Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th May 2009 09:21 UTC, submitted by poundsmack
Mozilla & Gecko clones The boys and girls of the Mozilla project have taken the wraps off the beta for Prism 1.0. Prism is a technology which blurs the boundaries between the web and the desktop, allowing you to approach web sites as if they were ordinary desktop applications. Prism is cross-platform, and runs on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.
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Questions for the experts
by Hypnos on Tue 12th May 2009 09:52 UTC
Hypnos
Member since:
2008-11-19

How is this different from any other application server, e.g. WebObjects? Appears to me it is very similar, except with XUL instead of Java.

If this is the case, is XUL really a big win over Java? They're both desktop-agnostic, and both bloated for the same reason ...

Reply Score: 0

RE: Questions for the experts
by FreeGamer on Tue 12th May 2009 10:18 UTC in reply to "Questions for the experts"
FreeGamer Member since:
2007-04-13

This is very similar to other technologies that have existed for a while. For example, I contribute to Vexi:

http://vexi.sourceforge.net/

It has similar properties with 1 major difference; brand power. Mozilla brand is strong, and they have a large infrastructure (and as such many developers) behind them, whereas as most projects like Vexi suffer from being too loosely presented to the world - not because they're not good or not well-featured, but because the final push (documentation, demos, marketing) takes a full time effort and we don't have the manpower to do that.

Is Prism good? Probably. Anything special? I doubt it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Questions for the experts
by slight on Tue 12th May 2009 10:32 UTC in reply to "Questions for the experts"
slight Member since:
2006-09-10

Well essentially, it bears absolutely no relation to them! :p

It's a couple of things. It's a tool for creating a link that will launch a browser for a particular site with custom settings for that site, and it's a set of APIs that allow sites to interact with the desktop a little, like minimizing to the task tray, and creating a pop-up right-click menu for minimized apps.

I'm sure there's some more to it but AFAICT that's about it.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Questions for the experts
by Hypnos on Tue 12th May 2009 12:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Questions for the experts"
Hypnos Member since:
2008-11-19

If the websites look at all "app-liked" rather than "website-like," to do even what you describe you need some kind of HTTP-based control protocol (e.g., SOAP) and a portable runtime (in this case, XUL).

So with all this infrastructure, you might as well do more than simply having smart links and a few custom settings!

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Questions for the experts
by slight on Tue 12th May 2009 15:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Questions for the experts"
slight Member since:
2006-09-10

But they're not app-like, they're just websites in their own frame with some extra Firefox JS API for interfacing with some desktop functionality. This has nothing to do with XUL except that it uses xulrunner as essentially a low overhead container for Gecko.

You can of course create apps in XUL + JS, but that's not what this is.

Reply Score: 2

I just don't grasp the idea
by WereCatf on Tue 12th May 2009 10:01 UTC
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

So, you could associate mailto: links with a web-email interface if you used such, and you can create links to those "web applications" (just some new fancy trend word for websites that fulfill a specific need), but haven't you always been able to? I sure can create links to any website I wish just fine. And they are still just websites no matter how fancy frames you put them in.

Maybe I just am not part of the target group. I don't use e-mail at all except if absolutely forced to, and I just can't for the life of me imagine how you could turn MMO-Champion, OSNews or Slashdot to anything else than what it is: a website.

Reply Score: 4

RE: I just don't grasp the idea
by Lennie on Tue 12th May 2009 21:44 UTC in reply to "I just don't grasp the idea"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

It's mostly an easy interface to do such things and a few more as mentioned bij slight. Also read the other OSNews-article from today: "ODF, Net Apps, Netbooks Will Invigorate the OS Landscape".

Personally I think they should just finish Prism and integrate it with Firefox so people will actually start using it.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Tue 12th May 2009 11:12 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

Very much lacking polish, poor UI. It blurs the icons it creates from the favicons, which looks a mess. Google Chrome’s ‘web application’ tool does everything Prism does so much better. Honestly, Mozilla need to try harder with this one.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Kroc
by slight on Tue 12th May 2009 15:41 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
slight Member since:
2006-09-10

It doesn't blur them, favicons are small and bitmap based, there's no way to magically make them sharp if you scale them up.

