For those better in the know then I am, Fluid.app might be quite old news. I however just got on the bandwagon recently, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Fluid is a Mac OS X application, which acknowledges the fact that we are not using "the browser" anymore, but we are working on our days jobs, using our private email, posting photos, chatting with friends, etc. And these are all distinct activities or tasks we do. So we would be more comfortable looking for our "photo app", "chat app", "email app" or even "work app", but most of our interactions are now done on the web, so all these are tucked under the "browser app".
What I also found it great for is task specific application generation. At Acquia, we have our own webmail interface, a user story and bug tracking system, we are running different levels of staging setups of what is going to be launched next, so there are lots of tabs to have open for work. If this is all hidden behind a generic browser icon, preferably with multiple browser windows open (for different task areas like the aforementioned work stuff, community module maintenance or blog post research), even getting right down to work after the occasional personal email detour is time consuming.
There come the Acquia Browser. Fluid can be set up to allow any URL to be opened in an SSB, thus making it a more general purpose browser. While this sounds like going against the SSB concept, you can still assign a custom icon to the browser, make it remember your usual tab set for that task and from there, you can either open links in the same app or in your default browser depending on your choice in a right click menu on links. This lets me keep my Acquia related web applications, test sites, etc in the Acquia Browser app, while more general purpose web browsing is done in the default browser app. It also helps security, since my work related browser sessions are kept to the Acquia.app and not shared with the browser used for general browsing. And it also improves productivity in more minor ways like the actual Acquia icon bouncing in my dock when an Acquia calendar notification fires due to a meeting coming up shortly.
Some tips if you are building a task specific browser with Fluid:
- Choose to show the address bar and tabs in all cases. Check some demo videos of Fluid features to get a better idea of what is possible: http://www.viddler.com/explore/itod/videos/
- The favicon generated application icon will most probably be useless. Just grab a suitable icon from the Flickr group (http://www.flickr.com/groups/fluid_icons/) or make yourself a quick one, like I did with the Acquia logo. Make sure to have transparent backgrounds where appropriate.
- Choose to open new tabs instead of new windows, which works great for Google apps. Unfortunately Fluid does not support dragging and dropping tabs from one window to another in the same app, so keeping tabs in the same window in a focused app looks like a good idea.
By the way, Fluid is not a unique concept at all, it was mostly inspired by Mozilla Prism which is a similar – albeit due to its cross-platform nature less feature-complete – single site browser application by Mozilla Labs. It is available as a standalone version and Firefox extension version as well. Fluid is developed by Todd Ditchendorf, who used to work for Apple as Dashboard Engineer, developing Dashboard and Dashboard Widgets for Leopard, so no wonder he is doing closer integration of the site specific browsers to the Mac desktop.