Fluid: A Powerful Site Specific Browser For Mac OS X

If you have used Prism to create a site specific browser (a browser that runs only one site), I am sure you won’t be remote to Fluid.

Fluid is a prism like Site Specific Browser (SSB) for Mac OSX Leopard that allows you to run a specific site like an application. Each SSB is just like any other applications in your Mac system and comes with its complete sets of user tools, including desktop icon, dock icon, menu bar and Preferences page. What makes Fluid different from Mozilla’s Prism is that it makes use of Safari’s Webkit rendering engine and is able to integrate seamlessly into the Mac OS.

There is no installation required for Fluid. After you have downloaded and extracted the zip file, simply click on the Fluid icon to create your first SSB.

fluid maketecheasier SSB

It might take a few seconds for it to generate the site, but once it is done, you will find your SSB reside in the Applications folder just like any other apps. When you launched it, you will also see the SSB icon in the dock.

fluid desktop

There are some well-thought design in the user interface:

1) When you click on an external link, it will open in a new window (instead of a new tab).This is done so that each browser is specific to only one site. However, the newly opened window will be treated as a child to the parent window and it is always stacked below the parent window.

2) The URL bar is hidden by default to provide more viewing spaces. Since each browser runs only one site, the chances of using the URL bar is definitely lower than a normal browser. To access the URL bar, click the button located on the top-right corner.

Features

1) Dock SSB as an icon in status bar

This is a feature where you convert your SSB into an icon at the status bar. This is useful if you want to have quick access to your site, for example, accessing your Gmail account quickly.

fluid dock menu

2) Plugins

There are several plugins built into the Fluid package:

Thumbnails plugin

This plugin allows you to view your search result (Digg, Google, Flickr etc) in a cover flow style.

fluid thumbnails plugin

Browsa

Split up your SSB into several panels and load different sites in them. This is useful if you want to compare two sites side by side.

fluid browsa plugin

Why would I need this?

Most people will argue the need for this type of SSB when you can simply open up multiple tabs in a single browser.

First of all, whether there is a need for this or not is really up to personal preferences. Some prefer their favorite sites to be like an application on the desktop where they can launch it quickly while others prefer to launch multiple tabs in their browser.

Secondly, when you open up too many tabs in a browser (such as Firefox), there is a tendency for it to take up a lot of memory, and could lead to crash of the browser. With SSB, you won’t have such problems.

Thirdly, Fluid does provides some useful features targeted for single site. For example, you can create a SSB for Gmail and dock it in the status bar. You can then easily check any incoming mails by clicking on the icon. With Google Gear, you can also use it as a native desktop application.

In my opinion, Fluid does not aim to replace the current browser that you are using. Instead, it is meant to complement your current way of browsing the Web by providing you a more convenient (and personalize) way to access your favorite sites.

What’s your feel on this?