Prism is now WebRunner

9 February 2011 by Matthew Gertner - Category: Salsita

Update: WebRunner has been discontinued and is no longer available for download. Although we no longer support the public product, Salsita can still produce a packaged web app for distribution by your company. Contact us for more details.

Mozilla Labs has not been working actively on Prism since early 2008. However, the Prism name has continued to be associated with Mozilla, leading to confusion recently about the status of the product. For the past three years, I have been responsible for development of the product, with the fantastic support of Zimbra (a subsidiary of VMware) and several other clients (including DesignLinks International and Bloonn). A few months ago I set up Salsita Software, primarily to focus on the ongoing development of WebRunner. Today we have a growing team of developers working on the product.

As some old-timers may remember, when Prism was first invented by Mark Finkle in 2007, it was called “WebRunner”. Well, all that is old is new again, and as we proudly announce a major new release of the software, we’re returning to the original name.

The biggest change is that WebRunner is now a Firefox extension rather than a XULRunner application. The justification for doing this is outlined in a previous blog post. In a nutshell, this makes it possible to use any Firefox extension in a WebRunner app without modification, as well as having access to all Firefox features. With the XULRunner approach, we found ourselves duplicating Firefox’s features by hand one by one. We’ve also made a whole slew of other new improvements to WebRunner since the last release, which I will describe in more detail in future blog posts.

From the user’s perspective, however, nothing has changed: the app still looks like a regular Prism app. The WebRunner extension takes care of stripping down the Firefox user interface and removing unnecessary elements. We’ve added a menu bar to WebRunner apps in place of the old “gear” menu.

To all the dismayed users who emailed me over the past few days worried about the future of a product they have grown to depend on, rest assured: we are investing more time and resources into WebRunner than ever before. And companies who want to deploy their web apps as standalone apps on all major operating systems with a better user experience, more features, great user engagement and no browser compatibility issues, WebRunner is still the only game in town.

Visit our product page to learn more about WebRunner and access the latest version, which is compatible with both Firefox 3.6 and 4.0. I’ll be posting much more about this in the days and weeks to come, including developer documentation and case studies from some of the companies using WebRunner.

Update: I should have mentioned this explicitly: WebRunner will continue to be free and open-source! All source files are licensed under the same tri-license (MPL/GPL/LGPL) as before. You can browse all the source files from our Trac interface.

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  • http://Website Arnaud

    Is WebRunner opensource ?

    I don’t know why but I wasn’t able to download it, probably a problem with openid login. By the way, why is it mandatory to login ?

  • http://Website SB

    Download link in the product page doesn’t work :-(

  • http://Website mmc

    Prism had a wonderful logo…

  • Matthew Gertner

    Sorry, there was a glitch on our download page. It works now. I also updated the post to state explicitly that WebRunner will continue to be open source. Thanks for pointing this out.

  • http://Website Jonathan

    Running the latest Firefox nightly on Windows (with webrunner-win32-4.0b11.xpi) yields no browser UI and a single Window that reads:

    XML Parsing Error: undefined entity
    Location: chrome://browser/content/browser.xul
    Line Number 34, Column 1:<window id="main-window"

  • http://Website Jens

    Sounds great!

    But as others have statet, download does not work. Download leads to a login page all of the options I tried lead back to the login, without giving any error or explanation.

  • dietrich

    Yep, download still not working (Linux, Firefox 4, Google login).

  • Matthew Gertner

    Having a small run in with Murphy’s Law. I’m working on it now and will post an update when the download is live again.

  • Yoan
  • Mark Finkle

    @Yoan – Chromeless is an entirely new code base. WebRunner (nee Prism) and Chromeless do have some overlapping goals, but they are not the same project. Mozilla Labs has stopped promoting the project the was Prism and is focusing efforts on the Chromeless project. Yes, it is kinda confusing, but we’ll all be fine in a few days :)

    Matt (and team) have been working on and maintaining WebRunner for a while now, and doing a great job. An open source project continues as long as it has contributors, volunteers and users – WebRunner has all of those.

    Welcome back WebRunner! (nice logo)

  • Ric

    As it’s now a Firefox plugin does this mean it can’t be used standalone i.e. users must have Firefox installed? I used to find Prism useful when IT departments didn’t want to install another browser on their users systems.

