Don Marti

Mon 10 Aug 2009 11:10:18 AM PDT

Desktop/Browser sharing?

Stormy Peters writes, "I think the browser is great. I use it all day, every day. But by limiting ourselves to the browser, we are limiting our user experience and the power of the desktop."

Yes, the desktop has power, but the browser has a few things that other desktop apps could use. Number one is an HTTP cache, which is easy to extend into a filtering service. (AdBlock Plus does this.) The browser also has Google Gears, which is a promising, easy-to-use persistent data store that non-browser apps could use too. (I've been messing around with extending the basic idea of a snarf-file-into-a-hash/do-manipulation/spew-data Perl script to use memcached after the first step. Super fast compared to parsing out the input file every time, but not as featureful as Gears.)

If you set it up right, desktop apps and the browser can already share a "keyring" of username/password pairs. You can also use the same configuration management system, GConf, across the browser and other apps. So why not let the desktop apps share the browser's HTTP cache and the Gears store? Splitting the browser into multiple processes is the happening thing to do. What if one process would just run during your whole desktop session, and handle background services that other applications need?

Anyway, if you have questions for Stormy, see you at OpenSource World this week. Community days Tuesday, main program Wednesday-Thursday.