Frequently Asked Questions
- What is UMarks?
- Is it a piece of software?
- What do you mean by a ‘standard’?
- So can I use it right away?
- So what is the point?
- Why does it have a crazy name?
- So it costs money?
- How do I use it?
- Is it a commercial thing?
- What about companies and other commercial entities who offer bookmark backups?
- I sense a disturbance in the Force, something to do with privacy…
- So how does UMarks avoid privacy issues?
- Who would devote time to such a thankless task?
It’s a universal bookmark system, designed to capture a user’s entire bookmark collection in a simple way that can be read by different applications and moved around by the user if they wish.
No, it’s a standard. Meaning it is an attempt to create a universally agreed way for storing bookmark information that everyone can use. People who design software could then use the standard to let their application read the file.
There are many different ways that applications store bookmark information – the exact same bookmark information each time. When there are many people doing the same thing in different ways it is usually ripe for standardization. Therefore, UMarks is an attempt to establish an agreed way of storing and dealing with boomarks.
No. As noted above, it is a standard; an attempt to establish a simple, universal way of dealing with bookmarks. In time you may be able to make use of it if browser developers decide to adopt it. Although when this happens you won’t necessarily be aware of it as it was designed to be invisible and pain-free for the end user.
If every application tackles this problem in its own way it means your bookmarks are tied to the application. Agreeing a universal standard is the first step towards freeing up your bookmark file for use by other things e.g. email software, or an RSS reader. Equally, because it is designed to be portable, there’s no reason you can’t sync it with anything else that uses bookmarks, like a browser on your mobile.
Because domain names are hard to come by. The good ones are long gone, a great many of them purchased by cybersquatters – an unusual group of people who have only the dimmest grasp of the potential of capitalism, and haven’t realised that its real potential lies not in the medieval-style bartering system they seem to favour, but in the commercial exploitation of clever ideas. Like UMarks, for instance.
No, it really is just a standard, and therefore just an idea. It’s freely available for use by anyone and it represents an attempt to establish a simple way of dealing with a common problem. I was just having a dig at the people who buy domain names purely to make money.
You can’t, unless you’re an application developer. If you’re not, and you like it, why not email whoever develops your own browser and ask them to consider it? You can probably find out who to email at the Be a Pest! page.
No. It’s an open, standards-based project designed to standardize the way bookmarks are handled. An attempt to help people treat bookmarks as personal data, and not be held to ransom by application developers.
Well, that’s up to the individual. The problem being solved here is the format itself for storing bookmarks, not its implementation. The intention is to treat a user’s bookmark collection as data owned by them. If they want to use a fee-paying service to back them up they can do so. But everyone benefits from an open system, and it means users would be free to choose from many different syncing and backing up methods, including something free like backing up to a USB drive, for instance.
Also, none of them are doing anything game-changing. They’re exploiting the fact that bookmarks are organized in an obscure way by browsers, and hoping to benefit from that. An open system obviously changes things. Put it this way, I wouldn’t expect a photo browsing app to store my images internally in some weird format, then have companies charge me to read the format. I expect the app to leave the images alone and just read the data when I want it. I am then free to back up and sync the images myself. Bookmarks should be no different.
There is indeed an issue of privacy: bookmarks can be very personal, and therefore they should be encrypted if stored offsite (that is, encrypted on the computer prior to being sent offsite).
Some bookmark apps are attached to companies who reuse bookmark data to construct search engines: you get a handy way of backing up your bookmarks, that can also be reused on different computers; they get access to your bookmarked links, which they use to create a database based on bookmarkability i.e. a crude measure of popularity.
Needless to say this is somewhat exploitative, and one of the motivations for the development of UMarks was to create a system wholly owned by an individual user who then couldn’t be held to ransom by companies offering backup services that reused data we feel should be private.
Well, it is a truism to say that the more closed the system the less control you have. The reciprocal is also true, the more open it is the more you can control and exploit it. An open system, then, has the benefit of being owned by the individual user. This means you can treat your own data anyway you like, including paranoid levels of encryption and protection.
In sum, privacy is best decided by the owner of the data. A closed system removes the control needed for that ownership, and an open system gives you options. These options may include using a commercial entity to handle your bookmarks, but you would have the ability to send them a pre-encrypted file that they can’t read.
The moral of the story is: the data belongs to you, and UMarks was designed with that caveat in mind.
Why, I’m glad you asked. A chap by the name of gdoc.