In my on-going review of applications that add just that little bit of icing to the cake of Mac OS, here’s a quick look at an application which very neatly solves a growing problem.
How many times have you opened 10 or 15 tabs in a browser, only to have one of them with some errant flash or JAVA code crash your whole gig? It’s usually that annoying ‘swat the fly to win an iPod’ spam ad, but sometimes it can be the genuine attempts of a site to add more functionality, which unfortunately isn’t quite working on your browser just yet, that forces you to start over – this time avoiding the problematic site in question.
Fluid gets around this by isolating individual web pages in their own task. Simply put it makes individual web pages into a separate application, complete with customizable dock / switcher icon. But if you dig deeper Fluid does a lot of those things you had no idea you wanted a browser to do, until you saw it being done.
Fluid supports http://userscripts.org/ plug-ins and ships with the impressive looking ‘Thumbnail’, by Todd Ditchendorf, which previews all the links from the currently viewed page in either a Quicklook style pane, with side scrolling 3D panels, or in Opera style thumbnails.
There’s also a handy keyboard shortcut (Command + Shift + D) to test if a non-responsive page is slow loading for you or everyone else, using the excellent downforeveryoneorjustme.com.
Then there’s the iPhoto style photo browser, which quickly displays all images from the currently viewed page in a double click-able panel – which is ideal for viewing a page which is all about the images, without looking at all the gumph which the site designer would rather you look at, like his or her Google ads.
Fluid is a great example of the kinds of applications Apple’s Developer Tools allow small single person software developers to build with minimum effort spent on coding every last element, so they can spend more time on functionality and stability. You’ll find yourself running Fluid built applications all the time, once you’re familiarised with it.