Internet Tutorials | John Faughnan | Robert Elson

Bookmark Management and
Automated Browsing

Introduction and Products

Netscape and Internet Explorer both provide facilities for "bookmarking" web sites. Bookmarks record a web page's name and URL (address) to allow easy return to the same site. Bookmarks may be organized in outline form, within folders. In practice, this is a good way to handle up to 200 to 300 bookmarks.

In addition to the standard way of handling bookmarks, there have been several vendors providing more advanced bookmarking. Many products have come and gone within the past year. Although these more advanced tools are appealing, it might be frustrating to have several hundred bookmarks stored in an application that stops being supported and updated.

Other vendors have produced products that can automatically transfer a web site to one's local disk, or that can check web sites for changes and then transfer them. Some of these features are being built into newer versions of web browsers.

Product features generally fall into these categories:

  1. Bookmark management: These products store bookmarks, but permit more powerful "views" of the bookmarks than standard browsers. Some resemble the bibliographic packages used to manage journal articles. (I use a flat file database for this purpose: Claris FileMaker Pro).
  2. Site Monitoring: This software checks a list of web sites for changes. When they change the software notifies the user.
  3. Automated Retrieval: Software can go out and check web pages on a regular basis. When something changes the pages are automatically transferred to your machine. Page retrieval can be scheduled for 3am. This is potentially a good way to get one's digital morning paper.
  4. Web Page Information Management: Web pages are downloaded locally and indexed for quick retrieval of information.
  5. Web Site "Whacking": This software retrieves a web page and many links, potentially retrieving an entire site including all graphics. It's a great tool for demonstrations. Web Whacker does this on both Mac and Windows. I've also used Teleport Pro.

CNet reviewed offline browsers and notifiers. They liked Smart Bookmarks 2.0 from First Floor Software. Their full review can be read at:

Personal Approach

I've found that bookmark management requires more than one approach. I use Netscape's built-in bookmarks (also called a Hot List) for URLs I use very frequently. I also use the Netscape bookmarks for URLs that I will use for a short time then discard. Some URLs, such as, I just memorize. Several hundred are stored in my personal database (Smart Bookmarks would be similar), along with descriptions, rankings, keywords, etc. My personal approach can be summarized like this:

bookmark trait hot list database head
transient *    
unsure *    
very frequent * *  
important, lasting   *  
big companies
* * *

Last Revised: 01 Feb 2002. Author: John G. Faughnan M.D. and Robert Elson M.D. Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this and related pages are strictly those of the page authors. Anyone may link to or print out any of these pages.