One of My Least Favorite Software Bugs (Xmarks)

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I try not to be negative on this blog. But today, as I am reorganizing a few of my bookmarks in my Chrome Bookmark Bar, I am experiencing such annoying delays that all I can really do is to sit here and think out-loud (out-blog?) about how annoying it is that an old software bug in an old tool is still persisting in various forms today.

The tool is Xmarks. In theory, it is one of the most promising tools that an Internet-browsing-kind-of-guy might ever care to meet. I have used it for a few years. And I have never had a particularly good experience doing so.

Sometime last year, as Xmarks almost faded off the map of neato start-ups, I watched the news carefully, and then watched as one of my truly favorite companies (LastPass) bought Xmarks. LastPass succeeds in the places I believe Xmarks has always failed – the user experience is, nearly always, quite great.

But as much as I like the features of Xmarks – everlasting and perfectly synced bookmarks across every device or browser you might ever use – I have found that nearly every time it goes to do its thing, it basically freezes my computer (or just my browser) for a while – like a minute or more. For example, I just added a single bookmark to my Chrome Bookmark Bar, and then had to wait at least one minute before my browser became usable again. It just froze. And that’s running in a browser that, as far as I understand, runs every tab in a separate Windows process – which really should be able to help avoid freeze-ups due to buggy extensions or greedy JavaScript.

Earlier experiences with Xmarks eventually caused my thousand or so bookmarks to double during each sync, and before I realized why my sync was gradually killing my computer I had something like 30,000 bookmarks – most of which were duplicates. It took a long time to clean-up that mess, and it left me a little on-edge about Xmarks’ reliability.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve seen Chrome on Windows freeze in other scenarios too. But the freeze when using Xmarks is more consistent than any other bug that currently exists in my Software World – at least among the ones I care about.

So will I stop using Xmarks? Probably not. In fact, last year I was so enthused to see them become part of the LastPass family that I upgrade my account to a premium membership. But I do hope that someday it works as well as the rest of my software tools.


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