continued to use their own IDs, and new users can sign up without opening a Yahoo! account. Will this continue -- or will we be forced to merge our accounts with Yahoo!, similar to what happened with Flickr? Many readers will remember that the Flickr-Yahoo merge faced harsh backlash by so many loyal Flickr users.
  • The current del.icio.us UI is fast and responsive, even on 56k dial-up. Will the upgraded del.icio.us be slow and heavy with AJAX doodads and JavaScript-driven eye candy for even the most trivial functionality?
  • And while on the subject of user experience, I've always admired the simple, yet elegant, design of the del.icio.us UI, and even tried to incorporate elements of it in a prototype del.icios.us client I wrote a while back. I think this is a unique characteristic of del.icio.us that helps it to visually stand out from the millions of websites out there on the Internet -- and any move to detract from its present design would be a shame, in my opinion.

And finally, what's with the recent move to eliminate the dots and referring to it as Delicious?

Update: The new Delicious launched on the morning of 31 July 2008. Details in this TechChrunch blog post. The Delicious blog explains, in their announcement of the transition to the new version, why they got rid of the dots in their name, and claims that the old URL will continue to work.

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