The Flock logo.
After having repeatedly running into people who were using the new public beta of Flock (released just two days ago), a browser based on Mozilla Firefox that sports heavy integration with various Web 2.0 services (including Flickr,, and blogging), I decided to give it a try.The fact that it is a Mozilla-based browser gives Flock several advantages. Like Firefox, Flock has tabs, a web search box in the upper lefthand corner (although it defaults to Yahoo!, not Google), bookmarks, and all of the other innovative features that we have come to love in Firefox. Why use Flock, you ask? Because of its special features.

If you have already installed Firefox, Flock gives you the option of importing your Firefox history, options, and bookmarks. While this helped ease the transition substantially, I was disappointed to find that differences between the way the two browsers handled bookmarks caused some of my data to be lost. I make extensive use of folders (and subfolders) in my bookmarks, but because Flock uses a tagging system, it "flattened" my bookmarks. I especially did not like the fact that the folder that is normally on my Bookmarks Toolbar in Firefox was moved - other people have the same issue. In addition, bookmark keywords, which I make substantial use of, did not work because Flock inexplicably does not support them.

The web search is also annoying. As I mentioned before, Flock uses Yahoo! as its default search engine. It is possible to change this, although right-clicking on text and selecting "Search Web for" will still use Yahoo!. Since I do not like Yahoo! (for a variety of reasons, including the facts that they have inferior search results and their index hates this website: only four people have come to this website from Yahoo! this month, as compared to almost 1,000 from Google), this behavior quickly began to aggravate me.

Now, I use Gregarius as my RSS aggregator. While it is possible that I would change my browser if something better came along, I would be more comfortable coding whatever innovative new features I found into Gregarius than leaving it for an application which I have no control over (like Bloglines or Feedlounge). Since I have no interest in changing aggregators, Flock's news-reading capabilities did not really interest me that much. The layout reminded me of Sage, the RSS aggregating Firefox extension I used to use back in the day.[1] If I did not already have a RSS aggregator, I think I would certainly find Flock useful. Its interface is much more powerful than Firefox's Live Bookmarks, which are only useful in a few situations.

I am writing this post in the built-in blog post editor. I am worried about the markup Flock is generating, so I am going to have to export this text into WordPress directly. For some reason, switching between the graphical editor and the text-based one caused all of my paragraphs to disappear. In addition, random span tags appeared in what used to be my first paragraph. Also, one HTML tag I wrote has been capitalized, but none of the others. More importantly, Flock's blog integration is missing various features from WordPress that I find extremely important - including categories, the ability to preview posts, Technorati tagging integration.

There are other features to Flock, but I am feeling anxious enough[2] that I do not plan on writing at length about them. Flickr integration is nice if you have a Flickr account; I do not. integration is nice if you have a account; I do not. While many of Flock's quirks are likely to be solved before version 1.0 is released, I do not think I will be trying Flock again. While I like integration as much as the next person, Flock simultaneously takes the concept too far and not far enough. Its effort at integrating web services into the browser is decent, but not good enough that I feel compelled to use it.

[1] This makes sense, since Sage's lead developer, Peter Andrews, now works at Flock.

[2] I suspect browser anxiety will become an increasing problem in the coming years.