Google’s Gears

Like the rest of the world, I’ve been exploring the tutorial and examples for the new Google Gears. I was particularly caught by the addition of SQLite for offline storage–I never imagined a day installing a relational database on your client’s machine via the browser on the fly.

It’s remarkably easy to get up and running, and the API is quite simple, too. I copied the database example; now I just need to figure out what to do with it.

I also tried the download static pages example, mainly to check out how the data is stored locally. Interesting storage structure. Could get local disk space intensive if not used wisely.

Should be loads of fun playing in the future.

correction: SQLite is a component of Firefox. I’m assuming it’s installed by Google Gears for IE 6 and up. Support is only for Firefox 1.5 and up, and IE 6 and up. Eventually support will be provided for Safari. No support planned for Opera or other browsers.

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19 Responses to Google’s Gears

  1. Scott says:

    So how long before I can take Burningbird offline, add my comments, and sync back up? ;)

  2. Shelley says:

    I was thinking that comments might be an interesting area.

    I’m about ready to abandon OpenID for my comment editing. Perhaps this could be more useful.

  3. Bud Gibson says:

    Distributed apps are all about caching. You really notice that when you try to use a Web 2.0 app from some place like China. It’ll be interesting to see how an app like google reader manages syncing state. I don’t feel like they’re doing such a good job now, and I think they’re doing it all on their end. The same items keep on reappearing in the feed reader.

  4. Daniel Beck says:

    >> I was particularly caught by the addition of SQLite for offline storageā€“I never imagined a day installing a relational database on your client’s machine via the browser on the fly.

    I think that SQLLite is already contained in firefox.

  5. Karl says:

    I’m really interested in the local web server that’s included in this. It’s that whole Dave Winer Fractional Horsepower Webserver idea (from back in 1997), that’s finally come of age.

    Just what is possible when each of us have our own web servers, running on our desktops? Immediately you think p2p heaven. But the possibilities for building collaborative apps is just massive.

    I know, I know, for anyone who knows Perl, Python or Java, it’s never been too much of a big deal to spin up your own webserver, but this looks like it makes it more than simple – it makes it practical.

    If I’m reading it right, you’ll need some form of centralized web app to co-ordinate collaboration across machines, which is no big deal.

  6. Saravanan says:

    As Daniel said, Firefox already provides support for Sqlite. The phising urls, WHATWG offline storage and upcoming bookmarking system(Places) uses Sqlite. Sqlite is going to be the preferred way of storing data in future versions of Firefox.

  7. Shelley says:

    Thanks for the correctional note on sqlite and it being a part of Firefox since 2.0. I had missed this (bad me). It does make for such interesting possibilities.

    Does limit Gears to which browsers to support.

  8. 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.

    (from Gears blog).

  9. -Andy- says:

    Gears is the right solution for everyone.

    It’s nice of them to share. But I’m not sure about that whole one size fits all approach as espoused in this quote.

  10. I’m just saying that we might expect support in Opera too, and I wonder what’s the reason for Adobe being in that list.

  11. Alan says:

    So how long before I can take Burningbird offline, add my comments, and sync back up? ;)

    Ah, like the old days of using OzCIS for comments on Compuserve.

  12. Shelley says:

    Andy, I’m not comfortable with the One Code to Bring Them in approach either.

    Sergey, interesting because in the FAQ Google says it is working with Safari, but nothing but Opera. Yet in the blog, then they mention Opera and Apollo.

    As for Apollo, I would say that is a spit in the face of Microsoft/Silverlight.

  13. Shelley says:

    Alan, I barely remember Compuserve and writing comments in the groups. Was that offline?

  14. Alan says:

    This Wiki entry explains what it did. It would be very useful to use something like that for mobile devices.

  15. Alan says:

    If the iPhone allows personal applications to be installed. Something like OzCIS could become quite useful while companies are still charging by the minute. It would be more up your alley to come up with … an interactive feed?

  16. Shelley says:

    Takes me back, the old Compuserve days.

    I wondered about an interactive feed. I’m not sure that any of my readers would really interested in anything offline. Perhaps individual entries, so people could literally download a post and read all of the comments, and then write their own. But I’ve found people more interested in live updates of the comment list — the two are not compatible.

    Hard to say.

  17. I’m about ready to abandon OpenID for my comment editing.

    Oh, interesting! Can you tell us why? Is it cumbersome to implement?

  18. Shelley says:

    Too cumbersome for others to implement in order to get an OpenID in order to use comment editing.

  19. Bud Gibson says:

    Shelley, as usual your comment stream is extremely rich. Might be the best part of the site, neck and neck with the actual entries.

    At any rate, I took a little spin through Gears in Google Reader as a user. I think you’re right. It could be quite good for offline browsing and reading. It doesn’t really work for group interaction as in a comment stream.

    One place where it might work though is email. Email often has the flavor of writing a letter, and you often see business people using their email clients in offline mode on airplanes for just the purpose of writing letter-like emails. I’m surprised Google did not do that first.

    I suspect getting down an interaction model that works with Gears is tough. You probably wind up having to move a lot of business logic into the client. However, the whole reason people opt for web services is to leave business logic on the server.