Site-specific Browser
Screenshot showing Wikipedia website running in a site-specific browser window created by Fluid on Mac OS X
Web (previously Epiphany) on GNOME

A site-specific browser (SSB) is a software application that is dedicated to accessing pages from a single source (site) on a computer network such as the Internet or a private intranet. SSBs typically simplify the more complex functions of a web browser by excluding the menus, toolbars and browser chrome associated with functions that are external to the workings of a single site. These applications are typically started by a desktop icon which is usually a favicon.[1]

Site-specific browsers are often implemented through the use of existing application frameworks such as Gecko, WebKit, Microsoft's Internet Explorer (the underlying layout engines, specifically Trident and JScript) and Opera's Presto. SSBs built upon these frameworks allow web applications and social networking tools to start with desktop icons launching in a manner similar to standard non-browser applications. Some technologies, including Adobe's AIR and JavaFX use specialized development kits that can create cross-platform SSBs. Since version 6.0, the Curl platform has offered detached applets and the EmbeddedBrowserGraphic class which can be used as an SSB on the desktop.


An early example of an SSB was MacDICT, a Mac OS 9 application that accessed various web sites to define, translate, or find synonyms for words typed into a text box. A more current example is WeatherBug Desktop, which is a standalone client accessing information also available at the website but configured to display real-time weather data for a user-specified location.

The first general purpose SSB is believed to be Bubbles[2] which launched late 2005 on the Windows platform and later coined the term "Site Specific Extensions" for SSB userscripts and introduced the SSB Javascript API.

On 2 September 2008, the Google Chrome web browser was released for Windows operating systems. Although Chrome is a full featured browser using a WebKit based engine, it also contains a "Create application shortcut"[3] menu item that adds the ability to create a stand-alone SSB window for any site. This is similar to Mozilla Prism (formerly WebRunner), now discontinued, but which is available as an add-on to the Firefox browser version 3.[4]

Examples of applications of SSBs in various situations include:

Mobile applications

As of 2009, site-specific browsers have not been developed for mobile browsers. Instead, the closest to such a sort of SSB that has been allowed is through Safari's iOS-specific feature of full-screen mode for specially-designed webpages which have been previously bookmarked on the iPhone OS Home screen as a "Web Clip".

Theoretically, a mobile SSB would also contain its own submenus for preferences and settings, as are already provided to native OS-installed software applications. However, the prospect of any mobile SSB is limited in performance and fluidity by the JavaScript cache amount which is accorded to the browser.


Utilities that produce site-specific browsers:

  • (Flagged By Norton as a virus,[5] specifically SONAR.Heuristic.120)
  • Fluid (Mac OS X only, isolated cookie storage)
  • Google Chrome (Windows and Linux only:[6] "Application shortcut" feature, though not entirely sand-boxed like Mozilla Prism)
  • ICE (Linux only, developed for Peppermint OS)
  • Mailplane (Mac OS X only)
  • Mozilla Prism (cross-platform, Flash compatible, and true application isolation (e.g., cookies); discontinued)
  • Epiphany ("Application shortcut" feature; as of late 2011 Epiphany still doesn't work well with Flash)
  • Internet Explorer 9[7] and higher
  • NoScript's ABE module with rules like
Accept from
Site * Deny

Rich Internet application (RIA) platforms:

Widget engines:


  1. ^ Lane, Dave (9 August 2011). "Creating a multi-resolution favicon including transparency with the GIMP". Retrieved 2011. 
  2. ^ "Between Web & Desktop, Bubbles". May 6, 2009. Retrieved . 
  3. ^ "Google Chrome - Features". Retrieved . 
  4. ^ "Google Chrome First Impressions". Retrieved . 
  5. ^ "Norton". Norton. 
  6. ^ "Create application shortcuts". Retrieved . 
  7. ^ "Internet Explorer 9 Pinned Site Shortcuts vs Internet Shortcuts". Retrieved . 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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