Google brings developers offline with “Gears”; new offline Reader

Right now in Sydney, Australia, the first of 10 Google Developer days are starting up and the audience there is hearing about several new initiatives. The most important of which is “Google Gears,” an open source project that will bring offline capabilities to Web Applications — aimed at developers. More on that in a second.

Also being announced today (and tomorrow here in San Jose) at Google’s Developer Day:

1. A new version of Google Reader (shipping this afternoon) that is built with Gears that will enable that reader to work offline. To make use of the new offline capabilities you’ll need to load the Google Gears plugin first (also available now).
2. A new mashup editor that is aimed at developers familiar with HTML and JavaScript. The Google Mashup Editor offers a simpler way to deploy AJAX user interface components atop existing feeds and Google Web Services. This competes pretty headon with Microsoft’s PopFly that was shipped about a week ago. Unfortunately this is going to be a limited beta, so you’ll have to sign up for it and wait.
3. Google Web Toolkit has passed a million users and they just shipped a new version of that.

Regarding Gears. It works on Macs, Windows, Linux on IE, Firefox, Opera. Enables versioned offline storage. Extension to HTML/JavaScript. UPDATE: Opera support isn’t finished yet and Safari support is coming “later.”

They are showing me a demo of the new Google Reader using the new Gears plugin. After you load the Gears plugin you get a new icon at the top of your Reader window which enables offline capabilities of Google Reader. They showed how Google Reader then downloaded 2,000 feed items. They took the browser offline and it continued to work great.

Codename of Gears was “Scour.” The team made fun of their code name saying that the world had “Ajax” and now it needed to “Scour.”

Gears is a 700kb install. Gears consists of three modules that developers can talk to via an API (details will online at the gears.google.com site). The three modules consist of:

1. A Local server. An object that your app can talk to and get stuff (images, JS files, HTML, etc). Atomic updates.
2. A data store. SQL light. You can talk to that via SQL. It’s like a cookie on steroids that you can talk to via SQL so developers can store data offline and talk to that store.
3. A worker pool that’s designed for background tasks. Keeps track of offline and online and helps sync and keep your apps “snappy” no matter what state your connection is in.
What won’t Gears be good for? Something like Google Search. Why? Because that assumes you want to search all the items on the Web. It’s better for Web developers who are building apps that have a specific amount of data to interact with.

Gears supports using Adobe’s Apollo and Flash and should support other technologies including Microsoft’s Silverlight.

Gears will be submitted to a standards organization eventually, they said, but want to make sure the technology is rock solid first.

More on this from TechCrunch’s Nick Gonzalez, and from Artur Bergman on O’Reilly’s Radar site who are sitting a few feet from me.

The detail in this post came from Google’s Vice President of Engineering, Jeff Huber, among other people from Google in the room — I’ll try to get more names shortly.

Comments

  1. This is exciting. In the days before MIX07, I was guessing Microsoft would add something like this to (the then) WPF/E (aka Silverlight). I love the inclusion of compatibility with other frameworks (Apollo, Flash, Silverlight); helps make it a safer bet for development efforts.

  2. This is exciting. In the days before MIX07, I was guessing Microsoft would add something like this to (the then) WPF/E (aka Silverlight). I love the inclusion of compatibility with other frameworks (Apollo, Flash, Silverlight); helps make it a safer bet for development efforts.

  3. All sounds pretty impressive. BUT – you got me excited with your last post when you said that Google were relasing their own blog editing tool. Is something that’s still coming..?

  4. All sounds pretty impressive. BUT – you got me excited with your last post when you said that Google were relasing their own blog editing tool. Is something that’s still coming..?

  5. Just re-read your post. I guess you didn’t say that, but that’s how it came across to me:

    “Unfortunately I’m at Google where they’ll be launching news of their own in about an hour. See ya then!”

    I thought you meant [their own] blog editing tool.

  6. Just re-read your post. I guess you didn’t say that, but that’s how it came across to me:

    “Unfortunately I’m at Google where they’ll be launching news of their own in about an hour. See ya then!”

    I thought you meant [their own] blog editing tool.

  7. Google Gears is a smart idea. Basically they are providing useful services for Web applications that will allow Web apps to act more like local applications. A while back people were wondering if Google was going to release a Linux-based Google OS – no, Gears is smarter. It’s sort of an inside-out verison of a normal operating system. Starting from the Web, and extending to your local machine. Very interesting.

    I love the fact that it’s truly cross-platform and cross-browser. Here’s the only problem – who wants code things like SQL queries using a Javascript API. Ick! I am sure that Web app developer geeks will love using it, though.

    It does really show that maybe Microsoft doesn’t quite “get” what cross-platform means anymore (what I’m thinking of specifically: their support of only Mac and Windows with Silverlight.) Although this does seem like a complementary offering to Silverlight. Hopefully the MS SQL Server team will work with the Live team and whip up something a lot better than Google Gears – because competition is a good thing :)

  8. Google Gears is a smart idea. Basically they are providing useful services for Web applications that will allow Web apps to act more like local applications. A while back people were wondering if Google was going to release a Linux-based Google OS – no, Gears is smarter. It’s sort of an inside-out verison of a normal operating system. Starting from the Web, and extending to your local machine. Very interesting.

