Linktastic home base

About Linktastic

Linktastic is a CGI script by me (William V. Baxter) that grew out of my frustration with the "bookmark" and "favorites" facilities built into Netscape and Internet Explorer. First off, these guys can't agree on a single bookmark format. I use both browsers at different times and it is a royal pain to keep bookmarks synchronized between the two. Netscape's bookmarks.html is nice in that at least I can read it from any browser, but I still can't edit it with any browser but Netscape.

Regardless, even if those guys could get their acts together to cooperate (maybe in between jabs over Java and IE bundling) there is still a problem in that both IE and Netscape store bookmarks in a local file (or files). This setup makes it difficult to access the bookmarks from unpriviledged remote machines. Especially if we're talking about PC's that aren't running web servers.

"Linktastic" is my solution to this dilemma. It is a browser-neutral CGI script for managing dynamic lists of hierarchical URLs.

Using Linktastic

To use Linktastic you just need to point your browser to the Linktastic script's URL. The linktastic on my web site is home of the only instance on the web right now. You will first be presented with a list of free-for-all links belonging to "anon" (short for anonymous). Anyone can edit the anonymous links -- just hit the edit button and then when it asks, type anon for the user name and leave the password field blank.

You can look at the list of users who have link pages by clicking on the "Other People's Links" link at the bottom of any user's link page. Or you can go directly to the list of users by appending '?userlist=1' to the end of the base linktastic URL.

QuickEdit and QuickAdd

The easiest way to build up your links is to use QuickEdit and QuickAdd. These let you add a link to your linktastic page without having to manually type in the web site information. It works pretty much like the "Add To Favorites" menu option in Internet Explorer or "Add Bookmark" in Netscape, but instead of adding the link to a browser-specific "bookmark" or "favorites" file, the link gets added to your browser-neutral Linktastic page.


When you use QuickEdit, your Linktastic page will be opened in edit mode automatically and the name and web address for the page you were just looking at will be entered into the blanks. Choose a category to add the link to and then hit the "Add it there!" button. Voila! The link is now saved on your Linktastic page.


When you use QuickAdd, a link to the page you are currently looking at will be automatically added to your Linktastic links in the "zzzQuickAdd" category. This is handy if you don't want to bother picking a category like you have to do with QuickEdit. You can always move the links in the "zzzQuickAdd" to more appropriate categories later using Linktastic edit mode. The category is called "zzzQuickAdd" not because QuickAdd makes you sleepy but because Linktastic sorts links alphabetically, starting it with "zzz" makes sure it appears close to the bottom of your Linktastic page. That way it is always easy to find amongst all your other links.

QuickEdit and QuickAdd installation/setup

Using QuickAdd and QuickEdit requires just a little setup. Here's how to do it: Now whenever you are looking at a web site that you'd like to save a link to on your Linktastic page, just select the QuickAdd or QuickEdit entry in your browser's "bookmarks" or "favorites" and that site will be added as described above.

Linktastic Edit Mode

To edit and arrange your existing links, or to add new links by typing in the web addresses directly, you need to go into edit mode by hitting the "Edit Mode" button on your main Linktastic page. Once you are in edit mode, you can add, delete, and modify links as follows:
(CAVEAT LINKTOR: there is NO UNDO!!! You have been warned.)

ADD [+]
Adding a link is pretty simple. First type in the title and web address in the apropriate blanks (copy and paste are your friends). Then either specify the category under which to add it and press "Add it there" or click directly on one of the [+] buttons.
Deletion is even simpler: just click on the [X] image next to the link you wish to delete. If you delete a category then that whole category and all of its contents will be erased.
Modification is a two step process:
  1. Click the [M] button next to the link you wish to modify or move. The info for that link will then appear in the apropriate edit fields.
  2. Edit the title and/or web address as desired. And then specify where to move the link by
    1. editing the category and clicking on "Modify It", or
    2. just clicking directly on a [+] button next to a link.
Not as intuitive or flexible as the Windows Explorer, perhaps, but it gets the job done. The biggest item on the user interface wish list is undo. I'm working on it.

Basically, once you get into the Linktastic groove, whenever you sit down at a new browser all you will have to do is put the url for your Linktastic page in the browser's bookmarks, and then use Linktastic for all other bookmarks. Your linktastic URL will be the base URL to the script plus '?user=yourname'. You could also make your linktastic page your home page.


If you type a word or two into the Quick Jump blank and hit enter, Linktastic will search your links to find the the first one that matches all the keywords you typed. If it finds a match it automatically takes you to that page. If there is not a match it won't do anything.

The Quick Jump blank only appears in view mode. When you are not editing your Linktastic links, you are in view mode, which is the normal mode. The blank appears next to the "Edit Mode" button.

This may seem like a silly feature when you've just got a few links, but as your page grows you'll find yourself trying to find the some link about "canoli" or something that you know you added sometime, but you just don't see. In those cases, just type in the word "canoli" and Linktastic will whisk you there.

Linktastic Implementation Details

Linktastic was written using object-oriented Perl 5 with the module. It currently is on a Solaris machine running the ever-popular Apache web server in the Computer Science Department of the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. The peculiar thing about UNC is that it user home directories are all AFS rather than NFS. AFS, with its directory-level permissions and tokens, was definitely not designed for the CGI environment. You can't do setuid with AFS.

Obtaining the Source

If you're interested, send me mail.

Obtaining a Linktastic account

Again, if you're interested, to have an automated process for this at some point, but grad classes are calling.

Release Notes

Let's call this Release 0.1.
# Known Bugs, Limitations, and Issues:
# * Security.  Primarily, the data file must be world readable 
#   and writable. I haven't been able to figure out a way to run
#   the script setuid under UNC's wwwx server.
# * Input checking/cleaning.  Probably not enough checking is done on input.
# * MSIE bug.  Sometimes have to hit 'Edit' again after authenticating.
# * It would be nice to be able to add new users on the fly.
# * Can't reauthenticate to become another user.  How can I force
#   Apache to ask for authentication again?  Also, how can I
#   selectively disable Apache security checks when you try to edit 
#   anonymous links?
# * Frames would be nice.  View your link list in a frame on the left.
#   Or show the link edit form at the bottom.
# * Allowing different sorting orders would be cool.  Sort by date added,
#   sort by click-through count, sort by user's desires, and of course
#   Sort by title.
# * Collapsing subcategories like a real treeview widget would be cool.
# * Bug with modifying (moving) a link to be a sublink of one it's
#   children.  It just deletes the thing and its children.
# * Need to expose pref facilities so that users can edit the prefs
#   for their links (bgcolor, link color, etc).

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