Thursday, May 31, 2007

Building better AJAX apps (Google Gears)

I'm still sitting in the same seat for my next session, looks like my choices were fairly popular as this is the largest of the theatres, which was originally titled "Building better AJAX applications/Newest APIs" which was the obsufcation used to disguise today's launch of Google Gears. So I'm now sitting in a tutorial called "Google Gears: An Open Source Offline Toolkit" given by Chris Prince the Gears Engineer.

Chris Prince talking about the new Google Gears

Needless to say, there still aren't any power sockets in here and I've just had to dig the spare battery out of my rucksack...

Gears is basically somewhere in between a full blown web application, and a fully offline native application, but is intended as an incremental approach to supporting offline in web applications implemented as a browser plugin for IE, Firefox and Safari (well, almost)... he says its going to "Do for offline what XMLHttpRequest did for web apps".

The Google Gears architecture with its sync server

Basically the applications write to the local database instead of the remote server, and when you go online the changes are written (or read) from the remote server. Basically its analogous to a browser cache, except that the local "cache" is actually the primiary reference rather than the fall-back.

We're getting down to nuts and bolts right now, with bits of code starting to appear, so I'm going to stop typing now and listen...

Update: ...okay, so Gears look really interesting. I can't help thinking that Gears combined Google Apps equals the long rumoured Google office suite. It answers the main problem with web applications and your data. That being, what happens if you don't have a web connection? Not being able to get to your data isn't really acceptable. I've got a feeling that this is Google's call to arms, and a shot across the bow of Microsoft Office, and it's going to be interesting to see what happens here. Basically people are sitting around here with their jaws hanging open... "You can do that!?".

Update: The session has been posted to YouTube...