Live Bookmarks

Firefox 0.10 is out, the first release to feature live bookmarks. Live bookmarks are essentially bookmarked RSS feeds, usually used to monitor news sites and weblogs without having to bother to visit them.

This entry isn't about how cool live bookmarks are - it's about making your own. Live bookmarks can be used as a list of actual bookmarks, which you (yes, you) can share with your friends, enemies and other humans. You can effectively say to your friends “here, you run this folder”.

As live bookmarks are just RSS (or Atom) feeds, anyone who knows how to make them will be laughing (proverbially); the following instructions are aimed at everyone else, and assume you are totally clueless. There are various formats available, but the easiest for our purpose is RSS 2.0.

Firstly, open up your favourite plain-text editor; Notepad is more than adequate. Don't use a word processor or anything that can visually style text - they add extra, error-causing information to the file.

Secondly, copy the following and paste it into your text editor:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="us-ascii"?>
<rss version="2.0">

<title>Grey's live bookmarks</title> <description>Some links</description> <link></link> <language>en</language>

<item> <link></link> <title>Firefox</title> </item>

<item> <link></link> <title>Thunderbird</title> </item>

</channel> </rss>

Everything down to <channel> can be safely disregarded - it just identifies the file as an RSS 2.0 channel (you don't even need to know what this means).

The next block gives general information about the feed; the bits you should alter are shown thusly: change me. The tags - <title>, </title> and friends - should be fairly self-descriptive.

The feed's title and description can be anything - they're intended for human consumption, so they might as well be descriptive.

The link for the feed should be to a web page, such as your homepage; note that it's not a link to the feed itself. If you don't have a homepage, you can just point it anywhere - Firefox doesn't yet use this information (but it's required by the RSS specification).

The language should be en - English. If you like, you can be more specific, for example en-GB is British English, en-US is American English, en-CA is Canadian English and en-AU is Australian English.

The next two blocks are bookmarks; each consists of a link to the page and a title to be displayed. You can have as many of these blocks as you want - just copy and paste the ones there.

Note that links must be full URLs - web addresses should include http:// at the start. Throughout the file, ampersands (&) must be written as &amp; for reasons you don't care about. (This includes in long URLs you copy and paste in!) Also, steer clear of < and >. Otherwise, Firefox will fail to load the live bookmark.

The last block of text finishes the file - leave it as is.

Save the file; its name should end with .xml, for example livebookmarks.xml.

You can now upload it to a web host - any web host will do, even (shudder) GeoCities; I recommend FreeWebs for small web-hosting jobs. Note the file's web address - probably something like

To add the live bookmark to Firefox, open the Bookmark Manager (Bookmarks > Manage Bookmarks) and choose File > New Live Bookmark. Give the feed's location and choose a name to display, et voilà!

Of course, you can edit the file as often as you want to change your live bookmarks; your friends will see the changes pretty much straight away.

Start swapping bookmarks with your friends - it's good craic.