We'll Have a Blue Christmas Without del.icio.us
What Color is Your Data's Parachute?
Multi-master synchronization of an application's data across multiple computers is hard -- really hard. More and more, services spring up to keep all your data in just one place, accessible from all your computers. As more and more of your personal belongings become always-on parts of the Internet, all able to access more and more of your on-the-Internet data, it's like you're constantly surrounded by a cloud of all your information, always available but never weighing you down. The problem is that when your data is only supported by clouds, the clouds might dissipate at any time, leaving all your precious data in free fall.
If you're going to rely on cloud-backed systems, it's always a good idea to make sure that you've got a regularly updated backup copy safely on the ground, even if it's only on one system and inconvenient to use. After all, "inconvenient" will still be pretty good compared to "totally lost."
As a lot of people probably know by now, Yahoo! recently laid off quite a lot of staff, including (reportedly) the entire http://del.icio.us/ team. Other widely-reported leaks said that Delicious would be shut down for good. If you long ago replaced all your other bookmarks with Delicious, and Delicious went away, you would suddenly be without your bookmarks.
I started using Delicious back in 2004, when it was still pretty new, and was immediately gripped with fear that it would go away, leaving me bookmarkless. Eventually, too, I knew I'd want to migrate to my personal blog and bookmark manager, Rubric. To do that, I'd need my bookmarks in some kind of intermediate form.
Fortunately, Delicious even then provided a good API for getting at your data, and Aaron Straup Cope wrote a nice Perl interface to it. It was pretty easy for me to write a stripped down version and a simple "dump my bookmarks" program.
First, create a .delicious file in your home directory with your Delicious credentials in it:
Then, run delbackup with one of two switches:
-y dumps your bookmarks as YAML so you can import them into any other API you want, later.
-ns dumps them into a HTML document, organized by tags. It's a Netscape bookmark file, so you can import it into nearly any web browser, but you'll end up with lots of weird duplicates because Delicious uses tags and the Netscape bookmarks format uses (virtual) folders.