Diigo revisited

I wrote about Diigo, the social annotation and bookmarking service, a while ago. Back then I was already quite taken with the service, and today I’m even more so. Why’s that? Well, they’ve rolled out a huge number of new features, some of which I never even thought about before, but which, when you’re able to use them, you don’t ever want to miss again.

I take it you’re already familiar with the basic premise of the service, which is to provide the ability to not only bookmark, but also add highlights and sticky notes to selected parts of text. Which comes in very handy when you want to remember why you found something interesting or worthwhile. Now, here’s one of the new features: You can extract highlights from a site you’ve bookmarked. I for example just used Diigo to select all the classes I was going to enroll in this semester in school. The university provides one large website with all the available classes, and simply bookmarking it wouldn’t have done any good. So I highlighted the classes with Diigo and then extracted them. Extracted highlights are displayed as a list and are immediately printable. And if you’ve got one, two, three or any number of highlights from different sources, you can extract them onto the very same page as simply as ticking a box. With this, Diigo has made copy and past a thing of the past (or, to comply with current buzz-word regulations, copy and past is so web 1.0).

Another improvement is their new bookmarklet. Up until now, you were well advised to use the Diigo toolbar, which is really packed with functionality. Now you can also use their bookmarklet (if, for example, you’re not allowed to install the toolbar), which is actually a superbookmarklet, or as the Diigo people have dubbed it, a “Diigolet”. The silly name aside, this thing really is quite a step above your usual bookmarklet. Tagging and highlighting work just as they do when using the toolbar, and sticky notes pop up even better looking than when using the toolbar. Quite frankly, I’d have never thought I’d be impressed by a bookmarklet, but alas, here I am, thoroughly impressed.

Speaking of better looking, there are some inconsistencies in the design of the Diigo website. It is intuitive enough, don’t get me wrong, but there are a few things here and there which need to be polished. Which is just natural, considering the sheer number of new features they keep rolling out. Quite obviously they are more concerned with the stuff that’s under the hood than with a shiny exterior. Interestingly enough, there are companies out there which quite sucessfully do it the other way around, for example Ma.gnolia. Ma.gnolia has a very nice, very well devised layout, but they don’t provide half as much functionality as Diigo does. Which is okay, considering that their approach to social bookmarking is quite different from Diigo’s.

Finally, there are a few things the new version of Diigo provides I haven’t been able to test yet, but which promise to be quite exciting. For example the blogging feature. With a separate “blog this” button in the toolbar (implemented also in their automatic menu popping up when selecting text on a page), it’s possible to add selected text to a blog entry. Which sounds nice in theory, but right now it only supports WordPress.com and Blogger blogs, and I guess they’ll need to add a few more platforms and blogging scripts in order to make this thing useful.

One last thing which I’m quite happy about: in my last posting on Diigo I mentioned the “add to delicious” feature. Well, you can now add bookmarks not only to delicious, but also to many other popular bookmarking services. In earlier versions of the toolbar, this feature wasn’t exactly well implemented, but they’ve really worked on it and it works very painlessly now.

Diigo is still in invitation-only beta, but I guess that’s the very reason why they’re able to improve the service at such a rapid pace.