Integrating with web apps
Call for Help and Ideas!
Everyone knows I love web apps. You have two extremes. Old school “native apps and in control of my data” and then the other which is basically ChromeOS; No local state, all web. Most people are in the middle. You might love Gmail but the thought of having a remote word processor might not work for you.
I want my cake and I want to eat it too. I want web apps integrated with my desktop, which is why I am a big fan of site specific browsers. Recently these have been popularized by Chrome applications in the Chrome App Store — which is just a pretty front-end to what Stuart and I have been yelling about for 3 years.
When people do it right (like Seesmic and Tweetdeck), it’s a great user experience. When people do it wrong, it’s just a stupid bookmark with no window chrome, meh. However, we can do little things to make it great.
One area where we can integrate is notifications. Chrome/Webkit has notifications, they look like this:
These are becoming more popular; Seesmic, Stack Overflow Chat, and irccloud to name a few. Well, why stop there? I asked Aq to hook up a prototype and then Marco Cepppi finished it.
A little bit of glue makes all the difference. To try it:
bzr branch lp:chromify-osd
Now, load the extension in Chrome. Wrench -> Tools -> Extensions, click on the developer mode link, and then choose Load unpacked extension and select the directory “chromify-osd”. Then use a webapp that uses extensions. Here’s an example one.
Aq passes along “Although remember that the best solution will still be to write a proper Chrome extension which intercepts notifications and uses D-Bus! An NPAPI extension. This is a hack.”
So what do we need? We need someone who can make a Chromium extension to connect web notifications to libnotify. I suspect that a proper extension will have to deal with sandboxing and a bunch of stuff Aq glazed over in order to give me hope that this is possible.
What else do we need? Well, we need Unity to decide to be the glue for the web. We can do this by connecting desktop services to the browsers. Wherever web app developers take this we need to connect it up for people. Here is the start of some plans Unity developers have for making this integration better.
Any takers on getting this started?
Where else can we do this? How about we make it so when people make the App Shortcut we “install it” for them?
Now we’re talking! I also what a nice high resolution icon on the launcher with little numbers for new emails, etc. fta pointed out the code where Chromium does the shortcut thing, maybe someone can take a crack at it once the Launcher gets closer to being finished.
(My examples use Chrome since it ships app shortcuts out of the box, the same should apply for Firefox/Prism)
Whether you agree with web apps or not isn’t the point. Some people like them and some people don’t, either way your desktop should give you the best possible experience if you use Evolution or Gmail or whatever. Thoughts?