Watermark.io: The Best Archive Search Tool for Twitter and App.net

I’ve tried archival services for Twitter in the past, and they can be terribly handy when you need to find a link you shared in the past or some old conversation you had months back. Journalists, especially, are likely to end up finding the services very useful. But now that I’ve been using App.net a lot more, I’ve started searching for apps that would help me search through my ADN account.

I ended up stumbling upon a web service called Watermark.io, provided by Riverfold Software (the same developer behind the fantastic Tweet Library archive service). Watermark.io supports not only my ADN archive, but also my Twitter archive, which makes it great no matter which social network you prefer — and especially great if you use both services a lot.

Getting Started

Signing up with Watermark.io requires a Twitter account and a credit card. The service is $4 a month, and you can cancel at any time without penalty. The payment screen has no frills, and it took me all of two minutes to get through. That being said, there is no way to try the service. Really, three days or so is all a lot of people are likely to need to decide whether or not a service like this is for them.

Welcome to Watermark.io.

Welcome to Watermark.io.

I’m not suggesting that a service like this isn’t worth $4, but I know most people are going to scoff at paying for a service they’re unfamiliar with. And there’s no way to know if you need a service like this until you have it for a few days. My review could be the closest thing you get to a positive affirmation that, indeed, the service is worth paying for (which it certainly is). But my review can’t tell you if Watermark is something you need. Because of that, I do wish that Watermark had a very brief trial period.

Rushing Water

Enough about the money though: What does $4 a month get you? Simply put, $4 gets you the ability to search through everything in your Twitter and App.net history with one query. It doesn’t just search through all of your posts, but also everything everybody else you’re following has said. And it does it lightning fast, despite the fact that it’s looking through thousands (or maybe hundreds of thousands) of posts on multiple services. You can literally find any post you’ve ever seen in your stream or written on either network.

If you have a protected Twitter account, Watermark won’t work, due to it being a security risk for your private tweets.

Search is fast.

Search is fast.

I don’t use the term “lightning fast” losely: Watermark is the fastest search I’ve ever seen for Twitter or ADN, including the native searches for both services. It’s like Watermark is running on an SSD and everybody else is using spinning hard disks. It’s instantaneous by comparison.

Searching by calendar day is a piece of cake.

Searching by calendar day is a piece of cake.

Part of the reason for that instantaneous search, at least with Twitter, is because my Twitter archive is sitting on Watermark’s servers. The service allows you the option of uploading your Twitter archive’s .zip file. I had some issues getting it uploaded; the progress bar never filled despite the fact that it was done uploading. So I spent about an hour waiting for the file to upload, but it likely took significantly less time. That being said, having it available is handy and it does play a role in making Watermark fast.

Insta-Filter

If you’re going to be searching for a specific query with any rate of frequency, it can be saved as a filter. You can also filter posts by calendar date, favourites or whether or not they contain any images. The filters are simple, but so is the service. Cluttering it up too much would likely make it too difficult to navigate. Tweet Library offers a lot more features if you’re feature-hungry, but it does come with a slightly bigger learning curve.

Creating a collection is as easy as hitting Copy and naming the collection.

Creating a collection is as easy as hitting Copy and naming the collection.

That being said, there are a couple minor advanced features in Watermark that are similar to what you might be familiar with from Tweet Library. The big one is Collections, which allows you copy tweets (but not ADN posts) into what’s basically a glorified folder. You can publish any collection, which will include it on tweetlibrary.com, or you can link them with a direct URL. I can think of a million reasons to use this feature, but I can think of two million reasons journalists would use this feature. (Seriously, if you’re a journalist, stop reading this and join Watermark.io already.)

Finally, there is a free iPhone app available for Watermark as well. It’s about as sophisticated as the web service and it feels similarly speedy. I’d consider it a perk to the subscription, but not the main reason to subscribe.

The service also comes with Tweet Marker and ADN’s Stream Marker built in, so nobody matter where you are, your position will be saved as you jump back and forth between apps. That being said, as handy a feature this is, it implies that Watermark is something it’s not. There is one big thing that Watermark is not good at.

Watermark Is Not a Twitter/ADN App

Or at least, it’s not in the traditional sense. I would never expect people to make Watermark the primary way they browse through their social services. In fact, I think it misses a lot of the core features that a full-service client would offer. As a minor example, you can retweet any of the tweets in Watermark, but you can’t quote them. Similarly, you can repost ADN posts, but you can’t repost them with a comment.

I love how Watermark blends some search results from both networks.

I love how Watermark blends some search results from both networks.

Watermark also doesn’t include access to private messages, user searches, trends or anything else that makes either service truly unique. Undoubtedly, Riverfold Software knows what Watermark is best at: Searching. There’s zero reason to use this as your main client for either service, and I’m sure Riverfold would agree that it’s not the best idea. It’s just too bad there aren’t a couple other basic features (like quoting or mentions) built into the web service to make it slightly more functional on that level.

Find Your Mark

I don’t think Watermark is a perfect service, but I do think that it excells at its selling points. I can see further development possibilities, but I’m not sure if I expect much further development. Watermark is shipping with all its promised features already, and Riverfold likely doesn’t have a lot of reason to add more.

That being said, you might still be wondering if this is for you. If something like this is essential to your workflow, I’d argue you’ll likely know. If it’s not, $4 a month might be too steep a price to pay for something you’ll rarely use. With that in mind, Watermark gets my wholehearted recommendation as being the best at what it does — but your mileage may vary.


Summary

Watermark is the best product out there if you're looking for a great way to dig into your favourite social networks' archives, but there's still room for growth in its social capabilities.

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