Thursday, May 31, 2007

Google Gears: Cross browser client-side persistent storage

I just heard that Google have just released a beta version of something called Google Gears along with accompanying API, blog and developers forum. Essentially, it supplies a Firefox and IE browser plugin that can enable "Gears Aware" websites (after they have been explicitly given permission) to write data to and from local client-side storage. It appears that you will even be able to host files on a LocalServer file cache which means that it should be possible to create offline JavaScript powered web applications.

Google Gears seems to be yet another example of the trend towards moving more web application processing power onto the client.

To my mind Google Gears looks like it will compete directly with similar novel client-side web technology approaches such as LAJAX and POW. Also, I do not think it be out of place to consider this in the context of other client-side uses of web technologies such as Google Desktop, Yahoo!'s Widgets (formerly Konfabulator) and Apple's Dashboard.

Yet another very exciting Google offering! Google Gears reportedly already works in concert with Google Reader. Is this the future of the web? Although I am very excited by the technology and the potential of it, it is slightly worrying that Google have a mind to bolt such significant cross-browser technological improvements onto the client when the browser technology is not developing fast enough for their needs (please don't hurt the web, use open standards!!!). We all know Google is special but what if everybody started doing this? Granted Microsoft have been doing this kind of thing for years (I'm thinking specifically of VirtualEarth at the moment) BUT it is the kind of thing that has served to make Microsoft unpopular.