Flock Browser Released

Does the world need another browser? Flock, a Palo Alto startup, thinks “social browsing” makes the difference.

A preview of the new Flock browser, built on the Mozilla project codebase, was released late Friday afternoon.

Flock adds some of the most popular tools from social networking sites: Users can tag bookmarks instead of creating hierarchies of folders devoted to different topics, and the browser is integrated with del.icio.us, a service for storing and sharing Web bookmarks, as well as Flickr, Yahoo’s photo management/sharing service. Users can install alternative services, and the company plans to continue to integrate with others.

Blog posts can be created and posted from within the browser, while a sidebar called Shelf acts as a repository for blogging content, such as photos and text; items on the Shelf can be dragged into place on the blog post.

Some developers, like magentalady, criticized Flock for not simply contributing the work to the community as extensions to Firefox.

In a FAQ, Flock said 100 percent of the current code is available under the GPL license, and that the plan is for most of the code going forward to be open-sourced.

The Flock FAQ seemed designed to reassure those in the open source community who might feel protective of Firefox, the open source browser that on Friday passed the 100-million-download milestone.

“We have no desire to fracture the Mozilla codebase, since it is the platform upon which we build,” the FAQ reads. However, the team did want to create an entirely new experience, rather than simply offer extensions to Firefox.

In his blog, Flock CEO Bart Decrem wrote, “In architecting our software, build systems and engineering processes, we have given considerable thought to how our code will be able to evolve alongside the Mozilla code, without forking it. We are trying to pay particular attention to this in areas where we are doing things slightly different from Firefox.” For example, Flock “social bookmarks” are implemented on top of the Firefox bookmarks architecture.

He pointed out that in addition to Firefox, the Seamonkey, Camino, Netscape, Epipheny, Galeon and K-Meleon browsers are built on Mozilla.

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