Ma.gnolia, A Better Way to Bookmark

MagnoliaMagnolia Hosted on Zooomr

About three months ago I ditched delicious. I think delicious is an interesting tool as a search engine, but I never could get into the layout and design of the site for my personal bookmarks. Mike Arrington had suggested at the Future of Web Apps that he too had recently ditched delicious for a better bookmarking site (although he didn’t name which one) and a friend told me it was Blue Dot. So I figured I’d try Blue Dot out. Today he mentions that Blue Dot is the bookmarking site he’s using.

I liked the community aspect of Blue Dot and the way that it recommended my contact’s bookmarks to me in real time, but I found the advertising just a tad much and I didn’t like the layout in the end there either. It would show me my most popular tags but I found it hard to find all of my bookmarks. I know there are probably simple ways to do these things but they weren’t intuitive for me.

About this time my friend Chris Messina suggested that I give Magnolia a try. So I started using Magnolia and Blue Dot at the same time. And then after a few more weeks I ditched Blue Dot altogether and now use Magnolia exclusively. And I really like it.

The thing that I like most about Magnolia is the design. It is simple, elegant and does exactly what I want it to do. The advertising is not intrusive. The site allows you to designate between public and private bookmarks. The site has a nice bookmarklet that allows me to go to a little pop up box anytime I want to bookmark a site. Right there in the box I can designate public or private and I can rate the bookmark as well. I can scour my contact’s bookmarks for interesting sites (Merlin Mann has some good ones).

I still need to figure out how to make the bookmarklet pop up instead of pop under (I think this might be an issue either with Firefox or my new Mac that I just need to figure out) but other than that I like everything about it.

I really like the way that Magnolia supports OpenID. I like how easy it was to add my avatar. It has a nice integration feature with Technorati.

It also has strong potential for community. The community is not there exactly yet, but hopefully they have built something strong enough that will attract it. Right now I’ve only got a few contacts on Magnolia, but if you are on Magnolia or are not on it yet but sign up for it, make me a contact or let me know so I can make you one back. Here’s a link to my profile.

One other ancillary thing I will add to my recent bookmarking trek is I was very, very, pleased to see how easy it was to import and export bookmarks around the various sites I tried. Delicious, Blue Dot and Magnolia all made it easy to import and export and are good examples of the kind of user portability of data that other content sites should strive for.

Overall all I’d give Magnolia a 5 star rating out of 5 stars. It’s simple, elegant, neatly designed, it’s functional, supportive of the community and a treat to use.

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15 Comments

  1. Nick Starr says:

    The link to your profile on Magnolia isn’t correct.
    It should be:
    http://ma.gnolia.com/people/thomashawk

  2. How were you using del.icio.us? Before completely dropping delicious, you might try using it with the quicksilver plugin (I know you have a mac, but do you have quicksilver yet?). Quicksilver is like an extensible Spotlight, but can do so much more. With the delicious plugin it will index your bookmarks, and then when you press the hotkey (mine’s Command+space) and start typing a few letters it will find the bookmark; press enter and it opens it in your browser.

    Their might be a quicksilver plugin for magnolia, but delicious works great for me so I have no reason to switch. With the firefox plugin to make the bookmarks, and quicksilver plugin to find the bookmarks, I never actually go to the delicious website.

  3. Factory Joe says:

    Thomas — I’m having the same bookmarklet problem. I’ll see if we can get that fixed.

    As for Bill’s suggestion — the QuickSilver plugin supports both Delicious and Ma.gnolia (since Ma.gnolia mirrored Delicious’ API). You can therefore get either of your bookmarks collections into QuickSilver. Good tip!

  4. cygnoir says:

    Okay, I’ll bite. I signed up for a Ma.gnolia account months ago, but never did anything with it. I’ve got 4000+ bookmarks in del.icio.us but don’t really like the interface, either. Importing now …

  5. Todd P says:

    I’ve been liking del.icio.us much better since I installed the Firefox plugin that allows for quick adding. The plug-in adds two buttons to the toolbar, one for tagging a bookmark, the other for displaying all your bookmarks with nice searching abilities. One other thing that I think really rocks about the Del.icio.us plugin for Firefox is the default firefox:toolbar tag that displays a toolbar with all your links for a specific tag. I use this to keep synced on different computers the list of web tools I use most often.
    Nonetheless, one of the things I can’t stand about delicious is the tag naming scheme. I want my tags to be able to have spaces in them. I want “Photoshop Actions” instead of “PhotoshopActions”. Google bookmars supports the former, but doesn’t seem to have the toolbar support.
    I’m going to checkout Magnolia. I tried bluedot a while ago, but at work it’s blocked by Websense becase of “Dating” keywords or something..

