Google Gears Aims to Bolster Adobe Apollo, Others

With its announcement of the offline capabilities in Google Gears, Google hopes to make life easier for other offline efforts including Adobe's Apollo and the Dojo Offline initiative.

Googles new Google Gears offering, which helps developers deliver offline capabilities to Web applications, brings new capabilities to other similar efforts that will help users tap key resources while not connected to the Web.

For instance, Google announced it is working with Adobe on the Gears effort. Adobes own Apollo cross-operating system run-time for Web developers features an offline capability and enables Web applications to run directly on the desktop and across platforms, without extra coding.

Apollo is the code name for Adobes development system that helps Web developers leverage their existing skills in Adobe Flash and Adobe Flex, as well as HTML, JavaScript and AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), to build and deploy RIAs (rich Internet applications) on the desktop.

Bret Taylor, head of Google Developer Programs, said he believes Google Gears marks an important step in the evolution of Web applications because it addresses the issue of availability of data and applications when theres no Internet connection available, or when a connection is slow or unreliable.

Google has teamed up with Adobe, Mozilla and Opera, among others to advance Gears.

"Were very excited to be collaborating with Google to move the industry forward to a standard cross-platform, cross-browser local storage capability," said Kevin Lynch, senior vice president and chief software architect at Adobe, in a statement.

"The Gears API will also be available in Apollo, which enables web applications to run on the desktop, providing developers with consistent offline and local database solutions."

Ben Galbraith, co-founder of, said, "Google Gears is very, very cool. This further blurs the line dividing use cases between the browser and desktop applications. Now that Ajax can deliver rich user interfaces and gives browsers enormous flexibility to manage their own custom data transport layers, the addition of Google Gears allows Web applications to finally get past the last major barrier: off-line access."

Moreover, Galbraith added: "That Dojo Off-line and Adobes Apollo dovetail with this is also huge."


With Google working to position Gears as an industry standard platform for handling offline Web capabilities, it potentially allows AJAX applications and Apollo applications to share a common offline infrastructure, for example, the same data in a database. Or at the very least, developers can use the same techniques for synchronizing data with an offline AJAX application and an Apollo application, Galbraith said.

A Google spokesperson said the internal code name for Google Gears was Scour because that is what you do with the cleaning product AJAX.

Adobe saw the capabilities of Googles Gears and jumped right onboard.

"One of the things that has been touted about Apollo were the offline capabilities and that feature has come up in a lot of the discussions about deployment," wrote Ryan Stewart, an Adobe strategist, in a blog post. "But as Ive tried to emphasize (even before I joined Adobe), Apollo is a lot more than that. There is no one right way."

Paul Colton, founder and CEO of Aptana, which is building a next-generation IDE (integrated development environment) for Web development, said he is "very impressed" with Google Gears, particularly as Aptana is targeting Adobe Apollo as a platform.

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Colton said Aptanas goal is to provide the very best AJAX development environment through its open-source Aptana IDE. "Google Gears just empowered our developers to leverage their Web 2.0 skills, HTML, CSS and JavaScript, to build very compelling offline capable applications without having to learn any new languages or paradigms," Colton said.

"The simplicity of Google Gears, and the ease in which it can be installed cross-platform and cross-browser makes for a winning product. Aptana is also excited about fully supporting Ajax development for Adobe Apollo in our IDE—Apollo combined with the Google Gears API could very well be the Internets new killer app."

Aptana will be fully supporting Apollo development directly in its IDE and will deliver the first public beta of that capability in June, Colton said.

"Adobe Apollo provides a very rich platform for AJAX developers, not just Flash developers, to deploy very compelling desktop applications built 100 percent using AJAX technologies," Colton said.

"That includes leveraging all of the great AJAX libraries out there. The fact that an AJAX developer can now build a Web 2.0 application, make it an installable application with Apollo, and access offline content and databases with Google Gears is a convergence that weve been waiting for. It means that Web 2.0 has arrived in a very big way—online, offline and on the desktop," Colton said.

Adobes Apollo is not the only AJAX-related effort that has pledged support for Google Gears. The Dojo Toolkit also stands to benefit.

Alex Russell, a core developer of the Dojo Toolkit, president of the Dojo Foundation and director of research and development at SitePen, Palo Alto, Calif., said their technology, Dojo Offline, will borrow from Gears.

Russell said Dojo has been working "with our friends at Google" to upgrade Dojo Offline to work on top of Gears. In fact, a Dojo developer, Brad Neuberg, is demonstrating the technology at Google Developer Day at the San Jose, Calif., location.

"While Gears provides you with the raw material you need to make offline happen—storage, offline notification, SQL, etc. —there are parts of the developer experience that can be improved and thats where were focusing Dojo Offline now," Russell said.

"Instead of going the easier route of the out-of-process proxy—like we did with the initial Dojo Offline work—theyve built this stuff right into the browser, allowing them to offer JavaScript developers some amazing new tools."

Added Galbraith on the Dojo/Apollo moves: "As you know, in AJAX there are a hundreds ways to solve any problem, so having offline start out with a unified toolkit across both Apollo and Dojo is great news for developers."

Meanwhile, Google Gears will work with Microsofts Silverlight cross-platform, cross-browser tool for building RIAs. Gears hopes to complement Microsofts Silverlight and other technologies by offering an offline infrastructure that developers can incorporate into any Web application—even those that use plug-ins from other companies, a Google spokesperson said.

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