Zholink App On Hiatus

It’s with a heavy heart that I write this post.  The Zholink App did not have many installs and did not get much use.  It was due to poor user interaction design and most people didn’t see it as being very useful.

I’m working on the next Zholink App, but this time it won’t be in the app store.  This time, it will be installable from the Zholink.com web site as a Portable Web Application or PWA.

How will the next version be different?

  • Installable directly from website (very easy) without app store.
  • No login required to save links.
  • May not be able to save pages for offline viewing.
  • RSS News / Feed / Podcast reader, saving links directly from feed.
  • May not be able to save links directly from other app’s share menu.
  • Save links from other apps by sharing to email and sending to Zholink (login required).
  • Greater filtering on tags from general to specific.


Holiday Travel Doesn’t Have to be Hell

Looking forward to the holidays? How about the traveling? No? It’s the long lines, red eye flights, long plane rides … endless waiting. What’s worse is when there’s no cellular bars, no WiFi, or you have to purchase WiFi time. If you’re just looking for something to pass the time till you get to your next destination, then Zholink can help.

Zholink is the newest read-it-later app that allows you to save your links and pages that you want to read when you aren’t connected to the internet. This is great for catching up on reading articles that you’ve been putting off for a better time. What better time to read than when you’re waiting in long lines or on a long flight?

How can you use the Zholink app to make the most of it?

You need to register first using your social media authorization. You can then start saving links which will appear in lists under the My Saved Links column. However, to save pages for offline reading, you’ll need a subscription. It’s only $12.99 a year, and you have a 7 day free trial. Click the Downloaded Reading List button and you’ll see the purchase button. After you’re subscribed, you can go to your list of links (Read or Unread) and click the download button for each link. You can download as many pages as you want.

Zholink saves the HTML and styling of the page, but it can’t save the dynamic scripting and images, yet. This can be a problem with paywalled news sites, but those sites usually have their own apps. The Zholink app does have a temporary browser cache, but that might not last. So if you want to view the page including the images, then before you travel, click the link item in Zholink while you still have WiFi.  The web page will be displayed in the built in browser. Doing this can store the images in temporary browser cache so you can view those images when you’re offline.

Even though Zholink has this limitation, it’s still better than other apps. Other read-it-later apps either can’t save the page for offline reading, or they make it difficult to read the page the way it was intended to be read in the original style.

Even if you don’t purchase a subscription, Zholink is still a useful app that you didn’t know you needed before. You don’t need to save a bunch of links in your social media list of links. You don’t need to send links to your email so you can remind yourself to read later. Zholink makes it easy for you to organize your links and not clutter up your other apps.


Tutorial Videos

How to save a link by sharing the page to Zholink:

Tour useful link lists. See how Zholink is also like a newsreader.

How to login and register your device:

Share a link with Zholink and save it for offline reading:

Download a page for offline reading directly from your Unread list:

Best Offline Reader

Zholink is excited to bring you offline reading.  What is offline reading and why do you want it?  There are times where you are waiting in line or you are traveling and have some time to spend, but you don’t have a good wireless connection.  Did you bring a book to the long line you’ll be waiting in?  Was there an article on the internet that you’ve been waiting to read and now would be the perfect time, but you just don’t have WiFi?
Zholink started out as a great storage app for saving links so you can easily find them later, but it’s functionality was extended to also save entire web pages for offline reading.  This makes a great combination because you can build your reading list of interesting articles so you don’t have to read them right away.  You can get back to doing whatever you were doing before you found this article.  When you come across an article or web page that’s going to take longer to read, save it offline reading (download) by clicking the download button.  You can find all of the downloaded articles in “Downloaded Reading List” under My Saved Links.


Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
subway line of people without WiFi

Getting Started

Why should I use Zholink?
You can use Zholink to save links that you don’t want to lose or get lost in all the other articles that show up in your social feed (Facebook/Twitter/Google+) or RSS feed. You don’t want to save everything in your browser bookmarks because that would just become too cluttered. Even then, your bookmarks are limited to that browser on that device or computer.
In the public lists, you can find new articles in the topics that you are interested in.

Why should I save my links?
Some articles or videos we love and want to come back to, but they eventually become difficult to find even with Google. You might remember a funny cartoon you read a few months ago and now you want to show your friend after talking about a related topic. Did you ‘like’ something a month ago and can’t find it anymore? It’s like everything become ephemeral like SnapChat messages. Instead of the articles being deleted, they just get lost in a ton of other links.
Some articles relate to a topic that you’re very interested in, such as artificial intelligence, a specific medical research topic, your favorite sports team, or the industry in which you work. You can find the articles on specific sites, but wouldn’t it be nice if all of your interests were in one place and only the articles that you read or liked appeared in a searchable list?
Sometimes you have a few moments when you’re not doing anything so you decide to check your social news feed and you find an interesting article. You might be standing in line and then it comes your turn, you have to abandon what you were reading and hope that you don’t lose what you were reading next time you open the app.
Some of us are news junkies, but we don’t have time to read all of the articles that we’re interested in. We might have time later, but where are those articles again? With Zholink, we can save these links into our Unread list.
Some of us just like to collect what we like, and keep it so it doesn’t become a big mess.

