Friday, June 01, 2007

Work Offline With Web Applications

While the current trend to move and host business and productivity applications online is a great idea, it doesn't take into account that you might find yourself on a wireless-free train or in some god-forsaken backwater and temporarily without a connection to the internet.

Well, those very nice people at Google have come up with a solution - Google Gears. Google Gears, which is still in beta development, is an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality using following JavaScript APIs:
  • Store and serve application resources locally.
  • Store data locally in a fully-searchable relational database.
  • Run asynchronous Javascript to improve application responsiveness.
To quote Google's Aaron Boodman and Erik Arvidsson's on the Gears API Blog
There are many ways to approach offline web applications. The Gears team believes in the open web and the simple technologies it is built on, and we didn't want to change that. So Gears is an incremental improvement to the web as it is today. It adds just enough to AJAX to make current web applications work offline.

Gears today covers what we think is the minimal set of primitives required for offline apps. It is still a bit rough and in need of polish, but we are releasing it early because we think the best way to make Gears really useful is to evolve it into an open standard. We are releasing Gears as an open source project and we are working with Adobe, Mozilla and Opera and other industry partners to make sure that Gears is the right solution for everyone. We also want to get early feedback, community involvement, and rapid iterations.

One of the first projects for Google Gears is a new version of the Google Reader but I suspect they'll soon be turning their eyes on their big applications like Docs & Spreadsheets or even GMail.

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