Feeds

Google: We like the web the way it is

Google extends standards to the industry

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

“We feel very strongly about this being an industry effort and being a standard. We want this to be the one way that developers can add offline capabilities to their applications,” says Jeff Huger, Google’s VP of engineering, during the keynote for the company’s global Developer Day.

A mood shot from Google Dev Day

Google Dev Day. Of course there's a box missing from

Google's slide. It's the one that says "Google".

He’s talking about Gears (available, with the other developer’s toys mentioned below, here), a browser plug-in that lets developers extend web applications for offline use. This is Google's answer to the web’s most obvious limitation: when the connection fails, you can no longer do your work. Gear’s solves this with components including the excellent SQLite database engine, also used by PHP 5 and Apple’s Core Data, a local server which caches the pages and scripts used by an application, and a WorkerPool module which enables JavaScript to run in a background thread.

The primary reason for WorkerPool is to support long-running synchronization tasks without locking the user’s web browser. Gears is in beta, works cross-platform on IE and Firefox, and is open source under the BSD license.

First impressions of Gears

First impressions are that this will be useful. Like all the best software, it is conceptually simple. A local database and content cache will be enough in most cases to get an offline web application up and running, though synchronization can be challenging. Apparently there is no set limit to the amount of data applications can store locally. But is this the “one way that developers can add offline capabilities”? Microsoft will no doubt disagree, but Google has smartly enlisted agreement from other potential rivals, including the Adobe, the Mozilla Foundation, and Dojo, all of whom will be supporting the Gears API. It may not be a W3C standard, but this will be widely deployed and hard to resist.

Google Reader is the first Gears-enabled application; it will be interesting to see how it gets applied to other applications like GMail and Docs & Spreadsheets.

A new cross-platform runtime

What we are seeing is the creation of a new cross-platform runtime based on JavaScript. Is this a rival or a companion to alternatives like Adobe’s Apollo? The answer is that it’s both; but Google’s view, stated in the keynote, is that “we like the web the way it is today, we just want it to work offline.”

Gears is the headline news; but there was more on show at Developer Day. I attended the London event. Google is giving a strong push to its mapping API, now reinforced by Geocode lookup and “Mapplets”, which let you add interactive gadgets to Google Maps. Delegates were also shown the Mashup Editor, which lets you both code and deploy mashup applications online. Like Google Gadgets, these mashup applications are hosted on Google’s servers, increasing their scalability. Google Web Toolkit, which compiles Java to JavaScript, is now at version 1.4 (Release Candidate), with new features including a richer UI library and the ability to download multiple images in a single file.

Developer views

I asked a number of developers what they thought of the event. Few of those I spoke to had active projects using Google APIs, but many were considering them. There is interest in Gears, though there were concerns about security which Google did not properly address in the sessions. There was some frustration at the shallow nature of many of the sessions, as well as the usual gripes about the poor internet connection available; it was surprising that Google couldn't get that right.

You can follow Tim's visit to Google’s Developer Day on his Blog here.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.