paul bennett

why do we need offline apps?

Posted on: March 12, 2008

ReadWriteWeb wrote up a while ago about Firefox 3 adding offline support for web applications. Arouind the same time, the Google Gears announcement came out and kind of fizzled. (Anyone using Google Gears? Anyone?)

I put this aside but recently discovered that companies are investing time and money into creating offline version of online web apps and using web app API’s to maintain data consistency. Take this offline front end for basecamp as an example.

Forgive me here, but isn’t connection to the internet becoming MORE pervasive every year. We now have not only desktop PC’s accessing and modifying information on the the internet, we have laptops, mobile phones, net-enabled devices and even ambient devices. The future is kind of banking on increased access to ‘the cloud’ in order for everything to tie together.

If today was 10 years ago, then this would make sense, but offline applications simply make no sense to me. If you feel the need for offline apps it seems you need to ask yourself why. If it’s a connection quality issue then it’s your connection which needs dealing with. If it’s commuting then surely there are far simpler tools you probably already have (text editor, word processor) which can perform the same basic functions until you’re online again.

If it’s about using the browser as platform, that’s been happening with Mozilla and Firefox for years via XUL and the Mozilla development engine products like Komodo use to get cross-platform applications functioning much easier.
The only reason I see for this development (especially in Firefox 3) is so Google can add simple offline support to it’s office suite in order to remove one more Enterprise excuse, but it still confounds me that time and energy is being sunk into offline support.

I’ll wait patiently to be educated..


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