As more of our digital lives move towards the cloud, our reliance on native desktop applications has begun to diminish. Where once we depended on native apps like Outlook, today many of us use websites like Gmail. Even games and music have begun to migrate from the desktop to the cloud. What is great about web apps is the ability to access your information from anywhere. However, with desktop apps you have the convenience of quickly launching programs from the dock or through shortcuts. Wouldn't it be great if you could have both? Well, with Fluid you can!
Fluid is a free application that aims to address the biggest downside to web apps: multiple steps to launch just one web program. With Fluid, you can create a site-specific browser for any website. What this does is take any URL and converts it into a native Mac application. This application then resides in your Dock and Applications folder for easy use. It is really that simple.
While there are other similar programs out there (such as Mozilla Prism), one of the best aspects of Fluid is its deep integration with Max OS X. For more advanced users, Fluid supports client-side scripts for manually tweaking features and formatting. Additionally, quite a few plug-ins exist that add more functionality for advanced users, and enhance the experience of the newly created native apps.
To add to the fun, there is an entire Flikr group dedicated to creating icons for use with Fluid. If you find yourself going to the same sites all of the time (say, Unplggd) then be sure to give Fluid a try and let us know what you think.