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RockMelt (rockmelt.com)
46 points by atularora on Nov 7, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 40 comments

I'm a little disappointed. A truly social browser should introduce something social that is intrinsic to the browser itself, not just integrate with existing social sites.

A browser should be a basic tool that works equally well for everyone. This browser has Facebook and Twitter built in -- fine for the US/UK market, but what about Europe, South America, and all over Asia, where different networks hold sway? Even if you did try to build integration for all these networks, you would forever be playing catch-up, trying to write a single application with all the features provided by 50 other application development teams. I don't think it makes sense.

What if your browser became the new unit of social networking -- like a diaspora node? That would be truly new, and truly universal, at least in potential.

All that said, this still looks interesting to me -- I'm definitely part of the target demographic. I might even end up using it regularly. I was just hoping for something a little more fundamental.

Replying to myself (I know, it sends you blind) now that I have my hands on the beta:

This is Chrome. It looks almost identical apart from a VERY distracting list of of your friends' Facebook profile pics down the left hand side, and equally distracting "unread" counts from your Facebook and Twitter feeds on the right.

The oddest thing is that this browser seems to require that you log in to Facebook to start it -- at least, I didn't see a cancel button. The next time Facebook has an outage that's going to be really interesting (also, I can imagine people who work at Facebook QA will confuse the hell out of it).

The bookmarks bar is disabled by default. Instead, your bookmarks are integrated into the "about:blank" page, which is an interesting idea. However, I am a heavy user of bookmarklets (delicious/tumblr/awe.sm), which need to be in a real bookmark bar to be able to work, so I needed to enable the bookmarks bar, a setting which is a little buried.

The Twitter client is activated by hitting the "unread tweets" button on the right hand side. The client is full-featured if a little rough-edged right now -- but if I'm in a browser already, why wouldn't I just have a tab with Twitter's excellent web client open? Likewise the Facebook client. It's maybe saving me one click, but if I have my Facebook/Twitter tabs closed it's because I'm trying to get some work done, so the unread counts don't help.

There are some interesting potential features in here, though. The right-hand side allows you to add feeds for other websites, which is a potentially powerful idea. The integrated sharing tools are extremely slick -- maybe if they provided a way for websites to automatically integrate their own sharing tools I wouldn't miss the bookmarks bar so much.

I'll give it a few more hours, but my initial impressions are mixed at best.

Sounds similar to the way that Google Chrome OS makes you log into Google to begin. I really hope that mandatory federated authentication doesn't become the norm for everything.

Ugh, I should've searched for this before I wrote it up, but see here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1881875

and an excerpt, which makes my main point, that Rockmelt is in a great position to be bought– by Facebook:

"Additionally, the Chrome Web Apps store is unlikely to support Safari or Firefox, which makes the fact that almost all of these browsers (including the latest version of Flock) are based on webkit a moot point. Standards support will be the minimum requirement to use a web app, but the real value will be in the specific technologies that these different browsers adopt and the rate at which they adopt them, as well as the way apps get incorporated into a user's browser. The 2nd browser wars have begun.

Apple understands this, which is why it maintains a Windows port of Safari, has a Safari Dev Center, and is building a huge server farm in North Carolina. I fully expect to see an Apple backed cloud apps platform, running on a Safari for an end user, next year."

because it's about browser enhanced apps and the browser web app stores.

"This browser has Facebook and Twitter built in -- fine for the US/UK market, but what about Europe, South America, and all over Asia, where different networks hold sway?"

Gotta start somewhere, I imagine they'll be adding more social networks later but it's probably easier to start with the social networks that the developers actually use.

Hence my follow-up statement about the impracticality of playing catch-up with every single social network simultaneously. Just keeping on top of changes to Facebook's APIs takes up way more of my startup's time than I'd like.

So in exchange for what they say is making my life easier, faster and more social ... they get to log everything I search for, index everything I share, watch everywhere I browse, earn revenue off of my searches, and store it all in their cloud?

Yeah ... I'll pass.

My thoughts too, although they address this (and claim they never will) in the techcrunch coverage: http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/07/rockmelt-browser-sharing-re...

Tired of this concept. I already use my browser to use twitter, facebook, etc. Why does it need to natively support twitter, facebook, etc? I thought the purpose of a browser was to execute web apps, and third-party app-specific clients were supposed to execute a single webapp. The crossover seems unnecessary, and hopelessly proprietary. If at some point, facebook dies and (maybe) something else takes it place, where does that leave rockmelt?

isn't the "let's put the web inside the browser chrome instead of the main window" quite similar to what flock[1] was already trying?

The world is probably different from a few years ago, so there is probably a higher chance that this might succeed.


Don't specialised browsers like Flock and now Rockmelt get superseded by browser extensions that provide 99% of the functionality?

You may not be able to put make a tweet this link button right where you want it but you can get pretty darn close.

Indeed and with a little programming knowledge you could even make your own plugins.

Flock was a terrific idea, terribly implemented, and likely a bit ahead of its time.

In my view:

   1% Idea
  33% Team
  33% Timing
  33% Execution
You need all of them perfectly aligned, but that's how I see it.

'Isn't the "let's put the web inside the browser chrome instead of the main window" quite similar to what flock[1] was already trying?'

I reminds me of something even older than that, leading me to think that Facebook is, or will be, the new AOL.

Yes, pretty much. There were high expectations around Flock, but then execution sucked. They took months or years to slowly move to a release... It just never happened.

Also: their site is more boring than SAP. Where are the screenshots? Where are they actually trying to get me as a user?

I think this is definitely something that's worth another try (or two, or three).

