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Camino Bookmarks

April 25, 2007

Here’s one for Google. If you use Camino to browse, and more relevantly if you store important bookmarks in Camino, you might want to know about a nasty little bug that could pop up sooner or later.

Camino appears to have a problem with its bookmarks file format. It saves out your entire list of bookmarks as an XML file, bookmarks.plist, and there’s a bug that causes this file to become corrupt, which looks like this:

Dialog: Error Reading Bookmarks

After you hit the OK button, all your bookmarks — whether in the main menu or the bookmark bar — disappear from the browser.

All’s not lost though. Camino attempts to save the file as bookmarks-corrupted.plist, which is located in ~/Library/Application Support/Camino/ (where ~ is your user directory). This file should contain what you lost, just in a format that Camino can’t read anymore.

It appears that Camino saves out this file every time you close the browser. Whatever the cause of the bug is, the result is that it saves this file as non-well-formed XML. Your bookmark data is intact, but the XML isn’t valid, so Camino chokes on it and throws up an error.

There are two options at this point. One, you can debug the XML. Two, you can use the URLs within this file to manually reconstruct your bookmark list (though presumably you’ll be smart enough to do this in another browser or on delicious, if you go this route).

I ended up debugging the XML. Through trial and error (deleting large swaths of bookmarks at a time, loading Camino to see if I got the error or not, and a lot of restoring the corrupted file) I was able to pinpoint two or three locations where the XML was invalid. In one case, the angle brackets were reversed. Instead of seeing this:


I noticed the first right-facing bracket was reversed:


In the second case I wasn’t patient enough to track down the specific error, so I just deleted the 10 or so bookmarks that were causing the problem and reconstructed them manually.

The main take-away from this experience is that Camino users ought to back up their bookmarks on a regular basis, or store them in another browser until this bug is fixed.

April 25, 13h

The main take-away from this experience is that <del>Camino</del> users ought to back up their bookmarks on a regular basis.

Fixed for yah!

Brutal says:
April 25, 14h

I don’t understand why Camino doesn’t store its bookmarks in a html-file like the other gecko-browsers do.

This would even make it possible to sync bookmarks between Firefox and Camino.

Runa says:
April 26, 02h

A third solution for Camino users: store the bookmarks on a social bookmarking service, eventually marking them as “private”.

@Brutal: I think it’s possible to share bookmarks also between HTML and XML, you just need to re-elaborate the XML.

April 26, 10h

There is a handy little script that allows you to post to a account from Camino. You still have to manually refresh the list, but at least this way they’re stored outside the browser.

Jake L says:
April 27, 10h

@Brutal: What’s wrong with XML? Honestly, I think it makes much more sense to store bookmarks in an XML file rather than an HTML file - custom tags allow for easier parsing.

April 30, 07h

@Brutal: What other browsers need to do is get with XML. All online data is moving towards XML, and even some offline data. It would make sense for a browser to store bookmarks in an XML file.

May 01, 19h

I faced similar problems with Camino, but never bothered to look into it. But thanks for the excellent suggestions.

Kula bácsi says:
May 02, 04h

I hope in Firefox they won’t screw up the bookmark format for the sake of change. The good old HTML that just works. I have the same Netscape bookmark file since Oct. 1996, now it has 2400 bookmarks and works with the latest Firefox and the Google Browser sync.

May 15, 01h

hmm in my last post i wrote about the new release of camino and that the bug is fixed, but the post is deleted. is that spam to give a hint on the fixed problem?

mac says:
May 23, 09h

That’s a shame. I don’t know how long I have been using Camino, certainly well over a year, as my main browser and the issue that I have brought up here has been my first real problem.

May 30, 05h

Kula, that is the case now, but the next major Firefox release is [again] planning to move from their current model for bookmarks to what they’re naming “Places” which stores bookmarks, history, etc in a local sqlite DB and abandons the HTML format

June 06, 05h

I don’t use Camino myself, but I think that using XML to store bookmarks and other data is just fine –better, IMHO, than HTML, or even worse: some proprietary format!

June 07, 03h

Of course, storing bookmarks in XML is worse, because it is less convenient to view them.

bob says:
December 28, 10h

How do you edit the xml file? Doesnt seem to be plaintext.