[whatwg] Installed Apps

Michael Kozakewich mkozakewich at icosidodecahedron.com
Wed Jul 29 11:28:51 PDT 2009

From: Drew Wilson 
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 11:56 AM
On Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 6:32 AM, Michael Kozakewich <mkozakewich at icosidodecahedron.com> wrote: 
    -- Notifications: I don't think I've ever had Outlook notify me of new mail when it's not running. It usually starts up with Windows, and it runs in the background. If you turn it off from the tray, it stops.

  The way I've envisioned any of these "persistent running workers/pages" operating is the browser would have a status bar icon which would allow background apps to display status, and also give the user the opportunity to exit the browser or (possibly) close down individual apps. So it's a very similar situation.

Have you ever used Chrome's 'Create Application Shortcuts...'? It's pretty neat how they work. You get a mini UI with an option button (also the favicon), the title, and the mimize/maximize/close buttons. The rest is the site itself. It's actually a modified browser tab, but you'd never know it just by looking at it.
I can close Chrome, and that one modified tab with Google Reader will still be open. I've sized it to fit in a specific part of my desktop, so it's really completely separate from the browser (except that, if you look in Task Manager, the main browser process remains open, invisibly, in the background). It even keeps my sizing and positioning preferences, so it'll open in the same place next time I open it. I've got a shortcut to it on my Quick Launch bar, set to a fancy 'Web 2.0' RSS icon. Every once in a while, I can glance to the title of the 'application' or my Taskbar, and the number of new feeds is auto-updated right there. I don't think it can pop up a notification, yet, but I'd love it to play a sound when it finds more feeds.
If you want, you can also click the favicon (or right click on its taskbar button) and select "Show as Tab" from the menu, then drag that into the browser with the rest of your tabs.

The salient bits:
-Browser interface is gone: lets the page have its own navigation/toolbars.
-In the background is a hidden process, which writes the DOM and keeps the window open.
-That background process isn't a hidden page, but rather the browser process itself.
-You can open it with a link, which can starts with Windows if put in the Startup folder.
-It can be given a custom icon.

The problems: 
-No notification messages
-No minimization to the notification area
-95% of the web can't use it without switching browsers.

The solution:
-Get other browsers to adopt certain elements from this
-Get everyone to agree on a notification API
-Allow the option of minimizing to notification area ("Hide window when minimized").

What I'd like is to hear of anything this doesn't solve. Can invisible pages do anything that the invisible browser can't? An invisible page controlling a visible page would still need the browser to be open, so we'd actually have one less page open if it was just the browser and the page. Browsers could also add an option where they'd secretly stay on in the background, without being any less secure than it would be to have your browser sitting open right now. 
Is it easier that we ask browser vendors to implement these changes, or to create the whole hidden-page spec?
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