Monday, June 04, 2007

Google Gears

This is the very interesting presentation about Google Gears made by Aaron Boodman at last week's Google Developer Day in Sydney:

This is going to make web application development very interesting ... and by that I mean challenging. I'm sure that ASP.NET will end up hiding this functionality under yet another layer of abstraction (abstractions upon abstractions ...) but at the end of the day there are a lot of gotchas with this sort of application that developers will need to deal with, not least being the change in user mindset that is required. After all, where will user data actually reside?

Data replication is a well-understood problem for many thick-client tools, document management tools such as Interwoven WorkSite have one way of handling it, whilst Lotus Notes has dealt with this problem for years. However, despite being well understood by developers, it always seems to cause issues with users - mainly because it violates so many of their mental models of how computers work. One interesting point will be the re-interpretation of the "Offline" mode indicators that these GUIs often use. I wonder what will become the most popular solution to that design problem? (mine is courtesy of My cool button)

There will also be problems in bandwidth poor nations like Australia, where users find their internet bills going through the roof because they are suddenly downloading copious amounts of data during asynchronous data updates with their favourite web applications. Yes, the technology should save bandwidth in some scenarios, but I'm willing to bet a dozen KK donuts that it will leave most users with heftier download numbers than they had previously. At least Google will probably eat its own dogfood with Gmail as one of the obvious first apps to apply Gears to (Google Reader actually looks like the very first one to offer this functionality).

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