Shortly before the release of the final version of Firefox 4, the Mozilla developers have introduced the "Web Apps" project. These apps are expected to play a major role play in future browsers, and in such a future, the browser will not just be for viewing web pages but will be a platform for locally installed applications. Web Application programmers need do little more than create a manifest; this is a specification which lists the structure and content of the application, and is enough to deploy the app. Applications are able to share resources and will make use of the HTML5 specification for offline caching of these resources by means of the application cache.


Instead of users having to go through the normal procedure of installing and launching applications, Mozilla provides new JavaScript functions to perform these tasks. A User Agent will install the app, launch it, and grant additional privileges. Mozilla is making available experimental Web Apps extensions for both Firefox 4 beta and Chrome, so that users can try out a set of demo apps that Mozilla has made available.

Further JavaScript functions facilitate the operation of an App Store. A call to install() with the URL specified in the manifest is enough to embed the software in the browser – although the application will need validation and the user will be prompted to approve the installation. For the future, the Mozilla developers intend to introduce the use of Firefox Sync so that installed apps can be seamlessly synchronised across multiple devices.

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