Thursday, September 25, 2008

Abstract This!

I just recently installed Mozilla's Prism, and I gotta say, I love it. I have one set up for GMail, Campfire, and Google Docs (GDocs?), and those windows are super snappy. I do miss my Better Gmail extension for Firefox, but its no big deal.

I only have two big issues with Prism:
  • I cannot customize the download location.
  • All Prism instances run under the same process.
The first is mostly trivial; I download all my files to c:\downloads instead of the desktop, so that's just a copy/paste away. The second issue is more important. Google Chrome created the idea of browser process isolation; if one tab locks up or crashes, it does not bring down the other tabs.

That feature is awesome.

Eric disagrees with me that Prism "needs" process isolation; he thinks that the beauty of Prism is the UI, aesthetics, and speed. Hey look, I have my GMail "application" open, it's just one application, and look how fast and clean it is!

Well, process isolation is a vital part of that abstraction. When Excel crashes, it does not bring down Firefox with it. Likewise, when Prism-GMail crashes, it should not bring down Prism-Campfire with it. If Prism's goal is to abstract websites to be desktop apps, then each one needs to be isolated into its own process.
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