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Ask Slashdot: Chromeless Cross-Platform Browser?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the oh-you-want-everything dept.

GUI 145

blakieto writes "Mozilla has the Prism project, which turned into Chromeless, which seems to have died [Note: last update was May 31]. I'm seeking a no-interface-what-so-ever cross-platform browser for use as a 'user interface host' to a self-hosted web app. Slight background: I've a professional market web app, with a large portion of the customer base unable to access public Internet connections. So, I want to make a version of my product self-hosted, with the web server and web app and everything necessary to run the web app locally installed on a user's machine. I have everything except a chromeless browser. Oh, and my customers are local police & highway patrol type organizations, most likely running an aged Windows box (probably IE6, too)."

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Use Prism? (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#36858810)

I'm not sure I understand. Prism [mozillalabs.com] still exists, and it sounds like what you want, so I don't understand why you say it "turned into Chromeless."

It's also very easy to embed Internet Explorer in things. A friend of mine once "wrote a Web browser" in Macromedia Director using about six lines of code.

Re:Use Prism? (0, Offtopic)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859314)

>It's also very easy to embed Internet Explorer in things
Words Cross-Platform hint at this not being an option, nevermind IE's blatant disregard of standards.

Re:Use Prism? (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859368)

Words Cross-Platform hint at this not being an option, nevermind IE's blatant disregard of standards.

How about the words, "Oh, and my customers are local police & highway patrol type organizations, most likely running an aged Windows box (probably IE6, too)"? Claiming you want something cross-platform is all well and good when you're trying to sound like a good Slashdotter, but when the facts are that your customers are all on Windows, it seems pointless to worry too much about it.

Re:Use Prism? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859842)

Pretty much my thought. If they have out-dated boxes, the odds that they'll do much more than click Next/Next/Next/Finish on an MSI to get your product up and running is close to nil. Writing a wrapper around IE is super simple, allows you to control the experience greatly. And since you control everything from web server to web page, you don't care what standards it supports as long as it supports your needs.

Re:Use Prism? (2)

gomek-ramek (1340625) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859620)

Follow the links on the page you provided, and you'll see that Prism isn't supported past Firefox 3.6.*. Also, Mozilla themselves said that Prism is now Chromeless [mozillalabs.com] .

Chromeless is not dead (2, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859928)

I'm not sure I understand. Prism [mozillalabs.com] still exists, and it sounds like what you want, so I don't understand why you say it "turned into Chromeless."

I think he meant this announcement [mozillalabs.com] , that focus is shifting from Prism to Chromeless.

But, OP is wrong about "[Chromeless] seems to have died [Note: last update was May 31]" - yes, the last blogpost was May 31, but the last source code commit on github was less than a month ago. That doesn't sound 'dead' to me.

So Chromeless sounds like the way to go here, for what OP is looking for.

Why not create a native application? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858834)

While web applications are often a bad idea, this takes it to a whole new level of bad. Your users get none of the benefits of a web app, but many of the drawbacks.

If you care even the slightest about your customers and their experience, why not just provide them with a real native application that has the same functionality, in addition to a sensible UI and architecture?

Use a mature, cross-platform toolkit like wxWidgets or Qt, and you'll be able to support all sorts of Windows systems, in addition to many other platforms.

Re:Why not create a native application? (2)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 3 years ago | (#36858948)

No mod points or I'd just mod up. Why add the extra overhead of a server and a browser to your app. And on older machines.
    Can you say slow rube-goldberg machine (and just as fragile likely).
K.I.S.S.; keep it simple and don't add all that junk when you get nothing for it.

Mycroft

Re:Why not create a native application? (2)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 3 years ago | (#36858990)

No mod points or I'd just mod up. Why add the extra overhead of a server and a browser to your app. And on older machines. Can you say slow rube-goldberg machine (and just as fragile likely). K.I.S.S.; keep it simple and don't add all that junk when you get nothing for it. Mycroft

Perhaps there are plans to turn the application into a network wide, integrated solution once the bugs are worked out and the security force has habituated. Think about it. He's programming for law enforcement-style organizations, and there's no way they're going to a) be able to shell out for an overhaul at once, and b) want to prove that the solution is workable on an individual level before linking it up. Or maybe there is no reliable connection, but network functionality will be built in.

