Mozilla, start your Photocopiers

What I really enjoy is that Firefox’s approach to new Places system is getting almost 100% similar to Flock’s Favorites solution. Yesterday, I saw “Collections”. It’s pretty good, that Firefox UI team decided to use the best modern solution that was invented by us.

What I don’t enjoy that much is that I had hard time to find any note that would confirm that Firefox uses Flock as a base for their solution. Flock is very young, we don’t look for big user base now, but what we do look for is a group of volunteers and community that could help us create a great and fresh browser. A signal from Mozilla could point potential interested people that Flock is the good place to start your story with a browser creation, especially that it’s way easier to influence our UI with good ideas than Firefox’s one. The difference is because Firefox must keep its userbase, so it’s less flexible and can’t do crazy things with UI, while we can.

The only confirmation about the thesis, that Firefox UI team is not inventing exactly the same solutions on their own I got during the Firefox Summit, after the talk about Places, I had a short chat with some guy who’s working on Places and he confirmed that they’re basing on Flock. It’s great! We invented a natural next step for managing bookmarks, and what Firefox does only confirms that we’re going in the right direction. More, it seems that IE 7 will have sth similar too! I don’t know about Opera nor Safari, but I expect them to do the same in the near future.

We are open sourced, and we are happy to see people confirming that we’re doing a nice job by implementing our solutions, but I personally would like to see some kind of “thank you” for that. For Firefox folks it means almost nothing, while for us, a small group trying to create something new, such advertisement would help a lot. So Ben, if you have some time to write a bit about how you found Flock and Favorites and why you decided to use it for Firefox, please, do so, I think that’s the way Open Source should go!

By the way, I’m just after the lecture of our internal proposal list for Flock 0.7. And I can ensure you all, that Firefox 3.0 will have the full source of ideas :)) Stay tuned, and if you want to help us, step in to, send us a feedback, subscribe to flock-dev maillist, join our IRC channels and share your ideas, we’re probably the best place in the world now where your crazy idea can be forged into the browser feature 🙂

14 replies on “Mozilla, start your Photocopiers”

Because I’m very interested in the new bookmarks tags en history systems I just tried your Flock again. I don’t get why you want credit from the Firefox developers. It said it imported all settings from Firefox but I don’t understand your bookmarks system. You use a different name for everything. Stars, Favorites, Collections, Flock Faves.
In short, your program is too difficult to understand and it seems to try to force me to use the internet in a way where blogs, tags and social bookmarks are the ONLY way. I am sure that you will be able to learn from Firefox how to implement new features that don’t get in the way.

Ferdinand: Firefox 2.0 alpha also uses Star and Collections. The only difference is that what Fx calls Bookmarks, we call Favorites. Is this one word makes it impossible for you to work with Flock system while Firefox 2.0 approach is more friendly to you? I don’t get it…

Don’t forget that you got the “Entity, start your photocopiers” line from Apple.

Also don’t forget that the detailed plans and basic ui for places has been publically published for about a year…way before you guys releaesd Flock.

kurt: Flock has been in development since Summer 2005, and first draft of Firefox’s Places appeared in late August.
I was working on Firefox 1.0 and 1.5 so I’d probably know if any Fx 2.0 UI plans would be published earlier – if you have any prove of your words, I’d like to see them.

Our approach of Favorites Manager was released with Flock 0.4.10 in October, and Firefox one is being forged now and is getting new things that already were in that Flock version. I could hardly believe that it’s an accident.
clyde: I didn’t use the title by accident, really…

I played with Flock now and then and I think you did a great job innovating. There’s still some work to be done for your solution to mature and to allow it serve a broader audience as opposed to a certain niche.

However, I must disagree with your assumption that Places are “based” on Flock. There may be some inspiration and indeed there seems to be if you were actually told so but “based” is too big word.

First of all, works on using tags in organizing browser History and Bookmarks have existed for years. As you probably know, it was also obvious for some time that History, with the ill-conceived Mork, was a weak point of Fx and that it need reworking. Some of the similarities shared by Flock and Places were just natural ways to go and the timing is indeed a coincidence.

