Last week, I posted the following on Twitter:
trying to decide if I like Flock 10:00 AM August 21, 2008from web
And got this reply:
@kamccollum: You don’t sound totally convinced. What could we do to make it a definitive “I like Flock”? 🙂 12:41 PM August 22, 2008from web in reply to kamccollum
I also noticed this comment on my post about my shifting IP address problem:
Ben, on August 22nd, 2008 at 8:31 am Said:
Also, I noticed that the end of your post says “Blogged with the Flock Browser.” How’s Flock working for you? Do you like it?
So I figure that I ought to try to answer the questions.
I decided to give Flock a try as part of my never-ending quest to find my “ideal learning software application” and I thought Flock, with its integrated blogging and social networking functions, might be slightly closer to the customizable portal that I’m looking for than my beloved Firefox browser. In some ways it is closer. The built in web clipboard is a nice function, as is the integrated blogging tool (that I’m using right now). I also like that it includes a notifier for my various webmail accounts and I thought that the built in feed reader had potential. But Flock isn’t quite there.
The blogging feature is nice and worked well for the first simple post that I used it for. However, it is limited; it doesn’t even have a spell checker. For this post, I tried using the web clipboard function with the blogging tool and found myself engaged in the tedious process of cleaning up unwanted formatting in the source code. Could we have a remove formatting button please? Additionally, I found out about Zemanta just after discovering Flock and am disappointed that the Flock blogging tool isn’t compatible with Zemanta, and offers none of the functionality that Zemanta offers. I have to choose between two tools, each giving me only half of what I want.
The RSS reader reminds me of Sage, a Firefox add-on. One could argue that it looks prettier than Sage, but doesn’t offer much that Sage didn’t. As much as I want an integrated tool, I prefer Google Reader to either Sage or the built in Flock RSS reader. What I like best about Google Reader is that I can share posts with contacts and read shared posts from contacts within the reader. I use the Notes function in Google Reader as well. For the Flock reader to win me over, it has to allow me to share posts (with notes) with at least some of my contacts with a single click and without cluttering up email inboxes. Additionally, I want to be able to tag saved individual posts for future reference.
Flock attempts to integrate with social networking services within the browser. I think it works fine with Facebook. However, I don’t think it works particularly well with Twitter. With Twitter, it appears to show only the most recent comment from each person you follow. This makes it even more difficult than usual to follow a Twitter conversation because you can’t easily scroll back through previous tweets. I also find it annoying that I can’t filter comments to quickly find any tweets that have been directed at me personally. When I click on the button indicated new messages, it takes me to twitter rather than bringing the messages up the browser sidebar. The Flock developers need to understand that I am attempting to use their product to avoid actually going to the Twitter page. If they need inspiration for what I’m looking for, they should take a look at Digsby. I want Digsby as a browser sidebar instead of a separate application.
The social bookmarking services Delicious and Magnolia are both compatible with Flock, but I primarily use Diigo. Why isn’t Diigo compatibility built-in? Might it come in future versions or would I be hoping in vain? I had to install the Diigo Toolbar separately and that adds extra clutter to the user interface. I’m trying to streamline my work area with an all-in-one browser, and I feel that I shouldn’t still have to rely on a patchwork of plug-ins.
My last complaint may seem like a small thing to some, but it was the first thing that I noticed about Flock. The live search results are set by default to come from Yahoo! Google isn’t even an option. After several disappointing Yahoo! searches in which the object of my search remained unfound, I have pretty much broken myself of my dependence on Live Search results and retrained myself to use only the Google Toolbar that I installed later. I shouldn’t have had to do that.
I like the potential in Flock, but I don’t really like Flock . . . yet. Because it is compatible with Firefox add-ons, it can do everything my old Firefox browser could do (albeit with more visual clutter); It just can’t do what I was hoping it would do.