If your blog is hosted at WordPress.com, you might have noticed a link on your blog’s dashboard (top right): Speed Up. If you click on it, you’ll find that it asks you about Google Gears. It hasn’t been a secret that Gears support is coming to WordPress.
But the average WordPress.com blogger didn’t know that, and probably didn’t know what Google Gears is. The Gears Help Center isn’t very helpful. For example, it tells us that “Gears is a plug-in that extends your browser to create a richer platform for web applications” but doesn’t tell us why we’d want to enable it for our blogs.
Gears is a browser plugin. If the plugin hasn’t been implemented for browser and version you’re running, you simply won’t see “Speed Up” on your dash. From this point on, I’ll assue that you do see SU.
If you click on SU, you’ll be asked it you want to get the browser plugin. You don’t have to.
Once you have the plugin, you’ll be asked if you want to enable it for use with WordPress. By the way, the question could be better worded. It’s really asking if you want to enable it for use with that particular WordPress.com blog.
If you say yes to enabling Gears, it will download some stuff from the blog to your machine.
Because you have a local copy of said stuff, the amount of back-and-forth with the WordPress.com server will be reduced. That’s why the “Speed Up” was chosen as the text you click on to use Gears.
When Gears first came out, about a year ago, it was widely described in terms of offline access. Once you have a local copy of stuff, you can use that copy when the server isn’t available, including when you have no web access.
In closing, it’s worth emphasizing that Gears is opt-in. In particular, WordPress.com will not automatically add the Gears plugin to your browser. Neither will it stop working if there is no plugin for your browser.
James left the intersting comment that WordPress is using Gears in a similar way. I clicked over to his Geniosity blog, where I found his post about WordPress 2.6 and Gears. That forthcoming version of WordPress uses Gears to manage a cache. James finds it appropriate that the way to enable this caching is to click on the new “Speed Up!” button.
I’ll resist the temptation to make jokes about “Automattic gears” and “top gear.”
My first thought was: can I stow MP3 files there and play them from this blog (which does not have the WordPress.com space upgrade and hence cannot host its own MP3s)? and if so what are the storage limits? (I sometimes have rather long thoughts. And I sometimes over-use parentheses.)
It turns out that Sites is a good home for MP3s, such as this track from the Barenaked Ladies rather charming kids album Snacktime. It’s topical, seasonal even, for many of us in the northern hemisphere.
With Salesforce for Google Apps, you can now run your favorite desktop applications and your Salesforce applications side by side by accessing Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Docs all seamlessly from within Salesforce.
Erick at TechCrunch has more details. To quote Erick, “Google is in effect becoming Salesforce’s productivity suite.” To quote him quoting Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff:
Certainly the enemy of my enemy is my friend, which makes Google my best friend. I have spoken with a lot of customers who want to get off of Microsoft Word.
It looks to me as though this alliance makes more sense than would an acquisition. I admit that I’m looking from a literal distance of several thousand miles, and that I don’t have any insider knowledge. But acquisitions can be expensive, in terms of time, attention, and morale as much as money. Just ask Microsoft and Yahoo.
The decision for many startups will be an easy one; the benefits of using these platforms for their new products are compelling across the board despite minor concerns about platform lock-in even though the models used by both companies are actually surprisingly lock-in free.
So maybe the perception that GAE poses significantly greater lockin risk than does AWS is a perception about the difference between Google and Amazon, rather than a reflection of technical differences between the two platform as a service offerings. It’s a feeling that one should be wary about being locked in by the “don’t be evil” company.
Yes, this is another post about Google App Engine, which you either don’t care about, or have already read about. Actually, it’s more about how such things are reported on the web, using two prominent blogs/publications as examples.
My favorite account of AppEngine so far is the account of building and launching an app provided by Henry at TechCrunch. I sometimes weary of reading account of web services obviously written by people who haven’t actually used the service. To provide the one-sentence summary: Henry was impressed with the speed with which he and Mark McGranaghan could get the app going.
It’s very, very important that there be no barriers to leaving App Engine and that the service retains customers based on price and superior service. Anything else, any lock-in, will drive a stake through the heart of innovation.
The concern is striking, not in itself, but in contrast with the comparative lack of such concern about Amazon’s competing offerings when they were launched. In fact, I don’t know anyone who expressed concern about getting locked in to Amazon Web Services besides me.
That’s one of the most interesting aspects of Google App Engine: the competition with Amazon Web Services. It promises to drive the cost and time of building and deploying web applications yet further down.
The fact that Google itself hasn’t done that much with Gears-enabled applications yet–at least in any form that it’s willing to make public–is probably the best evidence that doing great stuff with Gears is far from a cakewalk… Google is clearly pretty serious about Google Docs (and Google Apps, which rolls in Gmail and other applications). And full-fledged offline functionality would be such a major step forward for Docs and Apps that you gotta think that Google will make it happen if it can.
As for Web developers other than Google, I’m not sure whether they’re struggling with Gears, or whether there’s simply less interest in offline apps than I hoped and guessed there would be.
I hope that the gearing-up of Google Docs will be a turning point (or tipping point, for the trendier among you) for Google Gears. I also hope to be able to try it out soon, and that it works better for me than Google Reader did.