Google Gears support in WordPress – is this the road to plug-in hell?

Interesting to see Gears support in WordPress 2.6:

The patch adds all static files used in the admin interface to a single offline storage. That speeds up page loading a lot, as it serves virtually all requests for static files from the computer’s HD instead of the network. So instead of 50-60 requests to the server on some pages, there are only 2-3.

Very simple, very effective. A user blogs the experience here.

So is Gears taking off? Maybe. There’s Zoho; there’s Google itself, there’s MySpace, which uses Gears for searching and sorting messages. Note that Gears is still in beta; it’s curious that major sites are willing to use it in that state, but that’s the Internet for you.

I have reservations about Gears. There’s the security angle. More seriously, there’s the question about whether this is the right way to extend the browser. Google is doing its own thing; so is Yahoo with BrowserPlus; so is Adobe with Flash, and Microsoft with Silverlight. All of them swear that they love browser standards, and in some cases (like local storage) there may be consolidation towards a standard API – see here for a good discussion – but there is real danger of plug-in hell.

Security is bound to be an issue as well, since the more browsers and their plug-ins interact with the client (which is the purpose of these extensions), the more potential there is for compromising the client.