When War in Ukraine Influences My Application Choices

The war in Ukraine has unsuspected side effects.

When War in Ukraine Influences My Application Choices

Does the war in Ukraine impact the principles guiding my selection of applications I use in my toolset to support my workflow? Yes, absolutely. Here is a blatant example.

The author of Raindrop.io, Rustem Mussabekov, confirmed, via a comment in the comments section below, that he is no longer living in Russia, and the business behind Raindrop.io is now out of Russia, too. I wanted to make it clear with this update.

Saving bookmarks challenges

As a content creator, I often stumble on different things all the time. The need to save a bookmark for later use is constant. I recently concluded that the way I’m saving bookmarks for later use wasn’t satisfactory. It’s mainly because I’m not satisfied with the way Craft supports saving links (watch this video about my decision to move my bookmarks out of Craft). I cannot add any metadata to the bookmark1. Sure, link previews are nice in Craft, but I need some contextual data besides the actual bookmarks. As I’m writing in an upcoming article tentatively titled “Fixing my Read Later and Bookmarking Problems”, neither Craft nor Reminders should be used for this purpose. Until now, I used the excellent Apple Reminders to save links as a temporary storage area. I needed to address this problem.

Raindrop.io and Russia

In my quest to find a solution, I went back to take another look at a popular bookmarking application: Raindrop.io. Raindrop.io is probably the best bookmark manager out there. A subscription is available for less than 30 US$ yearly. I wrote and published an article about Raindrop.io in 2020: “Things to look before buying a new application.” I realized that the application and the web services received numerous improvements since I published my article. Still, after a while, I remembered the founder and developer being from Russia or at least located in Russia. I remember this because, back in 2020, I wrote an email to the developer asking him about the lack of iPad multitasking support2. His name is Rustem Mussabekov. I was intrigued. But, wait a minute…

Raindrop.io library
Raindrop.io library

Who is Rustem Mussabekov, the founder and developer of Raindrop.io? Searching the web leads to Mr. Mussabekov on GitHub, Twitter and YouTube. According to his LinkedIn page, he is from Kazakhstan but lives in St. Petersburg. On his YouTube page, M. Mussabekov created a playlist of 49 videos, the latest being “Why Russia is Invading Ukraine.” At first, I was skeptical, wondering if it was a propagandist video. But then watched the half-hour documentary that tries to give possible reasons and the historical context for why Russia is invading Ukraine. It never tries to justify the invasion, thank god. It was an excellent documentary. And yet…

As I support Ukraine in its fight against Russia's regime and support international sanctions against Putin and his criminal lieutenants, I have difficulty convincing myself to pay for a yearly subscription to Raindrop.io. According to a quick Twitter poll, I’m not alone, even though the sampling is too small to be conclusive. Paying for Raindrop.io goes against my principles and desire to support Ukraine in its fight.

Matter as a bookmark manager?

Matter Queue of articles to read
Matter Queue of articles to read

But, besides the war, some questions require answers: Do I really need Raindrop.io or a dedicated bookmarks manager to support my reading workflow? Are there alternatives, like Abyss or Goodlinks? Can an application that I already use meet my needs? Why use Raindrop.io if I already use Matter and Readwise? All of these apps and services share some commonalities. After thinking about this, the answer is to focus on using Matter for bookmarking potential reading references. Matter allows for tagging bookmarks, offers one of the best reading experiences, runs nearly everywhere, and supports text highlighting that is saved to Notion and Readwise for later references. Other than that, I’ll keep using the free version of Raindrop.io for things like bookmarking YouTube videos to watch. And for that purpose, Raindrop.io is hard to beat.

Matter queue as seen on the web
Matter queue as seen on the web

Not a Raindrop.io review, but…

I want to avoid reviewing Raindrop.io, but here are some thoughts about the application features. Raindrop.io is probably the best in its class. For saving bookmarks, the Safari extension provides the same experience as the main application, right within Safari, which is nice. Raindrop.io provides a reading experience and recently added support for text highlighting. Raindrop.io runs everywhere that I care about, including the web. But, not everything is perfect; Raindrop.io doesn’t support the macOS share menu. For example, it means that, from News Explorer, I need to copy the link first and switch to Raindrop.io to save the link. Once there, I can add metadata as required. It’s not the best workflow.

In summary, as good as Raindrop.io might be, it would go against my principles to pay for the subscription. I have shown my support for Ukraine on many occasions, and refraining from paying for Raindrop.io is another one. Moreover, I can continue to rely on applications like Matter and tweak my reading workflow instead of adding another application to my toolset, saving money along the way.

Sharing text highlight from Matter
Sharing a text highlight from Matter
  1. Could an update to Craft prevent me from going back to Raindrop.io? I highly doubt it; development priorities at Craft seem diverted to other more critical areas, directed to the notes-taking and writing experience.
  2. Multitasking support on the iPad was later added.