Mozilla introduces a new way to work

Written by Phil Cogar

November 1, 2007 | 14:46

Tags: #browsing #innovative #integration

Companies: #mozilla

Mozilla, the company behind popular programs Firefox and Thunderbird, as well as other creative software is at it again. This time its research arm, Mozilla Labs, has renamed and mainstreamed its effort called Prism.

The basic idea of Prism is that it’s a “distraction free browser” – essentially, it strips away the entire UI of a browser and leaves the user with only the page they are using. How Prism differs from other DFB efforts, such as Adobe’s AIR project or Microsoft’s Silverlight is that Prism isn’t a proprietary platform. It conforms to all of the current standards in web protocol and simply integrates the webpage into the desktop.

Prism offers many benefits over a standard browser. One of the largest advantages is that web apps are all separate from one another. This means that if one application locks up or crashes, others aren’t affected. Another guideline for the project is a UI that is as minimal as possible. While most browsers have a UI shrink feature (usually assigned to F11), the backend of the browser remains the same. All that happens is the web content is maximized to take up the full screen. Prism is based on the WYSIWYG principle – there are no hidden processes or features going on in the background.

The attraction becomes evident when you think about companies or organizations who work mainly through web-based processes. Your work email would be one instance, and everything you do within that instance is contained. A "live meeting," possibly with a chat interface or whiteboard function, is another instance. A webFTP that allows you to upload your data to the company servers would be yet another, and if any one of these instances is to fail the others would continue unaffected. Additionally, if a link is clicked in any instance, it will open in your default browser as a standard page and allow you to bookmark it or manipulate it just like any other page.

Each instance has its own location in the dock or toolbar. This location can then display its own notifications – your work email has its own icon that will prompt a notification bubble upon new mail, and a web meeting instance has a separate icon that will prompt a notification upon a received message, or when you are addressed directly.

While this program applies to a niche market, it’s a market that is growing rapidly as organizations rely more heavily on the web to conduct live meetings and other specific functions.

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