October 21, 2005 6:24 AM PDT

New browser gives taste of Web 2.0

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A small team of developers in California on Friday launched a cutting-edge Firefox-based Web browser dubbed Flock, which integrates next-generation Web technologies such as RSS content feeds, blogs and bookmark and photo sharing.

The team of developers was spearheaded by Bart Decrem, who is well known in the open-source community due to his involvement in the Mozilla Foundation and his ill-fated start-up Eazel, which from 1999 until its demise in 2001 aimed to bring greater usability features to the Linux desktop.

"Indeed the time is upon us," wrote Flock co-founder Geoffrey Arone on his blog shortly before the release. "We are gearing up to allow public, unrestricted downloads of the Flock browser within the next couple of hours."

"Please note that this is a developer preview and that there are still plenty of bugs, many of which we are aware of."

The new browser's look

The public unveiling comes after Decrem this week e-mailed invitations to try his new software to a select group of recipients who had previously registered their addresses on the project's Web site. The round of invitations was the third to be issued for the software during its development.

Flocking to new features
The browser's new features are based on new Web technologies fast attracting fans in the online community--part of a movement that has come to be known as Web 2.0.

For example, the traditional Web browser bookmarks menu has been replaced in favor of close integration with del.icio.us, an online service that allows bookmarks to be stored and shared with other users.

The Flock team has taken note of the Internet community's rapidly growing obsession with both blogs and the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) standard that makes it possible to speedily know when a blog has been updated.

Flock includes a built-in RSS reader, which allows a user to read all of their favorite blogs in one place, without the need to separately navigate to each one. Various Web sites and software programs already provide this functionality, but Flock is one of the first to integrate it into a Web browser.

The browser also facilitates blogging by the user with a "Create a blog post" button located in the main navigation bar. The button launches a sophisticated blogging tool that integrates on a drag-and-drop level with Flickr, a popular online photo management and sharing service recently acquired by Yahoo.

Flock integrates with a number of popular blogging services, including Wordpress, Six Apart and Blogger, according to Decrem's own blog.

All of the features both reflect popular usage within early adopter elements of the Web and are squarely aimed at providing collaborative Web browsing features.

Firefox tensions
Decrem has taken steps recently to convince the open-source Mozilla community that his new start-up isn't aimed at making their popular Firefox Web browser obsolete.

"I am a firm believer in the power of the open source development model," he wrote yesterday. "So it's always been obvious to me that Flock should leverage existing open source technologies and contribute most, if not all, our enhancements back under an open source license."

He said Flock was not interested in causing problems by creating a code base that diverges from Firefox's own, a development known as "forking."

"In architecting our software, build systems and engineering processes, we have given considerable thought to how our code will be able to evolve alongside the Mozilla code, without forking it," he wrote.

"Of course, time will tell how successful we are in avoiding unnecessary divergence between the Flock code base and the Mozilla code. This ultimately depends on the thousands of engineering decisions we will make in the coming months and years, but also on the level of communication between folks here and the broader Mozilla community."

"For our part, we are very serious about becoming active participants in and contributors to the Mozilla community, starting in the very near future. We are also very open to working with folks at the Mozilla Foundation, the Mozilla Corporation and elsewhere to minimize the risk of platform divergence and have taken the first steps to start that conversation."

Decrem also addressed the issue of how his free software project would attract revenue.

While he acknowledged most Web browsers were freely available, he said several companies, such as the Mozilla Corporation and competitor Opera, had been able to leverage integration between their software and online services like search engines to make money.

" Opera's CEO recently explained that his company was able to release the browser for free thanks to an expanded search sponsorship arrangement with Google," he wrote. "The Mozilla Foundation has alluded to search related business arrangements and has created a for-profit subsidiary."

"In sum, we're quite comfortable that, if enough users choose our browser, we can keep the lights on here at Flock without violating users' privacy or compromising the user experience."

Flock is available for download Friday for the Windows, Mac OS X and Linux platforms from the project's Web site.

Renai LeMay of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

46 comments

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Competant, stable, quick
I haven't really played with any of the features yet, but as far as browsers goes, I'm already a fan.

It fixes the problem I had with Avant - which loses focus inside a textarea when you alt-tab to another application and then back.

