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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Google is introducing new code to allow Google Docs to be used offline.

Google gears up for offline word processing
Users will be offered offline access to over the coming weeks allowing them to work on documents when web access is unavailable.

On reconnecting to the internet any changes will be automatically synchronised, the company said in a statement.

Offline editing is part of the Google Gears initiative introduced 15 months ago to allow application developers to build offline features into their own programs.

Google Gears already works within the Google Reader news feed reader and third party applications such as

Some industry watchers see the announcement as clearing a major hurdle ahead of a direct assault on Microsoft Office, but the inability to create new documents may persuade serious users to adopt a wait and see approach before switching sides.

"This is still early days. Google is working to make more web applications and functions work where connections are unavailable," said a spokesperson for the company.

Google claimed that the move is intended to give users "a taste of the future " and that next steps include the ability to edit spreadsheets and presentations.

This latest enhancement to Google's free suite of tools comes just as released the latest version of its free open source office suite.


Google Docs Now ‘Geared’ With Offline Functionality
Starting Monday, Google announced the offline access for Google Docs will be possible through Google Gears, still in beta version, an open source browser extension that provides offline functionality for Web applications. With Google Docs and Google Gears, users can now access their desktop apps without any inconvenient, such as the lack of an Internet connection.

In May last year, Google launched Google Gears as “an important step in the evolution of web applications,” making data availability problems when there’s no Internet connection an issue of the past. Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, said last year that Google Gears is “tackling a key limitation of the browser” and improves user experience in the “cloud.”

This year, Google wants to give users the chance to take the cloud with them anywhere, with an all-time accessibility: “With Google Docs offline (powered by Google Gears), I can take my little piece of the cloud with me wherever I go,” said Philip Tucker, Software Engineer for Google Docs, in the company’s blog.

All the user’s documents will be synced once the Gears extension is installed, and even if they don’t have an Internet connection, they will still be able to open and edit their documents. “When I lose my connection, I sacrifice some features, but I can still access my documents. Everything I need is saved locally,” said Tucker in the blog.

Google Gears currently offers support for Windows Vista Internet Explorer and Firefox, Windows XP Internet Explorer and Firefox, Mac OS/X Firefox and Linux Firefox. Everything will work through the web browser when offline, and once the Internet connection restored, the documents will sync with the server.

“It’s all pretty seamless,” said Tucker, as the user no longer needs to remember to save docs when leaving for a trip or save changes when internet connection is restored. “With the extra peace of mind, I can more fully rely on this tool for my important documents,” he added in the blog. For the time being, offline access in only available in English.

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