I just downloaded and installed the Mozilla Sunbird desktop calendar application and tried out the Google Calendar add-on. It appears to be working. It allows you to read, write, and delete calendar events both locally and when you are online with Google Calendar. Pretty neat. Until now, there have been paid-for solutions to sync your desktop calendars with gCal. Now, we have a free alternative. If only we could write one for Lotus Notes. Hmmm. Not a bad idea.
Now that Google has breathed new life into the idea of having access to your favorite web applications offline as well as online, it has started to get me thinking of another potential benefit. We are now used to the idea of accessing our emails, calendar entries, to-dos, contacts, pictures, videos, and various other data formats in an online space. My biggest concern with putting everything in the hands of third party web applications is what happens if those companies die off. How easy will it be to export your precious data and import them into other web applications? That is something to think about as we all move forward.
- Store and serve application resources locally
- Store data locally in a fully-searchable relational database
At TechCrunch, they give a pretty good review of Google Gears. Now, this idea is not new in the desktop world. Lotus Notes pioneered the idea of “replication” for both online and offline use. This is Lotus Notes forte and cause of endless frustration at the same time. We’ll soon see how well Google will be able to work out the kinks. So far, the only web app that is Gears enabled is Google Reader. Other notable projects that propose to do similar thing are: Dojo Offline Toolkit and the Apache Derby embedded database.