Wednesday, 21 November, 2007


A few weeks earlier, Mozilla labs came up with their new product Prism. Prism, is basically a term used in Optical Physics to describe an object that can split white light into its constituent colors. I was one of the first person to install and use prism, because after reading about it so much, i was quite enthusiastic for this. However, my experiences with Prism are not quite satisfying. Or lets say it like, i liked the concept, most did not.

What is Prism?

Prism is an application that lets users split web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop. Prism lets users add their favorite web apps to their desktop environment.

When invoked, these applications run in their own window. They are accessible with Control-Tab, Command-Tab, and Exposé, just like desktop apps. And users can still access these same applications from any web browser when they are away from their own computers.

Why is Prism?
We already have the best browser, Firefox with us, so why is the need of Prism? The need for Prism can be understood by analyzing following facts.
  1. Separate Process.When the webapp goes down or locks up, I don’t want anything else affected. Thankfully, Firefox does have session restore, but that is beside the point. When I open many tabs and have several webapps running in a browser, things get slow and unstable after a day or two.
  2. Minimal UI.generic browser UI is not needed for webapps. If any UI is present, make it specific to the webapp I am using.
  3. Basic Desktop Integration.Create shortcuts to start the webapp, add ability to show specialized icons in the tray or dock and ability to display notifications
  4. I don’t want to download a full browser runtime for each webapp. I do want to be able to add some custom code/features that are not directly supported in the webapp. I should be able to install one runtime and then get packages or extensions for each webapp. Think Firefox extensions or Greasemonkey scripts. These extensions should be able to tweak the SSB UI as well

How is Prism different from Microsoft® SilverLight™ and Abode AIR™?
Many people get confused Prism with the same thing as Microsoft® SilverLight™ and Adobe Prism. These all three are not the same. While, Mozilla Prism is an application, that enables to view the web as a desktop application, Microsoft® SilverLight™ is essentially a a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of .NET based media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web. It is a services for developers. Adobe® AIR™ (formerly code-named Apollo) is a cross-operating system runtime that allows web application developers to use their existing HTML and JavaScript skills to build and deploy rich Internet applications to the desktop. So while the latter two products focus the web developers for rich internet application, Prism has nothing to do with the kind of web application that you are using. It just makes sure that whatever, you are using, is integrated with your desktop.

How to get Prism?
The prototype of Prism for both Linux and Windows are available, and can be downloaded from the official website.

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