Mighty Ju-Ju

Mozilla has released a beta versions of an application/Firefox browser plug-in called Prism, which allows any Web site to be saved onto your desktop as a stand-alone application (albeit, one which connects to the Web). When clicked, the application launches in it’s own little browser window, connects to the Web, and functions as you would expect from that Web site.

This is powerful stuff.

It turns the humble Web browser from a “portal”, through which all applications must run, into a platform. Prism is based on technology created for Site-Specific Browsers, or SSBs.

I can easily see Web 3.0 applications using AJAX- the fancy code that enables drag-and-drop, desktop-like behavior on Web sites, like Gmail or Box.net- to turn Web applications into “Netware,” similar to Apple’s iTunes. Google Gears and Adobe’s Flex are already moving in this direction.

Lightweight, net-aware applications that deliver the power and control of mainframe-type distribution, along with the speed, ease of use, and flexibility of desktop client apps? No more C#, Java, or Objective C, just JavaScript! Truly write once, run anywhere.

Oh, yeah. This is mighty powerful ju-ju. Microsoft, Sun, Apple? You hear that?

Update: Good article on similar technologies here. Thanks to Tanya for the link.


  1. That’s a good article, Tanya. It echoes Philip Greenspun’s sentiments from the Dark Ages of the Web (1997) in “Philip and Alex’s Guide to Web Publishing”- great book, highly recommended (or read online).

    Joel Spoolsky agreed that another (good) thing about the Web as an app portal was that the browser was ubiquitous, and that means you don’t have to teach customers how to use the application, if it conforms to standard Web behavior. They already get that training from thousands of other sites that they use every day.

    But as soon as you start throwing in desktop-like controls (such as collapsing panels), then you lose that advantage, and you’re back to training the users.

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