Why should I use Zholink rather than other apps?
Zholink was developed specifically for saving and organizing links to make them easier to find. Similar apps serve different purposes, such as a nicely designed magazine app or cached web pages for offline reading. Please continue to use those apps, and use Zholink in addition for when you want greater organization and search-ability.

What can I use Zholink for?
Use it to save bookmarks for frequently visited pages that you would like to go to regardless of which computer, device, or browser you are using.
Save links from any app that provides a link (URL) that can be viewed as a web page, such as SoundCloud or YouTube.

Add your reaction (like, sad, angry, amazed) for articles that deserve those reactions.

Add your comments to articles, whether it’s a private note to yourself, or a public note to share what you think.

Tag articles to organize them, and find them by tag. There are a number of options to view tags which are lists of links. View the most popular tags, most recent tags, your most popular tags, and your most recent tags. While viewing those lists, enter a search within a tag list to filter it even further.

You can also view reactions in similar lists just like tags, so you can see what people think about articles and you can track articles that you feel strongly about.
The great thing about having these links organized in these different ways is that you can find links sorted by date or popularity.

How do I register and login with my app?
On Android, if you are not logged in, you will see a login button where the My Links list should be. Click the login button.
On iOS (iPhone), when you click the My Links button, you will see a login button. This takes you to a screen in which you can manually enter a confirmation code or go to the Zholink website. In most cases, it’s better to click the button to go to Zholink.com and register.

A browser will open up a page which will show you a list of icons which correspond to the trademarks of social networking services. Click the icon for the service you want to login with. You can review the website only for more details, but the steps may be slightly different. After you are logged in and have edited your profile, you may see a page or link to register your device. A confirmation code is needed by the Zholink app to match your device with your Zholink profile. When you see the confirmation code, use your browser’s share button to share the page with Zholink. By the way, this is a similar process in which you will send links to Zholink to save those links, but this page is special. When you share the page containing the confirmation code with Zholink, the Zholink app will read the confirmation code and register your device. After you register, you will see the My Links menu of links in the Zholink app, and you won’t have to register again.

Read how to Share a link.

How do I register and login on the website?
In the top right hand corner of the main page, click on the Login button, and several icons will pop up which correspond to the trademarks of social networking services. Click the icon for the service you want to login with.

– If you are not logged in, you will see a login form. Notice in the address bar that it is at the site of the social networking service, not at Zholink. That means your login information is secure on the social networking site. After logging in, it may ask you to allow Zholink to receive basic profile information.

– If you are already logged into the service, it may ask you to approve Zholink to receive basic profile information.

This is called OAuth authentication and it will allow Zholink to receive basic profile information that will automatically enter into your Zholink profile information. If your email is provided, it will NOT be used for marketing purposes and it will NOT be shared.

After approving access, you will be redirected back to Zholink to edit your Zholink profile. You can change your profile name and image if you would like. Zholink doesn’t require a real person’s name. Abuse of this freedom may result in suspension or being banned. Don’t be vulgar, nasty, hateful, or use it to troll anyone on this site.

After you are logged in, you will have access to My Links. These are lists of links of which you have read/unread, liked, bookmarked, tagged, or reacted to.

How to Share an interesting link with Zholink to save it?
Each app (such as a mobile browser) and device may have different methods for sharing (display sharing icon). Even different browsers and browser versions have different menus that you would use to share.

If you see the Share icon share_icon click it, and then look for the Zholink icon zholink_icon .

Otherwise, if you are using an Android device, click the button that will bring up a menu for that app. Some apps may have a 3-dot menu button ⁝ , click it and then select the Share menu item. Some browsers may have a button next to the address bar (such as “More”), which will open up the menu.

If you are using an iOS device (iPhone), the method to share is the Share Drop. Click the share-drop icon ios_share_drop_icon and it will show a list of app icons to share with. If you don’t see the Zholink icon, then click the More button and enable Zholink, and then click Zholink in the share-drop menu.

Refer to the Support site for more Getting Started articles.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

What’s the difference between Like and Bookmark?
Like is a generic rating for a link that you like. You can also rate links with Reactions if you want to be more specific. Bookmark is for links to pages that contain a list of useful links, such as a news site or a collection of related videos. You can bookmark those pages that you’re interested in and new articles or content are constantly being added.

Why not just use a browser bookmark?
Your browser bookmarks aren’t very portable from one device or computer to another, not even to other browsers. Also, do you really want to clutter your browser bookmarks with possibly hundreds of bookmarks? Yes, you can save hundreds of bookmarks on Zholink and find them.

