How to turn web-apps into “desktop” apps


GoogledocsapplicationMy migration away from Microsoft Exchange to Google’s Gmail has started to push me more towards “cloud” computing and web apps. When I combine the availability of reasonably featured software applications with a nearly always available WWAN connection on any of my devices, I see a powerful productivity platform evolving. Once challenge is having web-based applications run inside the browser. While tabbed browsing is now commonplace and makes it easy to run multiple apps, if the browser crashes, the potential is there for lost work.A new approach to this issue is to turn your web-apps into pseudo-desktop apps. By doing so, you can have shortcuts to your web-apps in your program launcher and they’ll run in an isolated program space, just like a real desktop app. Additionally, since they’re treated like a desktop program, they’ll show up in task switching utilities for quicker navigation.If these benefits sound appealing to you as a web-app user, you’ll want to check out Prism from Mozilla and Fluid from Todd Ditchendorf. Fluid is specific to the Mac OS X Leopard operating system and was inspired by Mozilla’s Prism project. Essentially, both Fluid and Prism offer the same benefits stated above, but Windows or Linux users will have to go with Prism.


Each app asks for a few simple items such as the URL of the web-app, the name you want to give it and a few other small configuration options. Both are in a free beta and I’ve been using Prism for most of the afternoon since I’m now using Google Docs exclusively for my offline and freelance writing.(via TUAW)



“if the browser crashes, the potential is there for lost work” – is not that still the case even if the sit is run as a pseudo-desktop app?

Art Kavanagh

“since they’re treated like a desktop program, they’ll show up in task switching utilities for quicker navigation”

This wouldn’t be necessary, in Windows at least, if browsers implemented the standard Ctrl-F6 shortcut. If I have several Word docs open, I can cycle between them using Ctrl-F6. Likewise with PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, text files in UltraEdit and practically every other type of file I can think of. But not browser windows. I know that many people find tabs a workable alternative but I don’t really see the point.

Kevin C. Tofel

Sorry about the link; it’s now fixed.

Google Gears currently works only with Google Reader in terms of Google aps to the best of my knowledge. Zoho uses it for their Office app, however.


Does Google gears work with The Docs web app. I have also read that microsoft is working on a Windows Live version of Office.

Steve Paine

Thanks for the tip! Am trying it right now. Not quite ready for prime time but I like the concept. Makes it nice and easy to seperate apps in different windows without all the fuss of menus and navbars.


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