FireFox team not sure about Google Gears adoption

During Google Developer Day I had the impression that Mozilla was right on board with Google Gears, the plug-in which which enables offline applications. Here’s Aaron Boodman and Erik Arvidsson from the Gears team:

We are releasing Gears as an open source project and we are working with Adobe, Mozilla and Opera and other industry partners to make sure that Gears is the right solution for everyone.

It seems that things are not as clear-cut as Boodman and Arvidsson imply. quotes Mozilla’s Mike Shaver:

We’re talking to Google engineers and looking at how these two models — ours and theirs — compare. This is in the open now, and going forward we’ll see what we can learn from each other,” Shaver said. “But there’s a lot of work that’s been done already [on Firefox 3.0], and we’re not planning to throw that work away.

According to the article, Shaver is particularly doubtful about using SQLite for persisting web application data locally, and is inclined to stick with the more limited DOM Storage API already planned for FireFox 3.0.

A related point is that Adobe’s commitment to Gears is not absolute. Here’s Adobe’s Michele Turner says, quoted by David Berlind:

…For example, they’re using SQLite and we were already incorporating SQLite into Apollo. So, now we’re aligning our efforts with Google on things like the synchronous and asynchronous calls that must be made to the SQLite database in order to enable the offline capability. 

My impression is that Adobe is aiming for a measure of API compatibility, but will ship its own build of SQLite rather than using one installed by Gears, with inevitable version and customization differences.

There is a world of difference between using a similar API on the one hand, and sharing common components and/or common source code on the other. It looks to me as if Apollo, FireFox and Google are going to provide three independent and isolated mechanisms for handling local storage.

Of course Gears installs into FireFox anyway, and there is nothing to stop Flash developers from using Gears.

I will quiz Adobe on this subject at tomorrow’s Adobe Live event.

3 thoughts on “FireFox team not sure about Google Gears adoption”

  1. Looks like Adobe are taking the standard Microsoft tactic “embrace and extend” for Gears. Not too sure it’ll work with Google.

  2. Just for clarification, we are intending to work with Google on the Gears api’s, and we are using the same SQLite database. This isn’t an “embrace and extend” tactic – we happened to be on very similar technical paths and it makes a ton of sense for us to take part in the Gears initiative, not just for Apollo but for Flash as well.

  3. So you’ll be moving over to the Gears API then? Or having two concurrent APIs to do the same thing in Apollo? That doesn’t seem to make much sense from my point of view as an app developer…

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