blueorganizer is a new Firefox extension currently in private beta from adaptiveblue which has been slowly changing my life for the past few days. I tried it out initially and quite briefly myself but it wasn’t until Alex Iskold, founder, gave me a detailed walkthrough when I was starstruck.
blueorganizer enables a high degree of content personalization, what Alex says is a stepping stone for the future of the web. It lets you manage, collect, bookmark, and keep track of things such as books, movies, music, electronics, and obviously general webpages. Its an extension with heaps to be discovered, so I only hope the walk through Alex gave me can be perceived onto others.
So basically, you start by downloading and installing the extension, which, on your browser’s restart, welcomes you with two new buttons in the address bar (beside home). . The folder is the main button which fires up blueorganizer, while the box-inside-box is used to bookmark an item, or as they say it ‘bluemark’ an item. When you open up blueorganizer (the folder button or Ctrl+Shift+O or the right-click context menu) you are greeted with three boxes at the top (Collections, Tag Filter, Find Text), some preset entries in the middle, and a bunch of icons at the bottom. They don’t mean much to you right now, but they will quitesoon.
Most of the preset entries provided with blueorganizer are widely known (Madonna, DaVinci Code) which you can start looking through in the collections visible within the drop-down box, such as books, movies, music etc. These were put in just to get you started with blueorganizer. They’ve also setup a staff-picks page with a few more that you can add instantly but believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg — blueorganizer has quite a bit more to offer.
One of the things that makes blueorganizer appeal to me is that it’s built in with near-AI parsing capabilities which does the work for you when it comes to doing simple things such as entering the title, description and tags while you’re bookmarking something. In a way this makes you lazy, but if the future lies here, why not go with it.
Here’s an example. If you head over to the Amazon page for the Rails book by the Pragmatic Programmers and find the bluemark button (box-within-box) in your toolbar, first and foremost one thing you will notice that the inside box of the button is lit up, indicating that blueorganizer’s already found, parsed and recognized data on the page. When you click on the button, you’ll be welcomed to pre-filled data that would’ve otherwise taken you minutes to enter — pretty accurate stuff as well. Better still, instead of you feeling overwhelmed and lazy to what you would’ve had to enter data in, there are only a couple of boxes that need your input from here. First, if you own the book or would like like to own it, and second, the rating if you’ve already read it.
This concept works for anything bluemark recognizes, from a movie info page on IMDB to a news article on the BBC News website to a digital camera on eBay — another thing that might be of interest is that the input fields change for the type of item (for example for an electronic item it might be the manufacturer while for a music CD it might be the artist, author for book, and so on).
The way, Alex tells me that they’re able to do this is by loading a simple XML file which tells them which data is where from the adaptiveblue server — microformats alert. This page lists their current supported sites (hint: more than a couple) but he also tells me they plan to roll out the API for the XML file for users to build upon and really extend blueorganizer. Nice.
Another thing blueorganizer gives is mashups. I have to admit, you cannot use blueorganizer without discovering some kind of an integration or mashup with another service somewhere. For instance, when you click on the wrench icon which is visible on the top-right hand corner of every item, it gives you a list of things you can do with it for that specific type of item, be it a book or a movie. This is quite an impressive feature and one that I used often.
There are many other little and useful things that would take me literally pages to cover on blueorganizer and as I said before, what I’ve covered is just the tip of the ice-berg. Alex is currently working on 2.0 and it’s safe to say that blueorganizer has gone quite far and that it’s one of my most used Firefox extensions. The only complaint, if any, that I might have with blueorganizer is that there are too many little (but extremely-well-thought out) things in there — most of them a user has to discover by experience than it actually being self-explanatory, such as the little lit-up icon. They’re great, even more than great, don’t get me wrong, but as a developer you not only should think of how a feature may come handy, but actually indeed how the user will get to know that it exists. Either way, a great job by the folks at adaptiveblue and I’ll certainly make sure the people who I believe will benefit from this plugin at least give it a try.