What does Chrome do better specifically?

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Tue 12th May 2009 16:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Kroc"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

* Chrome upscales the favicon so that it shows as sharp pixel art, rather than a big blur.

* Chrome’s context menu has many more practical options on it, for navigating and moving to a full browser window

* Chrome’s titlebar is smaller

* Overall easier to use, and built in.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Tue 12th May 2009 11:15 UTC
Laurence
Member since:
2007-03-26

This whole "web application" trend really is a bad egg in my opinion.

The last thing we need is to turn our multi-GHz dual-core computers into 486s because of excessive use of web scripting languages that require multiple additional interpretation layers on top of the existing OS.

I mean, even Visual Basic 6 runs more efficiently than some of these web applications I've seen of late (and it's a hell of a lot quicker and more fun to program in too).
And it not even as if there's a void of lower-level (relatively speaking) languages that compile to run cross-platform binaries (Java, .net) or powerful scripting languages with an already extensive API set and refined interpreters (Ruby, Python, etc)

Bar a few select applications, this trend strikes me as pandering to lazy developers.

Edited 2009-05-12 11:18 UTC

Reply Score: 11

RE: Comment by Laurence
by darknexus on Tue 12th May 2009 11:30 UTC in reply to "Comment by Laurence"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Took the words right out of my mouth... or fingers, as the case may be. Web apps have their place, but it makes just about as much sense to turn every application into a web app as it does for us to go back and use 386's in this day and age.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Laurence
by lemur2 on Tue 12th May 2009 11:37 UTC in reply to "Comment by Laurence"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

The last thing we need is to turn our multi-GHz dual-core computers into 486s because of excessive use of web scripting languages that require multiple additional interpretation layers on top of the existing OS.

I mean, even Visual Basic 6 runs more efficiently than some of these web applications I've seen of late (and it's a hell of a lot quicker and more fun to program in too).


Took the words right out of my mouth... or fingers, as the case may be. Web apps have their place, but it makes just about as much sense to turn every application into a web app as it does for us to go back and use 386's in this day and age.


You must both be IE users, hey?

Check out Squirrelfish extreme:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebKit#JavaScriptCore

and tracemonkey:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracemonkey

Both of these are JIT compilers for javascript
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JIT_compiler

Check out the demo:
http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/02/mozilla-demos-impre...

Motion detection within a running video, all inside of a web browser.

Edited 2009-05-12 11:41 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by WereCatf on Tue 12th May 2009 11:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Laurence"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

You must both be IE users, hey?

Check out Squirrelfish extreme:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebKit#JavaScriptCore

and tracemonkey:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracemonkey

Both of these are JIT compilers for javascript
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JIT_compiler


No matter what browser you're using, it's still interpreted language and will always be slower than precompiled one. I myself am using FireFox and I can happily say that I hate using websites with lots of javascript and such. They are noticeably slower than websites with very little or no javascript at all and there's no way you can get around that.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by Laurence
by lemur2 on Tue 12th May 2009 11:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Laurence"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

You must both be IE users, hey?

Check out Squirrelfish extreme:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebKit#JavaScriptCore

and tracemonkey:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracemonkey

Both of these are JIT compilers for javascript
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JIT_compiler

No matter what browser you're using, it's still interpreted language and will always be slower than precompiled one. I myself am using FireFox and I can happily say that I hate using websites with lots of javascript and such. They are noticeably slower than websites with very little or no javascript at all and there's no way you can get around that.


A JIT compiler is not an interpreter.

Firefox does not include tracemonkey as yet. It is included for the first time in Shiretoko, which is due for release sometime soon as Firefox version 3.5.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Firefox#Version_3.5

First check out what tracemonkey can do in the video of this article:
http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/02/mozilla-demos-impre...
and then comment about the speed.

Edited 2009-05-12 11:55 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Tue 12th May 2009 12:23 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Laurence"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

I still don't think we should be pushing a poorly-adhearded to scripting language.

The smarter thing would be to build a new language - one that all teh browsers have to strictly adhear to. One that properly integrates document formating and scripting rather than the tangled mess that is CSS, HTML and javascript.

