Flock Available For Test Drive

    October 24, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The hotly anticipated Flock browser, developed by some of the same folks that had they’re hands in Mozilla’s Firefox, is now available in beta release for the eagle-eyed scrutiny of the nit-pickiest code monkeys.

The Flock Developer Preview provides developers a chance to check out the browser as well as the source code and critique their skills. “So if a bucket of source code and developer binaries sound enticing,” reads the front page of Flock.com, then you are encouraged to apply within.

The browser is dubbed a social, two-way browser by its creators as it implements Flickr, del.icio.us, a blogging tool, and Flock Radio. Unlike Firefox, where extensions are downloaded piecemeal, Flock comes with built-in extensions like ForecastFox, a weather service, and IE View, which allows an Internet Explorer view of webpages.

Also, the search box provides a view of your history and favorites as you type in search queries, in case you’re trying to find a site you’ve visited previously.

Reviews on the product have been mixed. While many think the social browser to be very cool, others have given it lackluster reports. Many critics, while admitting to the usefulness of some applications, wonder if Flock gives them enough reason to switch from browsers they’re already using.

“Maybe I will get used to Flock later (UI is pretty nice), but for now I find scratching my head, wondering if this will ever be my permanent browser. I am sure like me there are others who are equally resistant to switching from a great set of desktop applications we use like Ecto, Net News Wire, and Cocalicious,” says Om Malik in his review.

Some criticize Flock developers for “forking” Mozilla’s open source code base, a claim, but lead developer Bart Decrem says this is not the case.

“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,” said Decrem on his blog.

“We are trying to pay particular attention to this in areas where we are doing things slightly different from Firefox. For example, in the area of bookmarks, we implemented on top of the Firefox bookmarks architecture, while integrating social bookmarks.”