It looks like Flock has finally landed. Thanks to Colin from TheUberGeeks for giving me the “scoop.” You can also see what Scott Jarkoff has to say about Flock in his review and also Even Eckard mentioned his thoughts. Also, thanks to Bryan Veloso for suggesting the “Flying with the Flock” title. Very snazzy. Anyways, there is a lot going on in Flock, so lets get started. First off, for those of you that don’t know, Flock is a new browser that is being developed that is to open a whole new world of browsing the web. Integrated with del.icio.us, Flickr, and other tools such as writing to your blog. Sort of a “social browser,” if you will. Now, lets take a look at it.

Flock did a good job at sticking to the basic structure of a browser and basically looks like a beautified Firefox, but with extra features. The buttons on the navigation bar has the basic back, forward, refresh, and home button. But you also get a few new buttons such as a button to open the blog editor, the favorites manager, and the star button to star a site (will get to this later). You also have the address bar and search bar just like Firefox. You will also notice in the screenshot above a dark gray shaded area with photos. That is one of Flock’s topbars. There are only two topbars as of now. The “Flickr Photos” and “Blog Topbar.” The Flickr is the one that you see above. You can enter a username and then it will load the photos right into the top bar. Then selecting and dragging a photo down into the browsers window, it will load the Flickr page for that photo. I absolutely loved knowing that I can be at any website and then open up the a topbar to view the latest photos. I also mentioned the Blog Topbar. With this Topbar open and setup with your blog settings, you can easily select any text from a website and click and drag it into a box that they provide. When you drag it into the box, it will actually bring up the Blog Editor allowing you to create a post very easily with the text you selected in a blockquote and reference to the source, where you selected the text.

Flock also said that there was del.icio.us integration with the browser, so I went straight to the Favorites Manager to see what they have done. When entering for the first time, it asked if I had a del.icio.us account. I filled in my information and then the bookmarks page refreshed with all the bookmarks that I have in del.icio.us… that was easy. On the left are your collections and tags. On the right are your bookmarks in columns with the name, url, tags, and any other information that you wish to select to list, such as description from del.icio.us, and last modified or added dates. Although, when I added the last modified or added dates columns, no values were shown. Maybe something that needs looking at.

In the left column of the Favorites Manager are your collections and tags. Focused in the collections area you can view your current collections, which are pretty much your own groups of bookmarks, You will see, “Your Library,” which are all of your bookmarks. I like how they used the term, library, for this. It makes me feel like im in iTunes. Now, something that I did feel weird with though was the fact that the History is also in the Favorites Manager. I like how it is in here, but it is just a little odd being that History is not my favorites (but could be) and also because I am used to doing “View > Toolbars > History” inside of Firefox. Not a big problem, it just means a little change for me. You will also see your own created collections. They start you off with one called, “Default” that has a few Flock bookmarks in it (note that it also added these to my del.icio.us bookmarks, which was unexpected). Your own collections are good for your own organization and not only that, but for the favorites toolbar built into the browser. You will see these links when you first setup the browser on the favorites bar (which is in the same spot as Firefox had your “Bookmarks Toolbar Folder”). The thing that I liked though was that it splits the favorites up by your collections you created and you can then select a collection on the right of the favorites toolbar to view. So, I can have a collection for my blogs, frequent visits, etc.. Something that is also really neat with collections is that if you have sites that have feeds, then it will detect this and show them. But, on top of that, on the side of the collection name, it will say, “Feeds.” When you click this, it will actually show you all the sites combined in that one file that Flock generates. It will use its built in feed viewer for this (I will explain this later).

Adding of favorites is also very simple. Now, remember that the favorites are integrated with del.icio.us if you provided login details, so when you add a favorite, it will add it to del.icio.us as well. Another difference is that they do not refer to adding of bookmarks as, “Add to Favorites,” but rather, “Star this Page.” Staring is your method of adding links to your favorites and delicious. If you look at the top address bar (where the URL of the site you are at is), you will see a blue star button. When you click this, it will star the page and add it to your favorites/del.icio.us bookmarks. If you look at the star closer, you will notice that there is an arrow on it as well. Click on the arrow and the favorites menu will open allowing for more options to select from. The favorites menu allows you to star a page along with adding tags to it, you can star multiple tabs at once (all tabs that are open), add the page to a collection that you have, and you can even see your most recent favorites or frequently visited bookmarks. If you do not like how it adds to del.icio.us, you can disable this in the options.

