03 October 2009

Bubbles: The Original Site Specific Browser App Manager

Usually, Those aware with the meaning of the term SSB (Site Specific Browser). Instantly think of Mozilla Prism or Fluid App. But Bubbles was first, and served as the inspiration of both and beyond into what later Google took directly into the browser with Chrome and its “Application Shortcuts” and “Quick Launch Application” Concept.

Even Silverlight 3 OOB (Out of browser) Mode is indirectly inspired by the SSB concept that Bubbles started to materialize all the way back in 2005. Bubbles is the brainchild of Ohad Eder Pressman and its goal was to desktopize (his word) web applications by integrating them into the OS so they could be run and used as simple desktop apps.

A great concept and execution attracted the attention of Mozilla who in 2007 created a project called WebRunner that later would be called Mozilla Prism. A little bit later it also inspired FluidApp for the Mac. That thanks to the OS X Dock Convention and other common concepts in OS X. Made it the perfect fit for SSB’s and it would be hard to argue that FluidApp remains the most successful of SSB’s. Google Chrome and Silverlight 3 were the last two bastions so far to bring the concept full front in late 2008 and early 2009 respectively. Mozilla does plan to take Prism and have it built into Firefox in version 4.0. Apple Opted to use a Web Page Snippet concept instead that turns Web Pages into Dashboard Widgets. IE8 came up with a Browser Integrated version of that with WebSlices and Opera so far has opted for focus on their Browser Integrated Widget Engine.

However, Bubbles remains the best SSB in Windows thanks to its simplicity, low resources consume and easy development platform that extend it with SSB-Scripts that work in a very similar way to how Greasemonkey or IEscripts works. They allow to bring even more functionality to enable Desktop Notifications and Drag & Drop uploading.

Bubbles Features

Desktop Shortcut
 All of these desktop shortcuts are Bubbles Appifications

Window App Tab

Tray Icon Support

Minimize To Tray
(So it don’t wastes space when you don’t need it)

Tray Icon Context Menu

Alt-Tab Support

SSB Manager

(Userscripting that make it a even more integrated desktop app)

Desktop Notifications
Meebo Bubble
(Needs SSB-Script)
Drag &Drop for file uploading
(Needs SSB-Script)
Persistent Window Size and Position
(Once you set your desired App Window Size and Position, the app will remember it each time you use it)

Usage Scenarios
That overview is more that enough to understand the what and how. But the why is better explained by showing some of the SSB uses:

1-Single Purpose Apps

Gmail Tasks is a good example of that. why to have a whole tab opened

tmp367  tmp368
Other examples would a photo uploader to picasa or flickr, Google Calendar, Facebook Chat, etc.

2.-Adjustable Web App

Mobile web apps, high end web widgets or fluid web client fits the bill of this use scenario.

FriendFoo and WidgetGadget are two great examples of that:

tmp36A     tmp36B
Other notable examples would be mobile sites for Plurk, Brightkite, Facebook, MySpace, etc.

3.-Websites better as SSB

Some sites make sense to have them as SSB’s. Like E-mail, Web RSS Readers, Online Office Suites. Google Apps fits the bill in most cases of that user scenario. No wonder they push that play with Google Chrome.

So what better than Google Reader and Google Docs as two examples of that?


Other good examples to these would be Zoho, Windows Live, Office Web Apps,  Yahoo Mail, Netvibes, Adobe Acrobat.com, etc.

Final Notes

I think i have made a good case for SSB’s in this post but my point is also to make a point for Bubbles at the same time, Since tragically while being the first and best SSB for Windows; It also happens to be last in terms of adoption. I still recommend it above Chrome because it got better OS integration that what Chrome QLA mode got, It is less resource hungry and still more featured that Mozilla Prism and it can also be used for RIA Apps made in Flash, Flex or Silverlight that you can integrate without having to use AIR or that still exceed the integration of SL3 OOB mode.


*Update* (12/06/2013) : Bubbles original site is now dead. So the set up is a backed up version of the last version Will be fixing this post dead screenshots and there will be a new post on how to revitalize Bubbles.




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