In any case, you're not really answering his question, you're just telling him that his approach is wrong. If I had mod points, I'd mod you down.

Re:Why not create a native application? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859056)

He's programming for law enforcement-style organizations,

And so he stinks of the Vichy and the Stasi. If I had points I'd mod you down and slap you with my bulbous glans penis, you Fascist sympathizer*.

* Only a Fascist would admit to being a "fan" of PCs and Sony

Re:Why not create a native application? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859434)

Geez, sounds like someone was circumcised a little to tight.

Re:Why not create a native application? (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859856)

* Only a Fascist would admit to being a "fan" of PCs and Sony

Or someone who doesn't go out of his way to irritate people, unless they're apple fanbois who don't know their PPC from their Nehalem ...

Do you remember back before 2000? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859078)

People like yourself, who were apparently born after 2000, aren't aware than for decades we used networked native applications quite successfully. In fact, most users of those apps who are now stuck using web apps will say that they'd love to go back and use real applications again. Their productivity would rise immediately.

Sure, those systems didn't consist of "web browsers", "web servers", "HTML5", "JavaScript" and all of the other buzzwords that the ignorant today consider to be the only way to create networked applications. But these native apps did run on many different systems, and they could communicate with server software running locally or remotely. It was quite trivial to implement auto-update functionality, so that users always had the latest version. It was more than possible to ensure that the communications were done securely. Basically, anything a web app can do today could be (and was!) done using a native app in 1975, if not earlier.

You guys don't even need to look any further than your dear web browsers like Chrome and Firefox to see how all of the supposed benefits of web apps are just as easily realized when using native apps. Then there are the many benefits that only native apps offer, like much better data security and significantly better performance.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859168)

Basically, anything a web app can do today could be (and was!) done using a native app in 1975, if not earlier.

Except install on a machine without administrative privileges. Or is someone supposed to be going around and typing in passwords to elevate to run the automatic updater?

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859190)

Back in the 1970s, we had this thing called UNIX. Maybe you've heard of it. Basically, it allowed multiple users to use the same physical computer, and as part of this it gave each user their very own isolated "home directory".

Users could, get this, install virtually all native application software to a directory under their home directory. They could update it at will. They could even share it with other users, if they wanted to! And they could do this all without having administrative privileges of any sort.

I know this may be very difficult for you to believe, but it did indeed exist. In fact, such software still exists today! No, tepples, I'm not shitting you. It is possible to install native software on systems without requiring administrative privileges of any sort.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859242)

Yea, but thanks to the Wintel revolution, we have Windows XP on P4's instead.
If you've got Linux or Unix, sure. But the OP doesn't. He has mostly aged Windows boxes, which hopefully run XP or 2K.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859700)

Yea, but thanks to the Wintel revolution, we have Windows XP on P4's instead.
If you've got Linux or Unix, sure. But the OP doesn't. He has mostly aged Windows boxes, which hopefully run XP or 2K.

Those boxes are are more than capable of running ClickOnce [microsoft.com] applications.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859310)

Back in those unix days, most people connected to a server using "telnet" and ran the application on there. There were certainly still a few of those around in the mid to late 1990s. Web based apps are a modern day equivalent of that.

home noexec (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859448)

UNIX [...] allowed multiple users to use the same physical computer, and as part of this it gave each user their very own isolated "home directory".

It also allows the administrator to mount /home noexec.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859610)

At work I install Firefox on people's machines all the time without administrator access (windows xp). It just installs under the user instead of program files.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859942)

At work I install Firefox on people's machines all the time without administrator access (windows xp). It just installs under the user instead of program files.

