Bookmark import mess and weirdness
Hi, a couple months ago I decided to pare down my bookmarks rather radically, but I wanted to save the original bookmark set in case I decided to revert to the larger list. I exported the old set as an HTML file (well, I thought I had, I'll get to that) and I also saved a copy of the file named "bookmarks" located in C:\Users[username]\AppData\Local\Vivaldi\User Data\Default. I'm not sure what its format is -- JSON? I'll call it JSON since I need to distinguish it from HTML. And for clarity I'll refer to the original set as Old and the reduced set as New.
Now I've decided to revert to the Old set, but I can't get them to come over (with a weird twist I'll get to). First I tried overwriting the "bookmarks" file, but when I launched Vivaldi, I still had the New set. Then I tried importing the Old JSON file since Vivaldi is listed as an option on the import list. Vivaldi told me I'd have to close the program first, so I did that and clicked "Continue." The box blinked but again said "Continue." A few more tries and then I gave up.
Then I tried importing the HTML file, but the result was a very old list of bookmarks, which I'll call Ancient. After several tries, I decided to look at the HTML file itself, and discovered it was that same very old list, even though the file's creation date was last December. On the other hand, the JSON for the Old set had the right bookmarks.
So now things are a mess. Vivaldi has the New set and a couple copies of the Ancient list, but not the bookmarks I want.
Except ... here's where things get even weirder. For some reason, instead of digging through the bookmarks for a link, a typed in its name. Voila! The bookmark showed up. So it was imported sort of invisibly -- it doesn't show up as a bookmark in the bar.
I can't make head or tail of this, but the result at this point is a mess that's got me completely stuck. Because Vivaldi exported an Ancient bookmarks list, I can't import it into any other browser. I've got several hundred bookmarks and I certainly can't remember the names of all of them so that I might type them in (which is pretty inefficient for me anyway). So now what?
@kerampf Do you have a clean version of each set backed up?
@ayespy As I said, before I created the pared-down bookmarks (the New set), I exported an HTML version the Old set and made a copy the file called "bookmarks." I did this because I wanted the possibility of reverting to the Old set.
@ayespy A little more clarification: I have backups of my files both on an external hard drive and in the cloud. I tried one of those backups too.
@kerampf So, to be clear, the only copy you have of the old set is what you exported to HTML?
Can you open it and read down it and see if it looks correct?
@ayespy No, I have two different versions of the Old set. One is the HTML export, which for some reason output an ancient or incomplete list of bookmarks (which I didn't realize until I attempted to import them). I don't think I mislabeled an old HTML because its creation date is this past December.
The other version of the Old set is the JSON file (a copy of the original "bookmarks" file), which from what I can tell is complete. Although I might well be mistaken, it may be the source of the "hidden" bookmarks I described.
In addition, I also had backup copies, since I regularly do backups of all my files. Still more, I kept the original HTML and JSON files in a separate folder, and copied them over to the Vivaldi directory, so that set is still available. I checked the HTML file in both the backup and the separate folder, but it was the same incorrect set.
But regardless of the HTML file's fate, I would have expected that simply overwriting the JSON file would have been enough -- in fact I'm pretty sure I tested this before I went ahead with the New set.
@ayespy OK, still more weirdness. I mentioned there are hidden bookmarks. It occurred to me that maybe I could make them reappear if I re-exported the HTML, and imported the result. I searched the newly-created HTML to see if it had any hidden bookmarks from the Old set (the ones I wanted). It did. So then I imported it back into Vivaldi.
The import was crazy because it included all my previous import attempts, but it didn't look like the correct bookmarks had shown up. Then I tried to search for a missing bookmark by typing it in -- and there it was. After some more exploring I discovered that the missing bookmark was in the trash! In fact now there are multiple trash folders. I dragged out a folder with the New set, restoring that.
However, the bookmark I had searched for was in the New set -- I still don't have the Old bookmark set, which still seems never to have been imported (whether through HTML or JSON). It's hard to figure out what's going on, it's become a serious jumble. I also discovered that there are Ancient sets that include Old bookmarks, which doesn't make a bit of sense!
The only positive developments are (1) now at least a New set back, and (2) I was able to copy the folder with all of the missing bookmarks (at least I had moved them into a single folder!) from one of the mishmash Ancient+Old sets into the recovered New set. So I'm able to regain what I wanted (I have to do a little more work to finis it off), but I should not have needed to go through this whole mess. In my mind the simplest technique -- copying over the JSON file -- should have done the job. The "safety," exporting an HTML file, should have worked also, but instead it created the Ancient set.
So if the original JSON file was working in Vivaldi before, on the same operating system, in the same user profile as you are attempting to use it now, it is essentially impossible that it would not work just the same now as it did then. Literally nothing has been changed in the code of the way Vivaldi recognizes and retrieves bookmarks between the time you save those bookmarks and now.
