31 may. 2007

Google Gears

The real big announcement today ought to be Google Gears, making Adobe Apollo and the like pretty much stillborn. (I don’t quite understand how Adobe can be partnering with Google… I guess they mostly thought, “okay, we’re dead, let’s see what we can salvage out of this.”)

When I first read a summary description, I was quite reserved about letting any random site install all kinds of stuff and programs and whatnot on my computer. (By the way, some people are still paranoid about cookies, and you want to download entire websites on their hard drives?) Here’s a good technical writeup: Gears just copies static HTML/CSS/etc. files in a sandbox, and stores all your data in a SQLite database. So, provided there is a simple mechanism to limit how much space each individual site can take, and to easily remove any given data set, it does sound promising. Well, there also needs to be a way to remove a Javascript background process, because that feature’s got astronomical nuisance potential — but I kinda trust Google to take that into account.

The real philosophical drawback about Google Gears is that offline mode (obviously) doesn’t have PHP or whatever, meaning that it’s going to be spectacularly favoring the use of Javascript and Ajax on the web. In other words, they pretty much half-killed server-side scripting today: most developers will have every interest in one version of their app that works both offline and online, in Javascript, and accessibility be damned (but I guess that’s good for server load).

 

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