I base my knowledge mainly on participating in the discussion on the newsgroups where most of the brain-storming is done. The concept of Places was evolving over the time. In fact, it went through a big upheaval as tags were originally supposed to replace folders completely and it took a while to decide that these two are actually orthogonal. I can’t see how anything could be simply ripped as every single bit was (and is) carefully thought through. Even if the final shape of Places will be much alike Flock, it will be so because the same conclusions were reached after a careful evaluation.

Let’s see and compare:
1) Combining History and Bookmarks is one of those natural steps I mentioned.
2) Where did you hear about Collections in Fx? To my knowledge, only classic folders and Smart Folders (saved queries) are planned as means of organizing the bookmarks.
3) One click-bookmarking aka starring. I guess you’re right it was inspired by Flock and the credit must be given. But again, it’s only inspiration, not a copy, and the process of tagging and bookmarking will be quite different.
4) Main Places view will be shown in a separate window, not a tab.
5) The main focus of Places is searching, including advanced queries using regexp. I didn’t find it in Flock. This is the killer-feature of the new solution. You will be able to have Smart Folders with dynamic content eg. “bookmarks visited more that ten times during last week or tagged as >>sport

(Pfff, is there some kind of lenght limit? My comment was cut off.)


I say: inspired – very likely, based on – doubtful.

Keep on innovating!


BTW, this preview you have in the comments is just evil. Pasting this post resulted in a few minutes of 100% CPU usage – on A64 3800+. I had to turn off JavaScript to do it

What you said is fair enough, a thank you wouldn’t have gone amiss. But I remember late last year, Flock featured on the 6 O’clock news here in the UK and Chris was spoke to etc. and not once did anyone mention that Flock was built on Firefox. So I suppose it is a two way thing. Granted though, the Firefox stuff is present on the Flock site but you get my drift.

Oh, that’s what you mean.

AFAIK it’s just a name. It’s a checkbox or sth to search only in the currently viewed set of places. This view can be many things: a folder, a Smart Folder, maybe even results from previous query or history items. That’s why they’ve all been (nomen omen) collectively described as Collections. 🙂 As you can see, as of now the only place this word is ever used is in “[search] Current Collection Only”.

It’s not a system that works as in Flock. You’re jumping to conclusions, IMHO.

Ancestor: I’m not sure how far Collections will be used, but:
a) In Firefox there exists term Collection
b) It refers to sth very similar as in Flock (a group of urls)

I don’t know it it’ll be reused more, it can be removed, renamed or the use of term “Collections” will be extended. We’ll see…

Your post may come across a bit whiny.

With the number of people alive, you or I or anyone are unlikely to have a unique idea. Invention and intellectual property are illusions.

i do not think there is one unique idea in Flock. How the ideas are put to together is what interests me. We are just at the beginning of making something interesting.

To beat the greed empires will take a lot of collaberation. It may be in Mozilla’s near term business interests to publicly, silently ignore Flock. Like you, I am still hopeful.

Lloyd: I don’t want Flock to be prised as a unique idea author, but as the first implementation that Firefox is using as an example.

And I disagree that they could win anything by silently ignore Flock.

[…] Érdemes megjegyezni, hogy a firefox tervezett “places” nevű intĂ©zmĂ©nye gyakorlatilag a koppintással határos, finoman szĂłlva influenced by flock. (A places-t, a firefox 2 bookmark manager-Ă©t már tartalmazĂł 1.5-ös buildeket le lehet tölteni Ă©s ki lehet prĂłbálni már egy ideje). Zbigniew kissĂ© zokon is veszi, hogy a firefox team nem igazán jelölte meg az ötletei forrását. EgyĂ©bkĂ©nt az elsĹ‘ ránĂ©zĂ©ses összehasonlĂ­tás is elĂ©ggĂ© sokatmondĂł – Ă©n ugyan most nem megyek vissza windowsba, hogy csináljak egy screenshotot a places-rĹ‘l – de a Neil’s World-ön vagy egy screenshot. Ă–ssze lehet hasonlĂ­tani ezzel itt a baloldalon. […]

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