Site Specific Browsers and the Ice Application
An Intro to Site Specific Browsers
Peppermint makes heavy use of what are called “Site Specific Browsers” or SSBs. Essentially many modern web applications offer much advanced functionality and SSBs allow these apps to be more directly integrated with the desktop. Peppermint One made use of Mozilla’s Prism technology to create and manage SSBs. Peppermint Two uses Google’s Chromium though a framework called Ice.
SSBs allow an application to function in more of a standalone method than running them directly through the web browser. In addition they allow for the user to take advantage of additional screen space as they don’t include all the functions and menus of a browser. Here is an example of Seesmic Web running in an SSB:
Peppermint includes a number of example SSBs by default, including the aforementioned Seesmic Web, some image and photo editing tools from pixlr, some Google applications, and some multimedia apps such as The Cloud Player. All of these are included as examples so feel free to remove any of them that don’t fit your particular purposes.
The Ice Application
When it comes to managing your SSBs, we’ve written a simple application that allows for them to be easily created and removed. We call it “Ice” after the Peppermint edition where it was first released.
Creating a new SSB is as simple as typing the complete URL and a name into the text fields. From here you can select exactly where in the menu you’d like it to show up. There are also options for what icon will be used. Most sites use a certain type of icon, called a favicon, that is stored in a standard location. Clicking the “Download Icon” button will attempt to download the favicon and will automatically associate it with the SSB. There is also the option to use an existing icon already stored on your computer. If no icon is selected or the favicon does not exist, a stock icon will be used.
As an example, I’m going to create a new SSB for Twitter. I simply type in the necessary information and click the “Download Icon” button:
In just a couple of seconds we see the new SSB show up in the menu:
Removing SSBs is just as simple: click on the “Remove” tab in the Ice application and you’ll see a complete list of all SSBs currently in the system. Click to highlight which one you want to remove and then click the “Remove” button down at the bottom and the SSB will be promptly removed from the menu.