Kaveh Moravej

Shaarli

Shaarli has become the shiny new home for my bookmarks. After having migrated from WordPress to Nibbleblog just over a year ago, Shaarli's database-free minimalist design represents yet another move away from unnecessary bloat. It replaces Semantic Scuttle, which I had been happily using for several years now.

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Like Semantic Scuttle, Shaarli is also free and open source. It lacks some of Scuttle's more sophisticated taxonomy management, but the project is more actively developed at present with a larger user base.

The default template is also far more mobile friendly, including a nifty newspaper-like viewer called "The Daily Shaarli" which gives you a daily digest view of every published bookmark.

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As with Scuttle, the entire store of bookmarks is easily searchable based on a search term or your assigned tags. The most noticeable difference between the two is the speed in which Shaarli auto-completes existing tags as you enter them. In Scuttle there was always a very short but noticeable delay. Not so with Shaarli; its tag suggestions are near-instantaneous, proving how fast and efficient a database-free design can really be.

While Shaarli is primarily a manager for private and public bookmarks, it can also easily be used as a micro-blogging platform. Notes can be written and tagged like any other bookmark, creating a permalink back to the note.

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The migration from Scuttle to Shaarli is relatively simple, requiring a simple export of your bookmarks to an HTML file, and then running the Semantic Scuttle to Shaarli script over it. Once finished, the file should be ready for import via Shaarli's web interface.

Shaarli calls itself a Delicious clone, referring to the proprietary social bookmark manager which was launched back in 2003. Reading the "about" page of Delicious tells you all you need to know about the reliability of these closed-source services:

"Originally founded in 2003 as a social bookmarking service, Delicious was acquired from Yahoo! and rebuilt by AVOS. Helmed by YouTube founders Chad Hurley & Steve Chen, the site was relaunched in 2011 with a new focus on curation and discovery. It was next acquired by Science in 2014, and then by DomainerSuite in 2015."

And in 2016 it was acquired by BingBongoTech, who two months later sold it to WeSellYourData Corp. who then moaned about ad-blockers making the site unprofitable, forcing them to shut everything down.

Okay, so that last part has yet to happen, but you get the idea -- never trust these services with your data.

Putting aside its tumultuous existence, Delicious was once a place to discover interesting reading and like-minded users. At the same time you could follow what your friends were reading. The simple idea of tag management helped users to discover relevant articles of interest and to organise their own store of interesting articles.

Today, much of that article sharing behaviour goes on within major social networks like Twitter and Facebook, but none of these come close to replicating the value of a dedicated social bookmark manager -- a place to organise and share all of your interesting reading.

More importantly, free and open source platforms like Shaarli put you in full control of your own data, without any ugly advertisements or tracking. It was the reason why I chose Semantic Scuttle, and why I would still consider returning to it if the project makes any future progress. For the time being Shaarli is my self-hosted bookmark manager of choice and one that I would highly recommend to all.