Saturday, April 22, 2006

Furl Gives Backflip Real Competition

I've previously posted about Backflip, an online service that enables you to bookmark Web pages, search them, and share them selectively. Backflip is great for research, as it allows you to categorize saved pages in folders or subfolders, add comments, and share them publicly, with only a select group of individuals (by email), or keep them private.

However, a new service called Furl has added some features that Backflip has always, annoyingly, been missing. Unfortunately, Furl isn't quite everything that Backflip is plus more, so the ultimate answer as to which service is better remains "it depends." But Furl does have several key advantages.

Commenting: Both Backflip and Furl allow you to add comments for a saved page, but Furl also lets you rate each page from 1-5 and add keywords (very helpful for searching) as well as prose comments.

Searching: Again, both Backflip and Furl allow you to search your saved pages, but Furl provides greater flexibility for search filtering, such as searching only pages saved within a specific folder.

Multi-browser support: Backflip works only with Internet Explorer. Furl works better and has more functionality with IE, but will work sufficiently well with Firefox. (I wasn't able to add Furl to the toolbar in Firefox after several attempts, but pages can be Furled by right-clicking on them.)

Backflip still has the advantage in a couple of other areas.

Folder nesting: Furl lets you create only one flat level of folders. Backflip allows folders within folders, for finer categorization.

Group research: One of the most powerful features of Backflip has always been its group functionality. When you set up a group within Backflip, any member of the group can add pages to a folder, and all members are notified automatically be email whenever a new page is added by another member. Furl doesn't appear to offer anything like this.

Overall, Furl wins based on commenting and search functionality, and its the only choice for Firefox users. For group research work, however, Backflip remains a better choice.


Terms: Web research tools, Backflip, Furl, Web page archiving, online bookmarking tools

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