Now lets take a look at the Flock Blog Editor. The blog editor actually surprised me on what can be accomplished with it. It is a small editor but it does have some great features. In the screenshot above, I have the Blog Topbar open. This allows me to see a list of recent posts and drafts from my site (Note: I have it pointing to a different server right now. Flock is still in the works, so I’m not plugging it to Solution Watch yet.) You can have multiple blogs setup for it. When first opening the Blog Topbar for the first time, you will setup a blog for it. You can then go to the options for Flock to add more along with pinging services for when you update a blog. Now, back to the editor itself. It uses a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor on the top and right below this is the source that you can edit. I really like that because being a programmer, I just don’t really trust WYSIWYG all the time. It does seem to work really well with producing valid code, however. You can bold, italic, change font size, tab, and insert links. One thing that I really felt was a necessity though that Flock did not have was a way to add images through the WYSIWYG. Just functionality like links would please me. You can open the Flickr topbar and drag the photos down from that though, which is great. You can also just drag an image from a site and drag it right into the text area, like other WYSIWYG. If the Flock team could create some type of image manager or something of the sort, that would be excellent. Maybe having a window that you can open that will show a list of images on your server that you can select from and insert into a post? I would absolutely love that. Moving along with the editor, you can also add Technorati tags to your posts using their simple tag box on the right on the text areas. If you are not done with a post, you can save it as a draft and when you are done, you can publish it and it will update your blog. Great work on the editor. I just want a little better image functionality.

The next thing that I felt was worth mentioning is what Flock calls, Shelf. Shelf is actually a very helpful little tool. What you do is go to the menu for Flock and select Tools and then Shelf. A small window will now open that looks similar to the Download window from Firefox and inside it will have a background image saying, “Drop Stuff Here.” So, that is what you do. Go to a website, select some text, and then click and drag it down onto the Shelf window and drop it in the white area. It will then add an item to it, similar to what you see above. Now that you have an item in Shelf, what do you do with it? Well, simply with Shelf open, you can now click and drag any item from it into a text area in Flock. It will then paste the HTML and everything for you. What I really liked about it though is that if you selected text from a site, put it in Shelf, and then dragged it into a text area, it will actually blockquote the text and link to the site where you got the text from. This makes Shelf very useful for blogging and quoting people.

The next thing I want to mention is that Flock has an inline feed viewer. Whenever you go to a feed, it will show it in a format, much like what you see above. Very clean and layed out page. You can collapse and Expand all the entries, sort by date, sort by source, and it makes it very easy to read with simpe typography that is at a readable size. They also have a button for switching back to the website the feed came from. It is perfect for getting a quick glance at an RSS feed or you can even add it to your favorites or a collection for your navigation toolbar if you want to keep up on it that way.

I am almost done! Let me just spit out some thoughts and ideas for Flock. First, Even Eckard has wrote his feelings about how Flock automatically adds themselves to your del.icio.us account when first setting it up. I don’t like this and I know that others do not agree with it as well. If you want, maybe even give the option or a warning? Have a yes or no dialog come up asking if we will allow it to add them to our del.icio.us accounts. Next, as I mentioned when writing about the Blog Editor, I feel that a method for browsing images from a directory online or even from your computer would be a great addition. It would make the environment a whole lot easier for me and other bloggers that use images a lot in their posts. Scott Jarkoff also stated in his review a feature request. The request was for adding a Topbar that will show images from Flickr based on the context of the site you are currently visiting. This is a great idea, but I understand it could be fairly stressful for the browser too, so I am not too concerned about that. It would certainly make the browser even more social. Now, an issue that I seem to be coming across as I am writing this post is that it has problems with refreshing content when submitting the form from WordPress. Let me explain first. I would write a few sentences and then save the draft. When it refreshes back to the same page, it did not show my updates, nor my content in the text area. At first I thought it ignored it, but I then when to a different page and then back to the draft again and it was there. Seemed like some sort of cache/refreshing issue when submitting a form repeatedly. I am not sure if this is only me experiencing this, but it definitely made me scratch my head for a while. (Note: I just saved at that last sentence and when it came back, the sentence wasn’t there. I then went to a different page and back again or a simple cache refresh of the page and it was there.)

