b. 1.4.3 review

by rbytes.net on


License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 81K
Developer: Victor Liu
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b. is a Web-based manager for Web bookmarks. Bookmarks are stored in an XML file. Operations on the data are done with Perl scripts.

Here are some key features of "b":
Collaborative bookmarks

A new and powerful feature is the ability to share bookmarks. These shared bookmarks may be publicly viewed by all, while a certain set of users have the ability to add or change them. These users can also add comments to the shared bookmarks, as in a bulletin-board. The display of the shared bookmarks is highly configurable: one can show extra information associated with a bookmark, such as its popularity, when it was last visited, when it was added, etc. With these new features, b. becomes a collaborative space for sharing discoveries of the Web.

Old-style b. functionality is not lost however: one can still maintain a set of private bookmarks just as before. What's new is the option to exchange bookmarks between the private and shared sets.

Accessible from any Web browser

The main advantage for storing your bookmarks on the Web is to have them accessible from any Web browser. b. produces XHTML 1.0 code, doesn't use any Javascript, and is best viewed with a CSS1-compliant browser such as Netscape 6+/Mozilla, Internet Explorer 5+, and Opera 5+.

Bookmark data stored in XML format

XML has quickly become an acknowledged standard for the management of data transmitted over the Internet. Its foundation as a markup language like HTML gives it a wide base of users, and its precept of separating data from its display provides XML versatility for the many possible uses of the data.

I'm using a DTD for collaborative bookmarks called XBEL-collab. It's a slight modification of the XBEL DTD for bookmarks >>, to allow for features like comments and hit counts. The original XBEL DTD was created by python.org.


In a themes/ subdirectory, one can determine the look of b. with CSS stylesheets, custom graphics, and HTML templates. There are more customization options with this new release.


b. supports multi-user environments. Using basic Web server user authentication (i.e. by password-protecting the b./ directory), only certain users can have access to b.. Each user has his/her own bookmarks and optionally can have his/her own theme, welcome message, etc.

Must close browser to log off

This is a limitation of basic HTTP user authentication: once you have access to a directory, you always have access until your browser session has ended.

Modify bookmarks from one machine at a time

Problems can result if one attempts to modify bookmarks from two different machines at the same time. (Viewing and accessing the data from more than one machine is fine.) Although a backup of the XML file is written every time it is modified, something more secure could be implemented.

Must be able to run Perl scripts on your Web server. For multi-user environments, must be able to password-protect the b./ directory.

What's New in This Release:
Thanks to Ronald Tin for his patch yielding the following improvements: more CGI fields HTML-encoded to interface better with scriplets; general HTML-encoding improvements; added 2-digit time format. Additional changes include: new configuration parameter 'link_target' allows one to target links to another window or frame (suggested by Robert Schmid); removed option of exporting shared bookmarks if not necessary (suggested by Martin Olsson).

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