October 25th, 2007

Mozilla Prism – packaging web sites as desktop citizens

A slew of postings over the past day (see Mark Finkle, Myk Melez and Alex Faaborg) announce a new experimental project from Mozilla Labs – Mozilla Prism. Following in the footsteps of Adobe (AIR) and Microsoft (Silverlight), it blurs the lines between web applications and desktop applications. However, a distinct advantage of browser development team allows Prism to have a simpler paradigm.

What it basically does (you can ignore all the mockup screenshots) is having a chromeless browser with a desktop shortcut. Nothing more and nothing less. You get a shortcut on the desktop that is configured with the specific URL. When you activate the shortcut, it opens that page in a browser that has only the the rendering canvas (with optional address bar and status bar). As simple as that, and nothing that you could not have achieved up until now with a few manual steps.

Here are a few screenshots of the process. First, download the prototype (available for Windows only). After installing, run the Prism. It shows the dialog for configuring your Prism application:

Prism setup

Clicking OK creates the relevant shortcuts. When you activate the shortcut, you get the corresponding site shown in its own chromeless Firefox (which does not have any Firefox branding) – click to see fullsize:

Prism thumbnail