Overall, I love Flock. It has some excellent features and it definitely shows the social and blogging side to it. The interface is designed beautifully and it is a great browser. Sure, there are a few issues here and there, but it isn’t complete yet and only in Beta. I was very impressed with what I saw and am sure they have more coming. Flock team, excellent work. I love what has been done so far and I see a great future for Flock.

View Flock (announcement signup).

Update: Just noticed another helpful feature built into Flock. When you have multiple tabs open, you can click and drag each one of them to the left and right. You will see small arrows pointing down in the position to drop it. I have been wanting draggable tabs for a while in Firefox. (Thanks to Tristan and Tom who pointed out Firefox Beta 2 now has draggable tabs.) Great addition to Flock.

Update: Geoffrey from Flock has left a comment and mentioned on his blog that they are working on fixing the del.icio.us issue with automatic adding of Flock bookmarks and it was not their intent. They are working on it, and remember, this is what Beta releases are for!

Also, my server seems to be a little bogged down today. Sorry if it is acting up for you. I am trying to get the issue resolved.


51 Comments on “Flying with the Flock”

  1. TechCrunch » Flock’s Supercool Features, Expanded Beta says:

    [...] s CEO Bart Decrem expanded the beta over the weekend to 1,007 people, most of whom are now blogging about it. The product, which was good back in August when I first tested it, is [...]

  2. tom says:

    hey.. just wanted to add that you can drag the tabs around in the latest firefox beta as well…

  3. Tristan says:

    you wrote: “I have been wanting draggable tabs for a while in Firefox”

    Actually, Firefox 1.5 sports draggable tabs since beta 2.

  4. Flying with the Flock on TheUberGeeks.net says:

    [...] product they can. Brian did a great job of providing that type of quality in his article Flying with the Flock. If you have an application, website, product or service that you& [...]

  5. blogvp says:

    Flock “Might” Help

    Any app that helps with making my life easier or simplier or shaves 5 seconds of the tasks I’m going to try and probably use. So I’m jealous that so many people are now using Flock and I’m not, yet.
    TechCrunch writes: “The bl…

  6. Evan says:

    Wow, nice write-up. I have to say, I haven’t been able to get very deep into flock to check out all the bells and whistles. I just installed it, checked some sites, connected to del.icio.us and then had to get back to work. It wasn’t until later that a buddy of mine messaged me, and knew I had installed flock. “How did you know I installed it?!” I asked. That’s when he pointed me to my del.icio.us page and showed me the couple of links it auto-bookmarked. Eesh. Talk about under-cover del.ico.us posting.

    Overall though, i’m liking flock. I still can’t move there yet because I use the webdev plugin way to frequently on firefox, but i’m sure it will get there.

    By the way, do firefox extensions work on Flock? I haven’t even thought to check yet…

  7. Brian Benzinger says:

    Tom and Tristan, thanks for pointing out that the draggable tabs are now available in Beta 2 of Firefox.

    Even, thanks! Yes, I believe in the release it has said in the readme file that they have tried multiple Firefox extensions with no problems. They did say that themes do not work as of now though (why would you want to anyway, its beautiful :)).

    Thanks for the comment!

  8. Geoffrey says:

    Great post! I hope you don’t mind if i put it on my blog. in the meantime, expect a public release very soon. Geoffrey, Flock

  9. Geoffrey says:

    Oh, and BTW, we are fixing that automatic adding of Flock bookmarks to delicious. Cheers. g

  10. fredoland » Great Flock post in Solution Watch says:

    [...] post in Solution Watch
    Posted by Administrator under Flock 

    I just came across this review on Flock.  Too busy to comment on it, but wanted to put [...]

