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10 web apps you should be running on your Mac with Fluid


As web apps become more powerful, more popular, and more full-featured, they're starting to replace desktop apps for many people. A Mac app called Fluid can pull those web applications onto your desktop and turn them into OS X native site-specific browsers.

Fluid has a lot of advantages compared to running web apps in your browser: you get a Cocoa app with its own Dock icon, automatic unread badges for sites like Gmail and Google Reader, and built-in userscript support. Keeping your web apps in a separate browser also means that they can't be taken down when another site crashes in some other tab. You can even create menubar apps, so your favorite webapp will be close at hand, right at the top of your screen.

To find icons for your Fluid apps, I recommend checking out the Fluid Icons Flickr group. The users there have come up with attractive icons for most of the apps on my list. Chris Ivarson has also designed a handful of great icons for Fluid apps.

Now that you know a little bit about how and why you should use Fluid, give these 10 sites a spin as site-specific browsers!

Google Wave

Google's hot new communication tool is a perfect candidate for a site-specific browser. It's pretty resource-intensive, and it's still in the preview stage, so it's prone to crashes and lag. I haven't found any excellent Wave userscripts yet, and the site's favicon makes a nice enough Fluid icon. If you want an additional icon and a userscript that gives you a badge count for Wave, Devthought has posted them.

Google Reader

A lot of people are already using Google Reader as their main RSS app, so it makes sense to set it up in Fluid. You also get the benefit of an unread count badge on the Dock icon and a bunch of great userscripts. One of my favorites is Helvetireader. Try setting it up with Chris Ivarson's icon.

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Facebook Chat


I find Facebook Chat almost unusable when I have to keep a Facebook tab open, but it's a lot better in a site-specific browser. The URL you should use to create a Facebook Chat Fluid App is http://facebook.com/presence/popout.php. Once again, Chris Ivarson comes to the rescue with an icon.

Facebook

You might also find some utility in using Facebook itself in site-specific browser. With some handy userscripts, you can add badge counts for both private messages and your public stream, and even enable Growl alerts. Looking for an icon? If you've read this far, you know where to find Chris Ivarson's version.

Campfire

Campfire, the popular team communication system from 37Signals, works so well with Fluid that 37S has released an official Fluid Icon for Campfire. Some great scripts, including Growl alerts when someone mentions your name in Campfire, can be found at Thoughtbot's blog.

Gmail

Gmail is one of the most well-supported site-specific browsers around. You'll find a plethora of icons for it - Ivarson's done 6 different colors - and automatic badging. As far as scripts, your options are pretty deep: everything from Growl to ad removal to chat alerts.

Grooveshark

Grooveshark is an amazing web-based music player, but you have to purchase a paid account to use its official desktop app. A site-specific browser isn't exactly the same, but it keeps you from losing Grooveshark in a mess of tabs, or accidentally closing the window it's in while your music is playing. I use an ad-removal script and an icon by Pat Dryburgh.

Twitter

You knew this one was coming. Fluid isn't necessarily the best Twitter client out there, but if you set it up as a menubar icon, it's a quick way to check your Twitter stream or post a fast Tweet. A script called FluidSmallTwitterClient turns Fluid into a pretty awesome Twitter client with Growl, badges and other enhancements. There are a lot of icons out there for Twitter, but this wood-style selection is my personal favorite. If Twitter's web interface isn't your cup of tea, try Hahlo or Brizzly instead.

Instapaper

Instapaper is an excellent way to save articles for later reading, using a convenient bookmarklet. Make it look gorgeous for Fluid with the Instapaper Restyled script. You'll also find a nice icon to use there.

Google Voice

Considering that we just told you about an Adobe AIR app for Google Voice, it seems that having easy access to your voicemail and SMS messages is in demand right now. Moving Google Voice to Fluid with notifications and more is snap with a walkthrough from the nice folks at Lifehacker.

Wordpress / Your Blog

If you're a regular blogger, you probably check your site's dashboard every day Setting it up as a site-specific browser is great, but you might run into problems with Fluid's lack of navigation buttons when you're trying to write new posts. For notifications, dock badges, and tweaks that make Wordpress run a lot more smoothly in Fluid, grab the Fluid Enabler WP plugin. Also, Chris Ivarson has a set of icons for Wordpress, Blogger, Livejournal and Xanga.

Tags: app, fluid, google reader, google wave, GoogleReader, GoogleWave, mac, os x, OsX, web app, WebApp

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