Archive for May, 2007

Google Gears looks promising

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Google has just released a new API called Google Gears. It will allow web applications to work even if you’re disconnected from the internet for a period of time. And it will let them install their files onto your harddrive so that they can be run “locally”, by using a small “local server” that’s loaded into your application as an Internet Plugin (much likef Flash).

It’s New BSD licensed which means the source code is available and people will be able to make sure it doesn’t do anything dubious. Currently it’s Firefox only, but there’s source code for Safari, which when it’s released should theoretically also work with Find It! Keep It!.

It consists of three services: a database extension based on sqlite, a local server that saves and loads the application files from disk and provides an HTML interface to them, and full blown multithreaded Javascript interpreter. The javascript interpreter allows “worker threads” to run without blocking the browser. Basically they seem to run in a separate application that includes a Javascript interpreter taken from FireFox. The advantage is that the worker thread code can run on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X without needing browser specific tweaks. The UI will still run inside the browser.

Google Gears is providing a solution to a real problem without requiring a whole new programming paradigm as Adobe’s Apollo and Microsoft’s Silverlight do. It maintains the AJAX promise (runs everywhere) while providing a benefit should you choose to install it (faster and more resilient applications). Also, it’s open source which means other application providers can use it. I think in this case Google have a winning solution.

Update Dojo Offline now supports Google Gears.

Update2 It seems that the WebKit Google Gears only works with the WebKit nightlies (think Leopard) and will require an Input Manager… ho hum. (via Daring Fireball).