Monday, October 29th, 2007

Mozilla Prism: Save As Web Application

Category: Firefox

<p>Mozilla has announced a new application that has been placed in Labs called Prism. Prism takes WebRunner and let’s it integrate nicely into the target operating system.

This means that you can take any web site that you currently visit a lot, and place it in its own process, and you can launch it like any other application. It sits on your desktop for you to run. A modest goal.

I actually do this on my Mac by wrapping a Webkit component with some native sauce, and you can then even add extra features on top such as special quick keys, and menu items, etc. Many people do this of course and there are apps out there like Mail Plane.

What will be interesting to see is how features will be added to do more with the desktop. Adobe AIR allows you to talk to OS services in many ways, and some of us want even more native support. Mike Chambers of Adobe puts his view on some of Mozilla’s comments in the post too.

What do you think?

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Comment by nardzir — October 29, 2007

Mike Chambers of Adobe seems to take offense of Mozilla’s project. It is kinda funny, but I wasnt interested in off line apps until this was announced simply because it was mainly being dominated by a corp like Adobe.

Comment by EmEhRKay — October 29, 2007

I think it looks exactly like HTA. Can anyone spot a difference?

Comment by Jakob Kruse — October 29, 2007

@EmEhRKay: Mike Chambers of Adobe is not, and certainly is not, taking offense of Mozilla’s project. In fact, he welcomes the move.

What he is saying in his post is the way Mozilla portrayed the new coming app and other existing frameworks such as Adobe AIR and Silverlight.

Comment by David — October 29, 2007

I had to test it myself today. I like it somewhat, as there’s not a whole lot to like about it though. At times it could come in handy and it’s a refreshing move which could show us the way.

Comment by Joao — October 29, 2007

Step 1: Navigate to a website.
Step 2: Drag the favicon to the desktop or into the Start menu.

Apparent differences compared to the Prism way:
* you get a fully functional browser window instead of a crippled popup;
* you don’t get a window asking you where to put shortcuts;
* you don’t get an ugly upscaled version of the favicon as the shortcut icon.

Disclaimer: I didn’t try it.

Comment by Tim Cooijmans — October 29, 2007

OK, somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t AIR competing exclusively with good ol’ XULRunner… I mean, AIR isn’t for users, it’s for developers, while Prism is a managment console to XULRunner for Users, right?

Comment by Hans Schmucker — October 29, 2007

@Hans
Air is for users as much as flash is for users. You might be thinking about Flex which is exclusively for developers, but compiles to flash which is given to the user. Air though is a way of packaging applications that would otherwise be web aps for the desktop with additional features (like being able to access the filesystem to a limited extent or a local sql lite database). It’s different from FF3 in that you don’t need to be connected to the web to run an application, although with Air you might have an online and an offline mode for an application. Key point I guess is that users don’t need to know how Air works, just that they have the Air runtime installed and so they can run Air programs. How does that compare with XULRunner? That’s something I haven’t looked into.

Comment by Adam Fortuna — October 29, 2007

What I mean – AIR is a runtime environment, much like XULRunner… the user is not expected to specify the content it should load, that’s up to the developer (much like XULRunner again), that bundles his code together with XULRunner/AIR.

Wheras AIR is a frontend to add more then just what the developer specified to XULRunner…

Comment by Hans Schmucker — October 29, 2007

Typo, the last sentence is supposed to say:
Wheras __PRISM__ is a frontend to add more then just what the developer specified to XULRunner…

Comment by Hans Schmucker — October 29, 2007

BTW XulRunner is NOT FF3…. XULRunner is the platform will be built!

Comment by Hans Schmucker — October 29, 2007

Seems like a wonderful day for typos: “XULRunner is the platform __UPON WHICH FF3__ will be built!”

Comment by Hans Schmucker — October 29, 2007

iwas wondering, can i install firebug on it?

Comment by jonathan — October 29, 2007

I played around with Prism, as of right now, I don’t see any difference or advantage it has over creating a url shortcut on the user’s system.
AIR can be used to create some useful apps for the user, one example that comes to mind was an rss reader somebody created.

Comment by Slack5 — October 29, 2007

You also should check http://www.3d3r.com/bubbles/ and http://www.desktopize.com/ (from the same company)

# System-tray icon with a dynamic customizable menu System-tray icon with a dynamic customizable menu
# Ability to trigger fully branded notifications from your site’s existing code Ability to trigger fully branded notifications from your site’s existing code
# Ability to accept files by drag-and-drop into your web-application Ability to accept files by drag-and-drop into your web-application

With that it seem you can change the tray icon on the fly, I mean for the Gmail application, when there’s new emails the tray icon became blue.. And NO STATUS BAR ! Because it’s not a multi-site browser..

How about a option to stick to one site only ? And when user try to go to another site, just open the REAL browser, and leave our pseudo desktop application alone.. Just like a real DESKTOP application would do.
(hope someone hear me)

Comment by Nicolae Namolovan — October 30, 2007

I created an AIR google reader app, which mainly so I have it in the dock and also displays the unread count in the dock icon…

http://ducktyper.com/2007/10/31/update-google-reader-air-app

Comment by Gabriel Handford — November 2, 2007

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