And the problem I had with Firefox - which opens a new instance of the browser instead of new tabs within the running instance - when you click on links from other applications, like Outlook.

As for the other features, I look forward to playing with them more as time goes on. The only rendering problems I've seen so far as the ones that I see with Firefox, Safari, etc., not respecting styles applied to individual lines in a multiple line select, or width settings to a tags or submit style inputs. But I'm guessing that's more of IE allowing you to do things with CSS that's not standard. (Though better looking.)
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Firefox opening new instance ?
Probably you shd check this setting. Go to Options->Advanced->Tab browsing->Open links from other applications in. Set it to a recent tab or new tab in the same window.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Use Tabbrowser Preferences
<a class="jive-link-external" href="https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=158&#38;application=firefox" target="_newWindow">https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=158&#38;application=firefox</a>

I've had this extension practically since I started using Firefox, so I can't actually say what FF does on its own! However, with this extension properly configured, it's an extremely rare occurance when a link will open a new window instead of a new tab. Give it a shot.
Posted by DarkHawke (999 comments )
Link Flag
Competant, stable, quick
I haven't really played with any of the features yet, but as far as browsers goes, I'm already a fan.

It fixes the problem I had with Avant - which loses focus inside a textarea when you alt-tab to another application and then back.

And the problem I had with Firefox - which opens a new instance of the browser instead of new tabs within the running instance - when you click on links from other applications, like Outlook.

As for the other features, I look forward to playing with them more as time goes on. The only rendering problems I've seen so far as the ones that I see with Firefox, Safari, etc., not respecting styles applied to individual lines in a multiple line select, or width settings to a tags or submit style inputs. But I'm guessing that's more of IE allowing you to do things with CSS that's not standard. (Though better looking.)
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Firefox opening new instance ?
Probably you shd check this setting. Go to Options-&gt;Advanced-&gt;Tab browsing-&gt;Open links from other applications in. Set it to a recent tab or new tab in the same window.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Use Tabbrowser Preferences
<a class="jive-link-external" href="https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=158&#38;application=firefox" target="_newWindow">https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=158&#38;application=firefox</a>

I've had this extension practically since I started using Firefox, so I can't actually say what FF does on its own! However, with this extension properly configured, it's an extremely rare occurance when a link will open a new window instead of a new tab. Give it a shot.
Posted by DarkHawke (999 comments )
Link Flag
Forget it... Use Opera.
If you use flock, then you still get the flaws of Firefox. Firefox as it gets more popular will get even more flaws.... and also if you install extensions on flock, then it will eat up your RAM.Using alot of tabs will make ram usage insanely high.

Do yourself a favor, use Opera Browser.
Posted by alyssachanpc (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
I changed from IE to Firefox but as much as I liked its feature, it did not offset the fact that it had a high CPU drain and it crashed at least once a week. I changed to Opera when the free 8.0 version came out and it still has never crashed on me.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Forget it... Use Opera.
If you use flock, then you still get the flaws of Firefox. Firefox as it gets more popular will get even more flaws.... and also if you install extensions on flock, then it will eat up your RAM.Using alot of tabs will make ram usage insanely high.

Do yourself a favor, use Opera Browser.
Posted by alyssachanpc (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
I changed from IE to Firefox but as much as I liked its feature, it did not offset the fact that it had a high CPU drain and it crashed at least once a week. I changed to Opera when the free 8.0 version came out and it still has never crashed on me.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Mac OS X's Safari has RSS...
From the article -

"Flock includes a built-in RSS reader... Various Web sites and
software programs already provide this functionality, but Flock is
one of the first to integrate it into a Web browser."

I look at my favorite RSS feeds every morning in the Safari browser
on mac and I've been doing it since Tiger came out... Doesn't that
make Safari the first browser with built-in RSS reader???
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reading comprehension is your friend
Flock is ONE OF THE FIRST to integrate it into a Web browser
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
live bookmarks in FF
Live bookmarks have been a feature in Firefox since long before Safari had it. It's not the best but it offers RSS capabilities built into the browser. Also, extensions such as Sage provides a very good RSS reader to FF.
Posted by feranick (212 comments )
Link Flag
Yes, it does
Yep,Safari is. I've only used the new Safari a few times (don't have a Mac myself) and it is THE best browser ever. The built-in RSS Reader is an awesome feature.
Posted by Redsfans4 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Mac OS X's Safari has RSS...
From the article -

"Flock includes a built-in RSS reader... Various Web sites and
software programs already provide this functionality, but Flock is
one of the first to integrate it into a Web browser."

