Zimbra Adopts Prism
In my first article about site-specific browsers, I concluded with a somewhat conservative assessment of the state of the technology:
This might have been overly pessimistic. Only a month has passed since I wrote these lines, and already Matt Asay is reporting that Zimbra (recently acquired by Yahoo) is shipping a desktop version of its web-based email client using Prism. Mark Finkle, the Mozilla employee in charge of Prism development, provides his own thoughts on the announcement, including a run-down of its latest and greatest features.
[ Author’s note : I am a contributor to Prism.]
As Mark points out, adding desktop-like capabilities to web apps entails certain challenges:
He goes on to ask for specifications for site-specific browser extensions to be standardized under the aegis of the WHATWG. In my opinion, it’s a bit early to be launching a formal standards effort, but there’s certainly no harm in vendors getting together and comparing notes. One particularly intriguing question is what additional features could meaningfully be added to products like Prism to make web apps more competitive with their desktop brethren. Some, like offline storage, are being added to traditional browsers anyway. Are there features that only make sense for an application that is running in its own process?
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