Have you checked out Mozilla’s Prism project yet? It’s pretty sweet.
Prism is basically a version of Firefox with no address bar, no icons, no bookmarks, nothing. It’s just a browser that loads one pre-defined bookmark at a time. It sounds a little weird, but it’s really useful.
When you start up Prism, it asks you for a URL, a name, a few options and where you want to save your shortcut. Then, when you open the shortcut, it loads the website in the Prism browser and you get a clutter free, simple, web application that runs off the power of Firefox.
Prism is cool because it creates a shortcut (or bookmark) that you can add to your applications folder. Then, when you open it, your web application just appears.
The beauty of this is how easy it is to create mini applications for those with less than great organizational skills.
Imagine this, you setup a Google Calendar account for you and your friends to share. However, they never remember how to get there, the login or what’s going on. So, just create a Prism shortcut for them and tell them to open the calendar application from their computer.
Maybe you created a cool ZoHo database application but someone always forgets the URL. Just create a Prism shortcut.
You can also setup a Prism shortcut to go straight to the admin area of a blog. That way a user never has to search for the login link again, they’ve just got to double click on the blog admin application on their computer.
Sure, you’d think that bookmarks in your browser do the same thing, but there are so many people that have no idea how to organize or search their bookmarks. They either don’t bookmark anything, or they bookmark everything and can’t find anything. However, they can always find their applications folder so putting a shortcut in there would be much easier for them.
I use it to keep my Google Accounts separate. I have one I use for Gmail, one I use for branded Google Docs and a third for a shared Google Analytics account. Firefox can’t keep all three accounts separate without logging in and out, but between Prism and Firefox, I have everything under control and easily accessible. Plus, with the shortcuts in my applications folder, my built in search (Quicksliver) pulls them up quickly.
There are a few downsides though. Like all Mozilla applications, it proves to be a bit large at 43.2 MB. I have a feeling that inside Prism is a bunch of theme files and a lot of other useless junk left over from Firefox.
Also, the shortcuts have less than desirable icons. The Prism application has a fantastic icon, but the shortcuts have the standard Mozilla globe. It’s not ugly, but doesn’t go with the Prism theme.
Prism is really pretty cool. Simple idea, but quite handy. Especially for non-techie folks who can’t keep their bookmarks organized. This proves to be a simple and effective way to ensure they have the right URL every time.
As a side note, Fluid just came out. It’s like Mozilla’s Prism but made just for Mac. It looks a bit nicer, but I’m just starting to try it out.