The browsers could send an additional a HTTP request header specifiying it supported "web3.0" (or whatever the hell you want to name it) so webservers could push out the right language for the right browsers (HTML for old browsers and the new language for new browsers).
Sure, it would mean that you would need two pages for each site during the interim transition period. But the headache on this could still be minimized through dynamically generated pages (eg, messageboards store the core of the data in a DB so all you'd need to build would be the frontend).

HTML was good for it's day, but it's time to move on.
As the saying goes: "You can't polish a turd as you only end up with sh!t on your hands"

Edited 2009-05-12 12:24 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by Laurence
by lemur2 on Tue 12th May 2009 14:00 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Laurence"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I still don't think we should be pushing a poorly-adhearded to scripting language.


It is only poorly adhered to by one of the browsers in common use.

The others all pass conformance tests AFAIK.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_3#Standards_tested
(Conformance subtests 81-96)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECMAScript

It is a pretty well-defined standard. Most browsers don't have any trouble with it at all.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Tue 12th May 2009 14:51 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Laurence"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

It is only poorly adhered to by one of the browsers in common use. The others all pass conformance tests AFAIK.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_3#Standards_tested (Conformance subtests 81-96) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECMAScript It is a pretty well-defined standard. Most browsers don't have any trouble with it at all.


Even if it is just IE that doesn't conform, IE is still the majorety browser so it still equates to millions of pages scripts executing incorrectly or being perpose hacked to run on one specific platform.

Besides, wouldn't it make more sense to redesign HTML from the ground up? Obviously it won't technically be HTML, but you get what I mean.
Every broswer (even some which use the same rendering engine) scores differently on the Acid3 test.
HTML is a real mess. It's been bodge after bodge getting it as content rich as it currently is.

I say it's time we draw a line in the sand and build a whole new web language developed with scripting and document formatting in mind. Something that's actually designed for the connected, multi-media age rather than the hacked together mess that is HTML.

Edited 2009-05-12 14:58 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Comment by Laurence
by Lennie on Tue 12th May 2009 22:00 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by Laurence"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

There are many things which are already available, like SVG, canvas, HTML5 for example which can already do a lot more and a lot more efficient then how a lot of things are done now, the problem is IE every single time.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by Laurence
by Lennie on Tue 12th May 2009 21:51 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Laurence"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

"You can't polish a turd" Actually you can, quiet well actually, their is a Mythbusters-episode about it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by Laurence
by WereCatf on Tue 12th May 2009 12:34 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Laurence"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

First check out what tracemonkey can do in the video of this article:
http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/02/mozilla-demos-impre.....
and then comment about the speed.


It looked to me like the computer running the javascript application was down on its knees, the webcam video was so jerky on it. And it also looked to me like they were seriously wasting CPU-time on a task that would be a lot better to run natively. But oh well..

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by Laurence
by polaris20 on Tue 12th May 2009 15:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Laurence"
polaris20 Member since:
2005-07-06

You must both be IE users, hey?

Check out Squirrelfish extreme:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebKit#JavaScriptCore

and tracemonkey:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracemonkey

Both of these are JIT compilers for javascript
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JIT_compiler

No matter what browser you're using, it's still interpreted language and will always be slower than precompiled one. I myself am using FireFox and I can happily say that I hate using websites with lots of javascript and such. They are noticeably slower than websites with very little or no javascript at all and there's no way you can get around that.


I agree. To see how much faster the web runs, install NoScript. JavaScript, Flash, etc. really gunk up the web, and often for no reason.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by Laurence
by Lennie on Tue 12th May 2009 21:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Laurence"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Personally I've seen more sites with stupid flash then with stupid Javascript, the website builders seem to be getting a better grasp of things now to. Also because there is a lot more less-powerfull mobile devices which are the new trend. Small, simple, efficient 'applets' or webapps, or whatever they are called this week are starting to arise.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Tue 12th May 2009 12:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Laurence"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

You must both be IE users, hey?


Far from it. I don't even have Windows installed on any of my computers (bar a music studio desktop, but that doesn't have a network connection).

