Site Specific Browers

Recent posts from Zach Lipton and Robert O’Callahan share a common theme: Give web applications better integration into the desktop.

I have a strong interest in this area myself. A while ago I came across a desktop application for the Mac called Pryo. It’s an application with an embedded browser designed to work exclusively with a single web application: Campfire (a web-based IM service from 37Signals). Pryo allows for many things that are either difficult or impossible for Campfire to do on its own. The guys behind Pryo call it a Site Specific Browser. There is even a Windows clone in the works.

Zach provides a simple proposal for “appifying” Firefox for specific sites. I am wondering if a Firefox extension couldn’t be used to test out some of these features. Instead of a <meta/> tag, I was thinking of a <link/> to some sort of manifest file. The manifest could specify how to modify the Firefox UI to be more site specific as well as setup desktop shortcuts. Of course, the user should be in full control of allowing any of this to happen. Preferences would control a site’s ability to “appify” itself and the user should be able to revert back to the “non-appified” version of the site.

Site specific browsers could be the Next Big Thing with Ajax applications appearing faster than rabbits. Seems like TechCrunch has 2 or 3 new web applications popping up everyday. Better desktop integration would definitely enhance the user experience.