back to article Prism Firefox extension hits beta

Mozilla Labs has released a beta of a Firefox extension that turns any website application into a desktop app. The not-for-profit outfit launched the standalone web app late on Friday. Dubbed Prism, it comes with its own site and an updated API for developers to play with. Prism 1.0 beta comes loaded with several nifty …


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  1. Patrick O'Reilly


    I believe there is a certain Penguin that wishes to have a word with you.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Browser lock-in

    So I guess this means your web-app will need special browser-specific code to take advantage of the feature? No thanks.

  3. Pete

    sounds like a great way to install viruses

    on peoples computers to me

  4. Daniel

    This could be a useful departure

    You only have to wrestle with the random way in which Internet Explorer _still_ launches new instances of itself in-process or out of process, on a whim, to realise how hard it still is to offer secure and highly functional web applications that are both compelling and cross platform. Web browsers are being asked to do a job that is far removed from their original design. If all we ever wanted our browser to do, was show us pictures of other people's kittens, Internet Explorer's memory management would be solely Microsoft's problem, and not one that we all share. I think users need to begin thinking about their web apps outside of running them in a conventional browser.

    At the moment we have a bizarre kludge, whereby browser developers are having to block things like pop-ups (but only when it's a bad guy) or silently redirect a user to somewhere they didn't ask to go to (but only when that new place is really cool - and not when it's a phishing website). Browsers end up offering more functionality than they really need, because they don't offer as much functionality as a specialised web-app renderer would want. As a result, we end up in a world that is neither secure nor insecure, and where the user is constantly expected to work out what it is safe to do next, like walking a minefield.

    Separating the rendering of web sites and that of rendering web apps still requires the developers of both, to take security seriously, but at least we can work on each as a separate entity, and we don't have to wrestle with making something that works great for most people, but still kinda works without Javascript, and still offers some functionality if the pop-up blocker is active, and at least generates some sort of graceful message if cookies are blocked. I'd like to offer the ability to manage content over the Web, because where I work, we're past looking at each other's kittens.

  5. Toastan Buttar

    Download Prism for Linux here...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No so quickly Anon

    A quick browse of the web site reveals....

    "You can find out more about Prism 1.0 beta and download the standalone version and Firefox extension from our new Prism website at"

    so it looks like its NOT a browser lock in.

  7. Adam

    Still no plugin support?

    I've been playing with this for a while, but it doesn't use your existing firefox plugins. There is no point in running some of my favorite sites as web-apps if I can't use adblock to kill their ads.

  8. F Seiler

    "desktop" and even "standalone"?

    I would expect a desktop application to be more than a browser hiding its usual user interface and "standalone" shirely needs no browser or other VM (eg compiled to *machine code*) and runs just as well when i unplug the interweb.

    icon because joke is what calling such things desktop and standalone can only be

  9. Pierre Silver badge

    @ Daniel

    "I'd like to offer the ability to manage content over the Web, because where I work, we're past looking at each other's kittens."

    Erm. Why does it need to be done with a crapload of fancy animations, flash there, silverlight here, javascript and pop-ups everywhere? The "net" part of the workflow is best done without fancy (but mostly unusable ressource-hoggish) web interface. The only reason you could possibly want a web interface is for "itinerant" work (from an internet cafe or a library's shared computer). And for this, you need to have apps which can work in an uniform "standardized" parser (a web browser is a good choice), be compatible with different level of paranoid security, ...

    So the users who need full-fledged networking into their apps already have that, built in their grown-up "desktop" apps/workflow. And no matter what you do, the "itinerant workers" will always need the bastardized all-compatible web-interface version. Or are you talking about the few people who wish to perform "actual work" from smartphones? Those mostly actually want to look at each other's kitties (whichever meaning that may have, sexting anyone?) anyway.

    Where I work, we're past using the web for distant content management. But the web's still great for kitty-looking (whichever meaning etc...)

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Holy marketing speak, batman!

    "beta... fostering... ecosystem... compelling... bundles"

    Like, gag me with a *spoon*!

  11. Steve Evans

    Full circle...

    So first there were applications, then websites, then websites that looked like applications and now applications that run websites like application...

    Thank God for broadband, cos with all those layers it'll never fit on a floppy!

  12. Camilla Smythe

    Not very WEB2.0 is it????

    Running applications from the desktop!

    Blimey that is so radical it's got to be some sort of new paradigm. All hail the new paradigm.

    Still I suppose we still get to store all our data in the cloud and the program goes Phffft when you stop using it, assuming it doesn't while you are.

    Wouldn't want to go about the place breaking too many old new paradigms. The users might get a bit confused, tongues out, drooling and branes dribbling out of ears.

    I mean, like, give it a couple of decades and the programs (fluffy toys) will be installed on the client, run from the desktop and data will be stored locally....... Science Fiction! I here you cry?

    I can't help being a visionary. It's just the way I am.

  13. James Loughner


    This sounds like Xwindow. Is the web just reinventing things because the developers don't know Unix??? Just add an xServer on each client and bing bang you have an app that runs on the server and appears on the client. Is this what they are trying to do??

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Not to be a spoilsport or anything...

    ...but I think I'll wait 'till the security's been well and truly sorted out before I let it anywhere near my system. Thanks all the same...

  15. Peter Lawler
    Thumb Down


    Linux desktop shortcuts still aren't working properly? Not working for me, and there's this thread:

    That's some fail right out the door, even for a beta.

  16. DJGM
    Thumb Down

    It doesn't work. It doesn't do anything!

    It's completely unusable. It doesn't even start up, but bombs out with a Visual C++ error!

    I know it's a beta app, but even so, I'd expect something that actually runs. I'd have also

    expected something a lot more stable from Mozilla, than this piece of useless junk.

  17. Ali
    Thumb Down

    Just another wanna be browser

    So they'll add more web friendly features (tabs? Firefox extensions? favourites? Bookmarks?) and we'll just end up with another browser disguised as a 'desktop app'.

    Totally, utterly pointless. My browser is open all the time anyway, so why do I want Prism?

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