WinXP was notorious for everything requiring admin privs which is why every single user that wanted the ability to add a printer was given admin privs by default. It was the *extremely* rare environment that had users restricted to only user privs.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860168)

flash won't install for it though.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (0)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859658)

Except install on a machine without administrative privileges.

Many applications can be written to install/run completely with user privileges. Though some platforms make this easier than others. A lot of apps I download for OS X, I just launch from the download location and only copy to /Applications when I know I want to use it long term. And even then, I can make the app owned by me so updates don't require admin privs.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859720)

Manual installs? How quaint. Automatic software installation has been around for, what, oh, a decade? And you use the old strawman argument of "browsers are teh futurez! no security requirements!".

Browsers are good for doing their original, intended purpose - presenting structured hyperlinked information. They are merely passable as application platforms, and quite frankly, shit-for-brains for enterprise applications. Every browser "crapplet" I've come across is buggy, incomplete, crashes whatever runtime it's sitting on top of, hell sometimes crashes the browser, bloats to high hell, is completely opaque with regard to support, and is waaaaay overpriced. And that's quite a few.

Go build websites for some social media bullshit. In the meantime, I've got an ERP system to maintain, written in real code, handling real transactions for real dollars.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859300)

Yeah really, I had a job previously where we'd have to do a lot of logging with a web app. Unfortunately, it would be slow, sometimes the entries would crash out and the app would often times be down when the router would crash.

I'd personally rather have just done the logs on paper in most cases, but that was against company policy.

Re:Do you remember back before 2000? (0)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859866)

People like yourself, who were apparently born after 2000, aren't aware than for decades we used networked native applications quite successfully.

Yes, and people like you, born in the 1990s, like to pretend they're actually older and smarter than people born in the 1980s. Don't worry, I've seen it all before.

Re:Why not create a native application? (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859016)

So you don't have to have two different app development teams, one for your web projects and one for this project?

Because you want to make use of the javascript libraries you've developed for exactly this kind of app?

Because you have the whole app stack done and tested for web deployment and now you're selling a low end "single user" configuration?

Because you want to use the database platform you're used to and it doesn't happen to be embeddable like SqlLIte? And since you're running the database server anyway a web server's not so big a deail?

I could go on and on. I'm not saying this guy's approach make sense; I'm saying you can't pass judgment on it based on what he's told us.

Those aren't the real issues here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859124)

I think the idea was to create a proper networked application, thus getting all of the benefits of web applications, but without the drawbacks that are clearly causing the submitter grief. Then the inferior web application would be ditched. Only one development team would be needed.

No serious application uses JavaScript, and any existing functionality can be implemented in basically every other language in existence. So that's not an issue.

They'll need to test this re-packaged web app just as much as they'd have to test a native application, if not more so. So that's an issue that's likely worse for the web app approach, given how fucking convoluted his whole idea is.

Only somebody who'd spell SQLite as "SqlLIte" wouldn't be aware that most other database implementations, be they commercial or open source, have some way of embedding or distributing a server with native applications. Again, this isn't an issue.

The "issues" you've found just don't exist, I'm sorry to say.

Re:Those aren't the real issues here. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859176)

Then the inferior web application would be ditched.

That isn't so clear from the OP. Would you rather maintain versions of a program for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android, including the annual fees payable to Apple for access to the iOS platform, or would you rather maintain versions for Gecko and WebKit, with no annual fee?

Re:Those aren't the real issues here. (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859260)

Yea, exactly. And, provided you do your coding right, those versions can be one and the same. Perhaps some extra css for nonstandard features(like rotating text), but it could probably be done with a single version. And, honestly, compared to the VB applications that are probably in use(see http://www.thedailywtf.com/ [thedailywtf.com] ), it could easily feel snappy.

Re:Those aren't the real issues here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859270)

He shouldn't have to spell it out explicitly. Discarding the web app should be the obvious course of action to anyone who isn't a total idiot or a web developer (apologies for the redundancy).

