Fluid Brings Web Applications to Your Mac Desktop
Mac users wanting website-specific apps on their desktop have a new tool by the name of Fluid, which leverages Apple’s WebKit to create site-specific apps for your Mac.
That webapps are the future of many types of software largely goes without saying, but in their current state web applications still have some serious disadvantages compared to traditional desktop apps. For instance, it you’re a heavy Gmail user and you always have Gmail open in a browser tab it’s highly annoying when a random webpage in another tab crashes your browser — taking your half-composed e-mail with it.
To get around this common problem the growing trend is to create site specific applications, that is, browser windows that run separately from your main browsing session and won’t be affected if your browser crashes.
Mozilla has been leading the charge in site-specific apps with its Prism project (see our review), but Mac users already have Apple’s rendering engine available to any app that wants to leverage it, which is exactly what Fluid does.
Fluid is lightweight and dead simple to set up. Just fire up Fluid, enter the url of the app you want to create and give it a name. Fluid will then create an application and even add an icon based on the site’s favicon. Fluid created applications show up on the desktop, in your dock and in the application switcher. In short, they behave just like a normal app.
All the usual browser tools are included in a Fluid app, including access to the URL bar so you can browse as you normally would, though that will partially defeat the benefits of having a single, separate browser. There’s also a very nice search box that allows you to search within just that application’s domain.
Fluid is currently a beta, but I had no problems in my testing. At the moment Fluid is free and can be downloaded from the Fluid site.