Monday, March 10th, 2008

Mozilla Prism update makes it easy to create wrappers

Category: Firefox

Mozilla Prism has just released a new version that shows off Firefox integration:

Today we’re releasing a major update to Prism that includes new desktop integration capabilities and simpler installation. With this update, you can now get Prism simply by installing a small extension to Firefox 3. With the new Prism extension for Firefox 3, users can now split web applications directly out of Firefox without needing to install and manage a separate Prism application. Just install the extension, browse to a web app, then select Tools > Convert Website to Application.


Other new or improved features include:

  • Pick an icon to represent a web app on the desktop: Prism can use the web app favicon or the user can pick a custom image to represent the web app.
  • Run each web app in its own profile: Prism now places each web app into its own process/profile so they don’t interfere with each other, which also makes it possible to install a web app twice and use it simultaneously with two different user accounts.
  • Badge the dock icon: Initial support for adding a badge to the desktop icon has been added. Currently, this can be done through a custom webapp.js file. We’re working on creating and reusing web standards to expose this to content without requiring custom scripts.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 7:29 am

3.9 rating from 33 votes


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This is really *GREAT* news and makes the whole AIR/WPF debate hopefully dead ;)

Comment by polterguy — March 10, 2008

What do you guys think about using Prism in a small enterprise world? A Java back end with Myslq and the front end in html/js with Prism?

The “server” and the “client” are in the same computer, basically a desktop app made with web technology. Is it good enough? too much overhead for a desktop app (for invoices, simple stock management, etc)?
How about security?

I think, IF the previous points are addressed in a “good enough” way, Prism is a very serious competitor, because if some day the costumer wants to use the app while he is in another city, or in another place without his computer, there is absolutely no problem. And runs on Windows 2000,XP,Vista, Linux, OSX, Solaris etc.

Comment by PedroBatista — March 10, 2008

I don’t see what the hype is all about. All this is doing is getting rid of the browser chrome. Sure, it looks nice on certain websites, but it’s not worth all the hype.

It says it integrates the web with the desktop, but in reality it’s a looong ways away from that. Like I said, all it’s doing is making it feel like a desktop application, when it’s not even close. It’s still a website, running on the technologies all websites are run on: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. In order to truly integrate with the desktop, you need to completely change the application, which would most likely require using different technologies. This is why AIR is more effective, because it is actually taking a step in the path of true integration, versus simply removing a couple toolbars from your browser window. AIR allows you to use those other technologies and literally turn your web application into a desktop application that interacts with the web. Two completely different things that are often mistaken to be the same.

Comment by musicfreak — March 10, 2008

“This is really *GREAT* news and makes the whole AIR/WPF debate hopefully dead ;)”

Yeah right. This is just a neat little toy for making navigation to a particular webpage more handy. AIR and WPF add functionality that just isn’t available in a regular browser.

Comment by joshtynjala — March 10, 2008

This is nowhere near an actual desktop integration tool for web apps. Like the others said, it just removes the browser chrome. The whole thing is simply extremely superficial and in the end is little more than a shortcut to a web site on the desktop.

If Firefox wants to take this further, a good next step would be offline data storage and/or basic access to a limited part of the filesystem. While AIR seems to take the path of web-tech based app on the desktop that has connections with the web, perhaps Prism can take the angle of web apps that connect with the desktops. Combining this with Mozilla Weave would make really interesting possiblities.

Comment by Scriptor — March 10, 2008

You are totally right in that this is just removing browser chrome, none the less it shows Mozillas taking AIR and WPF seriously which is why I think it’s the most great ;)
You are of course right in that AIR and WPF adds functionality, though in that process they also render themselves incompatible with the Flex and Silverlight companion versions of themselves which means you basically have little advantage since you need to create two versions of your app anyway…
One offline and on online version ;)
Also for both WPF and AIR there’s also always the question of security. “To allow or not to allow”. What you would allow an ActiveX object rendered at “some website” to do might be a totally different thing than what you’d allow a downloaded and installed “EXE file” to do on your local system. I think the whole AIR/WPF discussion is really weird. After all it’s nothing more than “Desktop 2.0″…

Comment by polterguy — March 11, 2008

Can’t even access the demo using Minefield (not authorized : bad user agent test ?)

Comment by temsa — March 13, 2008

oops, not the right tab for my previous comment, sorry :/

Comment by temsa — March 13, 2008

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