Mozilla and Web 2.0

Mozilla and Web 2.0For a while now, we’ve been hearing about “Web 2.0” AKA AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) heavy sites offering lots of eye candy but, nothing much in the way of substance which hasn’t already been a 1000 different times a 1000 different ways before.

While these “eye catching” sites may offer up a new level of interactivity and/or functionality, there’s always a price to pay no matter how good the engineering/technology is. For example, everyone these days a Gmail account. It extensively uses AJAX which, while making it appear very functional, also takes its toll on the browser in terms of memory usage, in this case Mozilla Firefox.

Recently, the Mozilla Foundation released Prism (renamed from WebRunner) from the Mozilla Project which is stripped down version of the XULRunner platform using the Firefox runtime environment (Gecko). It handles JavaScript/CSS etc…. well and is light on the memory usage from personal usage and handles several web applications well – Gmail, GReader, Facebook, Twitter etc… As well as the option of programming your own and has a list of user contributed web application scripts.

Prism can become a very useful application for those who just want to visit a few selected sites and since there are no high memory issues then it can also be run without issue on legacy hardware. Although those that prefer a full desktop browser know where to look (Mozilla Project page)

Since rebranding from WebRunner, Prism has had a number of feature added to it. Including:

  • “CSS themes – Bundles now support common (all platforms) and OS specific CSS theme overrides. You can make web applications take on different CSS styles
  • Spell check support – Red squiggles and suggestions on the context menu.
  • Better external link handling – Spreadsheets from Google Docs were opening in the default browser.
  • Tooltips support – We now display tooltips for elements with “title” attributes.
  • Copying hyperlinks – Context menu supports copying a link location, if you right click on a link.
  • More “Install Shortcut” options – Quick Launch Bar and Start Menu were added on Windows and Application folder was added on Mac.
  • “Install Web Application” – similar to the “Install Shortcut” dialog, but this will create a web application *without* needing a webapp bundle. Launching Prism without any parameters, or from the Start Menu or Finder, to activate the dialog. (Alex’s post has more details).”*

*Source: Mark Finkle’s Weblog

Prism’s development looks set to advance and it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves within the Mozilla Project especially with the Mozilla-based browser Flock on the social networking side.

Posted by Si Howard – Si Is currently studying for a Bachelors in Computer Science and turned to Firefox and Thunderbird after many years as a Netscape user. He maintains a personal blog at

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