by Malcolm Rowe

Google Gears

Wow. If you’re in any way involved in writing web applications, take a look at Google Gears right now. It’s a browser extension for creating offline web applications. It’s cross-platform, cross-browser (IE/Firefox now; Safari very soon), and BSD licensed.

Gears consists of three components: a local persistent cache that applications can use to make their resources (HTML, Javascript, etc) available offline, transparently; a local SQLite instance (with full-text search, via SQLite’s FTS2); and a way of creating disconnected Javascript worker threads.

Google Reader supports it already: you can read feeds while you’re offline, tag them, star them, and so on, and sync up later.

ZDNet has a pretty good write up, although they say that Gears runs on Safari (it doesn’t, yet), and they rather confused me by saying that Google engineers had “already started work on adding full-text searching to SQLite” (so, uh, what’s FTS2 then?), but it turns out that the guy who’s working on SQLite’s full-text search is employed by Google, so I guess that makes sense.

Update: It’s not clear from the developer site, but the project is actually up on Google Code as well, so it looks like the development process will be open as well as the code being free-to-distribute. (For one thing, it looks like the Safari support is nearly done).