Re:Those aren't the real issues here. (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859736)

That would depend on whether or not I thought I could provide a quality user experience through a standard HTML/JavaScript interface. I could also pare down that list of platforms initially. If I'm targeting business, chances are I can require Windows without much risk. Maybe branch out into OS X to get a slightly larger market share. I can probably ignore Linux completely (sorry Linux users, but that's just the way it is) At this point, the cost of iOS shouldn't be a big deal and I'm really just writing a UI. The hard bits, the business logic, will all be shared either through common libraries or centralized server.

Re:Those aren't the real issues here. (1)

lolcutusofbong (2041610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859902)

Or you could just write it in PyQt and have it run on Windows, OS X, and Linux without a recompile.

Re:Those aren't the real issues here. (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859950)

Doesn't help me on iPhone or Android. And I'd have to consider that I'd lose the benefits of native development tools and OS integration. I'm not normally overly concerned with making a program cross-platform.

Re:Those aren't the real issues here. (1)

lolcutusofbong (2041610) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860482)

The OP is, which is why I recommended it.

Re:Those aren't the real issues here. (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860784)

The OP said he wanted something cross-platform, but made it sound like he'd be selling in a niche market where Windows would most likely be a given. I don't think we know nearly enough about the OPs actually requirements. I think he's probably approaching it all wrong. A locally installed web app is almost never a good idea.

Re:Why not create a native application? (2)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859462)

Because you want to charge your customer for some crapy hunk of klugeware you build out of code snip-its you had laying around from other projects, instead of building something appropriate for their needs.

Re:Why not create a native application? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860750)

Hmmm. Perhaps one of the most important "needs" is "low cost". This is government, after all, and Americans have spoken clearly that they want SMALL GOVERNMENT. Well, this is the kind of crime enforcement computer system you get with small government. This is the very end result of voting for fiscal conservatives, who are just trying to maximize tax dollars. So not everyone can afford a system that will pay off in the long run, some of them have to do what the voters told them to do.

Re:Why not create a native application? (2)

Lisias (447563) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859316)

When all you have is a Hammer, every screw is a nail.

Re:Why not create a native application? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859958)

But you've got the Power to drive them in.

Re:Why not create a native application? (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860678)

Updates. Web apps always run at the latest version, desktop apps do not.

Webkit (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858838)

You can build a bare bones web browser in less that 100 lines of code with Python, GTK, and Webkit. If you google around you can find examples of it on sites like pastebin.

Re:Webkit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858978)

Since when has "bare bones" meant having to distribute hundreds of MB of dependencies (a Python installation and its modules, GTK+, WebKit, etc.), most of which will never, ever be used by the web app running on top of them?

Easy (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858840)

Use firefox with --chrome="path_to_your_homepage"

Re:Easy (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36858918)

Use Portable Firefox and make your app portable as well. Installing sucks.

Re:Easy (2)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859060)

Portable firefox in the application install with a link to that runtime would be usefult as well.. since this way you have a single runtime to test against... Though I don't see how prism is not a fit anyhow... since the development of this needs to support a browser from 3 months ago, at least you have a fixed point to work against for your desktop install.

Re:Easy (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859086)

That's actually a really useful tip. Thanks for that.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859690)

Very cool. That option is not listed in the help or any manpages. Mozilla seriously sucks at documentation.

Is there a similar option to make it full screen?

Re:Easy (1)

PwnzerDragoon (2014464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860570)

I just ran the command 'firefox.exe --chrome="http://google.com"' and got a normal browser window on my home (blank) page. Did I do something wrong, or does it not work in FF5?

Re:Easy (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860728)

Firefox works as expected but i get a 302 error
my local google .co.nz works fine with FF5

firefox --chrome=www.google.co.nz

Java? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858856)

You can always use Java and it's Java display HTML. A single file (.jar) containing everything: server & browser. http://www.devdaily.com/blog/post/jfc-swing/how-create-simple-swing-html-viewer-browser-java. // timtux.net

Adobe Air 1.5+ (2)

Palantar (938968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36858872)

Super easy to create an app that's nothing but a webkit instance. Unbelievably easy.

