(This is a guest post from Ben Francis, a member of the Mozilla community and a contributor to the Chromeless project.)
A Graphical Shell for the Web
If you’re anything like me then you’ll find that most of the stuff you do on your PC these days happens in a web browser, and the desktop environment you used to depend on is now just getting in your way. Modern web applications can do just about everything traditional desktop applications can do (like flashy graphics, sound, video and offline storage) so often all you really need is the browser.
The idea of the Webian Shell project is to replace your computer’s interface with something much simpler, which treats web applications as first class citizens and does away with all the un-necessary clutter.
Rapid Prototyping with Mozilla Chromeless
This initial early release really just gives you a minimalist, full screen, tabbed web browser with a clock and a rather empty looking home screen. I hope this is enough to convey the basic idea behind the project and that with the open source community’s help we can quickly iterate this prototype to encompass lots of exciting ideas about what living on the web could really be like.
These are some of my ideas for future directions to take the prototype, but I’d love to hear your ideas.
- Home screens – instead of a desktop, Shell could have multiple home screens like you see on mobile devices, but containing web widgets and icons for “installed” web apps. See Mozilla’s Open Web Apps project for some inspiration.
- Hardware controls – any graphical shell for a hardware device needs the ability to monitor and control hardware for things like sound, network, GPS, battery etc.
- Zoomable tiled window manager – zoom out to a view of all currently loaded web pages (like Panorama in Firefox or Expose in OS X), then zoom in to the page you want.
- Split Screen – view two pages side-by-side
- On-screen keyboard – for touch-screen devices like tablets.
Download the Prototype
Special thanks to Lloyd Hilaiel and Marcio Galli from the Mozilla Chromeless project for all their help getting Webian Shell off the ground.