One of the driving forces of Web 2.0 has been the concept of bringing applications that were once the exclusive domain of the desktop to the web. There’s no shortage of examples; online email negates the need for a desktop client such as Outlook or Mac Mail, Google Docs, ThinkFree and Zoho are suppose to negate the need for Microsoft Office. And yet many, many people still prefer their old school desktop software. Fluid is a Mac OS X tool that helps bridge the gap between online and desktop applications.
The idea behind Fluid isn’t new. We’ve covered gOS previously, a Linux distro that comes with a dock that is full of icons that open online apps. However with gOS those links simply open Firefox and brings the page up. Fluid on the other hand attempts to make the online application appear as though it is a desktop app by hiding the usual URL bar and buttons that would appear with a browser, instead offering a clean “Site Specific Browser” that shows the app requested.
Setup is dead easy. Open Fluid, type in the URL of the app required and the name of it, then it creates a shortcut that can be easily dragged onto the Mac dock. Click on the newly created icon and up pops the app/ page like it was a normal piece of software.
Those readers who frequently use online applications in a browser as though it was second nature may not find Fluid appeals, but for those still using desktop apps who are looking for an easier way to make the switch to online alternatives, Fluid may be a winner.