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Run Xojo web apps in a site-specific browser

Xojo web apps work very similarly to desktop apps. In fact, they are so much like desktop apps that you may want to make them their own “app”. There are a couple ways you can do this.

A site-specific browser (SSB) is an independent web browser that just shows the contents of the web page. There are no other user interface controls to get in the way. This browser essentially acts as an “app” that you run to get to the web app. The SSB is completely independent of any web browsers you may be running and is not affected by you closing or otherwise using your normal web browsers.

On OS X, you can create a site-specific browser using an app called Fluid. After downloading and installing Fluid, run it and fill in the dialog with the information about your web app. The screenshot belows shows what you would use to create a SSB for the Eddie’s Electronics Xojo example app:


Click “Create” and you will get an “app” added to your Applications folder. You can then just double-click on the app to start it and immediately display the web app. Because this acts like an app, you can drag it to your Dock as well. This is what the Eddie’s Electronics web app looks like running as its own app:


You can also do something similar on Windows and Linux by using Google Chrome’s application shortcuts (which apparently are not supported on OS X). Simply navigate to the Eddie’s Electronics example in Google Chrome. On this tab, select the “Customize and Control Google Chrome” icon on the far right beside the address bar. In the menu, select Tools->Create application shortcuts:


In the dialog select Create to add an app shortcut to both the Desktop and Taskbar for the Eddie’s Electronics web app. Unlike Fluid, this technique does not create an actual app for you. This is the example running in its own app shortcut on Windows:


These two techniques can provide a great user experience for your Xojo web apps. By eliminating extra controls in the browser, you prevent the user from accidently clicking away using the Back button or a bookmark, something which can happen to the best of us. Of course, these things don’t just work with Xojo web apps. You can use them with any web app (or web site) that you want to run separately from your browser. For example, an SSB also works great with the Xojo forum.