Apr 27 2009
It has been a great year for freeware, as we’ll see when my annual Freeloader Friday Best of 2005 comes out later this month. But this week, I thought I’d peak over the fence at some early-development freeware that is likely to make it big in 2006.
Now, the disclaimer. This week’s picks are not beta – not even alpha software. So be prepared for some unpredictability. That said, they work fine for me.
Flock Developer Release
Firefox has reignited the browser wars, and given new life to the browser. An enterprising bunch of developers are building off the stable and fast core of Firefox, creating a browser for the future. They call it a “social browser”. Others are calling it the perfect browsing companion to the latest web services.
Flock is a Firefox base, with integrated services. With Flock, you can manage your Flickr account and post directly to your blog without loading a page. In place of bookmarks, your Flock Favorites are synced to your del.icio.us favorites. And this is just the Developer’s Preview. Because it is based on Firefox (1.5 to be specific) it supports – with a little tweaking – Firefox extensions.
There are lists (here and here) of Flock-compatible extensions, and a free utility that can convert many Firefox extensions here. I think we’ll be hearing a lot about this project in the coming months.
bbPress is a classic example of Open Source itch-scratching. When the folks at WorkPress needed a new forum system, they didn’t like the existing options so they came up with their own system. You can see it in use in the WordPress support forums. Now the project has gained a life of its own, and has been released as Open Source.
Available only as nightly builds (not even a 0.1 version yet) the project is functional and as customizable and cutting edge as WordPress itself. It is light and fast, supporting user management (including banning), search and multiple forums. Even better it features a unique tag-cloud for quick navigation to topics by tag (for an example, see the WordPress support forums). bbPress is the only modern forum alternative I’ve seen. And yes, it even uses AJAX to update content.
Note: bbPress, like its cousin WordPress requires PHP and MySQL. My host: 1and1 has PHP/MySQL hosting starting at $2.99/month.
That’s it for our look into the future. I hope you liked what you saw. While release dates and features are still blurry, one thing is clear: things are changing on the web, and so is free software.