  11. Steve says:

    That looks like an awesome tool…too bad I haven’t gotten an invite to try it yet…

  12. khaled says:

    No the Flock has not landed.

    I’m not flying anywhere with Flock as I don’t have it.

    In fact I don’t believe this Flock thing is for real until I get my grubby little hands on it. After a while I might loose interest in the whole thing :). Send me a copy please? It can’t be that big an exe, you did get a windows version didn’t you? It’ll be our secret. I might not even blog about it :).

  13. OS X Code (r,s) - A Mac blog about coders and the code they write. » Flying with the Flock, take your seat! says:

    [...]

    Posted on Wednesday 19 October 2005 – Popularity: unranked
    Beta versions of the Firefox based social web browser Flock are finally [...]

  14. basketcase » Blog Archive » Flock Shelf says:

    [...] and Tom who pointed out Firefox Beta 2 now has draggable tabs.) Great addition to Flock. Flying with the Flock » Solution Watch And it made perfect sense, wonderful little gadge [...]

  15. basketcase » Blog Archive » Something Firefox should have had says:

    [...] and Tom who pointed out Firefox Beta 2 now has draggable tabs.) Great addition to Flock. Flying with the Flock » Solution Watch I have been trying to do this forever with Firefo [...]

  16. David House says:

    Let’s have some technical details. What does it use as a rendering engine? I presume they used Gecko or another pre-existing engine, otherwise the guys would really have their work cut out for them. How fast does it run? Do Flash embeds work?

  17. carlos says:

    To move tabs around (in Flock) you can also click on the tab, then ctrl-arrow to move it to either side.

  18. frenetic flogging » Blog Archive » Flock: intial thoughts says:

    [...] g to your blog. Sort of a “social browser,” if you will. Now, lets take a look at it. Flying with the Flock » Solution Watch Technorati Tags: flock, blogging, web2 [...]

  19. Joe D'Andrea says:

    A very thorough review! Thanks – this serves as an excellent primer for anyone interested in … um … flying with … (yes, a very appropos title too).

  20. Dennis Howlett says:

    I’m in on this late – has any provision been made for things like sub to Blgolines, Blogulse, Furl? What about APIs to the blog engines – which are supported?

  21. geekmannurat >> :: baro a browser :: October :: 2005 says:

    [...] featurena. ala, ket padasek pay ngarud, a. kabayatanna ket basaenyo pay laeng ti maysa a preview ti flock, pangur-urayan.

    makuna
    »

    Th [...]

  22. red-mercury.net v.two » Blog Archive » Flock! says:

    [...] a title=”Permanent Link: Flying with the Flock” rel=”bookmark” style=”text-decoration: none;” href=”http://www.solutionwatch.com/262/flying-with-the-flock/” class=”title”>Flying with the Flock. Check it out if you are curious how this whole thing [...]

  23. blog.syslinx.org » Flock says:

    [...] reat this browser is. If you want to have some more information, you could have a look at this article. » Permalink No Comments [...]

  24. Flock: It’s your turn to fly » Solution Watch says:

    [...]
    Recent Solutions
    Flock: It’s your turn to flyEurekster Swickis: Community Powered SearchFlying with the FlockReading [...]

  25. Flock: It’s your turn to fly » Solution Watch says:

    [...]
    Recent Solutions
    Flock: It’s your turn to flyEurekster Swickis: Community Powered SearchFlying with the FlockReading [...]

  26. 12 frogs » Blog Archive » Flock Test Post says:

    [...] r everyone wondering what the hell I’m talking about, I just installed Flock, that new ”social browser” all the cool kids have been talking about, on my PowerBook. No, t [...]

  27. Giri’s musings » Kudos to Flock! says:

    [...] om here.  I bet you’ll love it. A detailed analysis of the complete features is here and here. In the midst of all this some people stiil question how will development [...]

  28. republish - byte it » Blog Archive » going with the flock says:

    [...] eatures (this is not bad, it is just a 0.5pre release). Read more in-depth reviews here or here. Talking about browsers: About 40% of our visitors are using [...]

