Mozilla are best known for their web browser, Firefox, and perhaps their e-mail client, Thunderbird. Both of which I use regularly and am particularly fond of. So, after trawling through their website and discovering a whole load of other projects they have on the go, I was quick to delve deeper. The first, and ultimately most intriguing project I came across was Mozilla Prism. So I downloaded it, free of charge, as is always the way with Mozilla, and tested it out.
Prism is an application that can come in a couple of different forms; either as a standalone application, or an add-on to the Firefox web browser. Both of which produce the same result, however I found the Firefox add-on made its job a great deal simpler. So what is it exactly and what does it do?
Well in truth, not a lot. However the single thing it does is actually quite impressive. You see, Prism allows the user to convert any web-based application or indeed web page, into a desktop application at the click of a button. Of course, this is not always necessary in many cases, but for web-apps such as those from Google, for example GMail, Calendar or Docs, it can be extremely productive.
The first application that I decided to convert was Sky Sports Score Centre. Normally, you would have to go to the Sky Sports web site in your browser and follow a couple of links until the application loaded in a new window. But with Prism you can take that window and add it straight to your desktop, or indeed Applications folder if you’re an OS X user like myself.
Now, as I mentioned earlier it comes in separate forms. The first of which is the standalone app, which provides an extremely simple interface for you to convert your app. It is a minimalistic single window which allows you to firstly enter the URL of the web app you wish to convert, and give it your own custom name which will appear at the top of the window of the desktop app.
You can also customise your application by adding navigation bars and keys for switching between pages or showing status messages and progress. Use of these features depends entirely on the app in question, but ultimately it will make your experience feel more like a web page rather than a desktop app, which in my opinion really defeats the object entirely.
In addition to this, the app allows you to choose where to place the app, on OS X this gives you the choice of either the Desktop or the Apps Folder, but obviously it differs between the operating system. It is also available on Linux for those who have ventured into the open source operating system too. Lastly, you can change the icon displayed or your app from the default one supplied which is generally sufficient for Google Apps and the Sky Sports Score Centre, giving you basically the companies’ logo.
So overall I found the Mozilla Prism desktop web app to be extremely easy to use which is a definite positive as I believe added complexity would put off many potential users, which you don’t want to do as when used properly for the right apps, Prism truly works very well, I definitely recommend testing it out and see if it works well for you.