Mozilla Prism Puts the Web on Your Desktop

Nov 06, 2007

The Mozilla Foundation has just released Prism, the pre-release version of an application that removes a Web application’s reliance on a browser. The software, which was previously only available for Windows, is now available as version 0.8 for Linux and Mac OS X.

The Prism project originally started life as Webrunner. It is a kind of lean Web browser that does without typical browser controls. When launched, Prism prompts the user for the Web address of the application and an intuitive name, and asks whether it should set up a desktop link. If the users says no, the setup dialog just complains, but otherwise Prism launches the selected Web application in a separate window.

Users can extract the start command from the shortcut file on the desktop and integrate the command with the start menu. The command has a syntax of "/ Installation_location/prism/prism -webapp intuitive_name@prism.app". You can enter a command of this kind to the Web application on the local system, possibly entering a username and password for the application.

Just like the future Firefox 3 version, Prism also supports offline use of Web applications. The developers also plan to support 3D graphics hardware and to do away with the installation dialog in the longer term. The aim is to let users drag and drop Web applications from the browser onto the desktop.

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