Monday, May 27, 2024

Mozilla Separating Browser From The App

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Both the Web 2.0 and the SaaS (define) paradigms are almost always dependent on one common denominator: the Web browser.

It is from the browser that Web-based applications are accessed and run. Yet the browser model, with its forward, back and other navigational toolbars, often add bloat and confuse Web-based applications.

Mozilla thinks it may have the answer.

The idea is to separate the traditional browser out into a standalone that will provide a browser shell for Web-based applications. The effort was formerly known as WebRunner and has now been rebranded by Mozilla as Prism.

The Prism effort is being run in the Mozilla Labs division that works on experimental new technologies and features. According to Mozilla’s official description, “Prism is an application that lets users split Web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop.”

Instead of needing to boot up a browser to access Web-based apps, a simple icon can be clicked on a desktop. The icon would pull up the application inside of a Prism window providing the user with access without the additional browser bloat.

From a developer point of view, Prism doesn’t represent a new platform as it’s built on the same core platform as Firefox and supports the same basic features. The first Prism release, Prism 0.8, is only available for Windows though Mac and Linux support is expected to follow.

“I believe Prism is important not just for the future of the Web, but for the future of the desktop as well,” Mozilla’s User Experience Designer Alex Faaborg blogged. “Prism will allow new innovative applications on the Web to integrate into the user’s desktop experience without any additional development effort for the applications’ creators.”

Though Mozilla may be excited about Prism, not everyone shares the same enthusiasm. Adobe’s AIR platforms as well as Microsoft’s Silverlight are possible competitors, though they both are more about application delivery infrastructure than just being a stripped down browser.

“I’m sorry but I installed this and I just don’t get what there is to be excited about,” a commenter named Jason wrote on the Mozilla Labs blog. “A webpage (i.e. Gmail) now has an icon and runs in a Firefox window without any buttons. Wow.”

This article was first published on

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