  29. Business Logs says:

    Flock Soars Like An Ostrich

    With the private beta scrapped because of P2P leaks of the Flock installer, the bird team decided to step-up and drop a public beta into everybody’s laps. Their Flock homepage is full of disclaimers, but that didn’t stop some people…

  30. Thoughts from the Digicosm » Testing from Flock says:

    [...] k
    October 21, 2005 at 7:18 am | In Uncategorized |

    Just testing… http://www.solutionwatch.com/262/flying-with-the-flock/

    [...]

  31. blog.sevenapril.ca » Flock is released says:

    [...] few articles that will bring you up to speep: Wired, Business Week, Paul Stamatiou.com and Solution Watch. It’s based on the Firefox 1.5 beta but offers a much more friendly [...]

  32. Vince weblog » Blog Archive » Flying with Flock says:

    [...] de ontwikkelingsfase, dus bevat het nog wat bugs en ander lekken. [ Wired, Business Week, Solution Watch , Paul Stamatiou ] This entry was posted [...]

  33. The Lair » from the trenches says:

    [...] doesn’t it ? Not like your run of the mill stay-at-home Firefox) like, for example, the Shelf is called Places in Mozilla-speak – and the interesting idea of integrating boo [...]

  34. Wholesome Goodness says:

    Flock Developer Preview

    I’ve spent a decent chunk of this weekend playing with Flock, the new social browser that’s out in developer preview

  35. Library clips :: Flock: social browser :: October :: 2005 says:

    [...] 4, 2005 Flock: social browser Filed under: tools Check out Solution Watch for some great write ups on the new social web2.0 browser, Flock. Not only multiple tabs, bu [...]

  36. Loading... - Ossi Urchs Netguide Digital FOCUS Online in Kooperation mit MSN says:

    [...] ts und Communities geprägt wird. Deshalb spricht man in den USA schon von einem "social browser". Und das nicht zu unrecht. Denn Flock bietet noch m [...]

  37. Drew’s Blog » Flying with the Flock » Solution Watch says:

    [...] k” title. Very snazzy. Anyways, there is a lot going on in Flock, so lets get started. Flying with the Flock » Solution Watch

    [...]

  38. Flock envy at Thought Pixels says:

    [...] Tags: flock, software.

    I keep reading around the net about Flock and me being the impatient person that I am, I want one now! I shall [...]

  39. The Bluesaze Blog » Blog Archive » Join the “Flock”: Another Browser out to beat Firefox & IE says:

    [...] cs For More News Go to. Killer Buzz Flocks to New Browser Flock – Social Browsing is CoolFlying with the FlockPictures From Flickr Technorati Tags: Flock, Firefox, Internet Exp [...]

  40. Transliteracies » Blog Archive » Flock says:

    [...] ars as of now. The “Flickr Photos” and ‘Blog Topbar.’” (from detailed review of 18 Oct. 2005 on Solution Watch site) Starter Links: Flock home page | [...]

  41. Karthik’s Blog » Flock says:

    [...] ks great all the same.. Web 2.0?? CHeck out http://www.flock.com…; Also see Flying with flock. Permalink Leave a Comment You mus [...]

  42. What’s New With Flock? says:

    [...] Flock has just yesterday launched their first public beta of their browser, available for Windows, Mac and Linux, along with a new website. I’ve been keeping up with the latest Flock builds ever since it’s initial alpha release (See Flying with the Flock) and have been impressed with every time. First off, for those of you new to Flock, Flock is a browser built off of Mozilla technologies, specifically the Firefox Web Browser, that has extra functionality attached to it. With Flock, you can manage photos, bookmarks (social bookmarking), write blog posts, read RSS Feeds, and more. One last note: Loving the new Flock website designed by Bryan Veloso. Nice work! [...]

  43. What’s New With Flock? - davecentral Planet David Central & Dave Central Planet says:

    [...] Flock has just yesterday launched their first public beta of their browser, available for Windows, Mac and Linux, along with a new website. I’ve been keeping up with the latest Flock builds ever since it’s initial alpha release (See Flying with the Flock) and have been impressed with every time. First off, for those of you new to Flock, Flock is a browser built off of Mozilla technologies, specifically the Firefox Web Browser, that has extra functionality attached to it. With Flock, you can manage photos, bookmarks (social bookmarking), write blog posts, read RSS Feeds, and more. One last note: Loving the new Flock website designed by Bryan Veloso. Nice work! [...]

