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A Link Aggregator to Kill my Bookmarks Folder

Posted on September 26th, 2015

What is a Link Aggregator?

A link aggregator is an application that collects and stores links to websites. Both Reddit and the bookmarking feature of your browser are excellent examples of this.

Link aggregator screenshot

Have you ever found interesting articles online while you’re out and about? Well I have, and I’m willing to bet that reading those beefier articles on a mobile device is difficult. You feel a need to save those links for later, but what are the chanced you’ll actually remember remember to? Reading list apps tend to be a bit clunky, and bookmark syncing with a browser like Chrome simply doesn’t work in the way I – personally – want it to.

The easiest solution? Build my own solution of course!

How does it work?

I have a super secret domain that when prefixed to the link I want to remember, takes the link as a query, makes sure it’s real, then adds it to a database of saved URLs. Each entry contains the desired URL, the date it was added, an automatically generated title and details about who added it and who can see it.

It then sends the user to the link aggregator’s landing page, which displays a list of links added by that user, as well as any entries that have been flagged as “public”; along with the username that added said public entrry.

Things I should really find the bother to do!

The biggest issue with usability thus far is the use of thumbnails for linking to images. The thumbnails are hotlinked to the source and scaled down, which is notably slow with large images. Saving the image locally and resizing it would absolutely produce faster load times on the landing page.

Regardless of the fact that everything needed for each link to have changable settings is in place (such as a public toggle, or a name seperated from the url) the application itself has no means to change any values in the database. All the link aggregator can presently do is create them and delete them. All changes to the entries has to be done manually through a database management application. The ability to change the title of the entry, ticking a box to make it publicly visible, or even correcting a url that wasn’t parsed properly are pretty basic functions that I should have added a while back.

Then maybe one day…

To add to the usability of the application on a laptop or desktop, I’d like to create browser extensions that act like, or integrate with, a browsers bookmarking functionality. This coupled with an automated tagging system would ideally allow someone to easily find whatever bookmarks they want, without having to dedicate time to organisation.

In turn, the tagging system would allow for suggested websites based on other users bookmarks that contain similar tags. Other possibilities include browsing posted subject/tag groups or supporting user-created groups to allow a team to share certain bookmarks with one another.

A filter system would also be nice, to stop anything explicit or damaging being added to the public list, but considering how few people will ever use this, it’s certainly not important.