The next phase for web services – offline access

Migrating more and more of my daily use to web applications such as Gmail I have also experienced the difficulties going through for exampel email when offline. Today I thought about it again and did a quick search at Google, and the result represents what I love with Internet and the open-source community. Guess what, of course there are other people thinking about it and trying to solve it. Firstly, there exists solutions to use Google Desktop to at least search for emails offline since it cache them locally on your computer. But there was also a really exciting project going on. Something that is necessary and absolutely the next step, the ability to run web applications offline in your browser. Gmail, Google calendar, collaboration portals and other web applications offer great advantages compared to have them installed on your desktop or laptop, but there is always a need of Internet connection. At Sitepen.com they have since january been working on a project called Dojo Offline Toolkit. It is a toolkit for enabling web application to run offline and sync when online. They have started by focusing on three popular and useful web applications: Gmail, Blogger, and a corporate portal named Adenine. Their blog offers a great insight into the development of an open-source project. Eweek, among many, mention this project as well.

My decision to migrate to web applications was not simple. Using an Apple Powerbook and Mac OS X it felt stupid to stop using its Mail application, that is very similair to Gmail and in fact very good. I guess the reason was that I made a clean install and instead of configuring Mail again I gave Gmail a shot. But offline access is still a big concern for me. I prefer to use my computer in cafés and not everyone offers wifi. So I put emails to write as todos, write them offline and then send them when online. Not optimal of course. So it is therefore a solution like Dojo Offline Toolkit would suit me perfectly and be an incentive for others to take advantage of web applications. It would remove the need for synchronisation between different offline and online applications. For example, .Mac that enables you to sync address book, iCal and Mail with their suit on the web. It would be a lot nicer to have the same application and run it in an offline or online mode. Pretty much as an email client works today when you use imap or exchange with the difference that the online application is different from the one on your computer, especially if you have several email accounts. When you get online it automatically sends the messages you wrote offline. And according to the blog on sitepen.com this is how Dojo Offline Toolkit will enable Gmail to work. They started in january and said it would take about three months so I hope we will soon see some beta tests.

~ by Andreas Sigurdsson on April 1, 2007.

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