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August 4, 2009

Google Chrome's Browser Sync

Google Browser Sync, the Firefox extension that synchronized your bookmarks, cookies, passwords and sessions across multiple computers, is about to be resurrected in Google Chrome.


Google works on a feature that will initially synchronize bookmarks, but it will be extended to additional data types.

"To make this sync infrastructure scale to millions of users, we decided to leverage existing XMPP-based Google Talk servers to give us "push" semantics, rather than only depending on periodically polling for updates. This means when a change occurs on one Google Chrome client, a part of the infrastructure effectively sends a tiny XMPP message, like a chat message, to other actively connected clients telling them to sync," mentions a Google document.

The feature will not be limited to Google's sync service. "When we fully land the sync code (hopefully in the coming few weeks), developers will certainly be able to pass in an alternate sync server address via a command line flag and use that to develop their own sync server," says Idan Avraham.

Ars Technica thinks that the sync service is related to Google's plans to release a browser-centric operating system, but I still find it intriguing that Google decided to discontinue Browser Sync, instead of improving it and making it available to other browsers. After all, not everyone will use Firefox, Google Chrome or Google Chrome OS and the seamless synchronization of browser data between all your computers and mobile phones will make you feel at home, no matter what computer you're using.

Synchronizing user data will certainly become a standard feature in all browsers, but it would be useful to build a service that synchronizes data between multiple browsers. Opera is the first major browser that added a sync service for both the desktop software and Opera Mini, while Mozilla Weave is a prototype of a future Firefox feature.

14 comments:

  1. I dunno why Google didn't just change the backend of their Browser Sync extension to run atop of Google Bookmarks instead.

    And it seems like this new Syncing feature for Chrome won't support Google Bookmarks, either that or Google Bookmarks will be getting an update.

    "Provide a web interface to access stored / synced bookmarks, likely via the docs.google.com doclist."

    Sounds like GDrive.

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  2. Xmarks provides bookmark sync between Firefox, Safari and IE. They are ahead.

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  3. Synchronizing user data will certainly become a standard feature in all browsers, but it would be useful to build a service that synchronizes data between multiple browsers.

    It looks as though browser link will be a more or less open standard (using XMPP), with an open sourced (client) implementation in Chromium. I don't see anything major standing in the way of other browsers adopting it, and even putting up their own servers.

    I dunno why Google didn't just change the backend of their Browser Sync extension to run atop of Google Bookmarks instead.

    I think it probably has to do with the fact that Bookmarks was built on top of the--also deprecated--"Notebook" service. Google probably wants to try to standardize these sorts of services in their Docs framework instead.

    (Anyway, integration with Chromium should make it pretty easy to import our old GBookmarks. Maybe they'll even put an import option in the docs interface too. So no big deal.)

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  4. It was one of the reasons I quit using Google chrome and return back to firefox
    now I may return to chrome

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  5. They should change "docs.google.com" to "files.google.com" or something similar. Perhaps keep the former address in use, but make it somewhat independent of the latter. I dunno though.
    They should at least have Google Bookmarks sync with the docs.google.com ones. I'm so excited for this feature though! I'm even more excited for Chrome OS. :)

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  6. Alex,

    To me, the most valuable aspect of the Google Sync is not just the capacity to sync bookmarks. It's the framework underneath that use XMPP, which is quite exciting. It's open doors to other services that could be built inside a browser.

    Ti-Took (titook.net) already provides the mean to auto-import bookmarks from Firefox/IE/Chrome into one location. However, with XMPP it will be more efficient (supposedly) to perform real-time sync while making the system easier to scale.

    On top of that, Google is making it open source. We will certainly have a look.

    /David
    @RealWat

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  7. What I really need is del.icio.us integration, which I am not hopeful of because it is owned by Yahoo!.

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  8. I will switch back to chrome when this feature is available.

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  9. @Ionut: Where did you get that image? so cute and googley. :D

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  10. Bookmark synchronization is already solved with Gmark extension it uses Google Bookmarks ... but only exists for Firefox. I just don't understand why Google didn't make it straightforward to use it's own services. On Chrome you have to use bookmarlets to bookmark a page and go to your bookmark page to uses them: not very practical.

    As other users, I still use Firefox only because it has Weave to synchronize Passwords and Cookies.
    I thought that OpenId would have become more mainstream.

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  11. studysols.com
    google chrom is fantastic browser but some feature are needed to more update like firefox....................................but that is nice in its speed and downloading .thanks google

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  12. Once this is provided I'll probably adopt Chrome as my main browser. I can't live without a feature like Delicious and the Delicious plug-in for Firefox. (The plugin for IE works but it's not as good.)

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  13. google chorme is good broswer but i love firefox

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