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Google Gears - The Giant Speaks

Posted by davidvc on May 31, 2007 at 12:28 PM PDT

By now most of you have heard about Google Gears. Yes, I heard about it too. I actually tried installing it into Firefox on my Mac, I wanted to try Google Reader offline. But it just is not working for me. First of all Google Reader keeps telling me I have lost the connection when I haven't (or probably did for a microsecond). And I can't tell it to shut up or increase its timeout.

Secondly, the "download" icon is not showing up, although it seems to be for other folks. So I can't even use it, and it's annoying, so I uninstalled it. I have posted to the Google Reader forum, we'll see if I get an answer

But this is just growing pains. The concept is great, and it looks like they've done a good job. SQLite is an excellent little engine. SQLite is also the basis of Mozilla's storage engine. You can also find SQLite embedded in Solaris as the database used by the Service Management Framework.

I've met the author, Dr. Richard Hipp, and this kind of success couldn't happen to a nicer guy. I just checked the web site, and the license has changed to be a more official form of public domain, but when I was first looking at this as part of evaluating databases for use within Sun, it used to be a single paragraph that said something like this software is free for your use and is given to you fully with a blessing

As I heard it second-hand, this license text set our lawyers in a tizzy :) but finally it was decided it was OK to use.

All that said, OK, yes, I'm a little bummed. It's great to see this kind of architecture making it out there, and it looks like Google did a good job (for instance I think it's right to leave synchronization to the application). But, yes, I had hoped JavaDB would have been in the mix.

But I understand why Google may not have chose it. Java is not famous for being fast and easy in the browser, even though it is very portable and has a strong set of APIs. It looks like we are working to change that, but too late for Google Gears.

I think Mark Mclaren had a good point too, that this was shoved onto browsers in a non-standard way, and only Google could do this, because they could. But I also recognize that sometimes you have to do this - get the implementation out there first, standardize it second. It's encouraging that it's in open source under a BSD license.

I was wondering how this will impact the very interesting work Brad Neuberg has done with the Dojo Offline Toolkit. I watched his demo and it was quite impressive how simple it all was, and how he has tried to tackle the Synchronization Problem. I like his vision of keep things very simple for the user and don't confuse them with too many choices.

But then I saw that Brad's
presenting at Google Developer Day
about the integration between Google Gears and Dojo Offline Toolkit. So there you have it. Good to see that they've been talking.