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Google Technology

Google Abandoning Gears 139

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the bits-and-buckets dept.
harrymcc noted a story talking about what might be the end of Google Gears. The concept has always been interesting, but it seems that Google is beginning to think of Gears as more of a proof of concept, and that focus will shift to HTML5, which has the same functionality.
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Google Abandoning Gears

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  • by yakatz (1176317) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:02AM (#30296702) Homepage Journal

    Saying that Google is abandoning Gears is not 100% accurate as it has bad connotations.

    Google created Gears to fill the void until browser makers would implement HTML5. Now that they are doing so, Gears is being retired.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:11AM (#30296790) Journal

      Exactly. HTML 5 is being deployed piecemeal, and Gears uses the HTML 5 features when they're available, falling back to its own functionality when it isn't. When all that Gears is doing is delegating functionality to the native HTML 5 implementation, it's pointless and just adds a layer of indirection that slows everything down.

      Gears is out and works now. HTML 5 is starting to be widely deployed and all of the major browser manufacturers are backing it (MS announced IE9 will support it). When HTML 5 is universal, there will be no point in Gears. It never had a long-term future, it was just a prototype. Several of the HTML 5 features are lifted directly from Gears, so saying Google are abandoning Gears is no more interesting than saying Microsoft are abandoning Windows 95.

      • Except for those people who are still using IE 6 or Netscape 4.
        If only people would leave IE 6 once and for all.
        • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:57AM (#30297280) Homepage Journal

          Except for those people who are still using IE 6 or Netscape 4.

          That's their problem. The cost-benefit ratio of supporting those ancient systems (and enabling the defective IT departments that stick with them) just isn't worth it anymore. Let them have their Geocities-era sites and funky rendering while the rest of us enjoy the last decade's worth of progress.

          • That depends. 60% of orders from our website still comes from customers using MSIE 6. Until that changes, I will continue to curse, kick, and scream that MSIE is broken.

          • by GWBasic (900357)

            That's their problem. The cost-benefit ratio of supporting those ancient systems (and enabling the defective IT departments that stick with them) just isn't worth it anymore. Let them have their Geocities-era sites and funky rendering while the rest of us enjoy the last decade's worth of progress.

            Have you played with Google's Chrome Frame [google.com]? It's a plugin that lets sites specify that IE should render them using Google's HTML-5 compliant rendering engine. You can even stick up a Flash-era "This site requires Chrome Frame" for IE users, but let all of the modern browsers go through.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tim C (15259)

          My old Spectrum won't let me access the web either; should I be supported?

          There comes a time in the lifecycle of any technology or software product where you either have to move on, or accept that there are things that other people can do with their equivalent that you can't do with yours. You can only support backwards compatibility for so long, and so far back.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            "My old Spectrum won't let me access the web either; should I be supported?"

            Yes, assuming if by "you" you mean 10million + users. It would be stupid for a business to cut that many people off all at once.

            Beside, you use a spectrum, clearly you pirate software delivered from radio stations and not worth consideration~

      • So now, with a browser having 100% perfect Acid 3 score even on mobile/ARM flavor, I should be able to use Google sites in their full function not missing a single feature, no quirks, no "browser.js" hacks.

        Basically I should be able to use Opera 10.10 and I shouldn't be thinking a second about Google Chrome which wasn't released for PowerPC anyway.

        Somehow, I have hard time believing that.

        • by slim (1652)

          Somehow, I have hard time believing that.

          Why?

          If every browser was as standards-compliant as Opera, Google wouldn't have needed to push Chrome. Yes; you should be able to use Google sites to their full function in Opera, once they migrate off Gears to HTML5.

        • You realise, I hope, that ACID3 tests a set of corner cases in CSS, ECMAscript and DOM that were poorly implemented on existing implementations when the test was introduced? It is not a full-coverate test suite for HTML, CSS, or JavaScript, and it does not cover any of the new features added with HTML 5.
      • by Kozz (7764)

        HTML 5 is starting to be widely deployed and all of the major browser manufacturers are backing it (MS announced IE9 will support it*).

        * for very small values of "support"

        FTFY.

        • by Ant P. (974313)

          They will support it or find out the segment of their users hooked on GMail will suddenly desert them one day.

        • Crap - I meant to mod you "Funny", but selected "Overrated". So I'm posting this to remove that mis-moderation.

          Why isn't there a way to change/remove one's moderation of an existing post? Because there's no "undo", I'm having to throw away eight other mods I've made on other posts in this discussion.

    • What about offline caching?

      I thought that was part of Chrome OS so that it can still be used offline?

  • makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fedorfedor (838521) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:02AM (#30296710)
    Gears was a smart way to get important new features into stagnant older browsers (we're looking at you, IE...) and implemented far more quickly than any standards process allows. Now that those features are in the HTML5 standard, there's no reason to require gears. Until the next round of feature-adding, of course...
    • In the interim there's always PersistJS [pablotron.org], which uses whatever the best available client-side storage medium available is. Native, Gears, Flash, Cookies... It works pretty smoothly, since there's still going to be a few years until HTML5 is implemented, and the browsers on clients get updated. It pains me that anyone is still using IE6 at this point.