So either you have not tried swapping that file into Vivaldi on disk while all-processes-concerning-Vivaldi are closed (having first removed and saved or renamed the file that it's replacing), or something else is at work. And that something else has not yet been identified here. I have swapped, updated, synced, moved, copied, exported, imported, replaced the bookmark file between versions, OSes, directory paths, Vivaldi versions and machines multiple-multiple times without mishap. So there is something else involved here which we have not yet discussed.
@ayespy I overwrote the JSON file while Vivaldi was closed. I don't know if that also closed all related processes; I'm pretty certain I checked Task Manager at least one of the times I tried it in order to make sure of that, but I can't lay my life on it. On the other hand I'm also pretty certain I didn't check Task Manager when I tested the procedure a few months ago and confirmed that it would (or should) work. Also, I definitely renamed the JSON file before replacing it with the one I wanted. In short, it looks like I followed procedures that ought to have worked. (I didn't report the problem until I'd made several attempts.)
There is one thing I know changed between then and now: Vivaldi 1.14 came out. It gave me so much trouble -- especially with bookmarks -- that eventually I uninstalled it and reverted to 1.13, which is what I'm using now. You can probably look up my reports about that difficulty, some version of which was happening to others. So yes, we know that something no-one was able to identify was causing my problems with 1.14, and so it's conceivable that some trouble-causing remnant of 1.14 remained after I rolled back to 1.13. (Again, my original tests worked as expected.) Beyond that, well, it only took about three hours of work, but at least now it looks like I have everything back.
@kerampf When you say "everything," are you speaking also of the "old" set of bookmarks you want?
Even so, even if you do, especially with the rollback, I think it would be safest if you were starting with a completely clean version - no remnants of the old (but having backed up you User Data folder) - and then just moved the necessary critical data (passwords, bookmarks, cookies, favicons, etc.) from the backed-up folder to the new. I would not trust a roll-back that was using ANY folder that had been in place under the newer version.
@ayespy When I rolled back to 1.13, I uninstalled 1.14 (necessary, because otherwise the installation wouldn't have worked). Naturally that left user data such as the bookmarks, passwords, etc. I didn't delete the Vivaldi folder within the AppData colder because that's usually unnecessary.
Given that during this attempt to restore the Old bookmarks, 1.13 was unable to use the replaced JSON file and the HTML export was inaccurate, I have every reason to think that the clean installation you suggest -- uninstalling Vivaldi, copying various files (I wouldn't even know which ones are critical), deleting the folder, and probably clearing every trace of Vivaldi from the Registry (which is necessary for a truly clean reinstallation) -- would not succeed. In addition, I really can't spend more time on this. Three hours is enough; I have work to do.
I realize that you're a volunteer and not one of the Vivaldi devs, and I greatly appreciate the time you provide to Vivaldi users. But I'm going to repeat something I've said several times over the years: for me, Vivaldi has one big failing -- its handling of bookmarks. Several major browsers have a bookmark flyout through the menu; Vivaldi does not. When you have hundreds of bookmarks, a flyout with sorted subfolders is the quickest and most efficient way to find what you want. I created out a kludge that mostly works, by putting a folder called "Bookmarks" in the bookmark bar. It contains all my bookmarks, each within its subfolder. This creates a flyout, and it's the solution I also use in Chrome (for few few times I use it). But Chrome at least has an extension which sorts the bookmarks. Unfortunately, despite installing such extensions, the Vivaldi kludge doesn't sort the bookmarks alphabetically even when they're sorted in the sidebar. I had to come up with yet another partially-working kludge to solve that.
It's extremely frustrating, and finding fixes and in desperation coming to the forum eats way too much of my time. To me, quick and easy access to bookmarks is essential and basic. Years have gone, and clearly the dev team has no interest in this basic feature or at least providing support for the related extensions. I have no idea why not. Maybe the vast majority of Vivaldi users want very specialized or unique features and keep just 20 bookmarks, and I'm one of only three "typical" users so basic bookmark handling is extremely low priority. Beats me. But it's my big beef. The bookmark problems in 1.14 were so bad, I couldn't do my work and I had to revert to 1.13. I think I've come to the point where if the next version gives me the same problems as 1.14 and there's still no flyout from the menu, I'll have to start looking seriously at the alternatives. Not happily -- after all, Vivaldi's been my default browser for years and I want to support "the little guys" -- but I need to be able to work.
Several major browsers have a bookmark flyout through the menu; Vivaldi does not.
We do now.
@ayespy In 1.14?? (I'm traveling, so I won't be able to check or reply quickly.)
@kerampf it was just added to a backstage test version.
@ayespy I look forward to it!