Monday, June 22, 2009

Mozilla Labs Prism - A New Dimension To Web Applications

Prism, from Mozilla Labs, is a new application which comes either as a Firefox extension or a standalone application. Prism allows you to convert web apllications into desktop applications, complete with desktop icons, tray icons and notifications, run on operating system startup and more.

Another nice feature of Prism is that if you are using it on top of Firefox, and the latter crashes, your Prsim app is not affected by the problem. Once an application is converted, you can double click on its desktop icon to open it, just like you would do for any other application on your computer.

Prism Apps are also very fast since it does not load any of you regular extension and bookmarks and has a very lightweight interface. You can use Prism to create different instance of Gmail where you could log into multiple accounts at once, convert an online instant messenger like Meebo to a standalone app.

To give you a better idea of how Prism works, here's a little tutorial on converting the Pop Out Chat of Facebook into a standalone chat, complete with tray minimize and all the goodies you'd expect from a chat client.

Get the Firefox extension version of Prism from here and install it, just like you'd install a normal Firefox extension. Now, let's proceed to getting that Facebook chat app into a standalone one.

Firstly make sure you are already login to your Facebook account. Then open this link in a new tab. Click on Tools >> Convert Website To Application

Then you will get this windows, from which you can select among the many options avaible for your new app.

You can select if you want a navigation bar, status messages and progress, navigational keys or a trayicon in the notification area. Then you have the option of choosing where you want a shorcut to be placed. However, you are not limited to these places, you can copy and paste those shorcuts anywhere you want, it will work just fine.

Here the Facebook Chat's shortcut on the desktop;

Now double clicking on it will open up the chat application. The first time you will have to login into your facebook account and click the "Remember Me" checkbox, so that next time you open the app, you will already be logged in.

If you look at the tray icons, you will also notice that a Facebook Chat tray icon has appeared there, since I checked the tray icon option when creating the app.

You can also have custom add-ons for your new applications if you want.

You might be interested to know that you can install Google Gears for even better application behaviour for your web apps. Linux Daily just has a perfect tutorial on how to accomplish this here.

Want to know more on using Mozilla Labs Prism? Check out the video below, you will get a overview on using Prism.

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