Google Gears Stakes a Large Claim

Just before its annual developers days Google published its impressive Google Gears browser plugin for IE and Firefox across the three platforms. Currently Gears is a 700K runtime that runs in the browser environment to provide three features:

  1. LocalServer: a local ‘web server’ for the download and storage of web application files; when offline the browser seemlessly uses these files instead of the remote web server versions
  2. WorkerPool: browser threads for JavaScript execution to keep the web page user interface responsive while data uploading/downloading occurs in the background
  3. Database: local SQLite database, one per web application, for web application offline storage, duplicating some or all of the online data storage (following the trend set by the Dojo Offline Toolkit)

These are all much sought after facilities for browser web applications. More interesting is how Gears fits with the other two important software announcements in this space, Adobe’s Apollo and Microsoft’s Silverlight. A good overview of the three packages is to be found in the Read/Write Web article by Alex Iskold.

Although there is obvious overlap each of the three packages targets different categories of web-enabled applications which I would summarise as:


Primary Focus

Main Features


Desktop RIAs

Flash, Flex, Ajax, local storage


Rich media web applications

XAML subset, .NET languages and Ajax,.NET runtime, Silverlight online storage, VC1 codec


Ajax web applications

Run web apps offline with local storage, Ajax, theads

On the surface Silverlight and Gears appear to be a good fit. It is strange that Microsoft have not yet tackled offline storage as they already have a solution in SQL Server Compact Edition which just needs a JavaScript interface to become a Gears competitor.

Published with Word 2007.


About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

One Response to Google Gears Stakes a Large Claim

  1. Pingback: Impressions Scholarcast » Google Reader Goes Offline

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