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Google Chrome slips web fix to addicts suffering net withdrawal

Cache and carry on surfing

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A Google engineer has bunged an "offline mode" into the advertising giant's cloud-backed Chrome web browser. It allows users to access previously visited pages if there's suddenly no working internet connection.

Chocolate Factory programmer Randy Smith said he's added an initial implementation of the disconnected mode to the browser's source code. The tech, which is not unique to Chrome, is intended for those moments when you lose your web access but want to carry on surfing.

Specifically, the code lets the browser load a previously visited page from local storage if there's a problem with the network, rather than simply complaining that a connection could not be established. It is understood Chrome maintains a cache of files like all good browsers do, but, without this offline mode, it gives up if it cannot reach the web to at least assess whether or not the cached data is out of date.

Smith emphasised that the feature is early-stage stuff so there's no user interface to control it, there's no warning if the browser fetches from a stale cache rather than the live web, and it doesn't work too well with Appcache, which runs HTML5 apps offline.

Smith invited coders to check out the new feature in the developer build of the browser, and said they are welcome to thrash the cache to find examples where the offline access doesn't function properly.

The Chromium dev said: "I'm most interested in websites for which this produces a *bad* user experience (i.e. ones for which you wish you had gotten the error page instead of the cache data).

"I expect for most websites some data will be better than no data, but I'd like to know about the corner cases for which that isn't true*." ®

* The weather channel? Timeanddate.com? Any news website? Twitter?

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