With all the hype about Adobe AIR and Prism by Mozilla Labs, I thought that I would write something about Fluid. Squeezed between the middle of the two, Fluid offers Site-Specific Browsing for Mac OS X Leopard. Fluid lets you turn any Web service to a desktop application, with its own Dock icon and menu bar.
What is Site-Specific Browsing and why is it so useful?
Ever tried to run several tabs in Safari or Firefox, using Google Docs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, WordPress and/or your email all at the same time? Let’s say you were writing a post on WordPress and encountered writer’s block then switched to YouTube or some other site to relieve yourself for a moment. Maybe your browser crashes and you lose almost all of what you’ve just written. Not everyone bothers to click ‘Save’ all the time because let’s face it, we’re not all IT experts and don’t really foresee our browser crashing. So, it’s a little (or very) frustrating to have to start all over again, open all the tabs again, and get back to work, pretending nothing just happened.
That’s where Fluid comes in. Essentially, it creates desktop applications for a website. The concept is highly inspired from Mozilla’s Prism, but what differs in Fluid is that it’s made for Mac OS X. Prism, on the other hand, was just ported over and there were a multitude of complaints about integration and it was just not up to par for Mac users.
How it works:
In Fluid, all you need to do is type in the URL of the website which you want to make an application out of, give it a name, choose an icon: either it’s a favicon or you can download one of those beautifully made icons from Flickr; and click ‘Create’.
The desktop app now appears in your Applications folder. It will open with the default browser directly to the URL you’ve just set for it. But although it opens with a browser, it is a totally separate working process, which means it appears as its own application in ‘Activity Monitor’. So quitting Safari doesn’t affect it.
There are also several other features:
1. Dock Badges: Like Apple Mail, your desktop webapps for Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Facebook will show ‘unread message count’.
2. History, bookmarks and Site-Specific Search: Because Fluid is based on a browser, you will have the same functions such as your browsing history and searching within that site. When you click an external link in Fluid it will be launched in a normal browser.
3. TinyURL: Fluid includes a TinyURL generator to shorten the address of the page you’re in.
4. Userscripting: Built-in support for GreaseMonkey Scripts.
5. Just to be aesthetically pleasing: Gorgeous icons.
In conclusion, Fluid is simple and easy to use, quick to set up and saves you from losing your online work when and if your browser crashes. From what I’ve read, not Prism but Fluid comes more recommended for Mac users and the statistics from osx.iusethis.com says it all :
- 17 Prism users
- 75 Adobe Air users
- 221 Fluid users
Fluid is available here and it’s only for Mac OS X Leopard. If you’re still unsure about it, check out the Fluid intro video below.
Have you used Fluid? Do you like it? Am I right in saying that it is better than Prism? Let me know in the comments!
(By) Jackson Chung is a full-time med student attempting to perform a juggling act with relationship, studies and his future.
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