I would be lost on the internet without my bookmark bar in Firefox. Certainly I could use google, but it would take me a lot longer to do my usual daily rounds and tasks.
Some people use and love Firefox, and don’t even use the bookmark bar. This is a tragedy, because it’s truly a great resource. There are three key functions behind this usefulness:
- Creation of bookmark menus using folders
- Bookmarklets for your web-based applications
- Drag-and-drop link collection
I’ll go through these one by one.
1. Creation of bookmark menus using folders
Here’s a screen shot of my bookmark bar:
It actually has more categories, but it wouldn’t fit properly and still be readable on the blog. Anyway, under “Lab” I have all of my frequently used lab bookmarks, including useful pages on our internal wiki. Under personal, I have all of my stuff like email and pages on my personal wiki. Journal Articles has a bookmarklet for adding journal articles to Cite-U-Like and links to my Cite-U-Like pages (like search, authors and tags, recently added, to-read). You get the idea. That actually introduces the next point.
A lot of “Web 2.0” type bookmarklets exist for different sites these days. A common example might be “Post to del.icio.us”. When you’re looking at a page, and you want to add it to your set of del.icio.us bookmarks, you just click the link, and it brings up a screen to add the page, enter tags, and so on. By adding bookmarklets to your categorized folders, you end up with functional menus for the web. As mentioned in point 1, under Journal Articles I have a bookmarklet for Cite-U-Like. If I’m looking at a journal article on PubMed or HubMed or Nature.com or whatever, and I want to add it to my Cite-U-Like library, I click the “JournalArticles” menu and then the “Post to Cite-U-Like” item. This takes me to the Cite-U-Like post page with the details already filled in. The JournalArticles category is a great example for this post, because it contains all three points. The last is drag and drop link collection.
3. Drag and drop link collection
Have you ever been reading something on the web, and it links out to something else that you’re interested in, but you don’t want to look at it at the moment? This is really common with RSS feeds. Going along with the JournalArticles example, sometimes I just want to run through my RSS reader and read/ignore/process/discard the entries there. I have some RSS feeds from PubMed searches to bring up new papers that I might be interested in. When these papers pop up, I typically don’t want to read them or even post them to Cite-U-Like immediately. I just grab the link from my RSS aggregator, drag it up to JournalArticles, and drop it. It is automatically tacked on to the end of the pulldown list in JournalArticles. Later I can go back and process those entries, but at the moment, the disruption to my flow has been minimal.
There’s a lot more to this, but the post is already far too long. There’s just one more important thing to add.
“Wait!” you say, “That sounds like a lot of work to set up, and I use different computers. I’m never going to set that up and tweak it over and over on separate machines.”
Okay, maybe you didn’t say that. I did, at some point. Foxmarks to the rescue! Foxmarks will sync all of your bookmarks, and that includes the bar, between Firefox installations. Better yet, if you’re not on your own machine, you can still log in to their website and access your links.
I’ve been using the bookmark bar this way for years, and the addition of Foxmarks within the last year or so has made the system complete. I highly recommend it.