Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Flock?!! New Web Browsing Generation?!?

Many of you who are technology or software oriented, like me, would have come across advertisements and sites promoting the all new web browser Flock since the past few weeks. Many things are being said about it and I decided to try it out for myself since it was so blatant in my RSS feeds and CNET updates.

The software comes in a neat packaging amounting to 9.05 MB. The file size is much larger than any of its concurrent's from the open source corner. Mozilla's Firefox weighs 5.72 MB and Opera's offering does a 6.25 MB. Its two competitors sure have a much respected market of their own. Opera came up first with much of the technology upon which Firefox is based. Features like tab browsing were the result of Opera's research, at least that's where I first used it five years ago.

The funny thing I noticed when I ran Flock was its similarity with another browser I am darn familiar with since it's my default browser and I use it at least 5 hours a day. I was, to tell the truth, confused for a few seconds!! Did I press the wrong button on the Quick Launch bar?!! Nope, I didn't. Flock is the exact look-alike of Firefox. Identical to such an extent, you can say they are twins. The reason behind this is simple. After searching the web for 10 minutes or so, I found out the relationship. Flock is not only the son of Firefox, but it has also been built by some people who used to work for Mozilla Foundation, more notably Bart Decrem. He and his small cadre of programmers in Palo Alto, California , have spent this summer quietly readying Flock, an open-source browser. Flock is entirely based upon Firefox, for that point, or more precisely on the beta code of Firefox 1.5, not even 2.0.

So what's so different and new about it? Why is the world bragging about it? The difference is that Flock, unlike Firefox, comes with some integrated "plug-ins" which many users use often. That's one of the reasons why Flock is branded as a "social browser," meaning that the application plays nicely with popular web services like Flickr, Technorati and Flock also features widely compliant WYSIWYG, drag-and-drop blogging tools. The browser even promises to detect and authenticate all those user accounts automatically. It's a clear attempt to be the browser of choice for the Web 2.0 user as it caters mainly for bloggers and web 2.0 savvy users.

What its not?

"Flock is not the browser that just anyone can pick up and use. Unlike Firefox, there is a slightly sharper learning curve. The way regular bookmarks are managed has changed, making it remarkably different from IE and Firefox, but seemingly closer to the way Safari handles bookmarks. Oh and I should mention, they are now called favorites not bookmarks. Apparently the bookmark has lost its cool factor now. Flock is not yet compatible with every extension and theme made for Firefox, therefore much of the functionality that Firefox users gain from extensions will be lost in Flock."

(Taken from

Once you first start it, it asks you for the famous "whether you want to set it as your default browser," to which I graciously answer no as I have to experience it to make a decision. After this you can a dialog which asks you to configure the browser with any Photo service you use; like Flikr and PhotoBucket. Then comes the configuration screens for the blogging service and favourites. Once done, you get access to the normal browsing window. On the Favourites toolbar you can see sites like MySpace, YouTube and MTv already added for your convenience. Just a quick roam about the application will reveal nothing more, but the Firefox usual interface.

You don't get much from Flock what you wouldn't have got from Firefox. Its just some add-ons and, as I understand it, for web 2.0 compliance which Firefox has too, since Flock is based on it. They brand Flock for the power users when in fact I would say it is for non-power users, as it makes surfers' life easier. Power-users can have add-ons installed into Firefox whenever they wish. Though Flock enthusiasts bring forward the point that installing add-ons makes Firefox unstable. As a hard core Firefox fan since the fall of Internet Explorer and an alternative to Opera (since Opera is not quite compatible with all web-pages but damn powerful and loaded), I have never experience any, I say ANY, problem whatsoever while running the Father of Flock for the past four years or so, that is since Firefox was first branded as FireBird.

If you are a Firefox or Opera user, Flock won't bring much to you. Maybe if you're an all-time blogger or you upload photos like its nobody's business, then Flock can save you some time, that's all you get and an easier web experience, from my point of view. I am sticking with the old Firefox and my Opera 9.10. Oh by the way, I also use Internet Explorer 7.0, since Microsoft pages look awesome on it.

Go ahead make your choice, you have a lot to choose from. Hurrah to the Open Source community to bring out such wonderful pieces of lines of codes…

Confused about which one to use? Read more about Flock's features on PaulStamatiou's blog.

Visit the official homepage of Flock.

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