  6. todd p says:

    A quick question: does anyone know any tools to help get your social bookmarking tags under control. I have about 800 bookmarks, and the tagging is a mess. I don’t look forward to editing each bookmark’s tags in a web based tool. Any suggestions?

  7. Todd sieling says:

    Thomas, thanks for writing this up – it’s sweet that you’re enjoying Ma.gnolia, and we’re proud of the pros you mention. I see a few comments to reply to so I’ll try for an omnibus comment as I’m coming in late 🙂

    Regarding the community, you’re right that it’s still growing and forming its identity, and Ma.gnolia is changing along with that of course. We have some fantastic leading-edgers who talk to us regularly through the blog comments, the wiki, our IRC channel, email and our own discussions. They tell us what we’re doing right and wrong, they help each other with tips and even articles. The fact that we’re attracting such positive people is our best encouragement.

    The mini ma.rker bookmarklet used to be more confident and would appear out in front, but after Firefox 2 was released it became shy and started hiding in the background. We’re confused about the change, as the bookmarklet does specify for the front position, and need to figure out of this is something we can fix from our end. Does anyone know of bookmarklets that can still get into the front position on Firefox 2? If so let us know so we can address this from the right direction.

    Cygnoir: welcome! That’s a hefty number of bookmarks you’re carrying, so if we can help you settle into Ma.gnolia at all just drop us a line.

    factoryjoe & bill: +1 for QuickSilver. The Ma.gnolia support has changed the way I get to bookmarks as much as QuickSilver changed the way I use my Mac. This discussion rounds up tips on installing the bookmarks plugin and other uses of the MIrrord API: http://ma.gnolia.com/groups/madevs/discussions/33

    ToddP: +1 on the tags – we think spaces in tags work better for people, though sure they make a bit more work in the database. Cocoalicious is a desktop-side bookmarks manager that interfaces with del.icio.us and Ma.gnolia. I admit to not having looked at it for a while, but it should fit the bill. If you have trouble getting it to work, let us know and we’ll see if we can help out.

    This is a nice discussion to stumble into. Thanks again Thomas and others!

  8. todd sieling says:

    I forgot to mention re. todd p’s comment about the Firefox sidebar that we sometimes get requests for this kind of add-on, but have to defer as we’re still working on the stuff that everyone can use, regardless of browser choice. One of our members, Craig, has come up with his dream design and discusses it at .http://ma.gnolia.com/groups/rants-n-raves/discussions/111 for anyone with an interest.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To play the devil’s advocate… “The Web Site is intended for hosting digital photographs; therefore, uploading non-photographic images is prohibited.”

    From Zooomr’s Terms of Service. Does a screenshot count as a photo?

  10. Thomas Hawk says:

    Anonymous, We’d better fire the guy who wrote that at Zooomr. Just kidding. Zooomr is just Kristopher and I right now. Actually we have a slightly different opinon on that rule. But I think you can feel free to upload a screen shot if you want.

    Thanks for clarifying some of those points Todd. It’s a great site.

  11. Todd Sieling says:

    One more item to add: we took a closer look at the Firefox 2 and popup bookmarklet problem, and are now quite sure it’s a Firefox bug/aggressive feature that we can’t work around. We’ll look at developing a plugin unless something changes there soon.

  12. Nate says:

    I have the same “pop-under” problem with Magnolia on my machines (Mac and PC) with Firefox. Please share if you find a solution. Thanks!

  13. Factory Joe says:

    A couple things. I’ve figured out a way to fix the pop-under problem. I dunno if this will work, but if you can change your bookmarklet to the following location, it should work:

    javascript:(function(){w=open((‘http://ma.gnolia.com/bookmarklet/marker/add?url=’+encodeURIComponent(location.href)+’&title;=’+encodeURIComponent(document.title)),’w’,’scrollbars=0,status=0,resizable=1,location=0,toolbar=0,width=340,height=300,modal=1,dependent=1′);setTimeout(‘w.focus()’,1000)})();

    Also, Larry removed a bunch of the Javascript in the Ma.rker so now it loads *incredibly* fast. Things keep getting better!

  14. Melora says:

    Well written article.