Web to go – blurring online & offline worlds

As promised – here’s more information about the technologies noted by the BBC as being on the rise in 2008.

The following technologies have the ability to take rich web content and make some of it available offline. They are in beta & for developers, but it’s good to know what is coming for those of us who are users.

Google Gears

Google Gears is an open source browser extension that lets developers create web applications that can run offline. Gears provides three key features:

  • A local server, to cache and serve application resources (HTML, JavaScript, images, etc.) without needing to contact a server
  • A database, to store and access data from within the browser
  • A worker thread pool, to make web applications more responsive by performing expensive operations in the background

Google Gears is currently an early-access developers’ release. It is not yet intended for use by real users in production applications at this time. Read more about Google Gears.

Adobe® AIR™

Adobe® AIR™ is a cross-operating system runtime that allows web application developers to use their existing web development skills (HTML, Javascript, Adobe Flash®, Adobe Flex™, Ajax) to build and deploy rich Internet applications to the desktop.

Also still in beta, there are some interesting sample applications that give an idea where these technologies are going:

  • Bee is a desktop blog editor built on AIR in HTML/JavaScript. Bee
    integrates WordPress blogging platform and Flickr photo sharing support
    and offers simple unified workflows for photo blogging.
  • BkMark allows you to create a permanent bookmark for your favorite website or application.
  • Drag’n Share lets you manage your documents on Google Documents by dragging them to or from the desktop.
  • Employee Directory is a sample application that functions as a lightweight desktop search tool for employee information.
  • Fresh is a skinnable RSS reader built entirely using AJAX running on Adobe AIR. The Fresh reader features offline RSS reading, multiple panels within a single window, tabbed browsing, and basic browser integration.
  • PeekAgenda keeps track of your tasks whether you’re offline or online. It shows how an Ajax-based desktop application can work offline to create lists and then synchronize this data using Backpack APIs.
  • PodcastPlayer provides a streamlined interface for playing audio podcasts.
  • Roadfinder combines two of the most popular online maps, Yahoo! Maps and Google Maps, into a single application. Search for an address by typing it in or dragging it from the desktop.
  • Scout gives web developers the ability to look inside a web page and see what is really going on beneath the covers.
  • ScreenBoard allows you to draw directly on your desktop using multiple transparent windows and a variety of preset tools.
  • Signet gives you the ability to take your del.icio.us bookmarks to the desktop.
  • SyncIn is a sample application that demonstrates how to communicate between HTML and PDF to maintain a synchronized object across two different presentations.

Microsoft® Silverlight™

Microsoft® Silverlight™
is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of .NET based media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web. It supports fast, cost-effective delivery of high-quality video to all major browsers running on the Mac OS or Windows.

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