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Google tools let AJAX apps run offline

Mar 4, 2008 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Google has announced a data-caching browser extension aimed at enabling Javascript-based Web applications to work better on intermittently connected devices. Initially released for Windows Mobile, but with a Linux-based Google Android version in the works, Google Gears requires only minor changes to Javascript applications, the search giant claims.

Mobile devices are often disconnected from the network, and, even when they are connected, latencies can make web applications sluggish, Google points out. Google Gears attempts to lessen these problems by caching data for offline use. As a result, some web applications may keep working “transparently” as a device connects and disconnects, the company claims.

Google Gears appears to comprise a local proxy server, database, and threads library for Javascript. Porting existing Javascript applications to the Google Gears API requires only minor modifications, the company claims. When Javascript applications call on the Google Gear API, the user is prompted to install the Google Gears extension and restart their browser. After that, the application can run on- or off-line, Google claims.

Charles Wiles, a product manager for the Google Mobile team, said “Google Gears almost makes widget platforms obsolete, since it allows developers to write [relatively] standard AJAX applications and have them run anywhere.”

An introduction to Google Gears with product manager Charles Wiles
Source: Google
(click to play)

In addition to devices, Google Gears supports standard desktop OSes that include Linux, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and OS X. Plans are in the works for Android and the Apple iPhone.


Google Gears can be downloaded from the Google website, here. The core modules provided include:

  • LocalServer, which caches application pages for offline access
  • Database, a version of the open-source SQLite 3 database, for storing and accessing application data on the user's device
  • WorkerPool, which brings threading to JavaScript, allowing applications to run code in the background without blocking a main page's script execution

AA companion website for developers is also available, here.

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