Over at Mozilla Labs, they announced that they are no longer going to maintain the Prism project. For those of you who remember, Prism was Mozilla’s answer to the chrome-less browser. Something you could use to launch web applications (like Gmail) as a desktop application. The idea was to blur the line between desktop programs and online programs.
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I was really excited by the idea of Prism back when it was first released, but little has been done with the product until now. Last week, Mozilla announced the launch of Prism 1.0 beta and a new site to promote it. So, now that some time has gone by, and we have all had time to play with it – time to cover the best and the worst about this most recent release.
What I Like About Prism 1.0 beta
Overall, I like Prism as a product. The idea of being able to run something like Gmail as an application rather than as a web page interests me. Here are some of the newest Prism features that Mozilla is extremely happy with:
- New API functionality for allowing Prism-enabled web sites more desktop like power.
- Ability to set fonts, proxy settings and other application-speciﬁc settings.
- The ability to clear private data on demand.
- Applications are automatically updated when new Prism versions are available.
- Tray icon support, as well as submenus for dock and system tray menus.
- Full OS X 10.4 support, and further OS X specific enhancement.
- Support for SSL exceptions.
So there you have it; all great things to love. So what still bugs me about Prism?
What I Don’t Like About Prism 1.0 beta
This might seem a little superficial, and many will answer my annoyance with the fact that is is still, “just a beta” but I don’t like the file download. When downloaded your just left with an unzipped folder that says Prism. Why not install it like a regular application?
I also think they need some simple scripting in there, to customize Prism a little ‘bit more. How could this problem be solved? Allow Greasemonkey scripts (or something like it). Eventually somebody will figure out that step on their own, so they might as well get ahead of the curve. If it is a product that comes from Mozilla, I want it to be customizable. Firefox is customizable. Thunderbird is customizable. Prism just is not customizable enough for me, right now.
Overall, it is getting there – however I am not sure they have been able to release this in a way that gets everybody excited about it. The biggest hurdle for them, right now, is to answer those people who will say, “So… why not just launch it in the browser?”. Those of us who are excited about it will answer back with, so that you can create separate applications for web sites you use, of course. However, returned with another why, the argument for Prism just is not there yet.
Prism is a fun toy for enthusiasts, but right now isn’t there for the general public yet, and I’m not sure how they would get there. Do you?
Remember Prism? It was the Mozilla powered application that let you turn any web page into a desktop application. Not much has happened since it was released, however many other browsers have started looking in that direction (merging the web and the desktop program list). So what about Firefox?
It appears there are plans to include “Prism-like features” into a future release of Firefox.
The plan thus far is to help users discover when they might want to make a web application into a desktop application. For example, if you use Google Reader a lot – after so many uses, Firefox may suggest to you, “Would you like to make Google Reader a desktop application?” or “Would you like to add Google Reader to your Quick Launch bar?”.
I like the idea – and I can’t wait to see it happen. How about you? (Source: Download Squad)
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.