      At my work, they're currently making plans to (finally) update from IE6 to IE8 (bypassing 7) and update from XP to Win7 (bypassing Vista).
  • HTML 5 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo42 (227475) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:05AM (#30296736) Homepage

    Makes one wonder how much of this "HTML 5 will do this", "HTML 5 will do that" is hype or wishful thinking. Past experience has shown great disappointment in all this hyperbole...

    • Re:HTML 5 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Transfinite (1684592) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:09AM (#30296766)
      from actually working with this stuff. Quite alot already.
    • by AvitarX (172628)

      I'm pretty thrilled with what came out of AJAX myself.

      Just google maps alone makes it well worth it.

      • I'm pretty thrilled with what came out of AJAX myself.

        Just google maps alone makes it well worth it.

        The main Javascript object that does AJAX is XMLHttpRequest, which was originally a Microsoft ActiveX object. It had nothing to do with Google or HTML standards.

    • Re:HTML 5 (Score:5, Informative)

      by slim (1652) <john@nOspam.hartnup.net> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:13AM (#30296820) Homepage

      HTML 5 does exactly what it says it does.

      Dive into HTML 5 [diveintohtml5.org] tells you what that is, and whether your browser supports it.

      It's up to developers to apply it. Google is doing so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Read the spec, compare it with browser implementations. A few things are deployed and work well now, such as the video and audio tags in FireFox and Safari (although they support different CODECs out of the box) and client-side storage. The latter is the big one that Gears provided; with HTML 5 there are existing implementations of both the JavaScript persistent object storage and the database-style version (which lets you run SQL queries against a local store). Most of the new form elements are already
    • Re:HTML 5 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:46AM (#30297122)

      HTML5 is pretty slick, but you have to remember most sites will never upgrade to it.

      One of the problems with the web is whenever you add a new markup, you still have to support the old markup. One of the reasons I thought that XHTML was mostly a waste of time was that everybody involved in it was acting like a year after XHTML2 came out, HTML2,3,4 would instantly disappear and browsers could simplify their parsing, becoming faster... the reality is, the vast majority of sites will never switch over.

      HTML5 is a better idea, since at least it's not a completely new way of doing things. But since it does the few things XHTML did that HTML 4 didn't, now browsers have to support a totally useless XHTML strict syntax in addition.

      Ugh.

      • actually some sites already have been using it for some time!

      • you're right... but. your missing the point. the important, ground breaking changes are not the tags or even for that matter the video elemen, these are all distractions. It's the other stuff like. WebWorkers, webSockets, ApplicationCache etc... This is the important stuff. Really go read the specs
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Blakey Rat (99501)

          I'm not saying people *shouldn't* use it, I'm excited about it myself. What I'm saying is, realistically, the majority of sites will never convert to HTML5. The lesson being: make your standards great, because they Never. Go. Away.

          Sorry I shouldn't post at 6:30 AM

      • Web sites that want to support it and also support legacy browsers will use something like Modernizr [modernizr.com] or other HTML5 detection techniques [diveintohtml5.org] and provide alternate content - like flash video as alternate content for HTML5 video, javascript or flash charts as alt content for canvas charts, etc.

        Some features like sockets and web workers and local storage aren't really feasible for legacy browsers even with workarounds like Gears but a subset can be implemented for specific apps which is the focus of this topic....

      • HTML5 is pretty slick, but you have to remember most sites will never upgrade to it.

        Most sites will eventually disappear.

        Most sites that you will be using 10 years from now probably don't exist.

        So, while most existing sites won't upgrade to it, at some point in the future most sites will probably be using either HTML5 or something later.

      • I’m sorry??

        I bet you are one of those “web developers” who “learned” it by reading a book while driving a cab, and know think you know everything.

        XHTML was created, to finally put an end to the retarded mess that is HTML, and to have something professional. It was made, so that — just like with every other real compiler/interpreter — every time you fuck up, it fails to render the site at all, and shows you the error(s).
        If you can’t handle that, you should not

  • ...I won't really miss Gears. Since right now Offline Gmail uses Gears, I don't want it to go away.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      As long as Gears is perpetually behind on Linux/x64, it's a hassle. As long as Offline Gmail uses Gears, I won't use it. I have used it and think it's nifty but... not that nifty. I can send mail with and archive mail in Evolution, if need be.

  • Google has created a technology to adress the shortcomings of an old standard and now, as the new one reaches it's final state, Google tells us to use it.

