Jump to content

Site-specific browser

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Screenshot showing Wikipedia website running in a site-specific browser window created by Fluid on Mac OS X
Web (previously called 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 GUI 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 Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine and the EmbeddedBrowserGraphic class which can be used as an SSB on the desktop.


One early example of an SSB is 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 weatherbug.com 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. Although Chrome is a full featured browser, 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[edit]

As of 2019, Firefox and Google Chrome on Android and Safari on iOS allow the creation of site-specific browsers for progressive web applications (PWAs).


Utilities that produce site-specific browsers:

Site x.com y.net
Accept from x.com y.net
Site * Deny

Rich web application platforms:

Widget engines:

  • Opera Widgets

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lane, Dave (9 August 2011). "Creating a multi-resolution favicon including transparency with the GIMP". Archived from the original on 2016-02-28. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  2. ^ "Between Web & Desktop, Bubbles". Gigaom.com. May 6, 2009. Retrieved 2006-04-15.
  3. ^ "Google Chrome – Features". Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  4. ^ "Google Chrome First Impressions". coals2newcastle.com. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  5. ^ "Create application shortcuts". Google Inc. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  6. ^ Bowen, Chris (May 12, 2011). "Internet Explorer 9 Pinned Site Shortcuts vs Internet Shortcuts". msdn.com. Archived from the original on May 16, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2020.

External links[edit]