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Hands-on: Pinboard is a great Delicious alternative

So, Yahoo! went ahead and announced it doesn't like Delicious anymore. This is pretty much the dumbest move I've seen Yahoo! do in recent memory, and Delicious is going to fight for its survival outside of Yahoo!.

I really hope Delicious is going to make it, and I have every reason to believe it will. It's an incredible service, and one of the cornerstones of the Internet. Still, since I rely so heavily on Delicious, as soon as word got out about Yahoo! trying to kill it, I started looking for alternatives.

One of the most-hyped alternatives is called Pinboard, a paid service with an interesting pricing model: you pay a one-time fee determined by the current number of users * $0.001. This means the more users sign on, the more expensive it becomes. When I signed on a couple of days ago, the price was around $7. Now it's $8.65, and will probably keep rising.

Still, it's not a lot of money to pay for a safe home for all of my bookmarks, away from a big company that may make questionable decisions about a service critical to so many users.

But what did I get for my $7? I made a comprehensive gallery that you can see after the jump, and I'm going to walk you through it. Read on for the details!

Pinboard hands-on


First of all, the price. $8.65 is where it stands currently, but by the time you read this I won't be surprised if it's around the $10 mark. I love the model – the service scales itself, because as the price goes up, the number of sign-ups obviously declines until some sort of a balance is reached. Very elegant; I'm sure 37signals would approve.

The $8.65 (or $10 or however much it is) is a one-time fee, but if you want, you can pay them $25/year for a complete "archiving" service. When you pay for the archiving service, Pinboard downloads a full-text copy of your bookmarked pages so you can do a full-text search, and not just search for tags. You can even download the pages yourself later from the service. I'm not sure how useful that is, but if you're into archiving, you might like it.

Importing Bookmarks from Delicious

I'm migrating, so the first thing I did was export my Delicious bookmarks and import the file into Pinboard. It was as easy as can be; the file was uploaded in about two seconds, but it did take a couple of hours until all the bookmarks appeared in my Pinboard account. When they did appear, it was perfect: Private bookmarks stayed private, all the tags were there, and even the Hebrew tags and bookmarks were imported without a hitch. Keep in mind this is a collection extending about five years back, with nearly a gazillion links. All in all, import was a very trouble-free experience.


Now let's talk about the interface. It's all very tag-driven. What you see in the screenshot are the top tags for all users, but of course you also have your own tag cloud. You can filter you tag cloud by popularity: The screenshot shows only those tags for which I have 20 links or more. As you can see, I like things that are "amazing". Original, I know.

The look-and-feel is quite spartan. A lot of plain-text links, not much flashy graphics. This is in stark contrast to Diigo, another popular Delicious alternative, and more in keeping with the bare-bones Delicious aesthetic.

Adding Bookmarks

Adding a bookmark is rather similar to Delicious itself. As you can see, there's tag auto-completion. One interesting addition (compared to Delicious) is the ability to mark a link as "read later". Pinboard maintains a Read-it-Later (or Instapaper) style reading list, and can even auto-mark links as read once you click them from the service.

Much like Delicious, Pinboard has its own popular links list, letting you follow what's hot and interesting. Since it's still a niche service (and might always be one), the list tends to be a bit more interesting.


Another unique Pinboard idea is notes. A note is basically a bunch of plain text, as can be expected. It's pretty brilliant: You just write your note, tag it, and save it. The note gets a Pinboard URL, and is saved right along with all of your bookmarks. It can either be public or private. Really brilliant, and it begs for a simple Android UI (in fact, it may already have one – if you guys know of a compatible notes app for Android, let me know in the comments).

Click History

The History feature is a nice touch: When you click the History link on the header, you get a list of "recently clicked" links from your account, so you can see where you went and what bookmarks you clicked. I tested it with someone else who clicked a link from my profile, but I could not see the click in my History page. Apparently it's only my own personal click trail.


There are quite a few settings. You toggle tag auto-completion, add bookmarks as private by default, pair the service up with your Twitter feed, your existing Delicious account, or a bunch of other services, and more.


Despite its similarity to Delicious, there are a few new things to learn. That's where the docs come in handy. While there are no video tutorials (too bad), the text is straightforward and easy to understand. You get a variety of bookmarklets for adding the current page to your bookmark collection, there are lots of import and export options, etc.

Chrome extension

There's an unofficial Chrome extension based on Felicious (a good Delicious add-on for Chrome). It works well for adding new bookmarks with keyboard shortcuts (I just bound Ctrl-D to add a new Pinboad bookmark), but for some reason its tag search features simply don't work for me. You might have better luck. At any rate, what's important to me is saving new bookmarks, and it does work well.

Mobile site

Pinboard has a mobile-friendly version at I tested it on Android and it's as utilitarian as can be; basically a long, long list of links and tags. It loads very quickly, which is nice. It's a tad lacking in functionality still: There's no tag cloud. If they ever added this one feature, I'd say the mobile version is perfect.

Bottom line

Pinboard feels solid, fast, and trustworthy. I've only been using it for a few days, but I've been quite impressed so far. It gets the job done. If you're serious about social bookmarking, you could definitely do worse than switch to Pinboard.

Tags: apps, bookmarking, bookmarks, delicious, pinboard, social bookmarking, SocialBookmarking, web, yahoo