The Developers Solution to Syncing Bookmarks Across Devices and Browsers

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The Developers Solution to Syncing Bookmarks Across Devices and Browsers

One of the main motivations for me becoming a developer was, surprisingly not fame or endless glory, but to build cool stuff. And often I get the most fulfilment when I build something that solves some inefficiency in the world around me. It's a great feeling automating away a mundane task, or finding an elegant solution to an irksome problem.

In fact many great applications and programs have had success solving problems people did not even know existed. 

So it was with great vigour and determination that I set about trying to solve my own suitably trivial problem that had been bugging me ever since I became a consultant.

Multi-device Madness!

Yes. Multi device madness! Let me explain...

As a developer working for a consultancy firm I normally end up having a few different laptops on the go at once. I am normally switching between a client laptop, my company laptop, my personal laptop and also my phone in a normal working day. 

Keeping an up-to-date synchronised list of bookmarks across all these different devices is impossible. The horror! It was becoming increasingly frustrating that I couldn't easily save a useful programming article or blog post mid-commute, and have the bookmark easily accessible on my other devices.

I tend to use my commute time to do extra background reading around my days most pressing issues. The best way to dynamically generate an Airflow DAG? How to tune a problematic Apache Spark Job? Complex theories on why Steve Smith is never out LBW? All these topics present compelling reading that requires further investigation upon alighting at the office. 

After toying with pinging emails, IOS notes and browser bookmarks I eventually cracked. It is often said, the first step on any long road to recovery is acknowledging that there is a problem. And I acknowledged.

Time to find a solution!

Enter Shaarli

After about 15 minutes of googling and trawling through a few developer forums I stumbled upon a free, open source piece of software called Shaarli. Shaarli is a minimalist bookmark manager and link sharing service that you can install on your own server. This ticked a lot of boxes for me. Open source (tick), minimalistic (tick) and no software to install on my locked down client laptops (big tick)!

Most of exciting of all, I found the helpful open source community had already developed an IOS app and a google chrome extension. This means bookmarks can be easily shared from all devices to my centrallised bookmarking service (tick! tick! tick!).

Sounds very promising! I decided to give it a go and install a Shaarli instance on a subdomain of my personal website www.leobrack.co.uk.

Shaarli - The personal, minimalist, super-fast, database free, bookmarking service. 

Spoiler alert! Fast forward to the result...

After about 5 minutes of setup I can happily say I was met with success. And below is what success looks like. I now have all my bookmarks and links available at www.bookmarks.leobrack.co.uk.

For those of you who want to follow in my footsteps and bask in a slice of the glory, read on for set up instructions.

The Setup

First of all, I needed somewhere to host Shaarli. As I already host my personal website with ionos, I decided to host Shaarli on the same server. To do this I created a subdomain to point at my Shaarli instance.

The steps needed to set up a subdomain will vary depending on your hosting provider. For Ionos it was very straight forward and took a couple of minutes following these instructions. I created a new directory on my hosting server called /bookmarks/shaarli to contain Shaarli. And configured my new subdomain to point to this directory.

Next, I downloaded the latest release of Shaarli, unzipped the file and uploaded it to my hosting server in the new /bookmarks/shaari directory.

Finally, I browsed to my new subdomain in Chrome and viola my Shaarli installation is up and running! In 5 minutes I created my own bookmark manager that I can access from any of my devices.

To make things even more frictionless I installed the Shaarli Google Chrome extension and Shaarli IOS app. This makes it super easy to tag new bookmarks from within my phone or laptops browsers.

Usage

Now that my Shaarli bookmarking tool is up and running it has shifted my bookmarking management from any native software on my devices. This simple fact means that all my reference material be accessed from anywhere, as long as I have an internet connection.

Why is this so useful? 

 

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