One thing I hear occasionally from our users, especially Web professionals, is that running a bunch of browser-based apps at once can be a particular pain when the browser decides to misbehave. OS X users have our time-tracking widget to take care of one task, but that leaves out some popular operating systems — and a lot of FreshBooks features beyond time tracking.
Enter Prism, Mozilla Labs’ browser integration experiment. Prism, based on the Firefox web browser, lets you run web applications like FreshBooks (or Gmail or anything else on the web) in their own window and process, acting like a desktop app unaffected by browser restarts.
Getting started with Prism is easy: download the version for your operating system, install, and run. It’ll ask you for the URL and name of the Web app you want to encapsulate, and where you’d like a shortcut to the new “program” put. Put in your FreshBooks login page URL, name it “FreshBooks”, choose a shortcut location, click OK, and then run the resulting shortcut, and next thing you know, you’ve got a standalone FreshBooks app. Here’s a screenshot of me tracking time in a FreshBooks Prism window, while I do important corporate intelligence work in my browser:
If I were to quickly close the browser when Levi came by my desk expecting me to be working, the time tracking window (and the minimized FreshBooks main window) would stay running!
Prism is still experimental software, but it’s held up well while I’ve been trying it out (although I’ve heard that the Firefox 3 extension is less reliable than the standalone installer). As long as you’ve got Internet access, it makes web-based apps feel like they’re local, letting you restart your browser at will without having to wait until you’re done with your invoicing, mail, instant messaging, photo editing, and everything else you end up doing on the Web.