Mostly when you’re not expecting it, serendipity kicks in. Just as I was searching for a Chrome extension for Pinboard after reading about some unexpected use of this bookmarking service revived my interest in it, I hear of a new Pinboard client for Mac OS X.
Content is chrome
Shiori shows a user interface that has yet to be seen in any other Mac app so far (it might remind you some customized Alfred themes, though). It’s simple, clean, elegant, and, dare I say in these times of forthcoming iOS 7, flat. Actually, it looks a lot like it was designed for the upcoming Ive-flavoured revision of your favorite mobile OS, except it is a Mac-only app. The main window features no buttons, no toolbar — in fact, it is absolutely chromeless. Even the window itself has no border, much like what iA Writer windows look like once you’ve started typing in.
At first launch, you’re directly shown the Accounts tab in the Preferences so you can add your Pinboard and Delicious credentials. From then on, when you activate Shiori, it shows your last x (configurable from 1 to 10, set to 7 by default) added bookmarks. You can scroll down to reach a maximum of 50 of your latest bookmarks, each displayed on nicely formatted, large Helvetica Neue, 3-line blocks along with tags displayed in white-on-green boxes.
The magic kicks in when you notice the first empty line includes a giant blinking cursor. Start typing a few letters: there, the list displays bookmarks matching your query in real time. A quick look at the Acknowledgements window of Shiori indicates that the app is using components from the awesome Quicksilver launcher for this to work — most likely its matching algorithm, which would explain it’s such a cinch to browse through your bookmarks.
Accessing a bookmark in the list is as easy as clicking on any of the results or using Up/Down arrows then the Enter key, which will activate your default Internet browser and display the related web page.
Tiny but strong
The option set offered in the Preferences window of this little piece of software is as minimal as the UI. In retrospect, though, it turns out that you will only find super useful things there.
Hence, you can define system-wide keyboard shortcuts for what are called “Start Searching” and “New Bookmark”. The former will activate Shiori main window and focus the blinking cursor so you just have to start typing to filter your bookmarks list, while the latter will grab whatever URL is in the active tab of your web browser and fill it for you, along with the title of the page, in a popup window. All that’s left to you is then to fill in optional tags (all with autocomplete; and by the way the ‘tags’ text field is already focused so you’re ready to type) and click Done or just press Cmd-Enter. Notice that clicking the plus button on the right of the tags text field will make a Lion/iOS-style popup appear, populated with tag suggestions.
Another neat addition is that the developer took into account that Pinboard is advertised as “social bookmarking for introverts”. Indeed, for one, all my Pinboard bookmarks are set to be private by default. In the third tab of Shiori, you can specify so-called “Private URLs” for which the “Private” checkmark in the “New Bookmark” window will be checked by default. You can use wildcards in URLs, which makes it easy to broaden the scope of private links.
I’d love to wake up and see such beautifully executed ideas like this everyday. If I’d be nitpicking I’d say the only two things missing are an option to hide the menu bar icon and the possibility to choose your accent color (which would make the minimalistic UI a bit more customizable).
Apart from that, Shiori is almost perfect to my eyes. And most of all, its design approach is unique. I’ll go as far as to say that, much as Loren Brichter’s Tweetie defined a whole new UI design trend in Mac apps (remember the side bar of Reeder, Sparrow and the likes?), Shiori might announce things to come on the OS X side, were Apple to decide that the version following Mavericks will follow the same ‘flatification’ iOS got this year. Time will tell.
It would be wrong to say that Shiori has no competitors on the market. However, it is really different from the menu bar apps like Thumbtack or Delibar and definitely has a futuristic look that makes it stand apart from Delish, which really looks like a native OS X app. Also of note is that, if you just need to add Pinboard bookmarks and would rather browse your full list from the website itself, maybe the recently released Diddums is all you need.
As a conclusion, Shiori is just innovative, easy-to-use, lightweight, fast and well thought enough you would really miss something by not using this little tool as a Pinboard/Delicious user, especially given it’s free. It’s a must-try app.
Disclaimer: I don’t have a Del.icio.us account, so I assume that Shiori behaves exactly the same way with Pinboard and Delicious — though I haven’t tested the latter.