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Yahoo Gives A Peek At BrowserPlus

Application platform dynamically reaches the desktop

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The portal company opened up a look at its browser-as-application-platform service called BrowserPlus, a dynamic extender of online services.

Rich Internet application platforms received another addition to a field already containing Adobe Air, Google Gears, and an assortment of startups like Pageflakes and Netvibes, as Yahoo gave people a look at BrowserPlus. The service has been in quiet development for about a year.

Yahoo’s BrowserPlus developers said they hoped to receive valuable feedback about the platform as they continue its construction. New features derived from that input should arrive and complement the current crop, which includes drag and drop from the desktop, image editing, and desktop notifications.

One of the current features, a Flickr Uploadr, enables a few filters to play with through BrowserPlus. By checking and unchecking boxes, we could quickly render a picture of Disney World’s Cinderella Castle in grayscale and sepia tones. If desired, a sidebar allows quick addition of a photo to Flickr.

“BrowserPlus services allow us to chip away at the benefits of “going native”, by exposing things like notifications, text to speech conversion, direct network communication, and persistent client side storage for saving preferences,” Yahoo said of the project as it becomes available to external developers.

“The result is the ability to write websites that can emulate a lot of the good interaction patterns available to native applications, without the sacrifices of traditional web apps.”

Some commenters at the BrowserPlus page suggested Yahoo should integrate this effort with Google Gears, rather than giving people one more download to install. “Otherwise we’ll end up writing code to check for browser extensions instead of browsers, and then we are back in 1998,” one person suggested.

Adoption of BrowserPlus by developers and the applications they create will determine how it will be embraced by the general Internet-using public. BrowserPlus works on Windows XP/Vista with Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 and up, and on Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5 (Intel builds only) with Firefox 2 and higher as well as Apple Safari.

Yahoo Gives A Peek At BrowserPlus
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