Flock failed because it was ugly as hell and painful to use. RockMelt looks like it has a better shot at succeeding.

What is it at the moment with people posting websites with silly names with just the name as the title?

Hey people, HN already displays the domain name - put something useful in there please!

My thoughts exactly. It feels like they're trying to convey as little information as possible, so that people have to follow the link if they want to know what it's about.

We don't need more chrome, more social in the browser. If anything we need less chrome, and more of a sense of workplace management around the types of sites we visit. I'd rather the site dictate my social experience, and let the browser help me work, organize information, and experience my online social ontology without encumbrance.

Here's the biggest problem with Rockmelt:


It assumes I have a singular window to the virtual world, and yet its social experience model of sidebars does not scale well when applied linearly to the way I consume information using browsers.

It's an immediate fail. I usually run maybe two dozen browser windows, each with tabs. The modality of that experience will not map on to how I should consume the social aspects of my online life.

Well said Ethan. My browsing habits are very much the same. Several windows, each with related tabs. IE, one for "productivity" with gmail and work-related sites, another window for code-related stuff - usually some stackoverflow searches, et cetera. Don't want each to be cluttered by those two mini-sidebars. Perhaps replace the "blank new tab" page with some of that social stuff as an option.

I can see the usage case for this. Right now my browsing experience contains the following:

Roboform for password creation, filling, sync., etc. I find it indispensable and it's one of the few softwares I paid for.

Roboform passcards saved in Dropbox, so my Roboforms on all my machines will sync. There is now a Roboform Online, which I also use, which totally obviates this, and if I'm ever feeling motivated I'll simply move them out of Dropbox. That probably won't happen soon since there's no perceivable benefit.

Xmarks to keep bookmarks synced across different browsers on different machines. I typically use Firefox, though often Chrome, and at work IE for testing stuff.

Some annoying service to sync bookmarks to my Android browser. I tried Firefox beta but it's just not ready, so the stock browser has to do. I still have to manually export these though, yuck.

This giant hodgepodge of services keeps my browser sorta could-based, but it's still far from perfect. I still have to install all this on every machine and set it up. It's annoying to deal with, but it runs smoothly and it works.

Rockmelt could easily replace all of this if they just had an Android browser. Without that I'm still stuck with all of it even if I want to use Rockmelt, which I might if Roboform works. (Roboform online for Android is indispensable too.)

What is it that RockMelt does extremely well? I'm using the beta and I don't see anything. It requires me to change my behavior in terms of searching etc, which I hate. Lastly, Rockmelt is distracting. There is way to much 'stuff' going on. It looks like a nasa dashboard with the Facebook profile photos flashing and icons updating.

Whatever social web browsers were supposed to be has been superceded by the next generation of smartphones.

With Android, IOS, WebOS, Symbian, et al. anybody can get up to date notifications about anyone's location, feelings, and opinions aggregated from their favorite sources - no "computer" required.

Saw the video. Not impressed. All my browser plugins already do that and then some.

I think the only thing that is really missing which hampers social in the current browser is lack of push notifications. What would be ideal is if I could close Facebook but still authorize push notifications when something happens, this can be done in something like Growl but it doesn't seem like a major use case, remote push notifications.

I recently saw that push notifications had been proposed in the HTML5 spec then later removed, not sure why. Although I still think that you have to have a tab open on the site to receive them.

I see "Rock Me It" whenever I look at the name.

So... the plain browser experience is okay, but nothing out of the ordinary... I'm not feeling the "social" aspect of it all yet, except for highly sub-par Facebook & Twitter feeds on that right sidebar. And those are too crammed and cluttered to provide a good experience.

I don't want to just use this as a Chrome substitute simple because if I ignore the extra features, it feels essentially the same... I'm not going to give a company so much in terms of data on my activities & potential revenue for so little added value in exchange.

I want to "get" this. But I haven't had my ah-ha moment yet. Will keep trying a bit longer though...

my two cents on RockMelt: why would I change browser (lots of work) for an experience. Is it 10x better at sharing or keeping me informed than my previous tools? I doubt it. (eg: j.mp bookmarklet is awesome, everyone uses tweetdeck, etc)

(I am somewhat biased because I run a vaguely similar (but very different implementation) service: http://readness.com)

For a team of 28 people (see team photo on http://www.rockmelt.com/thanks.html) I was kinda expecting more than what I downloaded, especially as this is just a skin on top of Chromium.

All of the heavy lifting in terms of the browser itself has been done for them by Google.

From a cursory look, it appears they wrote all the new functionality in C++ (and ObjC for UI on the Mac). That's a lot of work. Why they didn't do the bulk of it in JS/HTML/CSS is anybody's guess.

I think that this may be a good idea but should be implemented as a browser plugin. I don't want to switch from Chrome to something based on Chrome that will not be updated as fast and often as the original.

Anyone else peeved that they said WebKit was by Apple?

Was it not? Or do you allude to its Konqueror/KHTML roots?

The fact that it is just a fork of KHTML. Also the fact that Apple hasn't been the main contributor to it for over two years.

Seems underwhelming for 2 people and 28 years. I am curious what heavy social media users think, though.

I'm begining to hate those background Apple-ish guitar songs.

Are there really 25 people working on this?

How? It's social plugins with easy APIs on top of a well written WebKit browser.

At least, I assume that's what the footer there is for: http://www.rockmelt.com/

Here's a much better picture of the team: http://www.rockmelt.com/thanks.html?dl=b9068e9a4c500efc8de47...

maybe they can get together with kiha and combine their pointless efforts.

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