    I love the fact that it’s truly cross-platform and cross-browser. Here’s the only problem – who wants code things like SQL queries using a Javascript API. Ick! I am sure that Web app developer geeks will love using it, though.

    It does really show that maybe Microsoft doesn’t quite “get” what cross-platform means anymore (what I’m thinking of specifically: their support of only Mac and Windows with Silverlight.) Although this does seem like a complementary offering to Silverlight. Hopefully the MS SQL Server team will work with the Live team and whip up something a lot better than Google Gears – because competition is a good thing :)

  9. Exciting and cool news! Raises some interesting questions – like “Ads offline now?” and “A lot more traffic?”

    Also Stuart and sesharti, if you think about it this is kind of more exciting than an offline editing tool… If I understand the technology right as Robert has explained it – this will make it much easier for Blog developers to make their editor available offline… WordPress offline good for you Robert? (If you are ever offline *grin*)

  10. Exciting and cool news! Raises some interesting questions – like “Ads offline now?” and “A lot more traffic?”

    Also Stuart and sesharti, if you think about it this is kind of more exciting than an offline editing tool… If I understand the technology right as Robert has explained it – this will make it much easier for Blog developers to make their editor available offline… WordPress offline good for you Robert? (If you are ever offline *grin*)

  11. Correction: not Opera (out of the box). Someone can make one (it’s open source), but Firefox and IE, and very soon Safari, are the initially supported platforms.

  12. Correction: not Opera (out of the box). Someone can make one (it’s open source), but Firefox and IE, and very soon Safari, are the initially supported platforms.

  13. Google is releasing this with support only for Firefox and IE, with Safari coming later and Opera not at all (notwithstanding some enterprising independent OSS effort). This is worse than Microsoft’s recent efforts, which initially target FF, IE, and Safari, with Opera to come later.

    Safari not being supported out of the box is a slap in the face to Apple, considering that Apple does Google a favor (though there was likely quid-pro-quo) by locking Google in as Safari’s default and *only* search engine.

    Oh, and I’m waiting to see if Chris/Beer slams Google for not supporting Konqueror (like he slams Microsoft for doing the same). I’m guessing I’ll be waiting for a long time (or would have, if I’d not publicly called him out :p ).

  14. Google is releasing this with support only for Firefox and IE, with Safari coming later and Opera not at all (notwithstanding some enterprising independent OSS effort). This is worse than Microsoft’s recent efforts, which initially target FF, IE, and Safari, with Opera to come later.

    Safari not being supported out of the box is a slap in the face to Apple, considering that Apple does Google a favor (though there was likely quid-pro-quo) by locking Google in as Safari’s default and *only* search engine.

    Oh, and I’m waiting to see if Chris/Beer slams Google for not supporting Konqueror (like he slams Microsoft for doing the same). I’m guessing I’ll be waiting for a long time (or would have, if I’d not publicly called him out :p ).

  15. @13: The code for Safari support is in, it’s just not finished testing quite yet. Anyone can take the publicly available Gears code and compile and use it with Safari today.

  16. @13: The code for Safari support is in, it’s just not finished testing quite yet. Anyone can take the publicly available Gears code and compile and use it with Safari today.

  17. [...] Robert Scoble has the scoop. Google Developers day is in progress and on the first day Google has released a new technology called “Gears“ to enable offline support for web based applications. This is not a new technology it has been showcased before, it mostly based on JavaScript and Flash, now that Google has officially released a toolkit we can hope to see a wide spread adoption of offline support for other web applications. [...]

  18. SQLite is really nice. We had it running on an old iPaq with a 2MB database with 100,000s of records in it. Worked like a charm.

    Open source too, cross platform.

    Google are soooooo cool using open source everywhere.

    monk.e.boy

  19. SQLite is really nice. We had it running on an old iPaq with a 2MB database with 100,000s of records in it. Worked like a charm.

    Open source too, cross platform.

    Google are soooooo cool using open source everywhere.

    monk.e.boy

  20. “A word processor with less functionality than WordPad isn’t going to upset anyone’s business model, online or off.”

    So who’s this Michael Gartenberg bloke.. does he work for Micro$oft?

  21. “A word processor with less functionality than WordPad isn’t going to upset anyone’s business model, online or off.”

    So who’s this Michael Gartenberg bloke.. does he work for Micro$oft?

  22. [...] Google brings developers offline with “Gears”; new offline Reader Right now in Sydney, Australia, the first of 10 Google Developer days are starting up and the audience there is hearing […] [...]

  23. Agreed, this will level the playing field with the Microsoft application space. Can’t wait to see the applications start arriving.

  24. Agreed, this will level the playing field with the Microsoft application space. Can’t wait to see the applications start arriving.