Re:Adobe Air 1.5+ (1)

arete (170676) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859024)

Wish I had mod points!

Anyway I agree -- Adobe made an excellent toolchain to do what you're asking, in the form of Adobe AIR.
 

Re:Adobe Air 1.5+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860588)

I also write applications for police and highway patrol types with all their limited hardware. All of them seem to have no problem having the latest version of Flash so with the same core code, I deliver to the web, to a desktop app with a native ui, or to a mobile phone using the air runtimes. Honestly, ie6 is not an issue with the departments we deal with and Flash is an accepted standard for our NIJ and DOJ funded projects.

Use Adobe Air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858878)

Just use Adobe Air. It's just a wrapper around Webkit that provides all the native integration bits you'd want (like systray notifications, drag and drop, native menus, etc.) The Air compiler is free and open source too.

Re:Use Adobe Air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860014)

Adobe no longer does Air on Linux, so it's not cross-platform.

HTML/CSS rendering or JS engine? (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36858894)

Are you more interested in the HTML/CSS rendering engine or in the JavaScript engine? That may determine whether you want to use something like Prism or Chromeless vs WebKit. My gut tells me you might find WebKit easier to embed and work with, but I don't know if Google or Apple are sharing their fantastic JavaScript engines, and your needs for speedy JavaScript will definitely play a role in your choice.

Re:HTML/CSS rendering or JS engine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858936)

Chrome kiosk mode

If you want Chrome's fast Javascript engine and Webkit, then use Chrome in kiosk mode. This web page will tell you how to do it in detail

http://think2loud.com/868-google-chrome-full-screen-kiosk-mode/

Essentially you just set up a Windows shortcut that runs “chrome.exe –kiosk http:// [enter URL here]”

Re:HTML/CSS rendering or JS engine? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859106)

What we need is a HTML-less and javascript-less browser, that is capable of running a render engine, and a interpreter of choice.

It is nice that W3C cooks up abstractions for the world to use, but what if developers want to use their own?

Re:HTML/CSS rendering or JS engine? (2)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860116)

I am replying to myself because it seems that Apple's speedy JS is indeed getting fed back to WebKit and Google's fast JS code is also open source. Hooray for a little research!

Uzbl (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858932)

Uzbl - web interface tools which adhere to the unix philosophy.
http://uzbl.org/

The answer is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858966)

it depends on your code. You hardly gave us enough information. Is your web app something simple that relies only on html4/5? Then yeah, your suggestion along with the other current posts will all work. (Most seem unprofessional though considering your target market)

BUT if your code is remotely complex in that it uses server side code and possible a db (which posters here are obviously overlooking here nor did you mention much on it), then, NO, there is no easy way to port it to a local application. You will have to go the extra mile in actually porting it. If you would like the least work, that means programming in a language of your choice (python?), embedding a db library if you use one (sqlite, firebirdsql, mysqlembed), and using a easy framework for the gui. Using all this, port as much code that compatible if possible (Like php to c++ might allow for easier code transition). That said, it's not an easy solution and requires you to have some programming background.

There is one exception, however, if you use a database but only use a server side code to connect to the database. You can still do what other posters commented on as long as you convert your storage from the db to html5 local storage. Of course, this limits your choices packaging a recent browser with a local cache of your website.

Stop fighting Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36858986)

If you already have IE on those machines, go in to group policy and remove the interface. Done.

Don't be one of the Slashfools who say Windows can't do something it's been doing for over a decade.

Re:Stop fighting Microsoft (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859326)

I'm not sure about this instance, but MS frequently requires that long to get the implementation right. Sometimes even longer, it's been like 16 years now and they have yet to get profiles right. It's absolutely inexcusable that after all this time I can't just copy or rename a profile more or less whenever I want without having to use special tools to do it.

