09 July 2008

[bloggage] Is It Worth Flocking?


So what I'm going to do over the next few days is write a series of posts in the Flock blog post editor, unless, of course, I find it too frustrating. Flock Icon Flock of course, is the newer browser that has integrated so-called Web 2.0 features ... imagine if you can, a web browser that puts everything you might need in your online-networking (Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, etc, along with your blog posting access) at your finger tips.

That's a tall order.

 But does it do its job? It it something I'd like to use instead of my current workflow, which is post in Qumana and upload either from a Photobucket account or via Firefox (Safari, my former love, is sadly very very unable to do any in that department). For someone as addicted to blogging as I am, it should be axiomatic that the tool that will win me over eventually is the one that enables me to do all my posting/uploading/editing in one thing. And, as my experience in composing this blog posting so far shows, it comes close ... very close indeed.

Electric-Man.jpg Electric Man 1 image by zehnkatzenOne thing that is something that has always been frustrating is that so far, every offline-blog editor simply cannot upload illustrations to blog posts. it seems to be some problem with the Blogger API, in that it offers no facility for uploading to your Blogger/Picasa web album account from the desktop. And since I like loading from the desktop, this is an obstacle. Flock has this neato-mosquito feature called the Drag and Drop Web Clipboard which seems to enable it. Now, I don't think anything's uploaded to Picasa Web albums; rather, it appears to be hotlinked. But for the purpose of posting ease, since there's an integrated photo uploader, then that could indeed streamline the workflow for linking items from Photobucket or even Flickr, since these can live under other tabs and also be drug-and-dropped to the Web Clipboard. That's how that illustration of the Flock icon got into this entry (and the Electric Man). It's hotlinked from the Wikipedia entry on Flock.

And that link I just made? Drug and dropped in from the Web Clipboard as well. it's the next, best thing to dragging and dropping from the desktop. It also integrates every RSS Feed you read; export your current feeds from your feed reader as an OPML file and import that into Flock. Easy.

Another thing I need this Web 2.0 app to do for me is browse effectively.

 Flock does a pretty good job, but there have been speed bumps. For instance, when I first started trying to use it, loading my blog into the browser would cause the display to go somewhere into the Twilight Zone. Something in one of my blog postings, I don't know what, would cause the display to freeze, yet, strangely, the content would still load ... just not display. After the display froze, I could click anywhere on that and the browser would respond to whatever would have been there had the display would allow it to be seen. Also, photo illustrations that should show up, don't. For example, in this post at OurPDXNetwork, the dieselboi's photo illustration shows up as a link in Flock. It loads without a problem in Firefox. This is doubly-bizarre because the current version of Flock is said to be built on the Firefox 3 code base. So, perforce, Flock has things to recommend it:

  • Social network integration. I can see just what whom and what I"m tracking is doing.

  • Logins enabled between me and my online photo repostories, and I can get them from the sidebar. Nifty!

  • Web clipboard makes having links and photos at my fingertips second-nature

  • Integrated blog posting with the closest thing to drag-n-drop image posting I've seen yet

  • Great word-processor-esque blog post editor with common word-processor-esque functionality (I love being able to press command-I and command-B to make this happen)).

  • Built on the trusted Firefox 3

  • Multiple-search-engine enabled.

But, Flock doesn't quite yet hit it out of the park. Here's why:

  • Performance ... slow. RSS Feeds update slowly. This blog post editor has begun to run slowly. Highlighting text has to be done with patience, as I click and drag, and unclick and wait up to two seconds for the highlighted text to show up. Switching between editor view and source view is taking too long. I just had to wait for the typing to catch up on this very last line.

  • Uploading posts is undependable and slightly non-intuitive. Before updating this post I'll have to click a "replace this post" radio button on the upload dialog. This should be default behavior on updated an extant post. Moreover, if I try to post a new post with an illo, it freezes (that's why, for a very short time, this post was duplicated three times).

  • Strange browser behavior where hotlinked photos which show up fine in Firefox 3 show up as non-displaying links in Flock.

So that's what we have so far. Flock is encouraging, and we'll be using it for the next few blog posts to see if the inherent problems in the software are too irritating to prevent us using it on a regular basis ... actually, even with its flaws, we'd start using any blog post editor that would just give us a list of Blogger labels to click (the Qumana editor, which we have in Beta, doesn't do that either, and if it takes me one more step, I'm not likely to go to the trouble. Make it simple for me people!). Verdict so far? Good. Could be better. Might continue to use it ... but might not. We'll see.

Update, back in Qumana: We've seen. And we've seen a deal-breaker. One thing that Qumana does flawlessly is control leading consistently. That is, I get this perfect, eye-kind space between the lines both before and after I use a list. Only Qumana has done this consistently ... not even Adobe Contribute has been able to do this. Flock ... no, doesn't do it either.

Flock has potential, but until they can conquer that, it's back to Qumana. Sorry, Flock performance and format control are very important to me, and you look good ... but you're not yet ready for prime-time, at least not for this little duck.

Judge for yourselfs, good peoples: here's where you can download Flock.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

1 comment:

Vahid said...

I've been using the ReadAir front-end to Google Reader lately and have been happy with it for keeping on top of my feeds.

As for tracking all your social networking services, convince people to all start using FriendFeed. Here's mine.