I look at my favorite RSS feeds every morning in the Safari browser
on mac and I've been doing it since Tiger came out... Doesn't that
make Safari the first browser with built-in RSS reader???
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reading comprehension is your friend
Flock is ONE OF THE FIRST to integrate it into a Web browser
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
live bookmarks in FF
Live bookmarks have been a feature in Firefox since long before Safari had it. It's not the best but it offers RSS capabilities built into the browser. Also, extensions such as Sage provides a very good RSS reader to FF.
Posted by feranick (212 comments )
Link Flag
Yes, it does
Yep,Safari is. I've only used the new Safari a few times (don't have a Mac myself) and it is THE best browser ever. The built-in RSS Reader is an awesome feature.
Posted by Redsfans4 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Powered by Yahoo??
I notice that the search box's default search engine is Yahoo, which bothers me because Google is far better than Yahoo in every way. Oh well, atleast if you type "search" in the address bar, it takes you to Google.com.....
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Powered by Yahoo??
I notice that the search box's default search engine is Yahoo, which bothers me because Google is far better than Yahoo in every way. Oh well, atleast if you type "search" in the address bar, it takes you to Google.com.....
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Finally Web 2.0
I just installed the browser, and I was delighted to see the RSS feed button actually working first time. Unlike Firefox, clicking the Feed button aggregates and show content according to dates.
Interface is definately as simple as Firefox.

As some people noted here, It has default search engine as Yahoo (while FireFox has google).

Unlike Firefox 1.0.5, It has been more than 5 minutes and I still have not came across any bug.
This I think it may be based on some previous code of Firefox.

Looks like we have killer browser.

~Shantanu
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://godisnear.blogspot.com" target="_newWindow">http://godisnear.blogspot.com</a>
Posted by (29 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Finally Web 2.0
I just installed the browser, and I was delighted to see the RSS feed button actually working first time. Unlike Firefox, clicking the Feed button aggregates and show content according to dates.
Interface is definately as simple as Firefox.

As some people noted here, It has default search engine as Yahoo (while FireFox has google).

Unlike Firefox 1.0.5, It has been more than 5 minutes and I still have not came across any bug.
This I think it may be based on some previous code of Firefox.

Looks like we have killer browser.

~Shantanu
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://godisnear.blogspot.com" target="_newWindow">http://godisnear.blogspot.com</a>
Posted by (29 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Most unimpressive program....
... and it is missing key user control The design assumes that
the user wants to share ll sorts of information on the web,
bookmarks, cookies, photos, blogs, etc. Maybe some users do, I
don't. And there is no clear way to shut down blabbermouth
nature of Flock.

Even excluding that rather critical problem, Flock comes across
as a no more than a lame browser, not up to the capabilities of
FireFox, Opera, or Safari, all of which work very well for me now.

I might give Flock another try in the future, if someone can come
up with a reason why I should.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Earl
What about IE. You didn't include that!
Posted by Gerry1981 (13 comments )
Link Flag
Most unimpressive program....
... and it is missing key user control The design assumes that
the user wants to share ll sorts of information on the web,
bookmarks, cookies, photos, blogs, etc. Maybe some users do, I
don't. And there is no clear way to shut down blabbermouth
nature of Flock.

Even excluding that rather critical problem, Flock comes across
as a no more than a lame browser, not up to the capabilities of
FireFox, Opera, or Safari, all of which work very well for me now.

