Monday, June 1, 2009

Offline Browsers

My game, The Rise of Magus, is now available on cnet (aka, and has subsequently appeared on every other site that duplicates its content.

That aside, something has occurred to me as seeming obsolete, even though I use it every day – MS Office, and in particular, MS Word. Now I’m actually using the 2003 edition of this stuff right now, so it’s possible I’m naming a few things that are anachronistic, but from my experience with Word 2007, it’s not significantly different – they’ve just made the words “File, Edit, etc.” at the top of the app into icons instead (wow).

What I’m talking about is the fact that Office applications are little standalone apps on your computer that aren’t connected to the web. It seems archaic that when I see a hyperlink in a word document, I not only have to ctrl+click, but that it opens another application to display the content for me. It seems that given just how online our computer experience is overall, I should default, when I want to write text, to a tab in my browser.

Now Google docs theoretically could serve the function I’m talking about, but for some reason I’m just not a consistent user of the service. I guess it’s because I really do need to have documents available offline, and because Google docs emphasizes collaboration so much (so that’s what I use it for).

No, I’m imagining something a little different. When I hit ctrl+t to open a new tab in my browser, I want the url bar to be there for me to use, sure, but what about the page itself? Google’s Chrome uses this to display a list of your favorite sites, but that seems kind of redundant to me, because as soon as I start typing in a url, Firefox will tell me what I’m likely looking for about 3 characters in. What I would really like is to hit ctrl+t and in addition to the ability to type in a url, have a couple of options right there, like a word processor, a file explorer, maybe even games. By and large, I feel like my browser is the center of my computer experience anyway, so why can’t some of my offline content live there, too?

I suppose what I’m really suggesting is that we get more OS-like browsers (or maybe a browser-like OS), because it feels like the distinctions between my online and offline content are relics of a bygone era when going online was something special, not the default state. I don’t know if anyone’s already working on something like this, but I’d like to see it.

1 comment:

Ellipsis said...

I feel compelled to addend this post with the obvious response: it sounds like Google IS making a browser-like OS. In fact, they named it after their browser.

This'll be fun to watch.