Google Gears to be let to die

21:41, December 02, 2009      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

Google is to allow its Gears offline utility to languish as it attempts to move the Web forward into HTML 5.0, Google executives said Monday.

According to Linus Upson, the engineering director at Google, Gears' time has come and gone. The technology will be supported for compatibility's sake, but not improved upon.

"Yes, we are not driving forward in any meaningful way (on Gears)," Upson said. "We are continuing to maintain it, so that applications will continue to work; we don't want to break anything out there."

Google Gears was originally launched in 2007 as a tool for allowing Web-based Google applications to work offline, like rivals Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. But in May of 2008, Google used its I/O Conference to make a push for HTML 5.0 and capabilities that include the ability to cache apps and databases, and apply canvas, video, and geolocation tags.

A "web worker" tag also allows for the background processing of Javascript, a tool to avoid, in one executive's words, "hosing" a Web browser by monopolizing its CPU cycles.

HTML 5.0, in Google's view, is the future. One indication of that direction has been the inclusion of the "My Location" feature in Google Maps, which attempts to use geolocation to identify the user's position.

"We're very focused on moving HTML 5 forward, and that's where we're putting all of our energy," Upson said. "When we started the Gears project, three years ago, maybe three and a half years ago now, we did it because we couldn't get the browser vendors interested in building offline applications. And so, so we said, okay, we'll build a plugin that could do it. And lo and behold, once we shipped Gears, suddenly the browser vendors got very interested in adding capabilities to build offline applications.

"And so, I think Gears has accomplished its mission very well, in getting these capabilities into HTML 5," Upson added. "In fact, the team that designed Gears was also instrumental in designing the HTML 5 versions of those APIs. You can almost think of what's in HTML 5, with app cache, and database, and those things, as essentially Gears [version] 2, and that's how we view it."

Upson, who runs both the Chrome browser and Chrome OS engineering teams, said he's readying the Mac version of Chrome for a release by the end of the year, as originally planned. He did not directly address reports that said Gears would be left out of the Mac version of the Chrome browser, as Apple's Mac OS X reportedly does not support it. But he confirmed that that was the direction that Chrome would take.

"We want to move all applications to just use standards based HTML 5 APIs, and not focus on Gears going forward," Upson added. "And now that we're a browser vendor, we can help move HTML 5 forward not as a plug-in, but as part of Chrome."

Source: Agencies
  • Do you have anything to say?
Special Coverage
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
Most Popular
Hot Forum Dicussion