Why should I login with a social networking site? I’m concerned about my privacy.
OAuth is actually better for security since you don’t need another login password to keep track of and make sure it’s secure. Zholink uses OAuth authentication https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OAuth to allow easy access into Zholink and to help verify that you are a real person. When you use OAuth, you’ll see what permissions Zholink is requesting, and you can accept or not. Very basic information is kept, not much, and it’s not used for anything except to verify you are you and fill in your Zholink profile which you can change. Yes, you can change your profile. Zholink doesn’t require your real name like Facebook does. You have more anonymity! But wait, won’t that be an invitation for trolls? See the question related to trolls.

Since Zholink allows more anonymity, won’t trolls take advantage, post bad articles, and post terrible comments?
Zholink is strictly against trolling. This isn’t YouTube or Twitter. Trolls get warned, suspended, or banned! If something offensive is posted, use the Reaction to mark it as Trolling or Adult material. People are allowed to post vulgar or adult material, but it must be marked with a reaction (adult) so that people who don’t want to see adult or vulgar material won’t see it in their lists.

I reacted to a link to flag it, but now I see it in my list of links. How do I make this disappear?
A new setting to block tags and reaction types from your view will be added soon.

I can’t login to this site anymore. What happened?
Make sure you have JavaScript enabled in your browser.
Did you troll anyone? If so, you might have been suspended or banned. Zholink doesn’t tolerate trolls.
Otherwise, if you think it might be a technical issue, please report this issue.

Can I share videos or photos to Zholink?
You can share links to web pages, but not actual photos, videos, or links to specific photos or videos (links with extensions such as JPG, PNG, GIF, MOV, MPG, etc). If the photo/video is embedded in a web page, you can share the link for the web page. You can also share the links in popular photo and video sites, such as Flickr and YouTube.
Why doesn’t Zholink allow the direct sharing of photos or videos?
Zholink is all about saving links with context. There are plenty of other great photo and video sites. Zholink provides greater context and organization of links with the help of web pages that contain a title, summary, and keywords. Photos and videos often lack contextual information needed to help sort them.

I want to find links sorted by the all-time top liked totals or average. Why don’t you have that list?
That top links list did exist, but it became too stale and it wasn’t worth the extra processing that the aggregation server required. The top links just stayed at the top and nothing new replaced it, so it became worthless after a while.

What happens if the web page that my link points to doesn’t exist anymore?
“All good things …” Sometimes that happens. Web sites reorganize and web pages die, or entire web sites go offline. That’s the ever changing internet. It would be nice if Zholink could save all of it, but it would take so much space and get very expensive to archive. At best, Zholink could possibly save the text version of the web page, but not the media. Hopefully the Internet Archive will have an archived version or Google will still have a cached version of it.

I shared a link but in the edit field it says “no title provided”. What should I do with this?
Some web pages just don’t make it easy to get the title and summary. In fact, some web sites, such as LinkedIn, prevent services like Zholink from reading their content. When Zholink can’t read the web page, it gives you this message and allows you to edit those fields. Please fill in those fields with a matching title and summary. No one wants to see a bunch of “no title provided” links.

Why aren’t images being displayed in the media selector list?
Either Zholink couldn’t parse images from the web page, or the web site intentionally prevents viewing those images when it’s not viewed from their site. If you’re a web developer, you might also notice a bunch of browser console warnings such as “mixed content” or 401 errors. Mixed content means that Zholink is loaded over HTTPS and the link is loaded by HTTP, which causes that warning. The 401 errors occur because the site blocked images from being loaded by Zholink.

Check the Support site for updated FAQ

Pre-Release Android App Testing

The Zholink Android App is now ready for public testing!  Go to https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vintillect.app.zholink or search for Zholink in the Google Play store.  It has been tested already, but testing on more devices is needed. So before the official public release, testers will be able to install Zholink before anyone else.
The great part about being an early tester is that your feedback has more weight.  Your feedback may guide the course for future development and design.  Is it missing a feature or does it feel incomplete without something?  Hate the design?  If you do, design suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  “If it just had ___, I could use it for ___.”  Like it?  Please add a review in the Play Store!  Although reviews are read, sending emails to beta@zh(fill in the rest).com will help keep track of requests and bugs.

Beta Testing for Android

An invited group of friends will be able to download and test the Zholink app for Android smart phones and tablets. They’ll be able to provide feedback and suggestions that could shape the future development of the Zholink app. The beta testing could help reveal blind spots missed in development, design, and initial testing.

Critiques are very welcomed.  Without critical feedback, important improvements can’t be made.  Rather than general statements, try to be specific to improve understanding and help reduce guesswork.

UI design feedback is especially welcome since the focus of development has been on functionality over design.

In case you have an iPhone, rest assured that Zholink will be available for beta testing soon, probably within a month.  The design on the iOS app was hurried and it didn’t help that iOS has more restrictions on the user interface than Android.  The hope was that both Zholink Android and iOS apps could be released together, but there were too many delays with the iOS app development.