  44. Flock - kollaborativer Browser mit Blogging Funktionen | agenturblog.de says:

    [...] Connected Web: Flock, reloaded DE:BUG BLOG » Blog Archive » Flock ist da. jot*be :: Daily: Flock Developer Beta TechCrunch » Flock’s Refines Features, Expands Beta The Flock has landed: Round Two launches new social networking tool – IO ERROR Flying with the Flock » Solution Watch Flock: Browser mit Blog-Unterstützung und Online-Lesezeichen – Golem.de Flock Developer Preview vorgestellt – Software – Weblog und CMS – pixelgraphix thomas gigold, Story: Flock? Wie genial! Flock (Web 2.0 Browser mit del.icio.us und Flickr-Integration) elbewerk: :Locker Flock(ig) Verwandte Beiträge [...]

  45. What’s New With Flock? - Web 2.0 Squared Magazine says:

    [...] June bam04:48 pmAdd comment Flock has just yesterday launched their first public beta of their browser, available for Windows, Mac and Linux, along with a new website. I’ve been keeping up with the latest Flock builds ever since it’s initial alpha release (See Flying with the Flock) and have been impressed with every time. First off, for those of you new to Flock, Flock is a browser built off of Mozilla technologies, specifically the Firefox Web Browser, that has extra functionality attached to it. With Flock, you can manage photos, bookmarks (social bookmarking), write blog posts, read RSS Feeds, and more. One last note: Loving the new Flock website designed by Bryan Veloso. Nice work! [...]

  46. Library clips :: Collecting links for future blog posts :: January :: 2007 says:

    [...] Flock is a blog editor, but then I don’t want to change browers. [...]

  47. Flock Soars Like An Ostrich | Business Logs says:

    [...] Brian Benzinger reviewed Flock over at Solution Watch and gave it a fairly positive review: Flock did a good job at sticking to the basic structure of a browser and basically looks like a beautified Firefox, but with extra features. The buttons on the navigation bar has the basic back, forward, refresh, and home button. But you also get a few new buttons such as a button to open the blog editor, the favorites manager, and the star button to star a site. […] The blog editor actually surprised me on what can be accomplished with it. […]— Brian Benzinger [...]

  48. liron.de says:

    [...] Flying with the Flock » Solution Watch [...]

  49. Ride with the Flock « Biowaste says:

    [...] Ride with the Flock Published November 6th, 2007 Computec Tags: facebook, Firefox, Flock Since the release of the new Flock 1.0, the ‘social browser’ had been given high ratings and positive remarks from popular sites including CNET. This could be a new threat to other popular web browser such as Internet Explorer, Opera and Netscape. If you don’t know what Flock is or you were left behind, you can read more about it here. [...]

  50. Flock - Your Web 2.0 Ready Browser | TechFreaks says:

    [...] Flock is the latest open source browser, catering especially to bloggers and Web 2.0 savvy users. It is heavily based upon open source code from Mozilla’s Firefox browser and was developed by a group of a 10 guys and a gal in a garage in Palo Alto, California (with lots of contributions from many developers). Flock promises to leave the user with a strong social web browsing experience. With bookmark syncing with del.icio.us, integrated blogging and flickr support, Flock looks like a real treat. But be warned, in this early developer preview there are some nasty bugs and lacking features that should be a must if Flock hopes to lure current Firefox users. If you have never heard of Flock before, I would recommend catching up with a few articles: Wired, Business Week, and Solution Watch. [...]

  51. Flock Browser Review (1.2.1) on The uber geeks says:

    [...] In comes Flock. It’s billed as “The Social Web Browser,” and for the most part, it’s true. There have been a couple reviews of early builds and betas here at TUG.n: First was Colin’s review here and then a Screencast by Josue (video doesn’t work, but he says it has gotten much better). Another good article is from SolutionWatch. But these are from a couple years ago. Where is Flock at now? [...]