Just read about Google Gears tonight. Is this the framework of the hybrid web we've been waiting for?
One of the problems of relying on web apps is what happens when the internet is down. Granted that our broadband connections are getting better everyday, what about when you're travelling and you don't have access to the internet?
If a system can be built such that it intelligently keeps copies of data locally just in case the internet goes down or is not accessible and it can synchronize automatically when the internet is accessible again (all done as efficiently and painless as possible), the future of web apps looks even more promising.
Of course there's a wrench to this equation. One of the appealing things about web apps is the ability to access your app from any computer. But if there has to be this mechanism of keeping copies data locally, it means you're sort of tied down to your own computer again. Unless we create some kind of peer network that can intelligently keep copies of the data in various points of the network from the immediate local peers in the LAN to various branches up the WAN. And these caches will need to be intelligent enough to synchronize their data and elect who has the latest fresh data.
Sounds complex. I remember similar functionality with cache clusters when I was at Inktomi. But even the simple model that doesn't have to use this complex network of caches can allow your online word processor to be both online and offline. So Google docs can really work locally, just like Microsoft Word and Excel.
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