Keeping Firefox open just for Wave started to annoy me fast and I remembered underknown option – run web app (or any site) in slim dedicated window.
What it does
Browsers are primarily developed for browsing sites. This had fueled multiply tabs model and extensive navigation options – both for moving through the site and switching between open pages.
Web apps (such as mail clients and RSS readers) have different usability. They are mostly single and very dynamic page that has no use for most of browser’s interface.
When web apps got enough traction is spurred idea of specialized browser windows for them.
Containing web app in separate window has several distinct advantages:
- interface is slimmed down which improves experience overall and is even more important on netbooks and similar devices (positioned most for use with web and suffering for small screens);
- app gets own browser process and is unaffected by crashes of regular browser plus benefits from multi-core processors (have to not that Chrome and IE8 do this for all tabs anyway);
- app gets own place on taskbar, makes it much easier to keep an eye on data in site title (incoming messages count for example);
- if needed, you can use secondary browser with web app for better compatibility without mess of multiply browsers open.
Over year ago, when it was just released, I wrote that Chrome is not a browser, but platform for online applications. Nowadays surfacing details on upcoming Chrome OS only reinforce that assessment.
Naturally dedicated mode is native and easy to enable in Chrome:
Control current page (button) > Create applications shortcut…
Chrome has naturally slim interface so space gain isn’t that great. Still makes page look tidier and more like a desktop application.
Mozilla Prism or Firefox
Prism is Mozilla Labs project that is solely about such dedicated windows. There two ways to use it:
- make full installation of Prism, it will be independent from Firefox (or lack of) and provide some extra options;
- use Prism add-on for Firefox, less options but easier and faster.
I went add-on way. After installing it:
Tools > Convert Website to Application…
Unlike Chrome it allows some customizations and to keep key parts of browser interface.
Since default Firefox interface is quite bulky there are massive space savings.
Concept of dedicated mode web apps is around for a while, but unfortunately hadn’t got much traction and is not a standard browser feature. Still I only see amount of people and amount of time spent in browsers increasing so I expect usage of dedicated windows to grow as well.
Do you use some web apps constantly? Is dedicated window convenient for you everything in tabs is fine?