@ GDD07: Google Gears – Bringing Server & Client Even Closer

This post comes from Google Developer Day in Sydney, Australia, where Aaron Boodman has just finished his presentation on Google’s new enhancement to web applications, “Google Gears”. With Sydney being on the right side of the planet, you saw it here first!

The goal of Google Gears is to allow rich, AJAX – heavy web applications to become fully functional both on and offline. Delivering this capability would be a substantial step toward Google’s aspirations of becoming the dominant application platform.

To solve this problem, Google Gears brings local database storage to your web browser, and provides an offline synchronization service to keep local and remote data in sync.

All data interactions should take place locally, helping speed up the UI, whilst a background process takes care of the sync tasks whenever a connection is available.

On the storage side, Gears embeds an SQLite database server into a browser extension, providing API hooks to query and update the database much as you would with any other db.

Aaron was somewhat lighter-on for detail on the sync aspect, which is unfortunate as this is the crux of the offline < -> online problem. Anyone who has tried to keep various calendar and address books in sync with their mobile phone would attest to the vagaries of sync technology. It’s hard.

Imagine the complexity of taking your online banking application offline. Would you trust an SQL db in a Firefox extension to hold payment details awaiting sync with your favorite financial institution?

Lofty as this goal is, Google has taken a very open approach to encourage the adoption of Google Gears as an open standard. Full adoption by web browser makers and buy-in from web app developers is vital if this technology is to take off. The code is fully open source, under a BSD license, and available right now.

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  • http://www.realityedge.com.au mrsmiley

    you saw it here first!

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/biztech/gears-puts-google-in-the-drivers-seat/2007/05/31/1180205350391.html

    Sorry, by my reckoning, The Age beat you by 3 hrs, albeit light on the technical details.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ Kevin Yank

    Ajaxian seems to have had the inside track on this one, beating us by several hours: Audible Ajax Episode 21: Dojo Offline on Google Gears.

    Oh well. :)

  • jeff

    I would feel really stink if I was at sitepoint right now. You fully claimed it then got bummed out by mrsmiley.

  • http://www.saumendra.com Saumendra Swain

    Extension like Google gear, do show some light on the technical possibilities for doing things offline inspite of the fact that the real process finalised online. Now when product like Yahoo pipes still making hard hunt to have a foothold in the web space , and when bandwidth is not a constrain , I think some more time will needed for all of us to realise, Only online and the central control makes Life web easier.

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction. : Einstein

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    I would feel really stink if I was at sitepoint right now.

    Guess it’s lucky you’re not here then. It’s all worked out very well.

  • Erik

    Interesting article. The Einstein comment too fits in.
    Jules is your real name Szemere Gyula? :)

  • http://www.futureproof.be Peter Minne

    Working offline? Won’t we be connected to the internet all the time in any place in the near future? ;-)

    Besides that, most of the applications I built so far are business applications, where data is shared and people work on the same database at the same time. So I can’t really imagine a way of allowing them to work offline. I think the database would show very weird behaviour when trying to synchronize.

  • NicolasH

    I have to agree with Peter…enabling offline functionality would have been a blessing a few years ago, but I find it hard to get excited about it now. Maybe I just don’t understand how much I really need it, yet :)

    Having said that…AvantGo has to be one of my all-time favourite applications for bridging the gap between online/offline – and that’s 6 or so years old (yes, I know it’s pretty low-tech compared to the scenario in the article).

  • Saint-Germain

    Erik Do you know what’s common in Sarko and Jules? :))