Google recently released a new tool called google gears. See http://code.google.com/apis/gears/

Gears is an open source browser extension that lets developers create web applications that can run offline Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? As an application delivery company, we think we should keep an eye on the future trend of application development and see where Citrix can add value.

So I decided to give it a try.

Since it is beta software, I tested it inside a VM since I don want to take the chance of messing up my development machine. No offense google engineers. Well most software from google are beta anyway. However since this requires a local install, I thought I should be more cautious.

First I tried the samples listed on the web page. The samples are not flashy. But simple applications are good to demonstrate concepts and the code is easier to follow. That said, it would be nice to see some sample applications that do something more useful.

Overall the demos worked as described.

One thing I am still curious about is that how the browser knows that it is dealing with a google gears based application and loads the initial starting code locally. I tried fiddler ( a free network sniffer for IE http://www.fiddlertool.com/fiddler/help/?ver=1.3.0.0). It shows that indeed when the application is running in the offline mode there is no HTTP request to the server. It doesn’t matter if the browser is on line or off line. One exception is that the managedResourceStore demo seems to always send a request to get a .json file even when in off line mode.

One difference I noticed between IE and firefox is that IE would report the following error when running the ManagedResourceStore demo and IE is off line.

http://code.google.com/apis/gears/samples/hello_world_managedstore/managed_store.html failed

The page still showed though. Firefox didn report such an error.

Do the browsers keep a list of google gears applications? I will try to find out.

Good thing is that this is open source, isn’t it? Does anyone know? I appreciate it if you share with the rest of us.

The Simple WrokerPool Demo however doesn’t seem to be very effective. The synchronous call is supposed to take a long time in order to show the benefits of using the workerpool. However in my test environment, the synchronous call runs very quickly and I can’t tell the difference between running the computation synchronously and asynchronously.

Overall, such functionalities seem to be useful for creating off line applications. It impressive to deliver a local SQL DB that supports SQL queries in such a small download package.

I wonder however what advantages gears have over other competing frameworks such as Adobe Flex http://www.adobe.com/products/flex/ and Microsoft silverlight http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/default01.aspx. Any comment?

Well time to dive into the developer guide.