  • Matthew Gertner

    You can simply bundle Firefox instead of XULRunner as the runtime. We’re planning to add some support in the software to create standalone installable bundles automatically. In the meantime, you can do this by hand. I’ll post some information about how to do this here on the blog.

  • http://Website pd

    Putting the download behind a login is dodgy. More HarvestEmailsForSpam-Source than Open Source.

  • Matthew Gertner

    The only reason we have a login is for our ticketing system. I’ll get the downloads onto AMO as soon as beta 12 comes out.

  • Lee Hyde

    I’ve installed the Linux version (although I had to co-opt install.rdf from the windows version as the Linux version was missing it). However, I see no sign of webrunners UI! It’s predecessor Prism had an entry ‘create web application’ (or something to that effect) in the tools menu, where is the equivalent for webrunner located in Firefox 4.0b11 on Linux/Ubuntu 10.10 (x86-64)?

    Kind Regards,

    Lee Hyde

  • http://Website Guido Cardino

    I’ve installed both Windows ad Linux version (for this, taking the install.rdf file from the Windows one).

    - The Windows version seems ok, the linux one gets configured inside firefox but it does not show any menu option. Comparing the contents of the downloaded files, the linux version seems to miss more things than the install.rdf file only

    - The Windows version put the “create web application” option in the tools menu… unfortunately, I choose to completely hide the menubar, so I have to show the menubar to use webrunner — may I ask a switch to show the same option in a different place (for instance, in a new button which can be placed in a toolbar by the user)?

    Anyway, thanks for your work!

  • http://Website Bernd Mueller

    @Guido Cardino: I am sure the menu-item will also be addressed in the firefox-button menu in the final version of webrunner.

    In the meantime … did you try toggle with the ALT-Key ;)

  • Pingback: prism, convertido en chromeless |

  • http://Website Justdave

    Is there an x86_64 version for Linux? The i686 version installs fine (apparently the extension itself is platform agnostic) but the launcher stub that it installs with the webapps it creates is a 32-bit executable, which means they fail to launch with a 64-bit Firefox (Gets an “Unable to load XPCOM” error and quits).

  • Matthew Gertner

    You currently need ia32-libs to run it but I’ll see about getting a 64-bit build up.

  • Richard Milewski

    Can you (and perhaps Mike Finkle as well) comment on the issue of controlling printers from Web Runner and Chromeless apps?

    It’s hard to imagine doing serious apps that need printed output unless there is a way to get much more print control than is available in the browser.


  • Matthew Gertner

    We’re not currently planning to implement any new printing code for WebRunner beyond what Firefox provides. It would be possible to do, of course, but I haven’t seen a lot of demand for this so far.

  • wes

    So.. how does one ‘deploy’ a ‘standalone’ web app using webrunner ??

    It seems to me that, despite the claim of being browser-independent, mozilla firefox is now required to be installed along side webrunner on the target machine where as prism was indeed entirely standalone.. (otherwise webrunner’s stub complains about xpcom and friends being unlocatable). This isn’t really useful for the case of, say, giving a client a .zip they can uncompress and run directly without needing to wrestle with corporate policies about browser versions and locked down systems that don’t allow actual installing of applications.

    Prism did the job we needed in this regard on a particularly large project where users were limited to having ie6 installed and their corporate IT department weren’t coordinated enough to get them upgraded but were OK with a standalone browser specifically for this one SAS solution. WebRunner it seems is entirely useless now in that regard? Or am I missing something?

    How do I *deploy* an *actually standalone* instance of webrunner now?

  • Selwyn

    So now to make it work for Firefox 7, right?

  • Netwaregal

    Link to Mozilla addon page doesn’t work. Link:
    results in message:
    The page or file you requested wasn’t found on our site. It’s possible that you clicked a link that’s out of date, or typed in the address incorrectly.

    Search on site for Webrunner returns no results.

  • Wizard

    when or will we ever see a Firefox 7 compatible issue

  • Selwyn Polit

    Any chance of a webrunner compatible with firefox 8? I’m still on 6.02

  • Stef Masson

    I’m French and use Prism to use Gmail. I’d like to suppress the red dots under the text written in French. Prism being in an English version, it considers that my text is badly spelled. How can I suppress the orthographical correction or change the English language into French?
    Thanks for your kind help!