It was recently reported that Google Dumps Gears for HTML5. If true, with the investment Google has made in HTML5, Chrome, Chrome OS, and Chrome Frame, this is not surprising, but it does leave a potential short-term gap for offline application development.
In their post, Read-Write Web asks if offline access is even necessary any longer. I guess they don’t spend enough time on airplanes or at hotels and conferences with poor internet connectivity! It’s certainly necessary, and while other browsers have developed significant offline capabilities, older browsers still need a plug-in like Gears.
In the interim, what should you do if you want an offline application? Do you develop for Gears and HTML 5 features? Do you wait for Chrome Frame to integrate offline capabilities? Do you use a toolkit like Dojo which will wrap the various possibilities? Or do you rely on something else like AIR, Titanium, Prism, or Fluid? The answer really depends on your application. If it is live now, you plan for the future but you keep going with Gears and/or Dojo Offline. If you won’t be launching for some time, you may want to talk to us about your offline app options.
At the end of the day, Gears is open source. If there’s a long-term need for its existence, the community can pick it up and run with it! Thankfully end-of-life isn’t the certain death-knell that it is with closed-source software.