Cesar’s Vanilla Blog

White and creamy wtf

Refractor, aka prism-ext, aka Prism for Firefox, aka…

Whatever you call it1, it is finally here (yeah, this is coming a few days late. But if it wasn’t so high on my to-do list, this would come 2 weeks later). Congratulations to everyone who helped push this release. Mozilla Labs did a good job of outlining the features, though only briefly mentioned one of the most valuable (this is subject here) feature of the extension: easier webapp distribution.

Refractor makes use of the link tag in web pages to identify webapps. The line itself is quite simple

<link href="gmail.webapp" rel="webapp" title="Google Mail">
Yeah, no </link> or />. That’s HTML for ya’!

Not to say that sharing webapps before was in any way difficult, but I think being happily notified is nicer than finding and downloading and running and installing. Especially if there is a lot to try.

There are still some things left to be done. I want to see

  1. Recommend addons/plugins with certain webapps (ie. google gears with google reader for offline support, flash for youtube)
  2. Choose website styles/themes
  3. World Domination

I would also like to see some things done to Prism :

  1. Greater interaction with the desktop. I want to double-click a odt and open it up in google docs. No excuses!
  2. Linux requirements says that hal and dbus are required. Maybe we can do something cool here with webapp.js?
  3. Allow people to change their preferences such as proxy and access things like password manager

This is a prototype, with plenty of bugs (I found one just doing this post), but we fix them as we get them.
[1]Refractor, if I recall the story correctly, was coined by Mark Finkle as it reminded him of what happens when light hits a prism : it refracts. Well, it was certainly more creative than prism-ext, while being less obtuse then Abbe prism.

Update : Thanks Percy Cabello for pointing out a mistake

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March 12, 2008 Posted by | Mozilla, Seneca | , , | 8 Comments

Customizing the Web

WARNING — An overenthusiastic developer with ksnapshot post.

Something fun I came across while watching Prism being developed is adding bits of Javascript to pages to change their behavior and look. Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that helps you manage these Javascript files and applies these files to web pages. While fun and sometimes handy, I haven’t found it overly useful.

I then came across Stylish, another extension except this one changes CSS. When combined with some good stylesheets, they make for a good, sometimes drastic changes (click on the preview for a bigger picture) :

stylish facebook

stylish ftp

Google reader with a Mac OS theme. Oooh, pretty.

stylish google reader

stylish Wikipedia

Youtube. Despite not having Flash in this profile, I couldn’t resist.

stylish youtube
After finding a few cool ones for google maps, I made it into a prism web bundle (not perfect) to make it look more like a desktop application.

Prism Google Maps

What’s really nice is that Google maps did not change, I changed Google maps. If this was a Flash application, I certainly wouldn’t know how to do it. I can guess that it would be a lot more work. Then again, Flash can do things that the web yet can’t. But we’ll get there.

November 9, 2007 Posted by | Mozilla, Seneca | , | 1 Comment