  • Abandoning gears has been obvious for some time - for instance, there's no support in the linux version of Chrome. However, the question is, when willl existing google services based on Gears move to HTML5? The most important one of these being, of course, offline gmail. Google has demonstrated a mobile offline gmail prototype using HTML5 around the beginning of 2009, so the delay is hard to justify on a technical basis.

    One wonders if they haven't made a policy decision not to support offline gmail - to for

    • by slim (1652)

      Of course offline GMail will use HTML5. That's *strongly* implied by "we are abandoning Gears in favour of HTML 5"

    • what's wrong with using an ordinary email client? or are you also stuck on the 'Everything over HTTP' bandwagon?
      • Exactly. GMail was the free provider who offered free IMAPS and SMTPS support, when Hotmail was charging for a HTTP based Outlook only system. I use a Gmail account with Alpine without any problems.

    • by Ma8thew (861741)
      Since the iPhone version of GMail already uses HTML5 for offline access, I assume so will the desktop version.
    • by Dog-Cow (21281)

      You are a massive idiot and asshole.

      "Forcing" you to use the online version of a free service so that there is a chance to display ads is not evil. It's not even remotely evil. It's not bad. It's not wrong.

      You are a greedy shit. I would think that's actually evil.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Abandoning gears has been obvious for some time - for instance, there's no support in the linux version of Chrome.

      That's hardly a fair complaint, considering Chrome for Linux is not supported [google.com], either (yet).

  • event the iphone app is just a front for the website. For Google Reader I use MobileRSS that downloads the first few lines of my feeds so i can read them offline in the NYC subway.

    • Offline == No ads, No statistics == No money for google Also, protocols other than HTTP easily support the injection of ads, therefore google hate anything that isn't HTTP
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Transfinite (1684592)
        Really? you don't think that if you have a client side DB that is network aware, that can sync when it reconnects that it can't a) inject ads b) record what you do c) sync all of the above when you re-connect? I'm sorry but get prepared for offline analytics and ads
        • That's possible, but people will complain that it's spyware. You see, if you do all your spying server side and it isn't immediately obvious that everything you do with the software is being recorded then people won't mind it so much.
          • by Firehed (942385)

            They're already scanning your email to build up an advertising profile of you. They may lose out on a couple of ad views when in offline mode, but the extra data they're provided by you continuing to use their service instead of switching to a competitor is more than worth it.

      • by Steeltoe (98226)

        Oh yea, Google is evil. That's why they have been the first to have released APIs for nearly every service they provide on the web.

        Oh wait..

  • Come to the Dark Side of the Force.
  • I had poor luck successfully using Google Docs offline, even though this was supposedly what Gears was made for. I still do find Gears useful for one thing - Wordpress. I obviously can't blog offline, and if I were writing a post offline I'd do it in Microsoft Live Writer or MS Word or something, but regardless, that's not how Wordpress uses Gears; it leverages Gears to cache common Javascript files locally so that the pages on the admin console load much more quickly. This makes complex procedures reall

  • Time to ... (Score:3, Funny)

    by PePe242 (1690706) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:53AM (#30297216)
    shift gear
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd been toying with the idea of making my existing webapp available offline, and just this morning began reading up on Google Gears to use it. I put the documentation down for a minute to check out /. and what do I see? Well, fuck.

  • The couple of times I looked into Gears, the main feature touted by Google was the ability to use your web apps when you're not connected to the internet. This was reason enough for me not to spend a lot of energy on Gears, as in practice, in this day and age, I never find a computer that is NOT connected to the internet.

    So in short, I've never had a need for Gears.
    • by Brandee07 (964634)

      The only need I've had for Gears was on airplanes, and for drag-and-drop document upload on Wave.

    • by lwsimon (724555)

      The couple of times I looked into Gears, the main feature touted by Google was the ability to use your web apps when you're not connected to the internet. This was reason enough for me not to spend a lot of energy on Gears, as in practice, in this day and age, I never find a computer that is NOT connected to the internet.

      So in short, I've never had a need for Gears.

      You don't think this will change as we move to more and more powerful mobile computing platforms? Already, my iPhone runs into issues at times when the network isn't available - when WLAN netbook/tablets/retinal implants drop from the network, this type of tech will be key.

    • by Jonathan (5011)

      Do you don't use a laptop? Or do you have a 3G modem or something? That's the main point of Gears -- being able to edit a Google Docs document on a laptop without needing to find a wifi hotspot.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @01:32PM (#30299334) Homepage

    One of the more overlooked features of Gears is its JavaScript parser, which allows apps to execute JavaScript in a separate thread from the rest of the page to improve performance. Now that Google has released Chrome, it makes less sense for it to keep working on a hack to allow Firefox and IE to run JavaScript more efficiently. Chrome is incentive enough for Mozilla and Microsoft to start doing that for themselves.

    • Yeah, because all four of you users who actually use Chrome, and because one of them actually cares... Riiight... :P

  • by PPH (736903)
    Gears went out of favor after Babbage's Difference Engine.

Forty two.

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