Or how about the registry. Why they haven't given up on what was clearly a bad idea a long time ago is beyond me.

Many, many options (1)

lucian1900 (1698922) | more than 3 years ago | (#36858988)

We're doing this at work, and we've weighed many options. Chrome's app mode, Prism, custom xulrunner app, embed IE, custom QtWebKit app; they all work, and with little effort. It's great how many options there are.

Chromless dead? (1)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859002)

Why would you think chromeless was dead? It looks like a project that started last Oct with a new release every few months. It's only been a few months since their last update, and the forums have recent activity. They also have commits up until the end of last month? Are you trying to motivate the devs?

I have the same need (2)

gr7 (933549) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859012)

We are happily using prism for our customer's (also in law enforcement) whose IT department refuses to let them install "firefox". Right now prism is great but it would be nice to eventually get those ff ver 4 and ver 5 faster javascript interpreters (engines?).

I'm not sure if using --chrome would help us because I suspect I would have to use the firefox setup.msi file which would give away our secret as usually the IT department is the group going around installing our software on our user's machines. Unless creating my own ff installer is simple (I'm experienced creating an msi file but the prism one is so simple because all it does is copy files - no registering of dlls or registry changes).

Re:I have the same need (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859080)

you could use firefox portable as a base... with the --chrome ... pretty much the same thing in the end.. though the "Firefox..." on the title bar is the give away. Just use Prism.

OffByOne (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859038)

I don't mean to plug anything for anything else, but on my 486 I use OffByOne in Windows. It's the FASTEST browser i've ever used, and I mean that, and not 'marketing fast' like kmeleon / firefox.


It comes at a cost of lack of CSS, source and no update since 2006, though.

Hmm. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859062)

I can't think of a good reason to help the cops do anything at all.

They are not on my side. I am not one of them. They are not my friends. They do not protect and serve. Justice in america has become a joke.

I fear the police ruining my life or shooting me in the back for no reason at all FAR more than i fear terrorists.

Re:Hmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859432)

I can't think of a good reason to help the cops do anything at all.

I imagine their money spends well.

Re:Hmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859494)

Rather help the drug dealers setup a contact database.

They're at least honest about being scumbags.

Prism is WebRunner (1)

Wired Earp (1516347) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859072)

Prism didn't actually evolve into Chromeless, it lives on in a project called WebRunner: http://www.salsitasoft.com/webrunner/ [salsitasoft.com] Prism was originally called WebRunner, funny fact. I wouldn't expect Chromeless to die just yet.

HTML5? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859126)

HTML5 has a huge section dedicated to making offline applications.
It is sort of Work-in-progress though. Google Gears has had some support for most of it for a little while, but it is dropped now.

It has some simple web-server support that replicates server-side fairly well.
Of course, server-side languages are another issue.
Unless you used SSJS, there will be headaches ahead in emulating the server-side in JS.
But if speed isn't an issue, you could do it with no problems at all. Quite a few languages have emulators of them in JS.

If not, Prism, chromeless FF, chromeless Webkit, chromeless Chromium in fact, you are free to port it for your own needs if I remember correct. (not sure if profit may be an issue or not)

Of course, try as much as possible to stick with HTML5 if you can. It isn't too hard to setup offline apps with it, server-side emulation will be the only hard-ish part depending on how well you are with programming.
And it uses the browsers they already have installed, seamless too. Sync operations can be done in the same code if it detects a connection.
Then you could provide a separate offline install if they have no recent browser.
Depends who your target audience is. If the majority use recent browsers, best bet is with HTML5 since most of them will likely hit have ones that support most of it, or IE9 soon which supposedly, and quite shockingly, has decent support for HTML5 this time around.

How about XUL? (1)

Foxhoundz (2015516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859144)

"The âoeChromelessâ project experiments with the idea of removing the current browser user interface and replacing it with a flexible platform which allows for the creation of new browser UI using standard web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript." ...What about XUL?