I might give Flock another try in the future, if someone can come
up with a reason why I should.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Earl
What about IE. You didn't include that!
Posted by Gerry1981 (13 comments )
Link Flag
a waste of resources
to be honest i am still looking for these advanced features i have been hearing about in flock. all lock is, is firefox with some builtin extensions and a realy ugly theme. firefox is all about extensions, not the browser. i have over 20 plugins in my firefox, making it an entirely different browser. THAT is the power of firefox. If i wanted flock, i would jsut go to the themes and pick the ugliest theme i could, and i would save alot more time than what i jsut did downloading it. What a waste of resources.
Posted by arzynik (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
a waste of resources? what ever........
all y'all need to RTFRM file before ya start snivellin'..........
they tell ya straight up on front street whats up..........
if all y'all aynt got an interest in positive aspects, why not crawl back in the crib, n quit trin' to dawg folks who try to make things better?
Posted by jimetattooist (6 comments )
Link Flag
a waste of resources
to be honest i am still looking for these advanced features i have been hearing about in flock. all lock is, is firefox with some builtin extensions and a realy ugly theme. firefox is all about extensions, not the browser. i have over 20 plugins in my firefox, making it an entirely different browser. THAT is the power of firefox. If i wanted flock, i would jsut go to the themes and pick the ugliest theme i could, and i would save alot more time than what i jsut did downloading it. What a waste of resources.
Posted by arzynik (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
a waste of resources? what ever........
all y'all need to RTFRM file before ya start snivellin'..........
they tell ya straight up on front street whats up..........
if all y'all aynt got an interest in positive aspects, why not crawl back in the crib, n quit trin' to dawg folks who try to make things better?
Posted by jimetattooist (6 comments )
Link Flag
A better social browser, But...
One of the primary benefit of social software is that it can take advantage of the collective intelligence of the community or the 'The wisdom of the crowds '. In this respect Flock has not yet reached the mark :-(

I can tag and blog stuff from within the browser. Thus a user who is doing the above stuff (pursuing selfish interests) builds collective value for the rest of the users as a side effect. But the same user is not able to reap the resultant benefits.

An example of how a user can benefit from the generated wisdom is like Outfoxed, where the folk / community suggests better useful sites.

There is an article at the following URL that describes a better way of creating a social browser. The application is called FolkMind. Please go through the same.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.chiramattel.com/george/blog/2005/10/14/folkmind_a_killer_app_for_the_1.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.chiramattel.com/george/blog/2005/10/14/folkmind_a_killer_app_for_the_1.html</a>
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A better social browser, But...
One of the primary benefit of social software is that it can take advantage of the collective intelligence of the community or the 'The wisdom of the crowds '. In this respect Flock has not yet reached the mark :-(

I can tag and blog stuff from within the browser. Thus a user who is doing the above stuff (pursuing selfish interests) builds collective value for the rest of the users as a side effect. But the same user is not able to reap the resultant benefits.

An example of how a user can benefit from the generated wisdom is like Outfoxed, where the folk / community suggests better useful sites.

There is an article at the following URL that describes a better way of creating a social browser. The application is called FolkMind. Please go through the same.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.chiramattel.com/george/blog/2005/10/14/folkmind_a_killer_app_for_the_1.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.chiramattel.com/george/blog/2005/10/14/folkmind_a_killer_app_for_the_1.html</a>
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
start.com
RSS? start.com does this very nicely? It's not a browser or a reader really ok is this 2.0
Posted by mcepat (118 comments )
Reply Link Flag
start.com
RSS? start.com does this very nicely? It's not a browser or a reader really ok is this 2.0
Posted by mcepat (118 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why not?
In my humble opinion, if the folks at Flock really want to improve users browsing experience and contribute to Firefox at the same time, why not just put Flock´s features into a bunch of new plugins or extensions to Firefox?

As someone has already said in this forum, one of Firefox main strengths is its modular architecture.

Futhermore, I don´t think Flock´s features are enough to justify the existence of yet another browser.

All in all, the only explanation I see for making another browser like Flock is pure business (whatever that might be, since it seems there´s not a lot of money to be made in browsers).
Posted by Mario Nogueira (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why not?
In my humble opinion, if the folks at Flock really want to improve users browsing experience and contribute to Firefox at the same time, why not just put Flock´s features into a bunch of new plugins or extensions to Firefox?

As someone has already said in this forum, one of Firefox main strengths is its modular architecture.

Futhermore, I don´t think Flock´s features are enough to justify the existence of yet another browser.

All in all, the only explanation I see for making another browser like Flock is pure business (whatever that might be, since it seems there´s not a lot of money to be made in browsers).
Posted by Mario Nogueira (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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