My browser of choice is Opera (with plug-ins disabled) and Firefox (for the rare occations I need Flash).

So please don't make assumptions about me because you happen to disagree with my points.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by Laurence
by lemur2 on Tue 12th May 2009 13:51 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Laurence"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

" You must both be IE users, hey?


Far from it. I don't even have Windows installed on any of my computers (bar a music studio desktop, but that doesn't have a network connection).

My browser of choice is Opera (with plug-ins disabled) and Firefox (for the rare occations I need Flash).

So please don't make assumptions about me because you happen to disagree with my points.
"

AFAIK Opera doesn't have a javascript JIT compiler, IE certainly doesn't have one, and Firefox doesn't have one YET. I think Webkit does, so that means Google Chrome and Safari would be the only current browsers where one could experience one in action on one's system (but it therefore would have to be a Mac).

A JIT compiler will make some applications using javascript run up to 30 TIMES faster compared with a javascript interpreter. That is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with opinions, that is a benchmarked fact.

That is game-changing <= and that was an opinion.

Edited 2009-05-12 13:55 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Tue 12th May 2009 14:42 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Laurence"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

A JIT compiler will make some applications using javascript run up to 30 TIMES faster compared with a javascript interpreter. That is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with opinions, that is a benchmarked fact.


30 times faster is still significantly slower than .net, Java and Python.

So my original point still stands: why would you want to build a desktop application in javascript?
It's slow, the language lacks uniformity in 3rd party adhearence to standards and it is hugly lacking the power and flexibility of the aforementioned languages.

.net, Java and Python have been used as cross platform desktop application languages for years now. So surely it would make more sense to use them rather than re-inventing the wheel with an inferior product?

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by Laurence
by thecwin on Tue 12th May 2009 15:14 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Laurence"
thecwin Member since:
2006-01-04

TraceMonkey seems quite competitive with Python:

http://shootout.alioth.debian.org/u32q/benchmark.php?test=all&lang=...


I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it. JavaScript hasn't been considered a "real" language until recently, but it's not all that far from Python in reality.. dynamic languages on the whole aren't hugely fast when compared to statically typed ones (C#, Java).

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by Laurence
by Lennie on Tue 12th May 2009 21:53 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Laurence"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Webkit has 2, squirrelfish from Apple and V8 which is included in Chrome from Google.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by Laurence
by darknexus on Tue 12th May 2009 14:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Laurence"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I'm no IE user either... I'm primarily a Firefox user, or Safari when I'm on OS X. My oses are Ubuntu and OS X, no Windows here except on a VM, which I run for the soul purpose of fixing others' screwed up Windows boxes and don't use IE in there either.
Don't be surprised, though, all Lemur 2 ever does is make assumptions about people when their views don't coincide with his own.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Laurence
by google_ninja on Tue 12th May 2009 15:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Laurence"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

the example I always point to is cappucino and obj-J. http://280slides.com/Editor/

In a browser with a good javascript implementation, it is better then a lot of desktop apps I have used. Only this is accessible from any computer, cross platform, and zero cost deployment.

Edited 2009-05-12 15:10 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Laurence
by Lennie on Tue 12th May 2009 21:46 UTC in reply to "Comment by Laurence"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

"this trend strikes me as pandering to lazy developers."

Yes, their are many. But I've also seen a lot more understanding by developers how to actually build the apps. What should be done on the server and what in the browser.

We've seen a few stupid ones, but I think it's improving.

Reply Score: 1

phoenix
Member since:
2005-07-11

Seems to be Windows/MacOS X only at this time. Couldn't find anything about non-MS/non-Apple OSes anywhere on the site, and there's nothing in the downloads areas. ;)

Having something better than Prism 0.9 for Linux, which has horrible issues with SSL and plugins, would be very useful for us.

Reply Score: 2

How about...
by wowtip on Wed 13th May 2009 21:51 UTC
wowtip
Member since:
2005-07-14

...first making Thunderbird & Lightning and other existing projects having at least something approaching same level of functionality as the commercial alternatives?

But well, never look a given horse... etc.

Reply Score: 1