Categories Firefox

Use a Web service as a desktop application with Mozilla Prism

Mozilla Prism — formerly known as Webrunner, is an application that allows users to separate web services from their browsers and launch them directly from their desktop. Functional on Windows, Mac and Linux, Prism continues the evolution triggered by Google: sign the end of purely “desktop” applications.


In concrete terms, Mozilla Prism will allow you to launch any Gmail, Google Reader, Facebook or Google Docs, as a classic desktop app.

Thus, it is now possible to run these applications from the start Menu — or other depending on the operating systems, so that they are displayed in their own window without any navigation bar, menu bar, etc.

Therefore, the interface is entirely dedicated to the application and also improves the user experience. Based on Firefox, Prism differentiates itself from Adobe Air and Microsoft Silverlight software by its open and not proprietary platform.

Finally, one of the major developments to come will, no doubt, be offline use — offline, web applications via a cache system... but this is not yet relevant.

However, the potential is enormous so much it would be interesting to use, for example, Google Docs locally. However, I do not think that such an innovative concept signs the death stop of desktop software because it assumes that the entire global computer fleet always has access to the Internet at high speed... which is far from being the case!

Practical application

Capture d'écran - Mozilla Prism, création d'une application desktop
Screenshot of screen — Mozilla Prism, creating a desktop application

After downloading Mozilla Prism, install it as any standard application:

Mozilla Prism (6.4) MiB, 1.301 downloads)

Then launch Prism. A window is displayed allowing you to create a new application.

Screenshots show a convenient use case for Google Docs. Fill in the different fields as follows:

  • Section Web Application
    • URL : enter the address of the website;
    • Name : enter the name to use to identify the application;
    • Show rental bar : check if you want to display the address bar as in Firefox;
    • Show status messages and progress : check if you want to display the details bar;
    • Enable navigation keys : enable navigation shortcuts or not;
    • Display in the notification area : display or not in the notification area;
  • Section Create Shortcuts
    • Desktop : creates a shortcut on the Office ;
    • Start Menu : creates a shortcut in the start Menu ;
    • Quick Launch Bar : creates a shortcut in the quick launch area;
  • Section Icon : by default, the icon of the application is the one provided by the online application (if there is none, a default image is displayed) but you can use the one of your choice by clicking on Settings then on Choose image... (all file types are supported);
Capture d'écran - Mozilla Prism, test de Google Docs
Screenshot — Mozilla Prism, Google Docs test

To validate the creation of the application click on OK. The shortcuts are then created at the various desired locations. To uninstall an application, simply delete its shortcuts.

Here’s how Google Docs works with Mozilla Prism:

Capture décran - Mozilla Prism, utilisation de Google Docs

Note that you can save passwords to override the home screen. Also, it is possible to install extensions — here we find the trademark of Mozilla, via the icon located at the bottom right of the detail bar. The usual extensions will do it although it is not too much the purpose — in my opinion, to recreate a browser with dozens of options.

For information, I tested the system with WordPress... and it works perfectly! To try for bloggers fans of the tool!


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