Home The Desktop Lives: Mozilla Talks Up Prism

The Desktop Lives: Mozilla Talks Up Prism

A Mozilla Labs blog post yesterday announced Prism, an application that takes web apps to the desktop. Prism isn’t a proprietary platform, but rather gives any web application that runs in a standards-compliant browser its own window and icons on the desktop. Right now, that’s all Prism does. It doesn’t add any offline functionality or give apps things like file system access, but Mozilla seems to hint about developments in that direction in the Labs announcement.

Earlier this year, when we wrote about plans for offline apps in Firefox 3, Robert O’Callahan from Mozilla told us that applications would need to be reengineered to be taken offline with Firefox 3. That’s not the case with Prism, which can take apps to the desktop as long as they run in the browser (though, as we mentioned, Prism doesn’t actually take web apps offline, just puts them in their own desktop window).

The Mozilla Labs crew said that they’re working on an extension for Firefox that will add Prism to the browser and make taking web apps to the desktop a one-click affair.

Except for the minor convenience of running oft-used web apps in their own dedicated window and making them accessible via a desktop icon, Prism isn’t really all that exciting in its current form. It doesn’t offer much of a benefit over bookmarks and your current browser window. However, the implications for the future are big. “This is a pretty huge deal,” writes Ryan Stewart, “and it shows a trend that I‚Äôve been preaching/tracking all along; that the desktop isn‚Äôt dead at all and that a hybrid approach is a successful way to go.”

There is prototype of Prism for available on the Mozilla labs blog post, as well as links to the source code.

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