Aieeee! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859166)

If they what they have now is IE, why not use IE? I mean, besides the horrible incompatibility.

Re:Aieeee! (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860756)

Probably because it doesn't fit their needs as described in the question.

Re:Aieeee! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860802)

There are probably several ways to get IE with no interface. I've seen something that embedded the embeddable that way before, but I'm not sure where it is now.

MSHTML? (1)

Artem Tashkinov (764309) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859378)

Oh, and my customers are local police & highway patrol type organizations, most likely running an aged Windows box (probably IE6, too)

It seems like you need to code something using MSHTML (or hire someone who can do that for you). Almost all modern standards compliant HTML/JS engines have quite indecent memory requirements - and from your words I can conclude your clients PCs may have very weak configurations.

Re:MSHTML? (1)

Artem Tashkinov (764309) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859398)

Oops, you asked for a cross platfrom browser - I've no idea then.

I must not be reading this right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859594)

Even if your clients don't have access to the internet at large, if everything is installed locally a normal browser is still perfectly reasonable... Why does it have to be a no-UI browser?

Doesn't make sense. (2)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859598)

First, why not just install the app and put a URL link on the desktop pointing to http://localhost:7777/ [localhost] ? Second, are you really sure it makes sense to have a self hosted web app? I, for one, absolutely despise when companies ship some tool that installs a web server on my machine and makes me use it through a web browser. IIRC, HP did this kind of garbage for managing their printers. Write a god damn native app if it is just going to install on my local machine!

I realize that you probably want to save some money and not write two pieces of software that do the same thing, but how hard can it possibly be to make a UI in .NET that is at least as good as your web interface? Share code if you have to. If you've written the software correctly, you should be able to share the model level functionality between the two apps. Or install the web app on the local machine but create an API that the native app can hit.

It really sounds like you are approaching this problem from the completely wrong angle.

QtWebView (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859622)

We're doing something similar where I work, and one of the things we're considering is using QtWebView for the majority of the UI. It means you can use a web server, or simply embed everything into the app, and redirect all your links to HTML pages on the disk.

Lastly, using a custom interface allows you to break the (deliberate) limitations of the web browser when it's appropriate to do so (this is reasonably safe, since the app is only capable of serving pages that the developer created).

Opera Kiosk Mode (2)

creativeHavoc (1052138) | more than 3 years ago | (#36859642)

Don't forget, when looking for an innovative browser feature that you need implemented, look no further than Opera, because they already did it.

http://www.opera.com/support/mastering/kiosk/ Opera kiosk mode has plenty of features that would work great for you.

MSHTML and WINELIB (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859890)

On Win32 you can easily embed MSHTML with a little bit of COM glue. Of course for other platforms YMMV. You could consider using WebKit and writing a simple shell for it. Alternatively, if you don't mind a bit of Windows pollution on non-Win32 platforms you could use WINELIB to compile your MSHTML shell so that it functions just the same. Wine embeds Gecko in quirks mode so there is a surprising amount of compatability support.

Been there don it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36859948)

I built a simple app using http://www.kirix.com/labs/wxwebconnect.html . Since I was using wxwidgets anyway, it was a no brainer.

For those of you who question the approach, it enables you to develop a a single UI, that can easily be used both locally and remotely. In my case, for an embedded medical product, I have one set off CSS that is used when run locally and using a touchscreen, and another set of CSS that is used for remote on any web browser.

CEF - chromium embedded framework may work (1)

Alfred (16073) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860070)

Look at CEF: http://code.google.com/p/chromiumembedded/ [google.com]

It lets you self-host a HTML widget(s) and works on Win32, OSX and Linux. Its a wrapper around the Chromium browser, I use it in the Steam client for showing web pages in our thick app.

Chromium's Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860188)

Chromium (open source Chrome) has an option to run any site as an "application". The result is the web page only, no back or forward buttons, no address bar. Nothing but your site. Obviously, you can also hit F11 to get into full screen mode to remove the window manager's chrome...

