Last week, I chose Splitweet as my choice of Freeware of the Week. While I have been using it for a while, it was a bit of a pain remembering to load it every time I fired up the browser, and on the times I forgot, it would end up in the last of a rather long row of tabs and was sometimes shut down because of haphazard clicking. These days, I use Splitweet on my desktop. No, the developers haven’t put together a desktop app in the last week, but I have found a solution to get my favourite web apps acting as standalone programs.
Prism is a Mozilla Labs browser that is site-specific and can turn almost any web application into a desktop application. When it loads, there are none of the menus and toolbars that you would normally see in your browser, but the web application will have it’s own window and will run both on your tool bar and in your system tray. Just about any website can be turned into a Prism application, making it very easy to get your favourite web applications to run as separate processes indenpendent of your browser.
Once you have turned your chosen web app into a Prism application, it is assigned a desktop icon and can be accessed with a double-click like any other shortcut. If you are using OS X, the app is available from the dock. Minimising the app will send it to the system tray, and compatible programs can be configured to give you a popup alert from there if there are any new notifications. If the application is something you use frequently, or constantly, as with my use of Splitweet, you can even set it to start whenever your log on to your computer.
To make things even easier, there is also a Firefox extension you can use if you don’t want the hassle of downloading more software. Once installed, selecting “Convert website to application” from the Tools menu will turn your chosen website into a Prism app and it will sit happily on your desktop or dock until you decide to remove it. Simply deleting the shortcut will get rid of any applications you no longer need or want.
Overall, Prism is remarkably simple to use, and a clean and convenient way to use your favourite websites without hogging memory or freezing your browser. There have been a couple of issues with people having trouble with the program in Ubuntu Linux, but the app is constantly being developed and updated, so I’m sure they’ll be ironed out soon. If you are constantly on Facebook, or compulsively checking your webmail, it’s for you. Download the extension or the application today. You won’t be sorry.
[Image by nDevilTV]