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May 30, 2007

Google Gears - Offline Functionality for Web Apps

Web applications bring your data online and make it available anywhere there's an Internet connection. But happens when you're on a plane or when you can't find a WiFi hotspot?

Google launched an open source browser extension for IE and Firefox called Google Gears that enables web applications to be available offline.

"Gears is an incremental improvement to the web as it is today. It adds just enough to AJAX to make current web applications work offline. Gears today covers what we think is the minimal set of primitives required for offline apps. It is still a bit rough and in need of polish, but we are releasing it early because we think the best way to make Gears really useful is to evolve it into an open standard. 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," explains Google.

Once you install the extension, every Gears-enabled web application will ask your permission before storing data offline.


Depending on the functionality implemented in the application, Google Gears caches resource files so they're available offline, stores data in a SQLite database that has powerful search features and synchronizes data in the background.

Google Gears will enable you to read the most recent messages from Gmail while offline or to edit your documents in Google Docs even without a network connection.

Google Reader is the first Google application powered by Gears. To enter the offline mode, just click on the small arrow and all the recent feed items are downloaded to your computer. You can disconnect from the Internet or click on "work offline" in your browser and you will still be able to read your favorite feeds in Google Reader. Like in any feed reader installed on your computer. Well, almost, because Google Reader doesn't download images or other multimedia files embedded in the posts.




You can even close Google Reader's tab and try to load the site again: it will instantly show the cached data. Try to add tags to a post or star it; once you go back online, Google Reader will synchronize the data.


P.S.: Another nice update in Google Reader is that you can see the exact number of unread posts for each feed. Google Reader learned to count beyond 100.

Update: Here's a presentation from Google Developer Day Sydney that explains the motivations behind this project and shows some demos:

36 comments:

  1. I installed Gears, but I don't see the green or blue icon near my email address. What happened? I see Google Gears setting under Tools in Firefox.

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  2. On third try opening Reader, I now see the icon. Thanks.

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  3. Very nice !

    However the installer fails with a 0x80040800 error code on Japanese XP SP2

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  4. Ahh I also got an error while trying to install!

    "Install Failed. Erorr code = 0x80004005"

    I'm using Vista, if that helps.

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  5. my pc is win2k so i can't test it (yet). i have a question about the offline google reader. can you read the complete article offline (you have to go to the main site, if it only shows snippets/summary)?

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  6. << the installer fails with a 0x80040800 error >>

    Try closing the browser and then run the setup.


    << Can you read the complete article offline? >>

    You can read only what's included in the feed. So for partial feeds, you'll see only the first sentences.

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  7. I installed Gears but..not allowed sites appears in setting..and I can't access that box and modify it..any beta help

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  8. Some things you can test:

    * Google Reader (like described in the post)

    * Demos that test some of the features. They're mostly intended for developers.

    You'll see a dialog that asks your permission to use Google Gears to store data on your computer.

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  9. IT works fine with Internet Explorer, with Firefox it doesn't show, tried four, five times.

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  10. for windows XP, it shows this error:
    Install Failed. Erorr code = 0x80004005

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  11. Offline Gmail access can't be too far off.

    And with it, I for one hope we see a decent, dedicated Gmail client that plugs into a locally-stored mail cache. In functionality it would basically be IMAP for Gmail.

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  12. For windows XP SP2, it shows this error:
    Install Failed. Error code = 0x80040800.

    Any clues?

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  13. This is the Future!! I see Gmail offline, Docs & Spreadsheets offline - applying it for the Enterprise world!! more reliable more reason why to switch to google. They are taking over little by little

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  14. Remember the Milk has Gears

    http://lifehacker.com/software/top/remember-the-milk-gets-gears-266060.php

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  15. I'm am having trouble. Is this not supposed to work with the old-style River? Because if not, I won't trade that even for offline. In any case, installed Gears, but didn't see any offline mode link/button.

    "Upgraded", remembered why I didn't want to use the new interface, but saw the offline link. De-upgraded, but got stuck with new interface. Button says I should upgrade to new Reader, but won't do anything. Help?

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  16. I travel often and my usb memory stick with poratable apps is my saviour. Now if google gears works with the portable firefox all the worlds problems would have been solved.

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  17. can you teach me ?
    about create google gears by step-by-step or easy way.
    be causes now i do it by follow tutorial but not work
    thank you very much

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  18. How to use Google Gears for Dotnet Web Application...Please help me

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  19. Took of fine in IE. Zilch in Foxfire 2.+. Will try Foxfire 3 tomorrow

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  20. When will the calendar function and gmail function work with gears?

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  21. i need to do language translations in my internal network(with out accessing the internet),can i get help frm Google gears to do this?

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  22. google gears is a step in the right direction - but the download is much too big. one of the reasons flash became such a huge success was its incredibly small footprint.

    in the beginning, these downloads should be very very small, even at the expense of minimal functionality.

    if users access a GG-enabled app, the download should take 6 seconds on DSL ,and later-on, upgrades could happen in the background.

    just having access to sqlite even in a minimal fashion would be great.

    right now, I use .js files with JSON objects as my datastore, which is less than ideal, and doesnt allow real interaction with the client O/S, but at least I dont have to ask for this big download, which is what would immediately turn off my users, and cause them to not us the app at all.

    again, nice work and its great to have it available, but please, can't it be a smaller initial download?

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  23. Speaking of offline features, one thing I'd consider quite useful is to be able to have Google Maps offline...

    I mean, when you are seeing the maps, you are downloading the map into a temp cache... it'd be as easy as making that temp cache a normal file db, and you can navigate your maps offline =)
    (Its specially useful on a Palm in a country where WiFi isnt something that common...)

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  24. Gears would be more beneficial if Docs wasn't permanently in beta limbo. Having an online "office-like" tool is nice, but I don't need a dumbed down version of the real thing taking up more space on the hard drive. I hope Google can push Docs forward and fix the counter-intuitive issues it currently shows.

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  25. I need information on Google Gears to Pursue a PhD
    Am doing a literature review on softwares I could use for sharing medical data

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  26. Installed Gears on my 3rd party hosting WordPress (V2.6) blog and the user interface is coming up in a flash. Simply great.

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  27. every time I use Gears to go offline, the number of unread items increases. Anyone have the same issue?

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  28. request for support on google maps :)

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  29. It's possible to enable Gears to be installed in Mozilla Prism - giving you a standalone offline gmail client:

    http://otaqui.com/blog/382/enable-google-gears-and-offline-gmail-for-mozilla-prism/

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  30. need to be able to store on USB

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  31. It would be great to have the type of synchronization it is already done for Offline Gmail. Thanks.

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  32. positively useless. sorry, but it simply was...

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  33. Where the offline data containted?
    Should I download 2000 mails after reinstall the OS?

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  34. Works with reader, but not with wordpress. any thoughts?

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  35. I get error code 1612 when trying to install gears - what sall I do?
    ulven

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