Taking the Flock for a spin

published Jan 29, 2007, last modified Dec 08, 2021

A quick review of Flock, a new Firefox-based browser.

Blogging. That's what piqued my interest. As you know, blogging with WordPress is, let's say, less than optimal. Composing a post in the integrated text editor is a pain if you have a low bandwidth connection (a market segment I fall squarely in).

So, when I read about a browser that could make my blogging blues go away, I had to try it. Flock promises a seamless blogging experience, and I was ready to test it.

So far, it has consistently delivered on the promise. I have published four posts on topics and articles that I wouldn't even have blogged about yesterday, just because I would have dreaded to open the WordPress post editor otherwise. The built-in post editor is the only one I have managed to make work under Linux.

To aid you in your hunt for information, there's a collapsible stripe at the bottom of the browser window. That stripe is used to collect snippets (blocks of text or images). It's real simple to use: select what you want to collect, and drag it to the stripe bar. Presto! Instant access to clip art and selected quotes from Web sites, ready to be dragged and dropped onto the post editor. Did I mention that the snippets preserve their source formatting?

And, boy, Flock's fast. So fast, in fact, that I have replaced my trusty Akregator newsreader with Flock. Because, honestly, just opening Akregator took a minute in my (sadly only) 768 MB of RAM. But Flock's already open, and there's a big News button on the main toolbar that illumnates discreetly when there are news... which is all the time in my case ;-) A man's only got so much time to read 50 feeds!

An example screenshot of Flock. Note the resemblance to Firefox, and the streamlined controls on the main toolbar.
An example screenshot of Flock. Note the resemblance to Firefox, and the streamlined controls on the main toolbar.

Oh, did I mention the Blog link that appears after each news item on the newsreader? When combined with pingbacks, I haven't seen a more affordable method of creating an interblog conversation. I only wish Blogger would support pingbacks. Come on, guys, it's 2007.

Flock's been hyped (overhyped if you ask me) as the social browser. Nevertheless, it's a grounded claim, since all shared bookmarks are automatically synchronized with my Del.icio.us account. Fantastic!

Of course, nothing new is devoid of issues. There are a few minor bugs -- for example, the WYSIWYG blog editor does not generate perfect markup (OK, I'm anally perfectionist about my markup). The image uploader cannot upload to WordPress (and I'm told WordPress does have that capability in its interoperability protocol). I'm reporting the bugs I find one by one, but I can reassuredly state that they haven't caused me any data loss. That's much more than I can say about Microsoft Outlook.

If you're not using Flock, you owe it to yourself to spare 5 minutes of your time exclusively to download and install it. If you loved Firefox, you'll be thanking me afterwards.