Fluid for the web on fire

Mac users rejoice! Am I the only one who thinks Adobe Air has been pretty underwhelming despite such promise at inception? Anyway, here I was, wasting the whole day surfing for productivity & GTD apps [oh the irony], and I stumbled across Fluid. Fluid is Mac’s answer to Prism, and Prism is the beta version of awesomeness that Air could’ve been. Am I making sense?

Remember one of Chrome’s features is the ability to bookmark any webapp as a Chrome app, with it’s own icon and sandboxed window? Well Fluid does that, now, on a Mac, so we don’t have to wait for Chrome. What’s the big deal, you ask? Productivity! Features like Speed Dial [and variants] among others really cause users with pseudo-ADD [like me] to go into extended closed loops of surfing when all they originally wanted to do was check Gmail. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have a browser window that lets you check mail, but nothing else? Yeah, thought so. Like a specialised widget, just fully functional?
Two birds with one stone definitely; gone are the times when laggy tabs in another page crash the entire browser in the process. I’m also pretty sure there is a RAM benefit that I’m unable to verify from my Activity Monitor; someone do the honours?

Of course you didn’t think that was the only benefit, did you? Think of all the reasons the only reason you put up with the bloat that Firefox has become, and that would be extensions. More specifically, one special extension called Greasemonkey, that allows you to load custom user javascripts for specific pages/domains/urls. Used in the context of webapps, like Gmail, these userscripts provide amazing possibilities like theming, integration with other services [like Gcal, Greader, Gnotebook etc] and even UI benefits. The webapps that you make with Fluid have Greasemonkey built in, so userscripts.org is at your disposal [conveniently from a icon in the menu bar itself.] Fluid itself runs on Webkit [everyone seems to adopting Webkit nowadays, good job Apple!], so I think some extensions that call on Firefox-specific APIs may not work. The good news here is most will.
Fluid also has extension support [not Firefox extensions but custom Webkit extensions] which could see customisability later in its lifetime.

So how does it work? Fire up Fluid, and it gives a popup form to fill up the url of the page you want to make into a webapp, the name you want to call the app, where you want the app to be saved and the icon for the app [by default it adopts the favicon of the webapp, but this may not please some people’s aesthetics]. Enter all that in, and it generates a sandboxed app that works like Safari would, including tabbed browsing. The only difference is the conspicuous lack of an address bar [which is a GOOD THING].
It’s sandboxed in the sense that, once generated, it’s independent of the Fluid app, and also other webapps made by Fluid. This is important to note, because you can’t save Facebook [for example] userscripts in the Gmail app’s userscript folder and expect the Facebook app to comply.

I think it’s pretty sweet. What say you?

PS: Looking up the “creator” of Fluid yielded a link to his blog: http://www.ditchnet.org/wp/
Turns out the dude was an Apple Engineer working on Dashboard and Dashboard widgets so I think the Webclip similarity is no coincidence.

  • Been using Fluid since May and it has helped me to be more productive and offers greater convenience both for work and leisure that does not require FF extensions.

    You can find icons for various web apps via this flickr pool. You’ll find icons for Friendfeed, Twitter, Facebook and the likes. http://www.flickr.com/groups/fluid_icons/

    If you do need to use the address bar. Hit Option+Cmd+T or “View” > “Show Toolbar”.

    Tried Cruz? It’s from the same developer, Todd. It’s essentially a social browser for Leopard. View their screencast to see what it can offer you. It’s lightning fast. 🙂 http://cruzapp.com/

  • Thanks for the icons Jonathan. The default favicons look buttugly when zoomed on the dock!!
    Checking out Cruzapp.

  • But from the initial looks, seems like Cruz will take away all the benefits of Fluid, namely productivity and focus. haha.

  • Ahhh!! It’s Mac OS X Leopard only!! I’m still using Tiger!!

  • @ Naveen
    hahaha! You’re right, Cruz does suck up alot of productivity time. If you have a Friendfeed account, join it’s room at http://friendfeed.com/rooms/fluid OR subscribe to it’s RSS feed located right at the bottom of the page.

    As crazy as it seems, one of the reasons I moved to Leopard is bcos of Fluid. I read somewhere that next generation of OX S will enable to create such SSBs.

  • Of course Jonathan it all makes sense doesn’t it? First Webclip, then concentrated WebApp windows. I think it’s a great direction!

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