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And everything in its browser

January 11, 2010

A ProfHacker post last month pointed out the usefulness of something called site-specific browsers. They’ve been around for a few years, but I had never looked into them. (There is way too much out there for any human being to explore — don’t trust anyone who even hints that he is on top of things). I think a lot of people could benefit from this technology.

A site specific browser is like a bare-bones web browser dedicated to a specific website. I’m using one right now to write this. I created my WordPress app from Firefox using the Mozilla Prism add-on; it launches and runs independently. If Firefox crashes or hangs, the application is unaffected. It doesn’t have all the overhead of a full-blown browser, so it uses less memory and runs faster. Here’s a quick how-to I made just for you!

I also tested site-specific browsers for Concourse (Blackboard), using both Mozilla Prism and Fluid for Macintosh. They work fine for most functions, but they don’t like the HTML Creator – some kind of Java issue. The application created by Firefox is a little faster, probably because it has fewer bells and whistles.

You can create a desktop application for any site you use frequently

  • eMail – OWA or gMail
  • Library catalog
  • Wiki – Confluence
  • File transfer – WebFile
  • Social sites – FaceBook, Twitter
  • Sharing – Flickr, YouTube
  • Reference – Wikipedia, MapQuest
  • News – politics, weather, stocks, sports

If you try this, let us know what you created and how it turned out.

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