April 15th, 2008


Useful new toy: Prism

For those who are interested in bleeding-edge tech: you may want to check out Prism, an experimental program from Mozilla.

It's one of a number of entries into the new movement to blur the line between the browser and the desktop. (Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight are also playing in this space.) Prism is arguably the simplest such program: it's largely a repackaging of Firefox, that allows you to turn websites into desktop applications. You give it a URL, and it puts it onto your system's desktop and/or menus as if it was an application. Open the "app", and the webpage opens in a new window.

My first reaction to this was a big shrug, but it occurred to me today that this is actually *very* useful to me. The thing is, I'm maintaining two identities on Google: my personal jducoeur at gmail account, as well as jducoeur at commyou.com. (Whose internal email, calendar and such are all being handled through Google Apps.) That's a real pain, because Google gets a bit confused between them. But Prism apps each have their own profile in Firefox, which clears away the confusion: I can run different users in different windows, something that is normally challenging in Firefox.

Prism is explicitly a prototype, and likely to change a lot as things go along -- among other things, they're starting to integrate it right into Firefox 3 as a plugin. But it's already looking useful for certain use cases, and may well make a lot of sense for these sorts of productivity apps that I just want to have open each day...