Simply run it like so: /usr/bin/chromium-browser --app=your.apps.url

There you have your open source, fast, cross-platform, standards friendly browser.

Try Appcelerator's Titanium Platform (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860360)

Webkit-based, free, allows you to create desktop and mobile applications.

Development still active according to git (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860522)

https://github.com/mozilla/chromeless

An actual useful suggestion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860544)

Webkit is the layout engine behind Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome browsers. What you probably want to do is embed webkit into a native application to display your web content. This is the approach used by the Steam client (Valve's online game store) which is probably the world's most widely deployed example of what you're talking about. A little googling will tell you all about it.

Also, it's worth noting John Cook, Director of Steam Development at Valve, saying:
"We swapped out the Internet Explorer rendering engine with WebKit, which gives us a bunch of size, stability and performance benefits,"

It also gives them easy portability to OSX and Linux.

Server2Go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860602)

Server2Go is a nice WAMPP stack, customizable, auto-starting, etc... Run Prism or Chromeless on top of that: http://www.server2go-web.de/ [server2go-web.de]

What about "webkit" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860626)

It's about as portable as any "browser" library I've ever seen. It even runs on 8" insignia infocast or "Chumby 8".

Surf browser (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860644)

I personally have a personal project I developed as a web app. I then changed direction and it eventually evolved into a media center platform using Nginx, php w/fpm and a customized version of Surf [suckless.org] . basically just stripped out all the UI widgets and set it to fullscreen on a Linux box connected to my TV.

Thats not the point though. What I am saying is no matter what you are trying to accomplish you will probably have to find something open source and customize it to your needs. I dont need anything other than Linux support for what I am doing, but I think there are unofficial Win builds of Surf.

You will no doubt have to do customizations though.

userinit.exe (1)

Nemo's Night Sky (1051346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860684)

Replace %windir%/system32/userinit.exe with webkit.exe and a custom config file

The Qt toolkit includes a web browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860706)

Build your client side app out of Qt, and you can use QtWebView

Roll your own (1)

patrikas (1704126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860738)

Right, as someone suggested it's very easy to embed the customized browser component into your own thin frame. Many browsers provide these components. Just put it up together with integrated web server, database or whatever you need to run the application. It can be easily automated using custom installer. If I were to write something similar from the scratch I'd think about separately supporting offline and online modes with transparent synchronization. There are plenty of pseudo-HTML5 libraries emerging these days that try to use the best facilities available in your system.

uzbl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860822)

While I agree with the majority here that the design could use some thinking through, one browser to check out is uzbl.

IE helper objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36860866)

Its what all the annoying anti virus apps use with those sleek eye candy AJAX button etc.

If they have IE 6 it will work as well as up to IE 9 perfectly. It may not be eligant but it works. Stream used to use it too before hackers used IE flaws to install malware when peoeple selected levels. Since your app wont access outside data the security wont be a problem.

An oblique approach (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 3 years ago | (#36860884)

Another option which possibly meets the requirements of the poster better is to sell a web appliance to these clients - a server box with a simple web server serving only this webapp on it which can be put inside any firewall on a local network - they just plug it in, and it serves pages on the intranet to any and all clients which need them. That would address the problem of clients without internet access, without trying to turn the web app into a desktop app and losing all the convenience of a web app. Easy to roll out updates, doesn't matter what device config is accessing it or what software runs on clients, handle all new devices automatically with no changes, central store of information which only has to be updated once, users can collaborate on data, etc, etc. All those things are much harder with a desktop client.

Otherwise when clients roll out platform x mobile phone for example which his cross platform browser app doesn't support, he's not completely out of luck, as he just deals with the server appliance, and all clients just need a web browser of some kind, not to run his specific binary. Trying to support an app which is in fact a browser *and* his software on umpteen different client platforms which are constantly changing at different clients is going to be way harder than supporting one server machine with known config which he can replace/update as necessary.

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