Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Google Reader goes offline with Google Gears

I've been a longtime Bloglines user, but if I were starting over I'd probably be using Google Reader. It's just that Bloglines was good before GR was. Recently, however, I've been annoyed by feeds being "silent" for days, then appearing with 100 posts. That's rude.

Now I've got one more reason to consider the big switch:
Official Google Blog: Feeds on a plane!

With last week's launch of Google Gears, we're happy to let you know that Google Reader is the first Google web application made for online and offline viewing...

... Once you've installed Google Gears, you can download your latest 2,000 items so they're available even when you don't have an Internet connection.

To get started, simply click the "Offline" link in the top right of Google Reader.
What I really want is an offline drastically improved version of Google's "BlogThis!" bookmarklet.

In the meantime, everyone's been commenting on Google Gears, but there hasn't been much emphasis on how it works. From the original announcement:

Official Google Mac Blog: Google Gears for WebKit

... Google Gears ... adds support for local data storage and helps web application developers manage resources so you can make your web application work offline. It is currently available for Linux, Windows, and Macintosh platforms and you can learn more at

.... Google Gears for WebKit is made up of an Internet plugin for Webkit or Safari (Gears.plugin) that's installed into /Library/Internet Plug-Ins and an InputManager (GoogleGearsEnabler) that's installed into /Library/InputManagers. The GoogleGearsEnabler ensures that Google Gears can provide resources to web applications. It registers a NSURLProtocol class only if the OS X Application is a supported version of Safari or WebKit. Once installed, the registered class will check any URL requests to see if Google Gears can provide the content. If so, it will intercept the call and provide the data. Otherwise, the URL will be processed normally. This is how Google Gears is able to work when you're not connected to the Internet.

Google Gears is an open source project and we're working with partners like Adobe, Mozilla, Opera, and others to make sure this is the right solution for users....

Note from the description that Google Gears, once in place, works all the time. So it has the not insignificant side-effect of dramatically decreasing some web traffic. In this regard it reminds me of some of the technologies currently built into IE 7 [1]. Google Gears is providing a similar application foundation universally.

[1] Incidentally, earlier versions of IE made a big deal about being able to browser pages offline. Those were the days of intermittent connectivity ...

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