Symbaloo – More than a Start Page

Image representing Symbaloo as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Back in the dark old days of surfing the web we were pretty much tied to one computer or browser because that was where our “homepage/start page”, links and all our bookmarks were located.  The development of Web2.0 technologies has allowed us to have our start page and bookmarks stored in the Cloud.

This in turn has freed us from being tied to a single browser/computer and we are now able to easily switch between browsers/computer when we want or have to.  There are now several Cloud based start pages or bookmarking tools, but I have started to use one much more than the others.

The one that I have really come to like and use is Symbaloo.com. This web application has become my web start page for all the browsers and computers that I use.  In my START PAGES – THAT I USE DECEMBER 2010 post I discussed how I was starting to use Symbaloo after “discovering” it at ACTEM10 and this is to update those thoughts.

Like many of us, I am very visually oriented and like a graphical interface (icons) better than I do a text based interface (like iGoogle – another very good start page).

Below are screenshots of what Symbaloo looks like in all of my current browsers.

Symbaloo in Firefox
Symbaloo in Safari
Symbaloo in Chrome
Symbaloo in Opera

What is the first thing that you notice?

Symbaloo looks the same no matter which browser I happen to be using.  Plus when I make changes in one, it is done for all my browsers. This makes finding the website that I want to go to; quick, easy and consistent across the browsers.

Personalization

The ability of Symbaloo to have multiple “webmixes” makes it so that If you have a specific project or interest, you can create a webmix for that. This feature gives you the flexibility to personalize Symbaloo as much as you need to.  I also really like that you can put the Symbaloo’s icons in any order that you want and are not limited to certain order of viewing the information.  If a site is not in their database you can create your own icon (including using our own images) for sites that they do not list, as long as you have the URL).

Sharing

Another feature is that you can share your webmix or use ones that have been shared publicly. This makes Symbaloo webmixes easier to use and you don’t always have to “re-invent the wheel”, which is nice and can be a big time saver. Many teachers share a certain webmix with their classes and there are many situations where sharing a webmix would be a great advantage when working with a team on a project or with other family members.

Bookmarking

Symbaloo can be used a bookmarking tool, but I haven’t gone that far “yet”.  To me It is still a good idea to diversify your data into more than just one application, so I will continue to keep my bookmarks primarily in Google Bookmarks, Evernote and Diigo. However, if Symbaloo continues to improve its services and comes out of beta, I may have to change a couple of things.

RSS Feeds

Something that I learned in the course of researching this blog post is that Symbaloo now has the ability to use RSS feeds. This is one of those features that was missing back in December. When I discovered this feature, I added some RSS Feeds that were interesting to me and were shared in the Symbaloo library.

The Reality is that

Symbaloo has come a long way in the 6 months that I have been using it.  The developers have made several significant improvements to what you can do with it, such as the bookmarking and RSS features. Many of us find icon based navigation easier than text based navigation, simply clicking on an icon to go to a site is much more convenient, than trying to find the text-based link.

Concluding Thoughts

I use Symbaloo everyday both in the classroom and personally.  Several of my students have created Symbloo start pages and I believe that many of you would find a icon based interface easier to use than a text based start page.  Symbaloo has come to be just a part of my daily online routine and that I rely on to get me to my websites quickly and easily from any computer or browser.

“Are you doing the right thing for the right reason.”

FTC Disclaimer: No one has paid or provided any considerations for me while writing this post, it is simply my thoughts on a web application that I use.