Cruz: New Social Browser for OS X


If you are a regular user of sites like Gmail, Tweenky, Google Reader and other application-like web apps then you are probably already familiar with Fluid, an OS X application written by Todd Ditchendorf that lets you turn those sites into bona-fide, separate Cocoa desktop applications (a.k.a. Site Specific Browsers) via one simple dialog.

With Fluid, you also get some neat extras like built-in Greasemonkey-powered user scripting, the ability to use URL pattern matching to create browsing whitelists and blacklists, auto-software updates of the base application framework, custom site application icons either based on the site’s favicon or an icon you specify, a JavaScript API for showing Dock badges, Growl notifications, Dock menu items, and more. There’s even a built-in plug-in which allows you to browse the web with CoverFlow or iPhoto-like thumbnail previews for links on the current page (which is fully customizable).

Todd decided to take some of the power of Fluid and build a new, standalone browser called Cruz, which is designed to enhance your browser experience of the social web. The foundation for this new social browser is the ability to build web browsing panes or panels alongside a central browser window. Links in these panes can then be configured to open in the main window (or within a new tab in that main window), letting you explore topics, news or items as they come across your radar. Take, for example, this configuration that I threw together:

On the left is Twitter Search (which I have configured, via Cruz, to default to the Mobile Stafari version), on the right is the mobile version of Twitter with my central browser pane in the middle. In that screen shot, I noticed that @panache found an interesting new toy to play with and used the Twitter Search pane to look for other mentions of it while checking out the primary link. When you move your mouse near the top of either pane, you will see that you have full navigation controls that allow you to reset the pane back to the primary page or wander off to other sites for further investigation (i.e. do quick Google search).

Cruz will also remember your settings and currently displayed sites when you quit, letting you come back right where you started.

The application is still in early development (version 0.1) so it is still a bit rough around the edges. One feature — the ability to automatically generate web page previews alongside Google search results — consistently crashed in my tests, but that is probably due to the number of default search results I let Google return. Since the real power of Cruz is “under the hood”, I can see where one could configure a very powerful setup with some some spiffy Greasemonkey scripts that would allow content in one pane to trigger content in another to make for an even more dynamic information-gathering experience.

Todd provides some walkthroughs on his site to get you started, and the 3MB download is available now (10.5 only).



Have you heard of Flock? It’s a very secure, stable, fast social web browser. Same idea just Flock has been around longer and is more secure.

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